On Breakups and Being 'Too Much'

You know what’s really fun about being a pessimist?

We’re almost always right.

Less than five months. That’s how long it took for me to send someone running for the hills.

See, I told myself, if I want a different kind of relationship than the kinds I’ve had previously, I have to be open, and vulnerable, and emotionally naked. I have to let someone see the ugly. I have to “be myself.” So when I met someone I connected with, someone I had amazing chemistry with, someone who seemed open to a bit of “crazy,” I gingerly set aside my pessimism, secretly hoping it would collect dust indefinitely. I shared my anxieties about being in a relationship I care about, I opened up about my feelings of worthlessness and my depression, I was “myself.”

And lo and behold — it was too much. Last night, as I sat at the The Breslin staring into a cup of tasteless chamomile tea, I was told — in jumbled, roundabout, hesitant words — that I am too much. Of course no one said, “You’re too much.” Instead, it was, “I’m worried that your insecurities will end up hurting me,” “I don’t think I can be attracted in the long-term to someone who isn’t confident,” “I’ve put up a wall because I’m not sure this can work,” “We have different communication styles,” and, “We have a lot of chemistry, and like each other, but I don’t know if that’s enough.”

These are all reasonable feelings. These are all things, I expressed, I wanted to work through, if he was willing to try. He wasn’t.

I know, rationally, this reaction to my vulnerability is not entirely about me. I know the things I disclosed should not have been a deal breaker, that there are (theoretically) people in the world who would have treated my disclosure as something to be embraced and encouraged. But all I heard through the excuses and practicalities was you’re. too. much.

Let’s go down that rabbit hole: I have emotions, and having emotions feels like something to be ashamed of, thanks to social cues and upbringing. I’m sick of hiding these emotions from everyone because that makes me feel disconnected and feeds my depression and loneliness. So I have decided to share some of them, even though it is incredibly uncomfortable and challenging. This, I worry, burdens people, because sharing emotions requires a certain level of attention and care from the listener. They will feel an obligation to respond, to be comforting (and of course it’s an obligation, it’s certainly not a pleasure! Surely, no one else shares the warmth I feel when I’m entrusted with others’ emotions, joyful or sad, right?). Once I have shared myself, the listener may respond in a kind and heartfelt way, but secretly (or not so secretly in this case), they will no longer want to be around me, and find ways to distance themselves. It feels unlikely that they will still want to be around me, because I’m not worth the effort – I’m a “downer,” I’m boring and pathetic and needy and my emotions are not valid.

And aha! Look at my kingdom of proof! There’s some grim satisfaction in always being right. All those moments when I told myself, “This is too intense, you’re going to ruin this, no one wants to deal with your bullshit,” and then trudged ahead anyway because someone told me it’d be worth the effort – I was right all along. All those hours spent in a haze of anxiety, while I told myself, “You’re going too far, you’re sharing too much, this feels wrong,” and then persisted because I thought this would one day make me feel less lonely — the anxiety didn’t lie.

Of course, the kingdom of proof has outliers. As I write this post, about 15 people have reached out to offer emotional support, and four have offered to buy me a meal after I posted a “funny” picture of the only thing I’ve managed to eat all day: a tiny bowl of peanut butter and chocolate chips. I am loved, or at least cared for, and sometimes I even manage to feel it, despite the fucked up wires in my brain. Through the fog of, “you’re too much,” I can just make out the ever-cliché, irritatingly veracious, “his loss.” Right now, at least. And when the texts and messages quiet down, and I’m alone again with my angst, there’ll be only one truth that shines through all that accurate pessimism: I was myself, I was vulnerable, and that is pretty close to a miracle.

Follow this journey on Under Covers.

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Thinkstock photo via pecaphoto77

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