I find it hard to delineate the boundaries of my life: from the size and shape of my body to my professional responsibilities to my romantic aspirations; from my love of telling the story and my love of the praise upon delivery; from my immediate expectations to my long-term dreams to the amorphous, forever churning edges of hope.
One of the hardest parts of life for me has always been the end of a relationship or friendship. Don’t get me wrong – that shit’s hard for everyone. I’ve got a pattern.
- Boy meets girl.[i]
- Boy thinks, Smart girl! Great voice! Huge rack! So funny! Long hair![ii] Huge rack! Bakes fabulous foodstuffs! Is like a fireball of energy bouncing through a social pinball game! Passionate! Eloquent! Huge rack! Can speak intelligently with others![iii] and perhaps a few other things.[iv]
- Girl thinks, Living, breathing man with relatively proportionate physical features! No wedding ring![v] Speaks my language! Literally! Is over the age of 21! Has car, home AND job![vi] Has family he actually acknowledges! Great butt! Loves dogs![vii]
- Girl flirts with (relatively) reckless abandon. [viii]
- Boy is surprised by Girl’s forwardness but does a little duckface-head-nod approval routine and goes along for the ride, perhaps even asking out immediately.
- Girl shows enthusiasm, accepts invitation, squeals on phone with girlfriends, checks weather online and plans outfit days in advance.
- Boy plans date; also begins to contact Girl with new forms of electronic communication,[ix] friends Girl on Facebook.
- Date occurs: there is much nervous laughter, much less-nervous laughter, generally accompanied by social lubricant of some sort.[x]
- Boy and Girl both believe date has gone well and plan to have more dates.
- Boy and Girl have more dates.
- Boy and Girl are in lurrrrve.
- Boy and Girl move in together.[xi]
- Boy and Girl are happy living together.
- Boy and Girl begin to create perfect shared future dreams; agree on home locations, number of chirrens, potential job changes.
- Boy gets heirloom ring sized for Girl’s finger.[xii]
- Boy and Girl find themselves, each, dissatisfied in some way that they believe the other can help/fix.
- Girl begins conversations, many of them, to talk about what she wants in the relationship and what he wants in the relationship and how they can get there together.
- Boy tells Girl why she’s doing (or not) something he wants her to.[xiii]
- Girl repeats step 2.
- Boy repeats step 3.
- Sometimes Boy begins to play by Girl’s rules; sometimes Girl begins to play by Boy’s rules.
- Either way, badness sets in.
- Girl decides lurrrrve is worth struggle. Girl will weather storm because rainbow, sunshine, whatever cheesy metaphor. Girl buys six months of cheese-of-the-month club for Boy.
- Boy is still not happy.
- Girl seeks answers everywhere, from Boy, from doctor, from little Jorge down the street. Girl brings ideas to Boy like dog presenting owner with dead chipmunk. See! Look what I did! So great! Let’s be happy!
- Boy and Girl continue to need to be loved each in their own ways but cannot, somehow, explain to the other how.
- Cycle of unfulfilled needs becomes toxic, poisons lurve.
- Girl fights to try again, to rebuild, because she is verrr stubborn bitch who cannot let go of dreams for future, despite not receiving love as she needs it, too.
- Boy decides dream can never come true.
- Boy breaks Girl’s heart but also sets her free.
Ok, so, maybe every single relationship didn’t happen in exactly the same way as this last one, but I do pick men who aren’t perfect, who are more kind than macho, who have baggage almost as heavy as mine – and then I weather the fucking storm. When do you decide the storm will never end? Not for lack of trying, I’m not yet married, but it’s a similar principle: who gets to define the parameters of “for worse”?
I know I’m one fucked-up chick. This isn’t some martyr-y plea: I know that I carry a lot of emotional crazy in my head and my heart, that I’ve got serious and sometimes scary health problems, that I’m very good at starting projects and not so good at finishing them, that my med list alone is intimidating enough to scare off the most of men.
So I think maybe I’m looking for dudes with baggage because I know they’ll have to put up with mine, so it can be fair. But “fair”? What a bullshit word.
Anyway. On the far side of the relationship, I turn around and look at all of the wonderful things I’ve let atrophy while facing the back of the cave wall. My amazing friends! My writing! Music! Quilting! Pups! Social activity! How did I let them sit there on my shelf, gathering dust? And that’s the very worst part: I knew I was losing myself to the battlefront. I knew it then, I know it now, I will know it in the future, that rationalization: It’s just because it’s hard RIGHT NOW that it’s ok to focus my energies here and here alone. But the tornado never stops – if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last two years, this is the most profound truism. Life is always crazy. Shit always goes wrong. Preparation can help us with a lot of it, but “good judgment” is a sieve instead of a bowl and everything leaks.
I’m a better person on this side of that love. I have learned a great deal about myself, about patience[xiv], about kindness, about not
being in charge; in addition to discovering a birth defect that’s plagued me for almost 30 years and getting said defect chopped out of my foot, which is totally relevant, so shove it.
I’m still sad and really fucking angry, but my biggest grief is for the image we shared of the future. Eerily, I can still see that future in my head, but the partner in the dream doesn’t have a face.
I used to write love letters to no one as a teen. I have no idea if any of them survived my adolescence, the cheap book glue from my journals or my mother’s move.
This whole post is wonky and rambling and weird but I wrote it and that’s something.
[i] Or, more accurately, Boy and Girl meet again, having noticed nothing of each other at previous meetings and totes had no romantic inclinations towards each other at that point.
[ii] Because apparently that’s a “thing,” that guys like long hair?
[iii] Or at least sounds like it!
[iv] Dear self-esteem police: I’m neither dismissing nor undermining some of the things that make me fabulous. xoxo, Mer.
[v] Or wedding-ring tan!
[vi] Don’t deny it, ladies. That’s how this works.
[vii] Which is obvious due to the dog hair on clothing, but not crossing the line into cat-hair-everywhere shit.
[viii] Girl is shameless.
[ix] Including but not limited to SMS, email, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, LinkedIn, GoodReads, Skype, Spotify, Pandora, Etsy, Words With Friends, Waze, ooVoo and Amazon.
[x] For example, bourbon and ginger.
[xi] Sometimes because Boy does not want to come up to Girl’s house and Girl has more free time so Girl comes to Boy’s house very regularly for sleepovers and gets very, very tired of living out of her gym bag and Girl says to Boy that something must change and Girl means Boy should come up to her as well as her coming down to him but Boy decides this is Girl telling him he had to invite her to live with him and Girl is still frustrated by Boy’s version of events.
[xii] And lures Girl into mall for other ostensible reason and Girl knows Boy is lying because Boy cannot do sneaky convincingly but Girl does not know why they walk into jewelry store until Boy asks clerk to size finger.
[xiii] Worst part of this is when Boy knows what he “wants” isn’t ok, so is completely misunderstandable. Example: no boyfriend should say, “I want you to stay home and clean the house like the housewife and mother you’ll be in 10 years.”
[xiv] Seriously. I know, right?