“You Know I Love You A Lot Too Even If I Sometimes Get Impatient”

4 Aug

I am a person who needs constant reassurance that other people love and value me.

And when I say constant, I mean fucking constant.

Like, in a perfect world, every morning and evening all of my friends would fill out a survey detailing how they felt about me. In this document they would remind me of the fact that they loved me, and let me know what my areas of improvement were, so that I could fix any little issues before they blew up. Or if, for whatever reason, I couldn’t fix them, I would, at the very least, not feel blindsided by any big conflict that they might bloom into. I could plan ahead how I would react, the pithy things I would say and the brilliant retorts I would make. I wouldn’t melt into a sobbing, gibbering mess, the way I usually do.

The way I always do.

I found an old notebook of mine in my mother’s basement today. It was from the first grade and was supposed to be a sort of journal, a place where I would write little stories or comments to my teacher every Monday, and she would answer back. A lot of the stuff that I wrote is pretty funny, and probably fairly typical for a six year old.

Stuff like:

“On Sunday we went to Debbie and Dwight’s farm and I saw a lot of sheep. They separated the mothers and the fathers and the babies. And I saw BC, their cat.”

“I have a loose tooth. Next week I will go to the dentist.”

“Today I will go to Brownies. It’s where I go to learn how to jump rope and be nice.”

“Last night I went to bed at 8:20.”

Pretty average, I guess. Except for the fact that tacked on to the end of nearly every other “entry” is a note that says, “I love you, Madame Renée.”

“Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted a dog but she lived all by herself and didn’t have any money. One day she found a dog. I love you, Madame Renée.”

“Last night we went out for dinner. I love you, Madame Renée.”

“I would like to switch seats please, Madame Renée. Have you corrected my recherche yet? Goodbye, Madame Renée. I love you, Madame Renée.”

“I don’t know what to write. I love you, Madame Renée.”

At first, reading back through all this stuff, I had a hard time figuring out what my angle was. Had I really been such a suck-up back then? That didn’t sound like me but hey, I guess a person can change a lot in twenty six years.

Then I realized why I kept writing “I love you” – because every single time I did so, she would write “I love you, too.” It was a way of checking in, a way of making sure that we were still cool. It was especially a way of making sure that I hadn’t angered or frustrated her past the point of no return, which was and is a thing that I’ve worried about doing to my friends and family for as long as I can remember.

Finally, there’s an entry towards the end of the notebook that says simply, “I love you, Renée,” and then is followed by a lower case alphabet in cursive writing.

My teacher’s reply is something that I would imagine a lot of people who know me even now would like to say to me:

“You know that I love you a lot too, even if I get impatient sometimes.”

I have a hard time understanding that I can still have conflict with people that I love. In my head, it seems so black and white: either you love me or you don’t. And if you’re angry at me, or frustrated with me, or hurt by something that I’ve done, then you don’t love me. And if you don’t love me, it’s almost certainly because of something I’ve done, some way in which I’ve fucked up. If you don’t love me, I probably deserve it.

And so I melt down into that sobbing, gibbering mess and feel like I can’t breathe and feel like the world is ending and feel like I am not worthy of anyone’s love. Like it’s somehow just a weird trick of fate that I have a husband and a son and lots and lots of friends. I feel as if when I have any kind of conflict with someone, it’s because they’re finally seeing the real me, the bad me, and now that the jig is up they’ll never love me again.

I do a lot of stupid little things to try to help shield people from seeing the true, terrible version of myself that I try so hard to keep hidden. I buy people a lot of little presents, as if these objects might work like some kind of charm to keep them from leaving me. I go out of my way to do thoughtful things, so that I might be seen as a thoughtful person. I avoid doing things for myself unless I think that I truly “deserve” it, so that people will believe that I’m a martyr instead of a monster. None of this is logical. None of this is sustainable. And, finally, none of this is actually useful in the long-term.

I need to learn how to manage conflict without resorting to, “you’re right, everything is my fault and it’s no wonder you hate me.” I need to start believing that people love me and want to be around me because I’m smart and funny and interesting, not because I buy them shit and solve all their problems. Most of all, though, I need to remember that my friends and family love me a lot, even if they sometimes get impatient with me. Because that is how relationships work – you have conflict, and you work through it, and then it’s even stronger than ever. No friendship will ever be conflict-free – and if it is, that probably means that something is seriously wrong.

So hey, six-year-old me, I’m sorry I still haven’t figured this shit out yet. But I want you to know that I see you, and I know how you feel, and I’m still trying. And I’m going to keep trying. So please hold on and don’t give up hope. I got this.

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29 Responses to ““You Know I Love You A Lot Too Even If I Sometimes Get Impatient””

  1. Deborah Lancaster August 4, 2014 at 1:49 am #

    I love you belle jar. je t’aime. Evan though my french sucks and I don’t always understand what you are talking about.

  2. robinsetter August 4, 2014 at 2:07 am #

    Wow. It’s like you’re me. Except I’m me. You’re you. Obviously. But you get me.
    It’s really nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks this way. It is so exhausting and lonely to always be “on”…to never be able to relax because just when you let your guard down is when the people you let in decide to leave you.
    Or so it goes in my head.
    Thank you for being brave enough and coherent enough to phrase this for me. I am struggling to write on my own blog and why?
    Because nothing is ever good enough.
    So thanks.
    I love you, Belle Jar

    • Josette LeBlanc August 4, 2014 at 8:16 am #

      I’m with you Robin. “Thank you for being brave enough and coherent enough to phrase this for me.” I woke up this morning feeling just like this, and then here was your post in my inbox. Merci Belle Jar et Robin. And you may have just unlocked something that needed to come out loud and clear. My six year old and your six year old musty have been kindred spirits.

  3. AmazingSusan August 4, 2014 at 2:22 am #

    Reblogged this on a dog's breakfast.

  4. AmazingSusan August 4, 2014 at 2:27 am #

    Yes and eventually with enough practice at seeing yourself you actually get to see others as well:

    http://myalzheimersstory.com/2014/05/01/i-see-you/

    that often takes a lifetime. sometimes more…

    i see you belle jar ❤

  5. lauramacky August 4, 2014 at 2:32 am #

    I have similar issues. Hugs

  6. batteredmd August 4, 2014 at 2:44 am #

    je t’aime.

  7. loveatthirty August 4, 2014 at 3:06 am #

    This is so beautiful! P.S. I’m a French teacher. ❤

  8. gabrieleneumann August 4, 2014 at 4:41 am #

    Every so often, I come across a piece of writing (in a book, on the internet, in a magazine, wherever) that feels like someone knows my scars, the places where I’ve been hurt and ripped open and put myself back together, because they have the same ones etched on their heart. This was one of those times. Thank you for putting this out there (and so beautifully expressed), because I know how hard it is to show anyone else your scars, much less strangers on the internet.

  9. jesskawrites August 4, 2014 at 7:30 am #

    Amen! 😉

  10. tendernessontheblock August 4, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    I think Renee is the hero here!

  11. escapisttroubadour August 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Thank you, Belle Jar, for so clearly articulating something that I, and I suspect a lot of us, struggle with frequently. I know I have trouble explaining this feeling.

    Je t’aime 🙂

  12. jodiethalegend August 4, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    Oh wow, this is so me, Thank you again, I love reading your stuff, you put it so gently and make me feel like it is okay to be a little bit broken.

  13. thevioletsnowball August 4, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    That constant need for reassurance is something I struggle with as well. That maryter-like complex. Thinking to one’s self If I just do-enough, help enough etc. maybe no one will be upset with me. But as you point out, there will be always be conflict. It’s nice to know I’m not alone 🙂 Thanks!

  14. shoirca August 4, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

    Fear of abandonment, black and white thinking, unbearably strong emotions are all symptoms of borderline personality disorder. Heartbreaking for those who have it and those who love them.

    • Ryan H August 4, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

      Expert diagnosis from Dr. Shutyourface here. Because the internet is where experts go to diagnose strangers.

    • Lysa August 5, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

      I hear you. For those that don’t grow, it is heartbreaking for those that love them. That is what so amazing about humans who face their imperfect and try to be a better person than they were yesterday. It is wonderful.

      • M August 23, 2014 at 3:54 am #

        I was thinking that too, but hopefully not in a cruel way. My mother is a little bit borderline (never diagnosed, but checks off some traits) and I am living with her temporarily as an adult. She tells me she loves me A LOT, like she needs reassurance, and it can be exhausting. But reading Anne’s perspective on this made me have a little more compassion for my mom. xoxoxo

  15. wendykh August 5, 2014 at 1:23 am #

    It is entirely inappropriate we have not met and bonded considering the multitude of mutual friends we have. I adore this so much it made me want to burst into tears and show it to EVERY SINGLE PERSON I KNOW because I hate it when I do something stupid and then they spend time reassuring me that hey the world isn’t ended and they knew it wasn’t going to be all rainbows and cheesecake. It makes me feel even worse. I so so so so feel this so much. Bless you for writing it!

  16. Lysa August 5, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    You are truly incredible. I really relate and enjoy your blog, even the dark. As you already know, the most creative free thinkers are not of the norm personality. I believe we learn our humiliate by facing our demons, depression, borderline, bi-polar, manic and rising up. Thank you for your honesty. I so admire you!!

  17. Emotional:(:Thinker August 6, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    Love it! I relate so well to the black and whiteness, the need to feel validated and loved. The first grade note reminds me of those that I wrote and have since recovered. Priceless. Thanks for reminding me that who I am is an accumulation of those times left stuffed in a box somewhere. Je T’aime (that’s what my ankle tattoo says!)

  18. emily douglas August 10, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh darn it, I fucking love this post.

  19. InquisitiveS August 12, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    Thank you. You have made me feel so relieved and you have lifted a bit of weight off my heart. Thank you.

  20. Dave August 17, 2014 at 3:49 am #

    So rarely do I read something which completely connects with me. My need for reassurance is like my need for air. I understand intellectually that this is a symptoms of my emotional disorder, but that knowledge still doesn’t help me feel better.

    I used to go to bars to meet lonely women, so we could drink and hopefully go home together. It was so much less about the sex than getting acceptance from someone.

    My wife adores our small children. I do as well, but it’s so hard to hear her be so openly affectionate with them and then business-like with me.

    Thank you so much for your blog. It put words into feelings which I can’t describe.

  21. Lauren August 25, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    I don’t think I’ve ever read something that felt so much like it was written by another me, one who could actually put such feelings in to coherent sentences.
    Thank you for being awesome, for writing things that make me feel a lot like I’m not the only person in the whole world with certain feelings. It makes me feel less irrational.
    Like, I am rational, a person with feelings that aren’t totally alien.

    x

  22. thegreatannabanana November 19, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    Reblogged this on The Great Anna Banana and commented:
    Me, today. Merci The Belle Jar

  23. starlitwishes December 1, 2014 at 3:38 am #

    Thank you so much for so beautifully putting into words all the thoughts that run through my mind EVERY WAKING MOMENT! The seemingly ‘black or white’ nature of love is so frustrating, heartbreaking, and just plain overwhelming at times.

    I just found your blog today, but have been binge-reading your posts for the past few hours. I must say, you have quite a way with words. I love, love, love it, and look forward to reading more.

  24. Jane Doe December 31, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

    You swear a lot.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. On the twelfth day of Christmas: Anne Thériault | Sex blog (of sorts) - January 15, 2015

    […] favourite favourite post was “You Know I Love You A Lot Too Even If I Sometimes Get Impatient” – god, how this resonated! I tell the people I love that I love them a lot, and yes, […]

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