I have devoted much thought to my relationships, lately. I have just ended a 4 year relationship with the man who immediately followed my ex-husband. I have been thinking about how, for my adult life, I have been a serial monogamist. I would follow one serious relationship with another, with barely much time for reflection, let alone healing.
A girlfriend once told me that the best way to get over one man was under another. I found that to be quite brilliant, and certainly quite apropos to my credo back then. Many times, I pursued a relationship for pragmatic purposes. I was raising my children, and having a partner to assist with the house, finances and childcare was certainly helpful. I also found that I was far too busy with the business of living to spend much time considering the patterns that I had developed.
This process began five years ago with my second divorce. I had realized that I was continuously choosing inappropriate partners because it allowed me an “out.” I was terrified of being consumed by a man and I would be unable to escape. By having an unequal relationship, I could indulge in their love, but ultimately justify my exit, when the relationship finally had run its course. Obviously, this is a self-destructive pattern, and one that shows a complete lack of consideration or respect for my partner. Unfortunately, by the time I had come to this epiphany, I had already fallen for my next man.
My most recent lover has been wonderful in so many ways. He was spontaneous, helpful, generous, youthful, fun, insatiable, and represented all that I was seeking after my divorce. Unfortunately, he was also volatile, irresponsible, and in a very different mental place and time than I was. Whilst I was moving into a more reflective stage, and looking toward soon-being an empty-nester, he had never married or had children. He was completely self-centered, but not in a malicious way. Would you be angry at a toddler for not thinking of others? He had never had to consider the choices that a parent must make when dealing with teenage and young adult children.
We held on as long as we could. He was comfortable. I felt safe and loved in his arms. I knew, though, that as time stretched on, our lives were beginning to diverge. He had grown so much emotionally, and was discovering his ambitions at the same time that I was letting go and stepping back. Our lives became parallel instead of entwined. I had my life, he had his, and we would occasionally meet. It became a relationship in name only, yet we were both loathe to call it quits. Until the day that we did…
I am now facing life as a single woman. I am having to do things like hire a lawn person, hire a handyman, have my car mechanic. I am having to be aware of how many cocktails I drink when I go out with the girls because I don’t have my man to swoop in and save me. I must admit, it can be a little unsettling. With that said, though, I am completely committed to staying the course.
I have realized that I cannot be a full partner in a relationship if I have a fear of commitment. I cannot continue choosing partners that are good temporaries for me. I am neither honoring my own soul, nor theirs, by pursuing a relationship with someone who is “good enough.” Frankly, I am not a good partner myself right now, and until I discover who and what I am and want, any man that enters my life at this time, would be as transitory as this stage I am enduring. It is time for me to learn to be me.