There are so many different types of relationships in our lives. We have the obvious ones…the ones with our spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends, significant others. The ones we choose to have as adults and with whom we hope to spend our most intimate moments with. But they are not our first relationships.
First, we have relationships with our family members…the families we are born into. Our parents are who they are when we are born. Some of us may have been conceived during honeymoons, in which case, you may have first met your parents when they were newlyweds, just married…still in love. You saw the first change in their relationship, when they were just getting to know each other and then you came along and made it three. Maybe your parents never got along or spent much time together before they had to fit you into theirs lives. At the same time, maybe they got married just to have children and so you perfected the relationship created to make a family.
Others of us were born many years after our parents were married, some who were married even later in life, in which case you entered the picture just before middle age set in. As other changes were happening within the lives of your parents…no longer feeling young enough to travel and party like they used to…you gave them a new reason to stay together or something for them to start to stay home for…or a reason to start coming home. You only knew them as being those who preferred to stay home and so you never saw a resentment grow between them for having to give up an active social life in order to take care of a family.
Regardless, you only knew your parents while they were in their middle-ages, as they say. You never knew them while they were young with dreams that may have been interrupted by having had children. (Unless having children was the only dream they ever had.)
In my case, I was born to parents in their late 30’s and my younger brother was born two years later when they were both 40. I didn’t know my mother at 25 when she had her whole life in front of her, when she had dreams of becoming an artist someday or traveling the world. I didn’t know her at an age when she had a vision for herself as a 40 year old woman, maybe married to a successful family man who bought her a house to raise children, in a good school district in the suburbs. And I also didn’t see my mother faced with the disappointment when she realized that was not the life she had ended up in.
I only knew my mother as a 38 year woman who lived upstairs from my grandfather in Brooklyn. I only knew her as being adamant that we attend private schools…myself not knowing what “public” schools in Brooklyn were all about. That was what my mother knew and I trusted her…I never knew why and I never questioned her opinion that said that public schools would have killed me and my brother and that the education she wanted for us, we could only get from private schools in Brooklyn.
I never saw my parents hold hands or make out, like I see young people do on the streets or at the movies…but my parents were older so I just imagined that they must have once done that, but that it was now “behind” them so it was something I had missed out on. I never saw my parents argue or fight, again I thought that it was just not something people their ages did. I didn’t realize that it was something they should have been doing, had they truly cared for each other…taken the time to say that something was not “right” between them.
But they set an example for me while growing up…me thinking that they were “in love” (as I understood it) and so they didn’t fight. I had not realized that it was my mother’s lack of interest in my father and his affairs that caused her to really have no emotion for him at all. What she swallowed for all of those years really lead me to believe that once you find the person you are meant to spend the rest of your life with, you become a people-pleaser and just go along with whatever he thinks is the activity for the day/weekend or vacation and that truly is what you want as well. So long as they are happy, then you must also be happy.
At 25, I learned about how my mother spent her entire marriage really gagging on castor oil. How much she hated to play backgammon over cocktails every night…a chosen past time that my father loved…or to play Bridge. How much my mother had wanted to travel to other places…besides the places my father had chosen for us to vacation to. The cars he chose to drive, the restaurants he chose to eat at…and I now know that my mother had wanted my brother and I to have grown up in a nice, friendly suburb…anyplace else besides Brooklyn.
Wow! Was I wrong! How could I have not known? How? Because my mother never told me. How bad was I at understanding how she felt about anything??? Because she chose to protect me from the truth. Did that mean that I didn’t love her? My inability to really decipher how she was truly feeling? Or was she just better at hiding her feelings than anyone else I have ever known?
Now, at 43 years old, I am finally able to say that I have no fucking idea what a healthy relationship is! I am able to admit out loud that I don’t know what it means to be in a healthy, constructive relationship because I have never witnessed one. And worse then having witnessed a bad one, I witnessed one that was just an illusion! I am alone, single and that is just how I feel most comfortable. I wake up in the morning and I get out of bed because of me. I do things for me, no one else. When in a relationship, I always would think that I had to do things for “us” and that our activities should be joint activities…like when my mother and father always did things together. I thought that was how things were “supposed’ to be.
So now I believe that a relationship is defined as me having to do things for us or being single is me being able to do things for me…and that there is no gray area. No such thing as being a relationship where we do things separate and yet still be together. As though if I am in a relationship, I am then incapable of making decisions on my own. If I choose to go out with friends, it is defined as me doing something without him which makes me a terrible girlfriend because I am abandoning him. If I choose to see a show or a movie or eat in a restaurant, then I should always include my guy…or be single and be able to include whomever I choose to.
Am I the only one seeing the problem here?
I have friends seriously from all over the world. Friends from all walks of life. If I think of a concert I want to see, I might think of one of my many friends who I think might enjoy seeing it with me. If I want to see a show or eat at a restaurant, I might choose to invite one of my friends to join me. But if I am with a man, then I also feel as though it is his job to want to do and see and eat where I want to, leaving him no room to want to do anything without me since he must be in love with me and incapable of doing anything without me by him side.
Ladies and gentlemen, most people might refer to this as co-dependency.
What??? Not me! I mean who else can be as independent as I have been throughout my life? Who else can say that they have been able to live alone and without anyone’s help as much as I have? I know that there is truly no one out there looking out for my best interest…and I am totally fine with that.
Now let’s look at all those short-lived relationships I was in and see how “in love” I thought I was. How quickly I became intimate with my emotions, how sexual our relationship became so quickly. As though that allowed me to feel the possession of that man. As though just because we were having sex, it meant that I possessed all of his emotions and he suffered from the same tunnel vision I suffered from.
Realizing this so late in life, seeing how warped things seemed to have gotten for me every time I “thought” I was in a relationship seriously makes me think I should never date again! How I lose perspective and sight of my goals. How a 2nd or 3rd date for me translates into my goals becoming “our goals” and how unrealistic that really is!
Right now, yes, I am single and I am so happy! I get up in the morning and I participate in the activities in life I choose to participate in and I DON’T participate in the activities I choose NOT to participate in. I make decisions for myself without having to take anyone else’s life into consideration. This week, I am all about running and yoga and starting a kick-ass new job. Next month, it may be that I discover wine-tasting or a great trilogy of books by a new author. The month after that I might hear about a great band having a concert that I want to attend or free movies in the park that I choose to go see. Or hiking a new mountain or canoeing or mountain climbing or hang gliding or cheap flights to some place I’ve never been before.
Whatever it is, it will be for me and me alone. I might invite friends or co-workers to join me in any of those activities as well as other activities that might strike my fancy. (I should really write these down!) But what I am afraid of…more than anything…is that I meet a man who chooses to stay home to watch TV and drink all weekend. Really? Kill me! So how do I make sure that this doesn’t happen? How do I make sure that the next man I meet keeps me focused on my job and my plans to participate in safe, sober, constructive habits and activities? Do I interview him during the first date and just hope that he’s not bullshitting me just to get me into bed? Do I wait for him to prove it to me before I go to bed with him? (As much as I love having sex, is that reward to both of us for becoming a healthy couple?)
I have to tell you, I don’t have the answers to these questions. This blog is just words on paper coming straight from my brain…hopes that if I stay true to my own goals, that my faith that I will actually meet someone who shares my passion for life will be delivered to me, will be answered. Is that enough? Am I asking the Universe to deliver this person to me, in whatever form he may come in, to accompany me in the next chapter in my life so that I don’t have to march it alone? Someone who is smarter than me when it comes to how a relationship is meant play out. Someone who was able to witness successful communication between his parents in daily dialog that wasn’t just acted out for his benefit. Is this what I am searching for now?
God knows I certainly don’t want someone more broken than I am! Though maybe what I need to do first is work on fixing me so that I am no longer looking for someone to fix me because I would have already done it on my own. Then maybe a successful relationship will be possible for me. So I have to stop thinking of myself as the Humpy Dumpy that all the king\s men couldn’t put back together again and start thinking of myself as being whole again, someone worthy of being with someone who is also whole and looking to have a healthy life with me…regardless of the life that made me who I am today.
I guess that is what will lead me in the direction of where a healthy relationship might be..
I guess I better get to work then!