I have watched my mother be mistreated her entire life. She passively accepts this, always finding a reason why leaving would be worse than staying. As a child I would sit up with her until 3 or 4 in the morning, when my stepfather would stumble in the doorway smelling of cigarettes and Budweiser, the gleam of neon bar lights still in his eye. I promised myself, perhaps subconsciously, that I would never follow her example, that I would never allow myself to be degraded that way. But that promise, those years of watching the antithesis of what I wanted for myself, have made me overly sensitive to the smallest problems. When the first thing goes wrong, no matter how insignificant, I panic and rationalize with myself about how I deserve better. This urge to value myself so highly has lead me to make mistakes — to leave people who loved me, to display a kind of arrogance that is unbecoming.
Perfection in a relationship is unattainable, but perfect happiness may not be. I have always sought the former at the expense of the latter and almost did so again. That’s the difficult realization: that I’ve been looking for a state that doesn’t exist.