Tons of women wait for that perfect moment when their partner gets down on one knee and asks them to spend the rest of their lives with them. Me? I’m living that dream. My boyfriend proposed, gave me a beautiful ring, and I have never felt so loved in all my life. My previous doubts about his commitment issues were completely ruled out. He loved me! He was ready to settle down and make the commitment. I thought I would be flooded with relief. So then why I was so upset?
A month after he’d asked me to marry him, in the middle of the night, I was watching Netflix’s Tallulah, when I began sobbing uncontrollably. I got out his baby pictures and continued to cry for half an hour. I thought I was going crazy. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Why was I so sad? Was I even sad? A part of me felt like I was crying tears of joy. I was so in love with him. I couldn’t believe that I had found someone so special and perfect for me, someone that loved me and understood me for who I am. But, here I was, crying. I felt like my heart was going to burst, like I was the Grinch and my heart was growing three sizes, trying to fit him and all of his love into my small, cynical heart.
The truth was, I was terrified. Doesn’t everyone get divorced? Both my maternal and paternal grandparents divorced. My mom had an affair. I’d been physically abused in a previous relationship. I have paranoia and jealousy issues that stem from a mental illness. Really, how likely was it that we would have a happy, successful marriage? I began to think about Tallulah and realized that all the major themes of the movie encapsulated what I fear most: rejection and abandonment. Tallulah’s mom abandoned her when she was a child. Then, her boyfriend Nico stole all her money and left her. Nico’s father left his mother for a man, and Nico also left his mother and wouldn’t talk to her for to years. Furthermore, I really want to start a family with my fiancee, so watching Tallulah kidnap a baby was horrifying. Even hearing the baby cry made me cringe. Not to mention, Tallulah starts talking about how relying on other people will just get you hurt, and everyone is going to die one day, anyway. Pain is inevitable. How did this movie hit so close to my secret heart?
I’m terrified of ending up like Margo, Nico’s mother, most of all. Her husband left her for a man. Her kid won’t talk to her. She sits all alone in her apartment, depressed and lonely. And she’s a writer. I could see myself so clearly in her. I write. My fiancee is bisexual, so he could hypothetically leave me for a man or a woman. And I could end up being a terrible mother. They could all leave me. What if I end up all alone? Really, I was just sobbing and sobbing about one “what if?” after another. It was pointless. But I left myself cry for a few more minutes, until wiping my eyes and deciding that I had to make a decision. I needed to accept the inevitably of pain in the future. I might not end up all alone. But no matter what, people get hurt. That’s how life is.
So, do I choose everything I’ve always wanted and risk everything, or do I choose to be alone and risk nothing?
Honestly, I had no idea how deep my fear of abandonment and rejection was until that night as I sobbed into a blanket with my fiance’s baby pictures surrounding me like a shrine. What the hell was I doing? He wasn’t dead. He was literally in the next room sleeping. What was I mourning? The possibility of pain? All of the times my heart had been broken by a boy before?
Finally, I googled something along the lines of “fear of intimacy,” and I was surprised to find that my crazy sobbing was actually pretty normal. Apparently, I was afraid of love. And more than anything, I felt vulnerable because I was really in love. And my secret heart had been found. I was scared. Scared of being hurt, hurting him, losing him, so many things.
But the truth was, I was growing. My heart and mind were syncing up. I loved my fiancee, and it was time to let go of the fear of pain. I decided that I would take a chance at being happy, that I would give love a chance. I decided that I was worthy of his love and that he was worthy of my love, worthy enough for me to take a leap of faith and trust that everything would be okay.
August Pfizenmayer is the founder of Survival is a Talent. She is a freelance writer, blogger, and mental illness advocate. She loves reading, sweets, and warm weather. She writes confessional poetry, personal essays, and articles. Her poetry was published in the 2014 edition of Georgia State’s Undergraduate Art and Literary Journal called Underground. One of her current projects is a collection of prose poetry available on Wattpad. On April 11th, the next volume of The i’Mpossible Project will be available for pre-order with her story about life with schizophrenia featured in it. It will be in stores November 2017. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.