I May or May Not be Overthinking This

Something I have been struggling with over the last few weeks is figuring out how one can know when and if they are ready to be in a healthy relationship.

I mean, it’s one thing to want to find someone who is mentally sound, but another entirely to feel certain that I myself am also qualified.

The prospect of dating long term used to interest me very much when I was younger, and I often still find myself staring off into space, wondering whether or not a cute man likes me, but the thought of actually doing it seems to terrify me.

I think I have just been through and seen way too much nonsense to have faith that I will be one of the lucky people who will have a fairy tale ending, and I let that presumption cloud my judgement and lead my actions.

Lately I have been left with a nagging question, and it seems like until I can answer it, I should remain a hermit.

I must know: In order to start and maintain a stable relationship, must one be fully healed and emotionally healthy? Or is the relationship a catalyst for positive growth and change?

For a long time I told myself it would be nice to date someone and to move through all the exciting relationship stages that deepen connection and open your heart to closeness and vulnerability.

However, I am plagued by the fear that the longer we remain together, the more of myself I will have to expose and express, and before long the person I am with will have a clear picture of who I truly am, warts and all.

The prospect of finding someone with whom I can share deep levels of intimacy terrifies me just as much as the prospect of being alone for the rest of my existence does.

I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with me, I just am not sure how comfortable I am with someone actually getting to see how all the good and bad experiences in my life have turned me into who I am today.

It’s for that same reason that I’ve always kind of hated being a creative and an artist. I’ve spent years writing about myself, performing poetry, creating content and sharing, and although it comes so naturally to me, the level of candour it has forced me to display is the stuff of nightmares.

The only way I have been able to stay sane knowing that my colleagues, my bosses and thousands of people around the country will read these very words has been by gaslighting myself into pretending that actually I have an audience of zero, and I am the only one who ever consumes my work.

Everyone else does not exist.

I do this on social media too. I posted a video last week that now has over 70 000 views – something that almost sent my anxiety through the roof.
It helps that I just avoid looking at the comments and pretend the video is of someone else.

Maybe I am just an overthinker, but that is how my brain works. I like to kinda shove things in the back and pretend they aren’t there. Eventually I’ll start to believe it enough.

Unfortunately when it comes to dating, I cannot do that. I cannot be in a relationship while simultaneously hiding myself from said relationship.

If we were to date each other, then I would not be able to put you into a box on a shelf in a corner of my consciousness and pretend you aren’t becoming acquainted with me.

I would need to acknowledge you are forming a perception of me, and then on top of that be okay with you wanting to see and know more about me as time goes by.

I would eventually have to let you see what I look like when I wake up, what I’m like when stressed or sad, what my bad habits are, and anything else that’s generally reserved for family and long-time friends.

That’s not a good thing for someone who spends the majority of their time alone in their room, avoiding small talk and eye contact.

That’s why I can count my friends on one hand, and even they are avoided when I feel too embarrassed by myself to be ‘perceived’.

My problem is that I would rather not fall in love at all, than to meet someone, start telling them who I am, and then have them discover that I am actually a bit insane.

And the thing is I might not actually even be insane, maybe just a little insecure, and very traumatised from past experiences – which brings me back to the question I can’t get off my mind.

Should I trust that someone can and will stick around once they know all my flaws, or should I spend more time working on fixing those flaws before letting somebody in?

Should I show up as a completely healed person, or is that something that isn’t even possible?

How does this work? Please help.

– Anne Hambuda is a writer, social commentator and poet. Follow her online or email her annehambuda@gmail.com for more.

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