I have an awful lot of friends. I don’t mean Facebook friends. I mean real, If I die tomorrow this is where I keep my toys. Please dispose of them before my mom finds them, or they end up in an evidence locker,” because I watch too much Law and Order SVU friends. For any situation I may ever find myself in, I have at least 3 people I can call to get me out of it. I am very blessed in this regard. For this reason, it’s hard to keep up with everyone. I don’t see or talk to all of these friends every day, because who has the time? Whenever possible I schedule time to spend with my friends, and this often means a long ass pow wow wherein we catch each other up on what has happened in our lives since last we spoke or hung out.
A while back I hadn’t seen my friend “Kylie” in like a month. We were finally able to do brunch, and catch up. In the interim Kylie started dating a guy who was a friend of some other people I know. We will call this guy “Sylvester.” I had been trying for weeks to catch up with Kylie, because I have a slight phobia of losing touch with people I really care about. Kylie mentioned via text that she was dating Sylvester before we met up, but because I kept telling her we needed to catch up she somehow thought this meant it was in relation to him. Here’s the thing. Sylvester and I have mutual friends who tried to set us up many moons before they met, but I could tell almost instantly that he wasn’t interested. His child bearing hips, and inability to carry a conversation worth having assuaged the sting of rejection, so I never thought much of him or our mutual lack of interest.
Kylie in her misgivings about my eagerness to see her prior to our meeting asked Sylvester if there was anything he wanted to tell her about me and him. I imagine she posed the question like this, “Did you and Jessica date before or something?” Appalled by the mere notion, his response was as follows per Kylie’s recap, “Jessica is entirely too much. No man wants to date a girl like that. She does too much.” While I was not interested in dating a man like him, it still hurt for some reason.
His words kept me up at night, echoing in my head. They haunted me with their familiarity. I was wide awake with the smell of the person who was there before still lingering. My Ralph Lauren sheets were blush pink sateen, and my skin felt like velvet against them. My mattress was so soft that I sank into it with every toss and turn. My pillows were fluffy and full. It was just cool enough in my apartment to warrant burrowing under my down filled comforter. It was quiet, save for the wind that made the shadows from the trees look like hands stretching out to take you somewhere much darker. Yet, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something else was in the room with me, and there was. Memories. I had been triggered by the notion of being “too much,” so I pulled at the thread, and all the memories came flooding back. They fell out of my head, personified, and stood in front of my bed ghosts from the past.
For so long I had been told that I was too much by people who didn’t know me, and people who did. I found it strange that I could be too much when every day was a struggle against myself just to believe I was enough. I have never known the source of the perceived confidence everyone saw in me. I hated it. Because of that fictitious quality I was broken down to my lowest point by women who said, “She thinks she’s better than everybody,” and their attempts to show me I wasn’t. And by men who felt they needed to dim my light to make theirs shine brighter.
Like that one guy in college. I was crazy about that guy, but his fear of looking like a sycophant drove us apart. All I needed was to be seen, really seen for who I really was. I may be a lot, but once you get to know me I’m good I promise. That was the underlying theme of my existence in those times. Always trying to prove I’m not what they think I am. I tried to show my true colors. My softest side, so he wouldn’t think he needed to break me down. If I can be like putty in his hands, he’ll have no reason to break me. He in turn revealed himself when he said, “I don’t want to look like all the other people in your face all the time. I guess you think because you’re ‘You’ I’m supposed to fall all over you.” I froze there wondering well who the fuck am I? What does that even mean, and how am I supposed to fix it? I never wanted anyone to “fall all over me.”  He showed me he possessed the quality I hated the most in myself (that being insecurity) and that was my signal that it was over. So he came back, as they always do. He saw the error in his ways, and he cried to me. He choked up trying to get me to give him a second chance, and then I saw weakness, another quality I hated in myself. He sat there with his head hung low and his hands in his lap like the life had gone out of them. It would’ve made anyone else feel pity, except there had been no pity for me. I had given what I had to give to make him see that I was worthy, and now he had to pay for the pain he caused. “If I give him another chance I will devour him completely, rendering him incapable of loving anyone else again,” I thought. I felt powerful in that moment. I felt I had won, and there was no incentive to stick around there anymore. I looked back at his sad sunken face with a blank stare. It was all I could do not to laugh at the irony of it all. I blinked a couple of times, smirked, and walked out of his apartment only to act like I never knew who he was in the coming years. All because I was too much.
This was such a dangerous game to play, and I found myself playing it often. If they were very confident I allowed them to fully eclipse me. If they were insecure, I saw too much of myself in them and the resulting weakness they felt from my absence disgusted me even more. I found myself putting my self-worth in the hands of someone else over and over again. I wanted someone to see me, really see me, and like what they saw, and want to possess it and keep it for their own. I wanted so badly for someone to treat me with kindness, love, and adoration. The kind I saw guys give so easily to my friends. I just needed someone to make me feel like who I am is okay, like who I am is enough and not too much, and all the while the person I needed that from was me.