I remember the moment when I was finally able to look at the situation from the outside in. I was laying in bed, talking partially to my roommate, partially to the wall, but mostly to myself, as I finally spoke out the whole aching experience. I concluded the story with my own sudden realization, “If I had ended up with him, I would’ve spent forever loving him, and he would’ve spent forever loving him, and there would’ve been no one left to love me.”
I never knew I could be so susceptible to influence until I wanted something that I could never be good enough for. Or at least that’s what the puzzle of his words and excuses finally spelled out for me. It wasn’t our different directions, it wasn’t distance, it wasn’t ethics (at least not completely). It was me, and it was him, and it was his ideal image of me, and the realistic view of who I truly and proudly am.
When I see the situation it’s horrifying how much of myself changed, and how much could’ve changed all the more. The thing is: if someone would have illustrated to me exactly who I had to be to be enough for him, I might have become that person.
That thought horrifies me.
The thing about changing yourself for someone else is, you’ll never be complete. You’ll never be able to stop changing. They’ll always have something further they want in you. You can change your clothes, but they’ll want something new with your hair. You can change your taste in music, but your movie choices will still seem atrocious. You can change your morals, but he’ll want you to compromise more and more. And the final result? He may “love” you a little more each change, but is it worth hating yourself?
Some people might as well have a PHD in belittling others. I don’t know what causes the need in them, and I don’t know what in us cares so much. There is something so evil about evoking insecurity, but many people treat the act like a hobby. They enjoy changing others, and creating insecurity makes the other just vulnerable enough to do it. Maybe they think their changes are for the better, but I find it evil all the same.
Everyone is a little weird, a little goofy. In all honesty, our quirks make us. I have friends who have the goofiest qualities, and when I reflect on our friendships these qualities become a part that I particularly adore in them. Discovering someone’s oddities, their need for equal numbers, their odd obsession with Sinatra, their requested booth at a restaurant, that’s what I feel takes all relationships to new levels. I feel these should never be tampered with. We should never try to fix someone’s quirks, and if you ever feel someone twisting, and pulling, and manipulating your own quirks, it should evoke a huge red flag in you.
I think this is why I find belittlers, and changers so evil. I have watched close friends become Barbie dolls to their influences, and I have seen them lose, and even become ashamed, of the goofy, unusual qualities that allowed them to stand out. I resent anyone who enjoys causing shame upon a person for being merely a person.
There’s a quote by Thomas Merton that has stuck with me since senior year of high school. It says, “The beginning of love is to let those we love be completely themselves, and not try to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection our ourselves we find in them.”
When we try to change someone, or allow his or her attempts at changing us, we’re letting a relationship destroy itself. We’re creating self-loathing, and insecurity. People are their quirks, and you can chose to learn to love someone, quirks and all, or you can simply walk away, but to force someone to be someone you love, rather than just loving someone as they are, is possibly the furthest thing from demonstrating true love than can be fathomed.
I never became enough for him which, in all honesty, makes me a little too good for him. I’m unusual. He didn’t like that. I think a little too much. He didn’t like that either. But I like that. I like me, and therefore, I am enough.
What qualities do you like about yourself? They make you more than enough.
Photograph: Chelsea Sweet and Molly Kight