I’m going to venture into waters that I NEVER go into — relationships, particularly intimate ‘partner’ relationships. I’ve written about work, lack of work, hiking, my family, positive thinking, getting older, books, NPR, and who knows what all else. All the stuff that makes up my routine day. I’ve never written about intimacy because, well, it’s not part of my routine day…or week….or year … honest? Decades. Ninety-five percent of my time is involved in all the above mentioned and other inconsequential stuff. The other occasional five percent comprises thoughts of what life would be like if I had a partner — not a husband, that’s too much commitment for a daydream.
Bloggers making references to their ‘partner’ ~ I like that word because it doesn’t denote a gender or license and, as far as I’m concerned intimate relationships should be about “partnering” in one form or another anyway ~ is almost unavoidable if you are sharing anything about your life, if your life includes a partner. Bloggers share all the bad and the good about current or past relationships and sometimes all the details. I’m especially drawn to the people who describe, even just as passing detail, a healthy relationship with their partner. I get a little squeamish when the post contains some negative but very normal language and emotion – I just remind myself that I’m reading one side of the story and that living with or being intimate with someone is part of life and sometimes ~ a lot of times ~ it gets messy, dirty and ugly.
Aside from a very few fleeting encounters with another person, I haven’t had a partner since my divorce about 20 years ago. I don’t admit that to people (well, people don’t ask, thank God) because it’s embarrassing; it is indicative of a flaw within myself.
Ugh,…the depths of the “why?”
My pre-adulthood exposure to relationships via my only parent, my mother, was — well, abusive and toxic. I had an isolated and sheltered life — except for the uglier side, the wrong-side-of-the-tracks side of life. I had no inclination or concept of having a relationship; I never had a boyfriend until I met my husband and that, dear readers is another-whole-story for another post when I feel strong and daring.
Anyway…I got married and I knew even before I did it that it was a mistake. He was and is a ‘nice guy’ but there was no compatibility, no common ground. The reasons the relationship happened at all are what couches in offices with bubbling water fountains and soft colored walls are made for. So, three children, medications, therapy sessions and an incessant suicide ideology lifetime later I finally worked up the courage to leave.
Through the combination of being destitute (no job, no money & no home), a single mom and a singular history of never having witnessed a ‘good’ relationship, I was resolved to not go down that road again. It was an easy decision to adhere to because creating a life for myself and my children took all my time and energy.
I did it.
Years later when the kids were almost all grown and I didn’t have to work two jobs I dabbled with online dating. It didn’t go well…at all. I gave up. I decided that I was better off alone. I rationalized that I made my own money, had my own home and did whatever I damn well pleased without consulting, compromising or sharing anything. And as fine & well as that is, I was also secretly believing that I am flawed. Worse, I have no redeeming value or qualities at all. I saw myself as ugly, stupid, uninteresting, fat, socially inept, undereducated, a “downer” and, generally speaking, not worth it. I’ve had a lot of help believing this too so, there was that.
And that was why I busied myself with things that I enjoyed and it reaffirmed my belief that I am “better off” by myself every time someone I knew was having relationship issues or worse, issues about not having a relationship. I rejoiced in my ‘good fortune’ to not have someone in my life. I knew that if I ever ‘met someone’ they would most likely make my life worse for being in it: emotional abuse or exploitation. I feared my emotional destitution would drive me to gullibility and it would be a fast-track to hell from there.
I didn’t have to concern myself with beating anyone off because no one approached me anyway. This further cemented my beliefs about myself but I am not so removed from reality that I didn’t realize that I was at least partially responsible for my singleness. There is (probably) some truth to the fact that we draw or repel people/things based on how we feel, what we are ‘putting out there’ and I’m sure that people felt the equivalent of the Great Wall of China surrounding the insecure and self-loathing person I had become.
I started working on myself because I have been unhappy with where my life has come and not only because I am lonely but because without changing myself, my attitude and my belief system, my life will not change. I’d like a partner, an intimate friend, a ‘someone’ special in my life but…it’s definitely harder when you are older and regardless of whether or not I’m blessed with ever having that, I want to be happy with myself for making myself a better person and making my life more enjoyable.
There is nothing wrong with being alone — as in not having someone to touch or kiss or embrace in bed — but I believe life is a little sweeter if you do. I’m not emotionally strong enough to ‘pursue’ finding someone; I still hold the hope that, if it’s meant to be, someone will find me as long as I open myself up for it, if I work on optimism, hope, self-love, gratitude and happiness.
In closing: the path of my life has come to an ultimatum: keep doing what I’ve been doing and be miserable or take the unknown path and see what happens. I am feeling better since I’ve concentrated on pushing negative thinking out of my conscious mind, being grateful for even small things, reading good writing, writing out my demons, being intentional about giving myself some latitude with how the universe wants to use me and being hopeful about my future — even if it’s scary. Trying to control my destiny has only led to disappointments and disillusionment. Since I don’t know what I am doing wrong, I’ve given myself up to just doing my best and following whatever leads appear in my path. It’s terrifying but I don’t have young children anymore to worry about so I’m just going to go with the flow.