The Relationship Ride

When I was a little girl, I liked the “nice” rides at amusement parks. The Tilt-a-Whirl was a favourite. There’d be those moments when you’d spin wildly and you’d verge on nausea, and then it’d slow on down, and you’d settle back into an easy pace. It was unpredictable, but never dangerous, and never scary. The perfect combination, I always thought.
When I was eight, I went to Ontario to visit family, and my Evil Vixen cousin decided I needed to try a scarier experience. I was just tall enough to ride, and this was one of those big wheel-type thingies where everyone walks in, gets strapped against the wall, and the thing spins madly at wild speeds, first on a horizontal plane, but then it starts angling and elevating, until you hit absolute vertical – with every rotation, you go from facing skyward to staring at the ground from a height of a hundred feet or more. For an eight-year-old Steff, it was hellishly frightening. Throw in the blasting music and the screams and taunts of others, and there I was, out of control.
I was screaming, crying, and absolutely horrified. Tears poured down my face and I couldn’t stop wailing. They had to stop the ride and let me off. I was heaving and sobbing and needed my mommy, who was thousands of kilometers away.
To this day, there are times when I wish I could do the same with life. Stop the ride, man, let me off. Give me a blankie and a quiet night with reruns, I’m done like dinner.
The beginning of relationships, for me, are one of the most terrifying things I can experience. I’d like to jump in head-first, absolute abandon, and know it’s okay, it’s all right, I can do it. But I can’t. I start to, I throw my pennies in the wishing well and pray it’s all going to be all right, but then the evil What If? Monster starts whispering in my head.
What if I’m wrong? What if he comes to his senses? What if there’s some external factor I can’t control? What if I’m missing out on something better? What if the timing’s wrong?
And I fucking hate the What If? Monster. I hate the ambivalence and apprehension that finds me when the only thing I should be finding is trust. I’m in that rare situation with a guy who’s opening all the trust doors first, so the fear’s a little less than it might normally be, but it’s still there, and I really, fucking hate that it is. I wish it wasn’t. This time, I really wish it wasn’t.
But it’s strange and weird because he has this, this massive decoder ring of mine. Not only do I have this blog, with more than 200 postings, but I have my other blog, with more than 500. I don’t know if I’m your standard blogger, because I try to really peel back my layers. Not for you, not for him, not for anyone but for myself.
Unfortunately, though, he gets to peel back my layers on his own time, by himself, without me seeing his reaction, and I’m left wondering, “What’s he really thinking?” Fortunately, he’s good enough at expressing himself that he often clues me in without my needing to ask. Still, I’m over-analytical, timid, worried, and scared. That’s just me, and it works better when I’m flying solo, because then I can sit around and ask all these grand questions that my readers can relate to. Now, though, I’m not flying solo, so I go and I air these fears, and he’s gonna know. Maybe a good thing, maybe not.
In my life, fear is the great component that I can never, ever shake. All this self-examination and illumination is generally done in the attempt to get past the fear of hurt and pain that has greatly coloured my life over these years. I’ve had, unquestionably, a hard life. I’ve been hurt six ways to Sunday in every arena of my life, no matter what walls I’ve put up or taken down. I’ve had adversity piled upon adversity, and the hardest thing I’ve ever had to learn is a) to love myself in the face of it all, and b) to allow others to love me.
And I’m nowhere near ready on the front of B. I’m having a hard, hard time getting past this fear and apprehension that comes with the beginning of a new relationship, but specifically, this one. There’s the reality that this relationship has begun with more abandon and less restraint than any I’ve ever had. It’s freaking the shit out of me, honestly. That was hard enough at the beginning, but then my bone-breaker had the misfortune of badly breaking his leg and needing surgery for the insertion of a metal plate and several screws. I feel so horribly for him, and because I’ve already come to care a good deal for the man, I really want to be there to be of assistance and comfort for him.
So I have. And today, oh, my GOD. I’ve woken up with The Fear. I hate The Fear. On the one hand, I’m screaming “Stop the ride, lemme off!” On the other, I’m thinking I like this feeling. I love how I feel when I’m around him, but when I’m not… all the niggling doubts squirm to the surface of my psyche and the Questioning begins anew, and quite needlessly, I suspect, given the time we’ve shared and the openness we seem to already have.
During one of our first nights together, we were lying on the bed, comparing notes about what we thought the other would be like versus what they had turned out to really be. He commented that he thought I’d be “more cerebral… no, more pensive.” I told him that I am, but that moods like pensiveness have no place in front of another person. (It’s rude, methinks.) I’m very, very pensive – always, really – but moreso when I’m alone. I do get very quiet, though, in those makeout sessions, lying there, occasionally holding each other’s gaze, and in those moments, it’s true, I’m not really thinking about anything in particular. But the wheel’s turning, and soon, the thoughts strike. Like now, the next morning.
And my question today is, am I my own worst enemy? Is my fear my great undoing? It probably is. But at least I confront it, I give it a voice, and maybe that’s the first step in moving past it. I know I feel this way, and I’ve tried to explain to The Guy that, for now, my actions need to speak much louder than my words, ‘cos baby, I ain’t got the words. Not yet. I try. But I can’t do.
I’m a good woman, a good lover, and a great friend. I know it, and I try to be each of those, but deep down inside, I’m also a scared little girl that wants the safety of the Tilt-a-Whirl. Too bad I’ve met the height requirement for the big fucking roller-coaster, and it’s the only ride operating.

14 thoughts on “The Relationship Ride

  1. Adonis Latro

    Well, how to put it…
    Deep down, in all of us, is that scared little kid, that just wants the nice quiet safety ride. While that’s all well and good, what do we ever learn from the cheery, happy boring ‘safeness’?

    In my experience, most of that apprehension and fear is simply of the unknown (Like you called it, the “What if? Monster” … that little bastard…). And usually completely unfounded. We will all have times when something seems too good to be true, but how can we learn if it is or not, without taking that plunge?

    I think the trick is not to ‘not’ be afraid and think about “what if?”s, but to simply listen to only the ones that start on valid base, instead of the ones we validate by thinking on them too much.

    Any self-help book hints at this stuff, though they never tell you straight out. (How would that make them money?) But even if, *IF* ‘Stuff’ goes south, the trick is, instead of saying “Oh how horrible” or “I knew it!” think “What did it teach me?”

    But then, judging from your posts on here, you knew that already. Just about everyone does, they just don’t know they know it yet.

    Sorry if this puts anyone to sleep.

  2. Anonymous

    Steff: Hey!!!!!!!!!!!! it’s only ben a very short time daaaaaa. I know exactly what you are talking about,BUT give it time and you will know soon enough….Goog wishes to you and BF. Regards Richard ,Coast of Maine

  3. scribe called steff

    Oh, I plan to give it lots and lots of time, Richard. Time’s what we got, what with gimpy leg there. 🙂

    But it doesn’t mean I can’t be freaked out. I am, he knows it, and I’m dealing. Fear’s a universal feeling though, so I thought I’d share with the masses… I’m silly that way.


    Yeah, well, learning from adversity’s the only thing that makes it all worth while. It’s stupid to go through shit then take nothing from it. Life is too short and too complicated for that.

    Ah, sigh. The classic self-help book, that I’ve never read, is “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyways.” Ha.

  4. mhorts

    Gee, I guess you are human after all. It seems you know about your fears, and yet you continue to confront them. A lesser person would run and hide on the Tilt-A-Whirl.

    He’s read your blog, and all of its self-revalation, and yet he still calls. Hmmmmm. 🙂

    We all know there is more to you than your blog, but yours is open and honest about you. Maybe there just isn’t much else for you to say right now. TG doesn’t seem to mind the quiet.

  5. Haaaaaaa

    I am big “What-Iffer”. I even have a hard time letting others drive (even limo drivers) because I look up at the road and think What-If. When you apply that type of thinking to personal relationships it’s paralyzing. When I think back of all the fun and opportunities with people I have missed out because of the What-If’s it kills me.

    I can’t believe I am admitting this, but I actually heard something on Dr. Phil that helped me with it. He calls it the What_If game. Go What-If by What-If and list the worst possible thing that could happen then see if you could handle it. When I play that game, it usually gives me a sense that I can handle whatever is coming because I am prepared for it.

    The other thing I have to say is that I think most intelligent people are cautious of new people and other intelligent people get that. I, for one, am very suspicious of people who open up to me too quickly. I always wonder why they are moving so fast.

  6. Roscoe

    Ok, I read it and I can appreciate it…spent a lot of my own years on the what if train and it cost me someone I loved more than I ever thought I did…so what did I learn?

    Like the saying goes “the only thing you have to fear is fear itself” and damn is it true…anything, absolutly anything in life is possible for anyone/by anyone as long as your honest and open and make an effort…what do you have to be scared of really?

    Will he know how you feel when he walks in a room? Will he know how you feel when you see his number on the call display? Will he know how you feel when your walking along the beach holding his hand and gaze into his eyes with no restraints?

    He already does, so really, what do you have to lose?

    Nothing…you have absolutly nothing but the torture of the memory of knowing you never let go, the torture of the memory of being scared, the torture of the memory of quite possibly the best thing that ever happened, the best memeories you could have created are happening with somebody else…because you were scared…

    So, I guess the way I look at it is that the memories are yours to never have…and for me and my life that just isn’t an option, I’ll take a week of memeories and no regrets over a lifetime of mediocricy and what if’s anytime, anywhere in any part of my life…

    I guess i see it being average and living without crazy passion is better suited for somebody else than me…because, really, all one has to fear is “fear”…and it’s not real until your actually 6 feet under and then you won’t really care will you?

    I hope it makes sense…It would take at least 30,000 words to really explain a ride to hell and back because of the
    “what if” monster 🙂

  7. PS

    You’ve got the words. You’ve got the actions. You’ve got the man.

    Fear is the life, the love, the experience. Nothing to be afraid of.

    Herbert was right: “Fear is the mindkiller.” But only when it dominates. Only when fear becomes life. Otherwise, I think fear is as much a part of love as lust. A good, healthy part. But only when it is known.

    You know it. So it seems does he.

  8. Anonymous

    Anon from the Capital

    I guess this fear and the what ifs happens to all new relationships, because nobody can read minds and nobody are completely secure in themselves. On the other side, when you start to have these fears and what ifs, you know that you acutally care enough about this person to have those doubts. This would be an indication that you are ready and want a relationship with this person. If I was a guy, I would actually be flattered that my girlfriend cares enough about me to feel this way. Relationship is a tough tough game to play, winning and losing is all a part of it.

    I find the beginning of a new romance is the most exciting feeling ever! Enjoy it while it lasts, and I sincerely hope it will last for a long time!

  9. myself

    I know exactly what you’re talking about, the fear, the “up & run” gut reaction when something seems to be working, and you’re wondering why, and how, and “what the hell am I doing?”.

    Decided recently myself to just go with it, if my little red “stay away” lights aren’t blinking on and off in my mind. The worst thing that can happen is that things don’t work out, but in the end, at the risk of being particularly sucky and quoting Garth Brooks, “I could have missed the pain, but I’d of had to miss the dance”, and frankly, the dance itself is too good to pass up.

  10. Mad Coyote

    I would like to suggest an exercise, if I may. It may strike your fancy, it may not- it is only a suggestion.

    In PR, there is a little something called a SWOT analysis. Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats. Every organisation should do one, and most do.

    The four categories should be fairly obvious; just keep in mind the first two are internal, the second two, external. What you do is list off everything that fits into each category, being as objective as possible. Then you look at how to turn the Weaknesses into Strengths, and the Threats into Opportunities.

    My suggestion is, do a SWOT analysis on yourself.

    I did one on myself with my future career in mind (human rights advocacy) and was quite surprised at what I found myself looking at; and also very pleased, as I realised that I now knew what specific areas I needed to work on. Now it’s just a matter of locating the resources I need to improve myself, and applying them.

    Having done this about a month ago, I already feel I’ve come a long way.

    I see no reason this can’t apply to other aspects of life- and actually this has all inspired me to do so. It’s worked for my in terms of career preparation- why not for the rest of my life?

    Something to think about anyways…and as I say, it’s just a suggestion.

    On a personal note, I am very glad things between you and The Guy are working out so well Steff. He sounds so far like a pretty decent guy…congrats!!!

  11. Amber

    I know the fear. I have it myself a lot of the time. Relationships aren’t easy but it seems like you found a keeper. Don’t let yourself get in the way of that, if you can 🙂 You give me hope, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  12. scribe called steff

    Because I’m just not in the mood to answer everyone, but I appreciate all these great comments, I’m going to do one monster comment off-the-cuff instead.

    I’m a firm believer in being open about fears and apprehensions, but it’s not always going to work for people, and certainly not in all situations. This time, it seems to have worked well. The Guy is a very good communicator, cut from the same cloth that way as I am, and I think it’s one of the strengths we have, and why I maybe don’t need to be so freaked out.

    He not only called, but also sent a pretty spiffy email later in the evening. I’ve been keeping much to myself today, sort of dealing with the insanity that has been the clutter in my home. Now I feel like I’m sorted, and now I’m also back to being optimistic about things with The Guy. It’s really shitty he’s so badly injured, but hopefully things will get back on track over the next few weeks that way, but as it is, we have nice weekend plans, on which I’ll divulge more later.

    I don’t run away from things because I get scared. I try not to allow “what if” to rule my life, and in fact, it seldom impacts me since I realize it’s seldom a good line of thought to be into. But I’m a realist and a pragmatist. As much as I hope for the best, I’m aware of the worst case that could develop.

    We were talking earlier about the eternal debate of “Is the glass of water half-full, or half-empty?” I said that instead of debating the fullness, I tend to state instead that, “There is a glass; there is water.” He said his take is, “I’m thirsty.”

    So, that’s a little perspective on that.

    It’s good to be scared sometimes. I spoke with a cabinet-maker once about how I wanted to learn wood-working but I was terrified of the power tools. “Then you’re liable to keep your fingers when you begin working with them,” he commented. Fear was the power-tool user’s ultimate safety. It always translated into respect.

    Fear of losing a relationship can make you more aware of what you need to put into it to keep it alive. I try to be considerate, generous, and attentive. I try to be aware of what I have and what can be lost. I am trying to do all of the above in this instance, and my gut reaction is that he is, too.

    And maybe, just maybe, it’s worth all the hassle. I’m hoping so.

    So, yes, I was freaked out, but I also know that while I may have an audience here… that he will read it. If I haven’t the balls to say it to him, I can say it to however many thousand of you come to read me, and the collateral result is he, too, will be clued in.

    A strange way of screwing up the courage to address something; oddly ironic, considering. But hey, fuck it, it’s effective. And y’all get your fodder, too.

    I’m surprised at the number of comments to what I thought was a very self-indulgent piece. You guys rock. Thanks for being so supportive and generous with your words. Have no fear — I’ve pelted the What If? Monster with chocolate-covered almonds, and it seems to have recessed into its dingy little cave once more. Hurrah for almonds!

  13. Beth

    Hey, woman.

    A couple thoughts, late in the comment game here:

    1) If you’re like me, and I think you are, you spend way too much time worrying about things that may never be. So the object of the worry may come to pass, or it may not. If it does, you’ll deal with it. If it doesn’t, you’ve wasted a lot of energy for nothing. So silly. And easier said than done to just stop worrying, but you’re very good at throwing caution to the wind and going with life’s flow. Just flow.

    2) Speaking of No. 1 up there, the entire premise of “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” is the notion that what you’re really afraid of is that you won’t be able to handle whatever happens, but you will. You already have. And you have a boy who gets you. Ride the wave, love.

  14. Anonymous

    I’m kind of going through a very similar situation with the man I started seeing.
    The Fear, the What If? Monster that you write about- it’s all there.
    When he’s around, it’s all good. When he’s not- sometimes I worry.
    And once I begin to worry, the fears come pouring in, and so the ‘defence’ gets switched on and I distance myself from him, when I don’t want to.
    You said it so much better than I ever can, though.

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