I mentioned in an earlier post that I went through a phase of my life now affectionately deemed by many as the “Angry Amy” years. I didn’t come up with that on my own, I adopted it later.
My friends called me that behind my back, and rightfully so. Every fiber of my being exuded hostility and resentment for the better part of a decade. In fact, a more accurate name for that time of my life would be, “The Epoch of the Bitter Bitch.”
Ha! Sure, I can joke about it now because it’s long over, but it wasn’t funny at the time … for me or for anyone around me. Just ask my mother.
See, I‘ve spent the better part of my adult life as a single mom. I married at 22, had a baby shortly thereafter and was divorced by age 25. Between 25 and 35, I had a few playmates, but no serious relationships. And though I would never have admitted it out loud, all that time I was looking for a man to “complete” me. Or to rescue me. Or a little of both.
Unfortunately, while I was pining away for a hero, I was setting myself up for a lifetime alone because I measured all my potential partners on the Seinfeld relationship scale. In other words, I was constantly on the lookout for flaws, and they were mostly inconsequential, i.e., the guy was too short, too bald, too loud, too cocky, too shy, walked funny, talked funny, chewed with his mouth open, his eyes were too close together, he lived too far away, he had a cat, he lilted a little to the left, he wore a cardigan … you get the idea.
No matter what great qualities the guy had to offer, he was never good enough for me. From Date No. 1, I was a bird of prey swooping in for the kill. It’s a wonder men didn’t run screaming for the hills the minute I walked into a room. ANY room.
I realize now that it was me who wasn’t enough. … I had deep, dark chasm growing in my soul, origins unknown. I just knew that if I allowed someone to stick around for any length of time, eventually they would figure out that I was a fake, a phony, a sham. That I brought nothing to the table.
It’s only been in recent years that I realized how little I thought of myself, and how that pit of self-despair permeated all areas of my life. I was alone a lot. And I was profoundly lonely, even with others in the room. I was unhappy, and I was pissed off at anyone who wasn’t equally unhappy. Instead of sulking quietly, I projected my misery outward. In a big way.
I was full of false bravado disguised as confidence. I was loud, rude and ob-freakin’-noxious. I was not emotionally healthy, so I tended to attract men who were also not particularly healthy. The ones who were healthy and would have made good partners got tossed out immediately on one of the aforementioned technicalities (too short, bald, etc.). And of course, I couldn’t understand why everyone else had a boyfriend except me. Well, duh.
I know I must’ve had a few redeeming qualities because, somehow, I managed to retain quite a few close friends. It’s a testament to what wonderful souls they are to have put up with me. (Oh, and I did remarry, but it ended earlier this year. That’s a story for another blog post, or five.)
Anyhoo, the Angry Amy years ended almost four years ago. Nobody completed me or rescued me. Simply put, I decided it was time to rescue myself. I was so damn tired of being angry.
During a pretty thorough soul cleansing, I worked on my self-esteem. Without going into a lot of detail on how I got to my current happy place, the gist is that I latched onto some pretty profound self-discovery tools and adopted a faith in something much larger than me.
Today, I realize I have no business directing the show. Believe me, life is so much better with me in the audience. Today, I know what I am worth. I also see the value in others like never before. I have retired the Seinfeld scale, and now (mostly) see quirks instead of flaws. I accept myself and others for who they are. I am complete, with or without a partner. And that’s a shift in semantics for me, too … I would need a partner, an equal – OK, someone just as screwed up as me (I’m only sort of kidding) -- if I were ever to venture down the relationship path again.
I may be alone, but I am not lonely. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s SO good. Instead of seeing limitations, I only see possibilities.
Last week's Thanksgiving holiday got me thinking about how grateful I am for all the blessings in my life, including the very messy journey that got me to where I am right now. This year was, without a doubt, the best Thanksgiving I've ever had in all my 40 years.
Oh, and a friend I saw recently who knew me during the Angry Amy years, and who has not seen me much since my reboot, commented that I project a peaceful glow. (That’s about as far from angry as you can get.)
Ain’t it funny that when you respect yourself and exude gratitude, people tend to like you a whole lot more? The good stuff just keeps on comin’.
Sounds like a whole new "Era of Amy" to me.
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After 10 years, she's still just saying.