If you’ve been around these parts long enough, you’ve come across posts where I talk about myself as two people and other fun things. Something recently happened, though, that has led me to be able to discuss those things in a positive and successful light — so hey, let’s do that instead this time!
A few weeks ago, I took a gal out on a date, and it was really something. This post isn’t about all of that, specifically, so I won’t bog down into the nitty-gritty details, but let’s just say that it was an experience unlike I’d ever had before. She really liked me, and as things progressed, I came to feel really safe with her pretty darn quickly.
And that IS what I’m writing about.
On our third date (I KNOW.. I actually went on a third date!), we ended up delving into the Mark Mushakian Hour of conversation — all about my issues with family, ideas about church, etc.. I can tell folks anything, but for some reason with her I just felt the ability to be vulnerable. That was actually something we discussed, too. I was a very, very sensitive little fella when I was young. Over the years, though, and especially with a frequently angry dad who left me consistently unsure of whether it was going to be a “good” day or a “bad” day, my very-logical self developed into a protective wall. When I discussed my depression on this blog, I mentioned that after a good long cry at the tail end of a down time I’m pretty emotionally raw — just a bundle of nerves, exposed. In further detail, though, that’s just me. That’s the sweet little innocent part that’s tucked away inside, hidden behind the layers of logic and indifference that shield it from pain. That’s the logical side’s job, though.
When I first went out with this woman, everything inside of me fought against it; I was trying to pick up on every little difference we had, trying to find a logical reason as to why it wouldn’t work out so that I could just end it. Why put myself through all of that, though? I was trying to see if she was safe. With everyone I meet, friendly or potentially-romantically, they get put up against an unconscious test… always judging whether or not this person is safe enough to open up to and let my guard down completely with. This is why I tend to prefer talking with women, for sure :). So, this cognitive shield has become very well-developed over the years, trying to keep at bay the people and things that my very-sensitive self can’t handle, simply because I don’t want to get hurt. Heck (and this is a slightly embarrassing acknowledgement), while in the shower before our third date, I ended up crying… the words “I just don’t want to get hurt” hanging on my lips as I wept like a strange little man in the bathroom. Ironically, that was the day that I opened up in just about every way with her. I just kept laying all of myself, my insecurities and issues, out on the table… and she was still in.
Not that I recommend bringing up daddy issues on your early dates with someone, but hey.. in this case, it just happened :).
Sadly, things ended up not working out between she and I — a mutual bummer, for sure. Funnily enough, this time it’s my sensitive part that wishes I’d never asked for her number or asked her out, because by golly did it hurt, but for all of his faults my logical side is actually here to set the record straight. A lot of good things came out of this experience, and I hope for her too, but for me the most valuable was that I didn’t give in, and I let myself be out there… fully exposed and open to feeling the possibility of pain if things didn’t work out. I took every notion that my protective, logical mindset was throwing at me, and considered it… but ultimately, seeing this gal just continued to feel really nice and fun and exciting, so I just went with it. That sweet little boy sitting deep inside my chest really wants to come out more often, he just doesn’t know how to handle the roughness of the world.
This time, though, he came out in full force… and though he got knocked down and it hurt quite a bit, he’s okay. The protective wall is still up, doing its job, but maybe this whole thing has helped me install a little window where sweet-me can peek out and judge for himself whether or not its safe to come out and play.
So, in the epic (not really) battle between logic and feeling that is my ongoing life, which is actually just a tandem effort to protect the soft underbelly, the sweet side actually pushed itself out there and took a chance, and I’m proud of him/me for it. We ended up losing, and it was more painful than it seems like it should’ve been, but by golly — for the first time in a while, I can happily say that in the greater scheme of things, the nice guy won.