“I think you’re too scared to let yourself be happy because you’re so used to the drama and games,” she said casually, biting into another french fry. I took a deep breath, ready to argue my way out of it like I usually do. But I was tired. I was incredibly exhausted from arguing a case that didn’t do me any favors, just because I was so used to it. I just ended another dead-end relationship but was finally ready to deal with it all. At least, that was the plan.
We all want to be happy, but when said happiness occurs, are we even able to handle it, or are we so cynical and emotionally numb already that we see red flags in actual green ones and rather continue playing the games we are so conditioned to play?
I met my fair share of self-declared broken men, desperate to fix them instead of running as far as I could, seeing their potential and thinking they just never met anyone like me (insert cringe here). Someone willing to put in the hard work, someone willing to stay, to see this through. But why didn’t I cut myself some slack? Why didn’t I think I was worth more than a broken-man project to the point of absolute self-sacrifice?
She cleared her throat and brought me back from my thoughts, munching away on her fries as I swirled the straw in my mango-iced tea. “Maybe I am scared,” I admitted, “but I really want to be happy. I truly want to acknowledge green lights and not see them as disguised red flags anymore. But it’s been hard when you’re only familiar with the very opposite of that.” I took a big gulp, feeling the cold running down my throat.
“When you think of it, it really isn’t though!” she declared. I look at her raising my eyebrow. “Not really,” she followed up, “it all comes down to trust and I think you don’t know how to trust yourself anymore. It’s kind of your punchline these days that you don’t trust anyone. It’s sad really.”
Now, I was the one clearing my throat nervously watching the ice cubes melt in my glass. Not sure how to respond, but ready to bolt and change the subject. I was well aware of the irony of it all. I felt comfortable in uncertainty, in guys playing games, in lies and deceit. Those were all pieces in the puzzle. Years of dating trained me for that. I was more attuned to narcissistic behavior and therefore more inclined to trust what I have known, than learning to trust myself for once.
“I think I never learned to trust myself first,” I thought out loud when she looked at me in disbelief, “I am conditioned to be in fight-freeze-flight mode 24/7 and honestly it has been exhausting”. She grabbed my hand, squeezing it. That was the most honest revelation, I had in a while. Not even my therapist got me that far, or maybe she did if I count all the work I put in.
Having difficulty making decisions and not trusting yourself are two very different stories. I wanted to be happy and in a healthy relationship but all I’ve ever known was emotional abuse, manipulation, and second-guessing myself day in and out. I had to trust myself first, unlearn all those toxic patterns to find something real, and then trust my gut to see it through. Tearing up a little, I looked at her, seeing myself through her eyes, and decided then and there that it was time to turn the page. “I could really need some vacation vibes,” I said while snagging a salty fry from her plate. She squealed and her face lit up as she immediately made plans to hit Fire Island the upcoming weekend.
“Baby steps,” I thought. Don’t trust yourself until you do. That, and some vacation vibes in the city that had it all. No overthinking needed. Happiness is what you make of it. In that, I trust.