“You’re better than him. You’re better than sitting here crying, cradling your broken pieces in your shaking hands.”
The words were a record player and the voice was my roommate. The boy was my best friend and the splintering heart was his new girlfriend, the realization that maybe I wasn’t his only one. The breathlessness was my utter shock and my insistence that no, I was not better than him, or this, or whatever my roommate was getting at.
Eventually he’d fade like peeling paint on walls, and in an irate spectacle on an empty city street, I’d learn that yes, I was definitely better than him.
The answer, a lot of folks would say, is simple: I didn’t love myself to see that his love for me was faulty and twisted. But that answer, I would say, is wrong.
I’ll admit it, there’s a lot of validity in the “lack of confidence” theory. To my friends who accept bruises and beatings and abuse or who tuck themselves into arms that lay limp instead of hold tight, I say this: your confidence is a stem of flowers and I’m waiting to see them blossom, because everything about you is beautiful.
But a lot of girls, including myself, have no problem with themselves. We might tuck wishes into our pockets for thinner thighs or higher grades or an inch more of acceptance, but our hearts are generally filled with peace and comfort with ourselves, inside and out. I refuse to boil down the complexity of ignoring the “you’re better than him’s” down to a lack of self-confidence. It’s way more than that.
I once heard that there’s some hormone that women have that makes them forget about all of the pain of pregnancy so that they’ll want to have more babies. I think guys are like that, too. I think we can’t understand “you’re better than him” because the good in someone makes our hearts swell with joy and smiles and love, and, like that baby-making hormone, we forget about the bad, we don’t feel it as much. It’s not like we think we deserve the bad; we just make the choice to let the good fill our hearts instead.
We will always look the good in someone square in the eyes; we will always be able to embrace their positive qualities deep in our arms, and we will always be ready to say, “yes, this good action is what defines him.” And all of the bad that lives in him? You will push it to the side, tell ourselves that being close with someone means understanding that he’s not perfect, give him the benefit of the doubt. The good in someone will always rear its head bigger and louder than we can believe, and we’re going to let it outweigh the bad.
I will not blame the fractured skeleton of a relationship on some manufacturing error in me; a lack of confidence is not entirely to blame for a faulty relationship. There is nothing wrong with me, and there’s nothing wrong with you, either. The inability to swallow a you’re better than him whole? It’s not a lack of confidence; we don’t think we’ve earned the bad it or we deserve it. It’s just that it’s so much harder to see than the good.