Monday again, time for the next installment of Cassie’s story. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I am enjoying writing it.
I’m going to dinner with Matt on Saturday, like I’ve done loads of times before. So why does it feel different now? Why am I so shy around him? Nothing has changed, he’s said nothing and done nothing to make me think we have taken a step forward from our friendship. Yet I feel awkward around him, uncomfortable and tense. All my senses are on alert so that when he touches me it’s like an electric shock against my skin.
I don’t understand why I am feeling like this, and I don’t understand why it scares me so much, or why I feel that I need to run from it. Matt is my friend, he’s seen the worst of me and he still seems to like me. Nobody else has seen me so vulnerable, only Matt has seen me at my lowest ebb, only Matt saw what Nathan did to me. And Matt doesn’t think I’m a bad person, he seems to like being around me. So why do I feel like I don’t deserve even his friendship?
Laying down my pen I stared at my words. As always, my letters to myself showed me what I really felt. I was afraid of things heating up between us, I was afraid that I didn’t deserve Matt. I believed he was too good for me. Without allowing myself any further thought I picked up my pen and started writing.
It’s understandable that you don’t feel good enough for Matt, not even for his friendship. You are still recovering from your years with Nathan, and all the things you felt driven to do to keep him happy. Your self-esteem is fragile, as delicate as a baby bird. It’s only natural that you doubt yourself, and worry about who you are.
So it’s time to take stock of who you are. You are Cassie Parsons, a strong woman who got out of a co-dependent relationship. You are Cassie Parsons, home owner, business owner, parent, friend, dog owner. You are kind, giving and thoughtful, even though you try to deny it to yourself. You are a great friend to Saffron, Andrew and Bev. You are a great parent to Mark and Emmerson – Julia would not allow Emmerson to come to you if she didn’t trust you with her daughter. You are a good person who made a few wrong decisions, and that makes you human, not bad.
Perhaps the change you sense is not coming from Matt, but within yourself. Perhaps you are now ready for a deeper friendship with Matt and maybe he is reacting to that. Life does not stand still, no matter how much you may wish it did. Life moves on, things change, and those changes can be good ones. It’s time you trust yourself, and trust in life, and let things happen as they are meant to. Relax, and see what happens.
I put down the pen again, and picked up the notepad without reading my words. I went out from my bedroom into the kitchen where I poured myself a glass of wine and carried it onto my small back deck. Flicking on the outside light I sat down and sipped my wine, enjoying the soft night breeze. I could smell the herbs from my garden, and the soft scent from the two rose bushes that sat on the edge of the deck like bookends. Nathan had given me those, one as a housewarming gift and the other as a conciliatory gift after one of his episodes. Sometimes I wondered why I kept them, physical reminders of the past. But they were lovely bushes, and they looked good on the deck. And besides, they were flower bushes, they were not responsible for what had happened.
Placing the pad on the table I allowed myself to read my words to myself. My alter Cassie was unfailingly supportive, much like I would be to Saffron if she came to me with similar concerns. That was the idea of course of writing to myself. I was supposed to lay out my fears, my worries, my pain, and then answer myself lovingly. It had been a tactic proposed by Sue, my therapist, and it had been the most successful method I had tried. My letters to myself allowed me to see myself clearly, and to understand my feelings in a way I had never been able to do before. Events of the past, even before Nathan, had dissociated me from my own emotions and feelings. Writing these letters had helped me to heal in ways I hadn’t even known were needed.
I read my words and turned them around in my mind. It always seemed that my alter Cassie could pinpoint something that my everyday Cassie missed. This time it was the possibility that the change was within myself. Was that it? I replayed the last time I had seen Matt over in my mind, trying to feel my reactions. Yes, Matt had given me meaningful stares, but if I was honest with myself he had been doing that for a while. The difference was in my reactions.
I was noticing how I felt around him and it was making me panic. I was panicking because I didn’t feel good enough for a man like Matt. I didn’t feel good enough because of my past with Nathan, and further back the events of my childhood. I sipped my wine, forcing my breathing to stay calm and even. I didn’t want a panic attack – I hadn’t had one for months and I didn’t want them to start again. But my mind wouldn’t let itself be distracted, my thoughts circling back to Matt and my feelings.
It was natural that I would feel this way, I was sure of it. I had only just started to like myself, I was nowhere near to loving myself. Was it any wonder I couldn’t see why anyone else would love me? That thought caused me to choke slightly on the excellent wine. Who said anything about love? Matt liked me I knew, he wanted us to take our friendship further, I knew that too. He had mentioned being friend-zoned in a half joking half serious way once. I remembered how once, after a glass more than was wise of his cheap and cheerful wine – Matt loved to experiment with the bargain bin bottles in our local bottle shop – that he had taken my hand, stared at me with serious and half drunk eyes, and told me that he was going to wait for me to kiss him. That way, he said, I could be sure that he was not trying to manipulate me or push me into anything.
I thought about Matt, that adorable dimple that came and went in his left cheek, his warm brown eyes and the way a lock of hair kept flopping over his forehead. I thought about his sweet smile, his deep chuckle and how I felt safe when I was with him. Except that now I wasn’t feeling safe. I was feeling edgy, anxious, nervous. I was feeling excited. Wait, what was that thought? Was I really feeling excited, like a young girl in the presence of her crush? Nah, that was ridiculous. I didn’t feel like that. This was Matt, my friend, my rescuer, my sometime confidant. This was Matt who had seen me at the darkest times of my life, I didn’t have a crush on him.
I sipped some more wine, enjoying the flavour burst on my tongue and the cool liquid sliding down my throat. It had been a long day, with a trip to take a look at the new van on the way home. My mind slid to that problem, the need to hire someone to drive it. I had the second run selected, an area full of stores and light on coffee shops. I just needed the right person to do that run for me. Or maybe they should do the established run while I did the new one. I let that idea turn over in my head, feeling the rightness of it. Thinking about hiring I made a mental note to run another advertisement in Saturday’s paper.
Saturday, Matt. My mind gleefully returned to what seemed to be a favourite train of thought. I swallowed the last of my wine and stood up a tad more forcefully than needed. Saturday would come, and we would go out to dinner. I would take my own advice and relax, stop stressing about my feelings and emotions and just enjoy the evening. I was going to drive myself crazy with over-thinking if I didn’t stop it. Decision made I flicked off the light and went inside. Now all I had to do was stick to my resolve.