The Hardest Lesson I've Learned in Quarantine

I'd like to preface this post by saying it's going to be a little bit emotional; it's very intense, but I've always felt like I was better at sharing my personal discoveries and growth to a mass, faceless audience instead of just one person. There's less time for people to observe me crying, and more time for me to sniffle while typing in an empty kitchen. Maybe that's something I should work on. 

 

Right before going into quarantine, I went on a few dates. The quality of the dates, the person I went on the dates with, and the longevity of said dates is futile to get into because that's not what this is about. It didn't work out, and as much as I'd like to believe that it was just because "we were meant for other people", there's a part of me that really can't stop thinking about it. I've spent the last few weeks, multiple round and round conversations, multiple hours of free time trying to figure out why it kept taking up space in my mind. Was it just because my ego was bruised? Was it because he was a really kind person? Maybe it wasn't specifically the memories that I tied to him; it was the qualities he had.

 

I really believe that people are introduced into our lives for reasons we may find out after, and that God does have a plan. I met this person right before I went into quarantine; two days before my work closed down, we stopped seeing each other. If life would have continued on normally, I would have distracted myself with work, music, probably another date. I would have healed, but I would eventually have tried to build something on what was already a cracked foundation. With that, I felt like during this time I was supposed to reflect on myself: how I give love and how I accept love. 

 

The bottom line is, I never believed I deserved a quality person. Sure, I'd say I did out loud, but my actions showed that I never really took myself seriously. I'd consistently go back to people who would listen to me when it was convenient, flake on me, and make me question my self-worth. It was exhausting, but it was a pattern that I was comfortable with. I had once said to an ex-boyfriend that pain was the most constructive thing to feel. I wanted to feel pain; I didn't want to be good enough because not being good enough encouraged me to try as hard as I did in college, acting, music, and pursue different outlets. Whenever I was sad about a boy, I'd go to the gym or I'd go to the library and study. If you saw me at the library all of the time, well, it was therapeutic. I mean, of course, doing well was rewarding. Graduating with honors and having extracurriculars that I did was so rewarding. It made me appreciate my work ethic. It made me value my brain. It made me believe in my abilities. It had nothing to do with how I gave love to other people. 

 

So let me go back--right before quarantine, I was having a really stressful week. I was moving into my own apartment. I was enrolled in a class. I was in a show. I was at work. I usually perform really well under stress, but I was also trying to juggle this person I told myself I wanted to date. I felt like I was under-performing; I knew I was capable of doing all of those things better, but I was so tired. Here's the thing: when the things in other areas of my life aren't going well, I cling to the one thing I think I can have the most control over. 

 

I remember after one of the shows, I called him. I texted him. I wanted it to be over. Only I didn't really want it to be over; I just wanted to push someone to the point to where they didn't want to try because I didn't feel like I deserved him. I kept asking if he was disappointed in who I was. I wanted to present the iffy parts of myself first, which is such a backwards approach to dating. The thing that's just really sad to me is it felt like there was this "gremlin" (my friend's word) that sat on my shoulder. I know I shouldn't have called. I shouldn't have texted at all, but that gremlin said, "Do it. Ruin it. Mess it up. You don't deserve this." And I listened. I listened even though I knew what was going to happen.  Sadly, I've done this with several people. It's led to really messy breakups. For years I told myself I do this because I want someone to actually care. I dug myself into denial, and I stayed there. 

 

I wanted to do some self-healing and self-growth during quarantine. However, I was putting the energy on other people. I never looked at myself because I knew it was going to hurt. A relationship involves two people, and the patterns are usually the same so obviously something was wrong with the way I approached these relationships. A month into quarantine, I was starting to realize the qualities that I wanted in other people. I was sick of just being so drawn in because of looks, hobbies we had in common, or, worst of all, that familiar pattern and thinking that maybe this time it would be different. Okay, so that was progress. I had started to really understand what I was looking for. I rewrote every expectation that I had from guys who want to pursue me in the future. I started understanding on a deeper level what was acceptable and why. 

 

I had a conversation the other day where my friend felt like I was talking in circles. I kept saying "I don't know." I'd talk myself in and out of things. Some frustration grew because she wasn't really understanding me. Then I said out loud, "I don't feel like I deserve what I want." I started crying because I don't know if I had ever voiced that. That statement focused the energy back on me. I've been told that I self-sabotage, but it was different when I was the one who recognized and admitted my behavioral patterns towards things I want; it was different when I got so tired of this cycle that saying those words out loud felt like a release. It felt like I was taking a sledgehammer to the layer of protection I spent time and time again making indestructable. I needed to break myself down so I could build myself back up. 

 

This is the crack in the egg that I've been waiting for. The yolk is spilling out, and it's messy, but it's the hardest lesson that I wanted to learn. I've realized that I don't think I ever had a relationship where I was ever kind to my partner, myself, or fully invested. I've had either one or two of those things, but I never had all three in one relationship. I've sabotaged everything I've ever wanted at some point. I never was kind enough to tell myself that I deserved anything healthy. 

 

I'm still figuring this out. I'm a work in progress. I realized that I'm in the middle of a journey, and it's okay to not even be done growing when social restrictions are lifted. There's no one I want to pursue right now. I mean, yes, there's someone I'd like to reach out to in the future when I'm ready; right now, I don't feel these strong thoughts for anyone to the point where I'm going to reach out now. I'm just not ready. I feel like I had to learn how to be alone. I had to learn how to break down all of these patterns and habits and tell myself that I deserve this. 

 

I feel much calmer these days. 

 

It's a journey and I genuinely don't know where it will lead me, but to end this with a cliche:

I deserve respect. I will give myself that respect.

I deserve happiness. I will make myself happy. 

I deserve a healthy love. I will love myself in a healthy way. 

 

It always started with me, and it always will; it just took a little longer to understand. 

 

 

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