Adventure Girl learns how to swim
So you’re in this relationship, and it’s had a bit of a rocky start, travelled some rough seas, but finally you’ve reached calmer waters, and you can see land up ahead.
In real terms, this is the point where you know you love them, and they love you back. They say it and they show it and you feel it. You’re floating, and it’s thrilling, and it’s peaceful. Then BAM.
Out of nowhere you’re throwing a 15-year-old tantrum, all the while aching for them to hold you, to reassure you, to carry you to shore.
Of course they don’t. You’re behaving like a child.
It gets worse. You panic. You’re grasping. You don’t just want to be rescued; you’re drowning and feel like you can’t get to the shore without them.
But they pull away. If you’re lucky they offer you a life-raft, but most times they’re reaching for one for themselves.
‘See?’ you tell yourself. They don’t love you, not really.
The storm might come in the form of that nagging thing they once told you that still doesn’t quite add up, or yet another text message from the Ghost of Shaggers’ Past. You ask AGAIN for an explanation, you want to know AGAIN why she is texting him. Not, as he supposes, to find the worst in him, to prove that he’s lying, cheating, but to be reassured that he’s not.
It’s a test not of him, but of his love for you. You’re looking for cracks and testing if the boat is watertight.
Because can he really love you? I mean, REALLY? Love YOU? Doesn’t he know who you are underneath it all? Won’t he run screaming when he finally discovers the truth, when he finally sees who YOU are?
So you push and you squeeze and you test, but it’s not about not trusting him, it’s about not believing in you.
If you think of the relationship as like being on a leaky boat, you see yourself running around trying to plug and test every last hole. But when you test the holes, you put more pressure on them, and most times make them bigger. Do it too often and chances are there will be so many holes the ship will sink.
The other part of you, the secret part, doesn’t just test the holes that are already there. This part wants to be sure that the boat can withstand an attack. This part steers the ship into the storm instead of away from it, to see if you can weather it, and punches new holes to see if together you can plug them up and keep afloat. Eventually, if you punch enough holes, or steer into enough storms, you’ll both be grasping for life rafts.
Deep down, you know where the fear comes from, a history of sunken boats as long as the Shipwreck Coast. Too many people have been in love with you, but not loved you. Because they didn’t know you, didn’t see you. They saw an idea of you. You felt like a fraud and it never worked out. Because the more they tried to love you, the more you were convinced that they didn’t. Or rather, couldn’t. Because they never saw who you really were. Never saw the rocks beneath the surface until you rammed your boat into them.
But now you’ve found someone different. Someone who sees, who knows. Who has seen your flaws, and still loves, just as you have seen his. He can even tease you about them and make you laugh at yourself. This time you want it to be different. You want to BE different.
You’ve learned your lesson.
Instead of trying to plug and test every possible gap, instead of punching new holes, you will try to accept that nothing is watertight, that the ship can have a few cracks in it, and still stay afloat.
Because even if you do manage to seal the boat completely, there’s no guarantee it won’t one day break down. The motor could simply run out of steam.
And if it does? You might be battered by the sea and swallow water until you choke, but you will make it onto shore. You’ve done it before and you can do it again. And again. And again. You have a life raft, and a vest, and you know how to swim.