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The Goldilocks Brief

2:23 a.m. The big projects I was working on have come up to their deadline. Proposals submitted, bids received, offers accepted, contracts signed. Two out of three of the projects were successful, the third, a surprising disappointment in some ways. This third project, was not the most profitable one, so having to go back to the drawing board on this is not a horrible defeat. For me, it means, I get to return home during my evenings. I get to spend time with my kids. I get to live a bit more normal life. Which means, I’m wide awake at 2:23 a.m., for no apparent reason.

Mr. Just Right, from my last post, ended up pushing our meet up for cocktails on Wednesday to dinner and a movie Sunday evening. He showed up, promptly at 5:30 p.m. While he’s wonderful enough on paper, I knew immediately that he wasn’t Mr. Just Right after all. I don’t usually know this right away, but this time, I did. Maybe it was the fact that even though he’s only a few years older than me, he looked as frail and hunched over as my 90-year-old grandma used to look, when she was 90 years old. Not that I judge people entirely on how they look, but let’s face it: when you’re looking for a romantic partner, you have to, at least, be attracted enough to want to get romantic. I knew instantly that this was not going to get romantic. I also knew instantly that this was going to be a very long evening. Fortunately, much of it was going to be a movie, but I had to get through dinner first.

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A Broken Heart

I know it is an idiom. The idea of a broken heart. Your heart doesn’t literally break like some glass ornament that can shatter when it falls from the tree. It is merely an expression indicating great pain. Pain usually associated with the loss of a love.

I know this pain. I know this pain intimately. For me, this pain, while usually referred to in emotional terms, is one I experience on a physical level as well as on an emotional level. It resides in my chest, just to the right of center and it feels like someone wedged a pickax in at that particular point and is now trying to pull my heart right out from my body. It is a physical pain as well as an emotional pain.

What I didn’t know, until this last year, was that sometimes a broken heart occurs for reasons other than lost or unrequited love. A broken heart can occur absent love. A broken heart can occur when a dream that you loved, that you hoped for, that you worked for, dies. Broken hearts might always be about love, but they are not always about lovers.

Dilemma

I’ll cut to the chase.  I’m an idiot. Who signs up on an online dating sight at the most busy time of their professional and personal year? I do. Like I said…I’m an idiot.  I admit it. I have only one excuse. I was three sheets to the wind when I did the signing up. Yep.  Had one of those down days.  One of those days that proves living a block from the local liquor store is not necessarily the benefit you might think it would be.  I don’t know the particular circumstances.  I think I successfully drank them out of my memory.  I just remember it was one of those days, which, for whatever reason I was feeling blue about the whole situation that transpired in my life recently.  Actually, I wasn’t really feeling blue about that situation if the truth be known.  I was feeling blue that I’d wasted the last two years of my youth on the man. Okay, enough with the drama. It is also very possible that I was feeling happy.  I feel that a lot these days.  In fact, I almost get giddy with the lack of stress and the ease with which my family functions right now. No more walking on eggshells.  No more having to ask permission or wonder when the next derisive comment is going to come. No more worrying about money.  Since I’m not paying  his bills, there’s an extra amount in our coffers this month, and that makes me genuinely silly with the giddy factor. Read the rest of this entry

Is it Love or Is It Something Else?

The following is a blog post I started a year ago, on September 27, 2011. I guess the break up with the Gone Boyfriend really was a long time coming. The post below isn’t complete. I’m posting it in this unfinished state, because I think it is a good lesson to me to go with my gut. I sensed something wasn’t right a year ago. Whatever was brewing inside the Gone Boyfriend was brewing for a while, and I was seeing something of it. I just was too afraid or unwilling to face it. My bad.

How can you tell if it is real love?

I find this a difficult question to address.

Maybe, because, before you can address the question at all, one must define love.  This is something I cannot do. Well, maybe I can do it when it comes to loving that little sports car that just drove by, or loving my job or not loving it, or loving my children…but when it comes to an adult relationship?  This is where I have trouble.  What is real love?  I don’t even know what it means to be really in love.  Moreover, I’m not sure, having been beaten by men either verbally or physically or emotionally and certainly financially most of my life, that I can even understand the meaning of love or what it would look like or feel like to have a man be truly in love with me.  Too me, it looks just too much like competition, or the lack of competition.

But, I’m currently in a relationship, and have been with a man for nearly a year.  Eleven months to be exact and, well, questions are coming to my mind.  Yes, they are keeping me up at night.  I am beginning to wonder if this relationship is really right for me.  Maybe, when I get done, I will come to the conclusion that my even asking the questions was the sign that things weren’t right.  Then again, maybe everyone needs to ask the questions periodically just to check in and re-evaluate what it is about the relationship that still is worth committing to.  At this point, I don’t know, but I am concerned enough about some things that I need to take a step back and ask, “What’s really going on here?”  That’s not the only question I’m asking either…obviously.

There were more questions like “What is true love? How does it behave? What does it look like at middle age?” and so on. I’m still asking some of those questions, but I’m certainly not thinking I should be so surprised that the Gone Boyfriend is gone.

The Company Picnic

Most people have one day a year that they dread.  For some, it is the day they have to finally own up and pay the taxes.  For others, it is the particular day of the holidays when they have to sit next to one of the least favorite outlaws at dinner.  Some dread the day they have to put a child on the plane bound for dad’s for the summer.  For me, it’s The Company Picnic.

My company is a rather large organization with 19 offices in three cities.  We serve over 13,000 clients annually in a personal face-to-face environment. Our clients receive services from us, some of them for over 20 years.  We also have affiliates in other communities nationwide. So, essentially, my organization is a large one.  But it is dreadfully small on Company Picnic Day. As long as I live, I will never cease to question how I can be in a basketball gymnasium filled with thousands of people and never see a person I know, yet, take that same stadium and fill it with thousands of people from my company on what we dub as Company Hug Day, and I can find The Evil Ex even if I’m not looking (and I always am, just to avoid him).  This year, not only was The Evil Ex present and accounted for, but so was his Wife, who apparently has now been hired by the company and working in the same office he is working in.  To add insult to injury, his son’s wife, a cute young thing was also there. Now, I have nothing against their happiness, or the fact that apparently there is some real nepotism going on which I don’t understand, because The Evil Ex is not even good at what he supposedly does for a living. Why would the Powers That Be hire anyone associated with him?  I don’t get it. (In fact, the company had grounds and could have fired him 12 years ago.  I know.  I was there.  They didn’t.  Instead, in a classic case of sexual discrimination, they demoted me (the more experienced and qualified female employee…and I’m not making this up or being bitter…I can prove I’m the more qualified and skilled individual) and promoted him.  And why?  Because I foolishly made the mistake to fish off the company dock.  (I was not informed that this only works out for the men in the equation.) I was also too fearful and intimidated to take on the legal battle.   What I take issue with is that it just seems unfair that those who are so inept, succeed over those who are more competent …or seem to.   Okay, the job situation ticks me off, but he’s also inept relationally.  How is it that he gets a relationship though he’s a jerk and I’m a decent person of good character and I can’t find a match that will last to save my soul???  Yeah, let’s not go there.

He is a creeper.  I had a restraining order on him.  He has less than the normal minimum days with our daughter. He should have been fired.  But that’s not how the world works. They retain the men. And fire or demote the women, essentially ruining their careers…especially if they get pregnant.

I guess I am still bitter about all of that.  It doesn’t eat at me…at least 364 days of the year it doesn’t eat at me…but on Company Picnic Day…when I see him representing the most prestigious office in our region (think monied clients and a comfortable corner office to work out of)…the injustice of it all floods my psyche.  You see, back in the day, before we decided to fish, before he decided to stalk me and later abuse me, I worked at one of those elite locations, with that elite clientele, with a very comfortable corner office, with windows, all done up in blue.  My life was made. Until he entered the scene.  And I’m not bitter when I say this, the man is incompetent.  He can’t handle his own personal matters, let alone those required for his job.  The deal is this:  he’s a great liar and pretender.  He can present himself to so many as something he really is not.  He has a way of lying about things so that, while preposterous, they sound believable.  For example, this summer he perjured himself under oath.  He told the judge he was still providing insurance for all of his children due to the fact that one’s children are now covered until they are 26.  The reality:  he has 7 children…not including the one we have together which makes 8. Of his 7 children, 5 of them are adults, and 4 of them are married, over the age of 26, and/or have their own insurance coverage. So, he told the judge he was paying insurance and covering all these people and what it shakes down to is, he’s covering exactly two other children (besides himself and his wife) and not our daughter. I was stunned.  I was not able to reply to this statement because I wasn’t given adequate opportunity. He lied.  He wins.  He puts himself off as this great man of character and of God, but then he doesn’t  pay his half of the medical expenses and he’s an asshole when it comes to negotiating the differences regarding our daughter.  In fact, there is no negotiation. He just does what he’s going to do and I am left dealing with the fallout.  That’s  how our marriage was.  Can I expect anything different in our divorce?

So, he won in the work arena.

He won in the court arena this summer.

And today, apparently, he’s winning in the Love Arena, because he was there with his wife and daughter-in-law, while I was there, completely, undeniably,  and obviously, ALONE.

And by alone, I mean really alone.  The last couple of years I told myself it didn’t matter.  And, really, it didn’t, because I didn’t have his wife and daughter-in-law in my face at close proximity. (Yes, our last names all end with the same letter so I must attend all the excruciating meetings with them.) But also, I knew I was going home to someone.  I knew then, at least, I was in the relational ball park.  Last year at this time it appeared I was winning or, at least, staying in, that particular game.  This year, it is a totally different story. I’ve been kicked off the island, or my partner couldn’t leave my island fast enough.  My inability to maintain a relationship over time is glaringly apparent to me, to the world, to the company and, worst of all, to the Evil Ex and his family who now, apparently, works for our company.

This does not feel good.

I mostly don’t mind being alone, but never having a significant other in my life was simply not what I ever wanted in life.  In fact, even more than kids, I wanted that quality relationship with another adult. I gained in the kids arena, but apparently I’m a complete flop in the relationship arena.  This just doesn’t always sit well with me.  In fact, at times, like today, when I am faced with my failure, it is incredibly painful.  I wonder why he gets the happy relationship though he never spoke to me ever, once, in six years, in his passive-aggressive abusive manner of dealing with people. He is disrespectful, unreliable, and irresponsible and all sorts of other things I don’t want to take up space with here.  How does he get love and I can’t find a quality partner to save my soul? He’s a taker, an abuser, and people flock to him.  I don’t take, I give, I deal honestly and fairly, and men use me up and move on.  No one stays.  What’s wrong with me?????

So I posted that video and post about being Alone.  I’ve made my peace with being alone.  I can handle it.  I’m content most of the time.

The truth is, I’ve lied.  I like being in relationship with a man. I like the companionship.  I don’t like being alone…in that way. I especially don’t like the idea that this is the end of the relational line for me (and the sad reality is that age being what it is, and men being what they are, it is the end).  Like I said, most of the time, this is not an issue with me.  I enjoy my boring, little life.  I have wonderful friends. I love my kids.  I’ve been blessed with four beautiful, intelligent, dynamic individuals as children, who are so successful, in spite of the fact that they had so many risk factors (divorce, poverty, etc.) working against them. I can’t take credit for that.  They chose that. The work I do daily matters, not just to the people I work with, but to the people they, in turn, impact.  It’s an amazing job and I am good at it. I’m grateful for that.  And if you asked any of my friends they would tell you and they do tell me that I am an amazing person.

But…

at the end of the day…

when the kids have gone home to their families…

the friends are busy with their own lives…

…and I can no longer work

…I am alone.

I don’t exactly want the highlight of my days to be my latest, greatest Facebook status update.

I don’t exactly like the idea of rocking alone on the front porch of the old folks’ home.

Apparently, I’m just not amazing enough.

I hate Company Picnic Day.

Alone-ness

It’s now the end of the second week after The Gone BF and I parted ways. It’s been a week since he ran away to a distant land and started a new life there. The first week was unbearable, this week, surprisingly, not so bad. I think it really helped to force myself through my routines. It also helped to have friends and my son around to help. Realizing that all the drama merely reflected the immature character of The Gone BF, rather than my failure as a companion or person, moved me to a better place more quickly than I hoped. Not being in contact with TGBF also kept me from wallowing around in sadness; ending it quickly the few times he did contact me, proved to be an effective strategy. Work, as much as I dreaded it, going in, proved to be a blessing. It kept me busy and mentally focused on something other than my miserable situation.

In fact, by Wednesday I was sleeping better and drinking less. The bottle of gin I purchased, upon learning that TGBF couldn’t get away fast enough, is long gone, and has been replaced by a small bottle of cheap red wine that tastes so badly, I was forced to mix it with Sprite, just to get a glass of it down. I will finish the last glass of that wine tonight, and tomorrow, I exercise and drink only water. It is time to get serious about taking care of me.

By Thursday, not only was I feeling better, I was actually in a place where I could begin to feel hopeful about the future, and more accepting of the present. Today, some of my old contentment has returned: I look forward to coming home, I love my place, my kids, my work. I believe this feels like contentment. I feel no desire or need to rush out and replace TGBF, and I like being able to keep my home exactly the way I want it. I am even looking forward to the days to come. I’m beginning to look forward to fall, the cooler air, and the golden colors. It will continue to be my favorite time of year even though it was at this time that TGBF and I started dating. I’m making plans for the holidays and I’m not dreading it, even though this year at Christmas I won’t have any of my children. I’m planning to go visit friends and family elsewhere, and that will be my gift to me.

I’m alone these days, and it isn’t by my own choice. Even so, I don’t view my aloneness quite the same as the loneliness I experienced early on. This alone-ness is comforting, it is familiar, it does not mark me as an untouchable or a failure. It is my freedom. I really do not mind or dread this experience two weeks out. It is bearable. I can see hope from here.

Now, maybe you are one who dreads being alone. I’ve included a link to a video poem I love. It’s just as affirming now as it was two years ago before the TGBF entered the arena of my life. Enjoy!

How To  Be Alone

Questions

He walked out at 7:00 a.m. yesterday.  He looked worn, tired, angry, and so disgusted.  As he shoved the last few things in his truck, he didn’t even really look back.  He just got in the vehicle, turned on the motor, and drove off.  Never mind that he left most of his clothing here and all of his precious books.  I haven’t heard a word from him.  Not a text.  Not an email.  Not a phone call.

Part of me is crushed.  How could someone spend two years of their life with me and then walk away like that without a second glance?  And then, to leave all of his belongings?  He must have been so miserable for so long and yet he hid it.  The question I keep returning to is, “Why?”  The unanswerable, why.  Was he so desperate that he stayed here and “put up” with us because he had nowhere else to go? Did he feel about me the way I felt about my last ex?  Like I just couldn’t take it any more or I’d go crazy or maybe even do myself in?  The other part of me thinks, “Wow.  I can’t be rid of someone like this fast enough.”

It is a beautiful, warm, peaceful late summer evening.  My urban garden  is flourishing.  I’ve packed up his belongings and placed them in a corner of the garage.  Yes, even the things I would like to keep…like the books.  I’ve changed the locks, changed the code to the storage unit, and removed him from all of whatever accounts he was on that I was paying for.  I’m stuck paying his bills for this month…but next month should be easier.  Tonight, we grilled  hamburgers,  my son and I, and my daughter and her friend sat at the kitchen counter eating their foot long sub sandwiches, and we just chatted, freely, easily, without contention.  Something that hasn’t happened for a very long time around here.  It was peaceful.  Later, my daughter left to go to the theater with her friend and I watched Napoleon Dynamite with my son.  It was the most relaxed evening we’ve had in, what, two years?  There was no grumbling about the minuscule crumbs left in the sink, no complaining about how poorly the dishwasher was loaded.  There was no guilt about the fact that we were relaxing instead of cleaning our already spotless place.  It was truly a peaceful, lazy, golden summer evening.  And…for all of that…I am deeply relieved and grateful.  I believe I may have, as they say, dodged a bullet, somehow.

And yet, in the background of my mind and my life, the questions seep through.  Why hasn’t he contacted me even to make arrangements for his things?  What is going on? Where is he sleeping at night?  Is he okay?  Is he really relocating to be closer to his ex and the kids?  How long was he so unhappy?  How long was he hiding, lying, keeping secrets?  What went wrong?  How could I have seen this coming?  How on earth could I have avoided it?  And then, the recriminating accusations that always surface, “What a fool you have been…AGAIN. You are such a relational loser.  When will you ever learn?  You are just no good at relationship.”

And this is when my strength fails.

I tried like anything to learn from the mistakes of my past.

I tried like anything to put 100% into this.

I tried to the best of my ability to give and to love.

And, for what?

Again, I’ve failed.

In times past I could point to mistakes I’d made.  Things I did that created stress, strain, tension in the relationship.  I could point to ways I was too controlling, ways I over-reacted.  This is not to say I was the only one to blame for the demise of the relationship, but I could, in these past situations, at least see areas that I probably didn’t handle so well.  Areas, that I could improve upon next time.  Things I could point to that contributed to furthering the misery instead of alleviating it.  With the Non-Boyfriend, I’m simply at a loss as to what went wrong, why it went wrong and what part I had in it.  I have nothing I can point to that I screwed up (other than that I gave way too much with far too little in return).  Maybe that is completely the problem.  Maybe I did give too much, invested too much, without adequate commitment up front from him to begin with.  Maybe that set the precedent for everything that followed.  It’s possible then, that when I finally got tired of the giving with no return on my investment, he just created a situation he knew I would not tolerate, and freed himself.  I just do not know and the wondering is going to drive me crazy.

I’ve dated a few men since I left the Evil Ex.

I’ve had a few “relationships”, none of them lasting this long.  All of them, the men ditched (or I did) as soon as we were uncomfortable. We didn’t just hang on.  Now, I’m not thrilled with how some of those men chose to exit the scene, but I have to hand it to them, they did exit the scene as soon as they knew it wasn’t a fit.  They didn’t hang on for two years, then bolt.

I may go to my grave wondering what happened here.

It’s going to be difficult to stifle my own accusatory tendencies that want to make me the culprit for whatever it was that transpired here.  I’m going to have to fight the tendency to blame myself for what went wrong.  I’m going to have to continue to listen to those good, and decent, and objective (I hope) people in my life that tell me, sometimes shit just happens and you can’t see it coming and you can’t necessarily avoid it.  My friends would tell me, “Well, maybe you didn’t do everything perfectly, but that’s just no excuse for someone living on your dole, while actively planning to leave you and tell you about it after the fact. That’s simply not honest.”

So, I swirl in the post-breakup emotions of despair, hopelessness, and wondering what the hell I did wrong all the while feeling like somehow I’ve been gifted a pass out of a horrendous nightmare that could have transpired had we stayed together.  It is the epitome of mixed emotions…and I hate it.

I miss what I thought we had.

I miss him when he was at his best.

I don’t miss his unhappiness, his negativity and the stress I’m now realizing he brought into our home, because he somehow just didn’t think we were good enough, or clean enough, or whatever enough.  (I personally think those are excuses.  He was miserable, for whatever reason, and he just needed to get out.  He created an out and went for it without looking back.  Maybe that’s just my rationale designed to comfort myself about this crazy situation, but, maybe there’s some validity to it. He had everything going for himself here, and he tubed it.)  I don’t miss a lot of things that he brought to the table that I didn’t like, but which I overlooked because he brought other strengths to the table.

I can spin around in this place forever, wondering what happened and why it happened.  I may never know the answer to those questions.  It’s possible I don’t really want to know the answer to those questions.

At some point, I’m just going to have to let all the questions go…unanswered…if need be…and move on.

In the meantime, the comfort of friends is a most welcome thing.

Hope

Hope.  It’s a great term.  It has all sorts of positive connotations.  We hope for something better, always.  When things are rough, we hope they will improve.  Certainly, without the hope of a better tomorrow, one’s spirits lag and motivation declines.  I wonder sometimes, is hope a good thing…or does it just serve to delay the inevitable?  I mean, if we knew things weren’t going to get better, at least for a long time, would it change our behavior?  Or would we still cling to our hopes?  I do not know.

We hope for an improvement in our circumstances, but the reality is for many the world over, that things will not improve…ever.

We hope to have that wonderful experience of a deep and meaningful relationship with a significant other, but for many, myself possibly included in this, it might never happen. Soul mates seem to miss more than they connect it seems.

And that brings me to another question.  What is a Soul Mate anyway?

That question brings me to yet another question.  How do you recognize a Soul Mate if/when you meet him or her.

Personally, I just don’t get it.

Maybe it is because I’ve never really experienced a decent relationship with the opposite sex.  Maybe, I’ve not yet met my “soul mate”.  Quite honestly, if there is such a thing as a soul mate, which I doubt, how would I recognize him if he came along?

But hope would keep me thinking that there is always the possibility of such an experience happening, no matter how old I am.

I just don’t buy it.

I mean, relationship with another of the opposite sex is fun…at first.  Everything seems to roll along smoothly.  You connect.  Things are easy.

But let’s face it.  No one, these days, has a perfect life.  The other person has issues, right?  They either have too many children from the Evil Ex, or maybe Evil Ex is plural.  They probably have debt.  They certainly have child support payments. This alone means you are going to be a very broke woman for a long time to come.  So…with all that noise…in life after divorce…how do you recognize your soul mate?

Most people I talk to mention hopeful statements like, “When you meet him, you will know.”

Really?  I thought I had met him…2.5 times before.  It’s been a bust on all counts.  I’m now living with a guy that I kinda sorta think likes me…maybe?  Yeah, he’s the .5 part of the 2.5, because he’s certainly willing to live with me…and off of me…without making any legal commitment that says, “We’re in this together and it’s going to cost a boatload of money and angst to make it change.”  Yeah.  I feel great about that.

But I hope things will change.

But I hope there is still a relational future for me.

But I hope I’m wrong on some things.

The reality is this…I think…(note the hesitance there)…

Who really can say what real love and commitment is?  A decent relationship looks different from every vantage point.  There is no set formula.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  There’s a definite pattern when it comes to relationships that don’t work.  More about that later…maybe. But lasting relationships seem to be very different.  What works for you, might repulse me.

I also don’t think relationships are necessarily easy.

People disagree.  They get annoyed.  They certainly think their own kids are better than their partner’s kids.  And, there’s always the money to stress about if the rest of the relationship seems okay.

I don’t know.

I used to hope that there was a possibility for me of “real love”.

These days, I simply wonder what that means, and whether or not I would even recognize it.

 

How Do You Know When It Is Love?

When I was younger, I knew so much more than I do now. I knew exactly how my life was going to go and I knew that one day I’d fall in love and recognize The One. I grew stupider with age, apparently, because my life did not go as I planned and I have no idea what The One would look like or act like if I crossed paths with him. What I do know is what doesn’t work for me. I guess sometimes knowing who isn’t the one, is very helpful, but it doesn’t help you recognize him when he appears. It only means that without the red flags, he could be the one.

I also wonder, if everyone who could possibly be the one, turns into not being the one eventually, no matter what.

I mean face it. At some point, everyone reveals their issues. At some point, even if the issues aren’t deal-breakers, they can become so exhausting one just gets tired of dealing with them…again…and again…and again. Sometimes it just seems as though it might be easier to throw in the towel and just go the road of life alone. As people age, the “luggage” they haul around becomes heavier to tote also. It also, on occasion, can bust wide open spilling all sorts of questionable items here and there. This creates conflicting and painful emotions for everyone involved.

I know that my past does not qualify me to discuss what true love is. I’ve experienced my share of failures in the love department. I’m certain that my partner picker is broken, or at least sporadically defective like a watch that works but which goes out intermittently. I pick people who are good people (like my first ex), but who is not good for me. At other times, I pick people who are not only not great people, but who are disastrous choices. (My very first sexual encounter and my last ex come to mind. Interesting that both relationships had so much in common.) In spite of the failures of my past, I think I can adequately discern when a relationship is decent. Sadly, I have a difficult time discerning when it is time to call a relationship quits and when it something worth hanging on to, in spite of all the noise created from our luggage that busts open at the most inopportune times.

So…rather than bust my relational brain (which is of limited capacity anyway) worrying about what love is and whether or not I will recognize The One (if he’s even still out there and available), I have decided to base my decision making in relationships on how it is different than past failed relationships. I know, it sounds convoluted and like I’m sneaking in the back door, but hang with me for a minute.

In the past, my relationships have been a certain unhappy way. Granted, my expectations were completely unrealistic, but also, things were horrible and I was unhappy…desperately unhappy. Of course, I didn’t realize this usually until after the initial glow of infatuation wore off and by then I was usually married to the guy. So, after spending nearly 22 years collectively in very unhappy relationships, and since being divorced, spending a significant time meeting people and learning what definitely won’t work for me, I think I’m getting a little better at sensing when something might be significantly better than anything I’ve had in the past.

Currently, I’m in a relationship that I’ve been in since mid-2010. I mean, I met the guy in the first half of 2010, but we didn’t really get serious until that October. In February of 2011, he moved in and we’ve been together ever since. Now, I’m not saying this is the ideal arrangement, nor am I saying it is always perfect by any means. I’m also not saying it is horrible either. What I am trying to get at is that this relationship is quantitatively different than any other relationship I’ve ever been in. The ways in which it differs from every other are very positive rather than negative and unhappy.

Yes, this is the same guy that said, just earlier this week, that he was “hesitant”. Like I said, things aren’t perfect. On the other hand, what I failed to disclose in that post is that I am also hesitant. Some would say my reasons for being hesitant are far more significant than his reasons, but I kind of think that depends upon who you are and what your tolerance for pain is. (I’m only kind of kidding about that last part.) But from the onset, let it be known that I am fully aware that if this relationship is going to work, it is not going to be trouble free. I have an Evil Ex who is beginning to threaten some ugliness. I have 4 children from two previous marriages and coordinating the parenting plans is a Herculean effort in scheduling. Not to mention, my kids carry their own anger and resentment about how their lives were destroyed through divorce. Yet another adult male figure in the mix can make the relational dynamics a bit tense, at times, even though, for the most part, they really do get on well together. But on occasion, my luggage can spring open and fly everywhere. As can his. He also has an Evil Ex, and she makes my Evil Ex look like Glenda, The Good Witch. He also has 4 children from his liaison with the Wicked Witch. Oh, and did I mention, he’s unemployed and has been for 2 years. Further, because he’s been unemployed for that long, he owes a lifetime of back child support. The Wicked Witch has a stranglehold on the children, so having them come visit us, ever, is not an option. Like I said, I have no illusions that if this relationship is going to last, it isn’t going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination. But then, was anything worth having that easy to come by? It’s a question I wrestle with.

I digress.

I was trying to explain how this particular relationship is so very different than any other.

First, we are not only on the same page about things in life, we think in tandem. I can look at him and know what he’s thinking most of the time. We have the same values, goals, priorities, and interests to find a ton of things to talk about with each other. We have enough different interests to provide each other some space and independence.

He’s also intelligent. Like, on the brilliant edge of intelligent, which makes him a clueless geek in other ways. And…for me…it is incredibly important to be in a relationship with someone intelligent. I often find, when dating the less gifted, that there is that point you reach when you both finally just run out of things to say. Now, for me, to run out of things to say, means I have really hit the wall. With my Significant Other (SO) we never run out of things to talk about. And the things we talk about are really, really interesting; not just stuff about the weather.

Another way this relationship is different is that I’m not afraid. In the last two marriages I had, I lived in constant fear that the guy would become angry and punish me emotionally for whatever sin I somehow unknowingly committed. In my first marriage, he punished me with his explosive anger. The Evil Ex punished me by pretending I did not exist. In this relationship, I feel confident enough that I can disagree, and I am not worried that I will be mistreated as the result. Further, I don’t risk straining the relationship when I disagree. Wow. What a concept. I can say, “No, I am not okay with that.” We might have a discussion. We might even argue. We always come back to the table and negotiate an agreement that we both can live with. Always, at least always, so far. This is huge to me since I’ve spent a large portion of my life in abusive relationships where I had to try to anticipate the other person’s mood, and I lived in fear. I could never express myself honestly without fear.

We have fun together, even when we might be having a problem in another area of our lives. We still seem to be able to genuinely enjoy each other’s company, knowing somewhere deep inside, that we will work that problem out too.

He can admit he’s wrong, and mean it. That’s significant. Few men are able to do this. Fewer, still, mean it when they admit it. He actually goes one better and tries to change. And the change sticks.

He is willing to try to grow and change and become a better person. This challenges me to look at where I’m not as perfect as I’d like to think I am, and where I might not be the best person I could be and it motivates me to renew my efforts to improve.

He believes in me. He doesn’t exactly say this all the time, but he does say it sometimes. The rest of the time, he demonstrates it.

He wants to spend time with me. After a year and a half, he still looks forward to spending “just us” time.

I could go on.

Is this love? Is it a good match? Is this something that will last?

I don’t know.

What I do know is this:

  • If he were dying or seriously ill, I would not mind caring for him.
  • I can see us hanging out together at the old folks home.
  • We are working through some really tough single parent post-divorce issues right now and the lines of communication are open and the stress only momentarily flares.
  • I don’t want to be with anyone else. If it isn’t him, I don’t really want anyone else…ever.

So, I’m not sure I’m any closer to defining true love or determining who The One is, if there is such a thing, but I do know this: This relationship is significantly different and far more positive and beneficial than any other relationship I’ve ever been in.

Because of that, while I might not necessarily go racing to Vegas to get hitched this weekend, I’m not exactly going to kick him to the curb either. Will it last? I don’t know. I can’t predict the future. Based on the cards showing in this hand so far, I’m thinking the odds are great that it will last, in spite of the challenges we will have to face and endure in the next decade or two.

One last thought, if something were to happen to him and I were unable to see him ever again, I would be deeply grieved. I’ve never felt that way about anyone but my children before (well, and family and a few close friends but never a boyfriend or partner). I think I have to pay attention to that.

 

 

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