it’s not a duck unless someone tells me it’s a duck.

The saying goes, if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck. This is a logic I’ve applied to much of my life.

I suffer from high anxiety, low depression, and I battle with low self esteem at times. I will perceive any slight, snub, side comment or small snicker as deeply personal.

I have a deep-seated fear that all my relationships are living on a knifes edge. At no fault of those I’m in a relationship with, even friends I’ve had for decades. I constantly fear that I’m one ill-timed comment, one inappropriate joke, one mistake away from causing the end of a friendship.

It’s one of the things I am in therapy for. I know I’m a cool gal. The amount of selfies I post shows I back myself (selfies have actually been a huge personal help for me. Accepting my body and face as actually being not a bad sort with the right lighting and angles. I am the opposite of a selfie shamer). I am confident and I know that someone one day will think I’m worth loving and having. But I also know that I’m a very specific cup of tea. I’m not for everyone, a bit difficult to love.

I have worry that my love is disposable, so I am constantly trying to give people a reason to let them stay in my life. I used to get panic attacks, worrying that people found my presence overbearing, a burden to be endured. If I feel like someone’s going to leave me, I’ll bend over backwards in an effort to make them stay. I ameliorate myself, begging people without words, “please let me stay in your life.”

And so anytime anyone starts to leave, I take it to reflect who I am. It’s me who forced it to end, who didn’t deserve it, didn’t do enough to warrant them staying.

But I’m starting to change my inner narrative. Difficult to love, but worth the effort. I love wholly and openly. Sometimes it just isn’t meant to be. And if someone wants to leave I’ll let them, I deserve someone who will fight for me.

Until someone tells me it is a duck, says, “it is you, and the way you are,” I’ll choose to believe the best of myself and them. I’m learning it’s the only way to be truly happy.

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