My ob/gyn is my ideal dad. He had held my hand as I got knocked out for a D&C after my first of three miscarriages, he’d met with me weekly to just talk while I was doing weight restoration, he’d met with me and my husband on Sunday mornings, and he brought in sunshine every day during my three hospitalizations with pregnancy complications. I had to call him crying the night my ex left, to cancel the surgery I had scheduled for the next day (my ex was my ride/chaperone, and I didn’t want to throw this on a friend).
He knew quite a bit about me, my marriage, and, eventually, my divorce.
I think it was a few months later, he asked “what happened??” I answered as best I could (still missing piece of the puzzle: the affair), and he said, “Well, if he doesn’t love you and doesn’t want to be with you, there’s really nothing to be done about it but to move forward without him.” This is the most helpful thing anyone has ever said to me regarding a breakup, and it has come back to me over the last week.
I went into this “not relationship” with M lost and mildly traumatized from my attempts at negotiating dating in the 2010s. I had been naive. I lacked the boundaries that would have prevented the emotional, physical, and sexual mistreatment I’d encountered. I saw red flags, but I didn’t act on them. Part of me was just dumb and couldn’t believe that people would be so terrible and dishonest; part of me was letting other people do the work of punishing me. I consciously thought “this is what I deserve.”
I don’t think the word “deserve” really means anything, so I’ve simply asked myself what I wish to avoid (even if it means being alone) and what I need in a relationship.
I do not want ambivalence (on either side)–reciprocity is the ideal. I do not want the rules of non-relationships. I do not want to be confined by the limitations of loveless sex.
The common theme is an aversion to having to hold back. If I’m anxious that I’ll say something nice and ruin it, or I feel pressure not to show myself (beyond the early stages of getting to know each other), that’s a sign that it won’t work.
I do want a relationship with someone who (1) is honest, (2) doesn’t find a label to be a burden, and (3) reciprocates my feelings.
There are people who wear their hearts on their sleeves. That doesn’t mean they’ll like me or I like them, but they do exist. That’s something, right?
I’m not going to find all of those with M. There is so much I don’t know about him 2 years in, and this is probably as close to him as I’ll ever be. We are only “friends without benefits.” and this is as strongly as he’s going to feel about me. I’ve been saying this for a long time, but I’m very slow to let go of false hopes.
I’m what’s left of when we
Swam under the moon
Now the rest of my days are just
Waiting for when
You come down and tell me
I was meant for you, baby
Being with you
Makes the flame burn good
I told him a few days ago that I need to just be friends, need to try it to get rid of the overwhelming feeling of “THIS ISN’T RIGHT.”
I guess I had bought enough into the culture of non-relationships (this one is what the kids call a “situationship”) to think that I could remove myself from the romantic aspects of it without it feeling like a break up. I told myself “I’m just setting a boundary” when I say I need to just be friends.
But, no. It feels like a breakup. I feel the sadness, the rejection, the desire for things to go back to the way they were.
But then something “clicked” for me last night: all of my wishes are crucial, but if #3 is an issue, there’s no point in even discussing the other stuff.
I had suggested to M as a possible explanation for my “this isn’t right” feeling that we might simply experience romantic feelings differently. I get very attached/enthusiastic, and maybe he just isn’t someone who falls in love. (“Insecure-anxious” and “insecure-dismissive” people can attract each other).
Last night, fueled by Ambien, I asked M if he’d ever been in love. The answer was affirmative and without qualifiers.
So, he falls in love. Just not with me. Okay. That’s a “no turning back” truth.
It’s not my way to use other people to build myself back up, I don’t trust myself to enforce boundaries that are for my own good, and I’m a little bit afraid of men in the context of dating. I hope that I will eventually put myself back out there, but not until I’m more sure of my ability to filter out people or situations that are sure to hurt me.
It’s a little bit empowering that I am okay not searching for that great love–romantic love was my #1 priority before I had a child. But it’s also depressing that the reason I’m “doing me” is because I have minimal faith that there’s anything out there but fake relationships and infidelity. I feel a little pressure, though: my parenting schedule now works for dating, but that may change when Boo is older. I’m fine with having a boyfriend in her life, but I’m not okay with leaving my kid with a sitter to go out on multiple first dates.
That’s my anxiety saying that, though. I have more than a next-post full of material on that.
Right now, there’s really nothing to be done but to move forward.