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I’ve Got 99 Problems and Commitment is Definitely One
The truth behind why I’m afraid to commit, and maybe you are too
I am unable to answer the question, “What is your favorite movie?”
I am physically, emotionally, and every other-ally unable. Not because I don’t watch movies and not because I haven’t seen movies that have moved in me ways I only hope Nick Jonas does one day (please don’t remind me that he’s married – I know, and it hurts everyday), but because I cannot pick just one movie that I would deem my favorite because, drumroll please…
I have a fear of commitment. Or something like that.
The first time I remember having feelings of indecision and stress around a choice was when someone asked me at a birthday party, “Kaitlyn, would you like chocolate or vanilla ice cream?”
Before you give me grief and say that this isn’t commitment phobia, please remember I was six years old, and ice cream is a major deal at that age (and still is).
I stood there panicking. A bead of sweat dripped down my little forehead which made my bangs look wild. I swayed back and forth in my purple jelly sandals. I grabbed ahold of my jean overall straps. And, I didn’t know what to say, because I didn’t know what I wanted.
“Kaitlyn? Chocolate or vanilla?”
“Um,” I said. I looked around. Some kids chose vanilla, some kids chose chocolate, and I stood there completely unsure. “Chocolate. No, vanilla. Wait, um, never mind. None.”
So, I had cake.
And I learned some things about myself that day. One, I think cake on its own is delicious, but when cake is accompanied by ice cream, it’s even more delicious, and I missed out. And, two, when posed with having to make a choice between one or two options, I choose neither and run away screaming.
So, what’s the deal?
How did this begin? Why can’t I commit to a movie or an ice cream flavor? And if I can’t commit to something as simple as food and entertainment, then what will happen to me when I’m faced with choosing a partner or where to put down roots and call home?
And if I can’t commit to something as simple as food and entertainment, then what will happen to me when I’m faced with choosing a partner or where to put down roots and call home?
Why can’t I commit?
And why can’t you?
Lately, I’ve been exploring the idea of adopting a dog. I actually had one at my house for about two weeks. She was a sixty-five-pound Catahoula mix, and her name was Summer, but we called her Midge, named after Midge Maisel, because she was a silly lady with a lovely side eye. I fell in love with Midge so quickly and so hard that I spent my first night with her sobbing on my sofa, because I felt like something was wrong with me.
She was sound asleep and looked like an angel, and there I sat, right next to her, and I wept.
At first, I thought I was crying because I felt tired, which was partly true. It had been a long day of adjusting to having a dog in the house – a lot of walks, a trip to the pet store, enforcing rules and showing her what was and was not off limits.
And that’s when I felt my heart ache.
My actual heart muscle inside of my chest quite literally felt as though it was being ripped open, and that’s when I realized what Midge’s presence was doing to me.
The last animal I had in my care was my ex’s dog. I loved him, similarly to Midge, fast and hard, and over the course of nearly four years, we had developed quite the bond. On the day I left California to move back home to New Orleans, the dog stood in the window and watched me leave. And I haven’t seen him since.
It wasn’t until the night began to wind down with Midge that I realized three things:
- My heart had never healed from losing that dog.
- My heart had never loved another animal (or human) since loving that dog.
- The reason I fear both commitment and love are because I fear both loss and grief.
On top of feeling grief and love that night, I started to feel overwhelmed and anxious at the prospect of committing to Midge, or any pet, because that would make them mine. And that’s a responsibility. A big deal. A commitment.
And if I can’t choose an ice cream flavor or a movie, how could I possibly choose a living, breathing creature and call it my own? My favorite dog of all the dogs? The one I love so much that I choose for it to be mine? Especially when there was, and in many ways still is, an animal that has already taken that space in my heart?
If I can’t commit to a dog, then how can I ever commit to another human being? How did I even do that in the first place?
While I don’t have the answer for you or myself, I do have some advice to share, advice that I’ve learned over the years through trial and error, and it’s this:
In order for you to attract into your life what you are seeking, you must absolutely, irrevocably, unequivocally believe that you deserve it.
Read that again, then meet me back here.
Once you believe you are deserving, and once you believe you are worthy, you must allow yourself to accept the gift into your space and nurture the ever-loving shit out of it, and you must be okay with knowing that there is a chance that one day it could no longer be yours. But while it is yours, you will give the best of yourself to your choice – your commitment – because, at the end of the day, isn’t committing to something all we really can do?
Also, don’t we, like, already do it all of the time?
We commit to our friends, we commit to our leases and mortgages, we commit to our jobs, we commit to recipes, to clothes we buy, to therapists, to politicians, to projects, airlines, restaurants, everything.
Clearly, we’re capable of committing to everything else in life, so it’s time we start committing to ourselves.
It’s time we start fully believing that we deserve what we want.
So, dear reader, I ask you…
Chocolate or vanilla? What’s your favorite movie? Would you marry Nick Jonas if he asked you? (The answer to this is no, because Nick Jonas is my husband.)
But I do ask that you get clear on what you want.
I do ask that you believe you deserve it.
And I do ask that when what you want knocks on your door, you let it in.
You say hell yes.
And you commit.
Because there’s growth through grief, there’s love in sadness, and there’s space on your plate for both types of ice cream and room in your heart for more.
We knew you’d love this! Check out Kaitlyn’s earlier piece in this column here.