Games

During a particular tricky period in our relationship (Ramadan in April last year – my first cancelled trip due to Covid), we started to play an online game.

I’ve never really been one for computer games. Occasionally, when bored, I lay download a couple for a while then delete. I like games involving strategy  – those that make my mind work and make me feel a sense of accomplishment when I solve them.

We started with a game of online Ludo. He had only recently downloaded it through Facebook and asked me to do the same. The first few games he absolutely destroyed me but I didn’t care. In this delicate period of our relationship, it brought us together and gave us something to do, to talk about and laugh about. Eventually … and I mean eventually, I started to win a few games which added to the fun. He won most of the time but whilst I am competitive I didn’t mind because I enjoyed it all so much.

During a recent conversation, chess was brought up and how he would like to play. We discovered that neither of us really knew how but that it may be too difficult to learn together due to the language barrier. He then suggested draughts.

My dad taught me how to play draughts  . Dad always won, but I soon started to learn and would win some games and I liked the strategy and cunning of the game.

So you understand, I was quite happy to find an online version of this game.

He destroys me. Nearly every time. We both started on 500 points – he is now on 27500ish and I am on 7500ish. We have drawn a few times, I have won occasionally. I don’t care though.

Or rather, I didn’t. 

I love that about him – his intelligence, the way his mind works. I don’t mind that I lose because we keep playing and having fun. Am I surprised I lost a lot? Sure. I thought I was reasonably ok at draughts and thought we would be more evenly matched, but it’s ok.

Then, this morning after I lost again, he commented that I always lose and maybe he needs to play with someone else- a stronger player.

Wow, that hurt. He was joking, it was trash talk. But it really stung and – as per goddam usual – my eyes filled up. I thought I had got away with it – it was the end of the call and he wasn’t playing full attention but he noticed as he always does.

How to explain? How to tell him that his comment felt like a knife in my gut – that I am not good enough. That my mind rolled and played with that idea…that I am stupid, not good enough and I never will be. That every moment of my anxiety comes from that – that I am not good enough for him and that one day he will find someone better and I will be left alone.

It is not the winning. I genuinely didn’t care about that because I loved the fact that he won, that he is so intelligent, and that made me more. But his comment – however much he was joking – just made me love myself less.

Is it his job to make me feel good about myself?

If you pay attention to the many online relationship and coaching gurus, no it is not. And I do get that. Confidence comes from within. You have to have pride in yourself, see your own worth – dampen down you inner critic. If I don’t feel positive about myself, how can I expect anyone else to?

But.

I can’t believe this is the entirety of the situation.  Surely, part of feeling loved is feeling that you are special to that person? That they love all of you: They value your strengths. They find you attractive and sexy.  They love your flaws and your faults because they make you who you are.

In making the person you love feel that love and attraction you feel for them, they feel good about themselves.

So…how does that work then? For someone to love you, you need to feel good about yourself but someone loving you makes you feel good about yourself.  Chicken and egg I think.

Does he make me feel good about myself?

Sometimes. Every call makes me happy. When he tells me misses me – which is not often. When he tells me I look beautiful or that he wants me. When he mentions something about our future.

These things don’t happen every day and I don’t expect them to.

But every day he calls me, every day he kisses me, every day he tells me he loves me. He makes me feel loved.

So what’s my problem? I have absolutely no idea.

His loving me has made me feel better about myself. It has made me want to improve myself more.

I try very hard to be a good person. I work hard. I am successful – I have achieved. I try my best when I can. I try to look after myself – make the best of who and what I am. I have a lot to offer someone.

So why do I feel this way? Why can a throwaway comment make me feel so bad – make me feel like I am not good enough for him?

The last train

It’s cold and wet and dreary outside. Typical English weather. I’m sat on the last train, heading towards Stansted Airport.

Two things have struck me whilst siting here.

First – I am so proud of myself! I keep thinking about my breakdown and how I couldn’t even leave the house to take the kids to school. Now look at me! Whatever happens with Wild Card, this has been a journey for me metaphorically as well as literally. Saying that, the journey has been good so far… Maybe I do have a propensity to look for negatives.

The second thing was that we are taught to perceive differences where there aren’t any. As I look out of the window at the dark clouds, rain, fields – and more recently, houses and shops – and I could quite easily be up north. There’s little difference, no need for the North-South divide. And if that’s the case in my own country, where we stereotype and become prejudiced, what does it say about our perceptions of those so far away?