Today’s self-assigned task is to tell my “relationship history.” Why my brain feels the need to perform it is anyone’s guess, but a few weeks ago a buddy told me his and I wanted to reciprocate. It’s just before Independence Day, 2015 (updated May 2016), so as good a day as any. Independence is important.
In the 70’s, I was seeking trouble. Boredom drove that. So I went out with guys who were older, and broken. “Nice” boys avoided me. Don’t blame them, I was an edgy chick.
In the early 80’s, I was seeking a full-time thing so intensely that some basic requirements were overlooked. Like a phone call after a “date.” Hindsight being 20/20, now it’s clear that I was that psycho chick who chased her prey. In my head, it was all in the name of love, but my actions were pathetic. I wasn’t a stalker but I was 100% distracted by whatever man had crossed my path, effectively pulling the plug on other, more long-term and fruitful activities, such as applying myself at college, fixing my car, really learning to play guitar well, nurturing friendships, and figuring out exactly what I wanted out of life. Any foundation for a stable life was sabotaged. If someone liked me, even a little, I loved them wholeheartedly and showed them every way I could, providing 95% of the relationship. I was a smotherer, and they ran. It never occurred to me to play hard-to-get, thinking that was just a stupid game the other girls played.
I had met one man in the crazy time, who re-entered my life in 1985. He loved me. Of course I loved him. He proposed. I was delighted, and we had a lovely wedding in 1986. It wasn’t a good match. I left in 1992, moved from the eight country acres we were living on to an 800SF apartment in the most densely-populated city in the USA. We filed for divorce on our 7th anniversary, and went to lunch together after seeing the judge. He’s a nice man, and the divorce was amicable. Now I know what a blessing that was. We still enjoy a warm friendship to this day, even though it took a few years to get to that point. He’s remarried, and has a few kids. His nickname is Mr X.
Oh yeah. Kids. Never felt the urge. OK, felt the urge for 40 minutes around 1997 or so, but by then I was with a man with four teenage boys. Living with four adolescent males will talk you out of kids QUICK. No regrets.
Met another man in the city. Shocking, right? This one was 33, no kids, never been married and lived at home with his mother. Somehow, I thought this was OK. You know, just a poor innocent guy who needed a break, right? That break came with him coming over one night and not leaving for three years. Even though, 18 months in, he decided he didn’t want a girlfriend anymore. I remember asking him when he’d be moving, and him saying he couldn’t afford to. (By this time, his mother had passed away, and he was feuding with his twin brother over the house). OK then … when will you be moving into the second bedroom? When he bought a mattress. He never did buy a mattress, and slept next to me every night without reaching over. Devastating to my self-esteem, and the perfect set up for the next relationship.
On New Year’s Eve, 1995, a girlfriend and I were sitting around my apartment having a few adult beverages, with no plans for the evening. No-mattress man was still living there, hanging around the bedroom in his underwear. No internet back then, but we enjoyed playing a Scrabble-like game on a dial-in BBS board in the living room. Since we were almost out of booze, she invited one of the players over, as he was going out anyways to pick up Chinese food for his kids. He ended up being “the next man.” I fell in headfirst, and he met every single emotional need. But there were problems. He was fired from his job of 14 years two months after moving in. Followed by lots of crappy low-paying dead-end jobs, many injuries, and some meanness I ignored. His “ex-wife” called up one afternoon and said she’d been evicted, could we take the kids for a couple of weeks? Four teen boys moved into our living room. Two weeks turned into 12 years. More injuries, lawsuits, unemployment … overcrowding, filth, depression, poverty … then eventually filling my emotional needs turned into systematic psychological abuse. I was under his microscope … his only hobby. That “ex-wife?” Not so ex. He had lied about not getting a divorce from her, and we had married in 2001. In 2006 I began asking him to leave; he refused. In 2009, my new life began, whether he liked it or not. He didn’t, and things got as ugly as they possibly could. I didn’t help the situation, either; it was impossible, nothing was enough for him, and trust had been destroyed on both sides. He and the two remaining 20-something sons finally moved towards the end of 2011. At the beginning of 2012, I took out a restraining order after seeing he wouldn’t leave me or my parents alone, and except for my Dad’s funeral, haven’t spoken to him.
Everything is a learning experience, and these last two relationships got it through my thick skull that it was finally time to get comfortable with myself. Living alone was scary at first. I hadn’t done that ever. With the encouragement and guidance of some extraordinary girlfriends, life has at last gained a balance of love, hobbies, friendships and work. The all-consuming intensity of a high-maintenance dysfunctional relationship is repelling. I am happy, and free of the distraction of a brain filled with—or trying to figure out—someone else. Dated some, but they were either not interested or far too interested. Dates Call me Goldilocks. *shrug*
During this experiment, I saw a man who kept it casual. We had a great deal of fun, absolutely not a speck of drama and no strings attached in the pleasantest possible version of an NSA relationship. Two very nice, very busy, very independent people who found some time to be with each other without forcing it. No drama, easy, and exactly what I needed while healing from bad ex. He kept me out of trouble, something I will always be grateful for. But my heart wanted more, a future, and I looked for that when I was feeling neglected.
I’m really lucky, too, because it found me. Through a mutual friend, we met … and it’s ALL good, our kind of normal, wonderful, healthy and positive. My relationship future is blazing brightly with the perfect man for me.
In any case. Happy Independence Day. Cherish it. Don’t let anyone take it away, not even in the name of love.