Here is the scene:
Two 20-somethings kiss in front of their family and friends in that little church they always dreamed of. They were high school sweet hearts, or maybe they met in college, or maybe at that bar they always went to downtown. Either way, they are now happily married. They live in a fixer-upper house in a quiet neighborhood with their dog. They talk about the future. They want kids. They have hopes and dreams and enough love that could last them a lifetime… or something like that. It’s what we all hope for. A life, a marriage, a purpose… Love.
But what if that is just not something you want? Or what if that is just something you’ve never been able to fathom, understand, or find a burning need for? (I’m talking about the love part, not the dog). Does that make you lonely, outcast, weird, and complicated?
The answer is: I don’t know. (But I’m not a dog person.)
I’m struggling with this right now. (the love part, not the dog part.) So what better way to deal with this, than telling the internet?
Here’s the thing, I’m not some sad sadistic weirdo who hates on love and happiness. Not the case at all. Actually I LOVE weddings, I think it is so beautiful and exciting when two people decide that they want to spend the rest of their VERY long life with only that one person… that’s a big deal. I love the flowers, and the silly traditions, and the waltz of it all. I love the teary look in the bride’s eyes when she says “I do” and the way the groom holds her during their first dance like she is the only one in the room with him. I’m actually a complete sap. I watch romantic movies and I read trashy romance novels and I love cute-sie sitcoms and Taylor Swift songs. The whole 9 lacy, sparkly, happy, yards. I’m in love with the idea of love.
But I don’t believe in love like that. That’s not what it is to me. To be completely honest, I don’t really know what love is, but I know what it is not, and sadly I think that not-love is so much more prevalent than the idealized love.
Did I lose you?
I live by a certain rule. Me comes first. I know this sounds selfish, and in a way it is, but that’s the point.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried the relationship thing many times… I had an amazing clichéd high school sweetheart who I would have done anything for, and we were so happy and blissfully “in love” for 3 years, until he left for college and then he cheated on me and told me it was my own fault for being so far away. Then there was the nonchalant college relationship with a cute guy I worked with, and it was fun and easy, but then life started and we couldn’t figure it out. Then I had the one who was the perfect match, understood me, always knew what to say, and knew me inside and out, but wanted nothing but my friendship, and it took a while, but I got over that too. Then I settled in… gave up with being picky, as my friends had advised, and went with the first choice at that point, and it was fine, he was nice to me at first, we got along, and were just happy to not be alone that we didn’t really notice that we were not really right for each other, but I thought I loved him. I lived with him, cooked his dinner, did our laundry, and we did things together sometimes, and he always kissed me good morning and good bye before work, even on the day I left. It was comfortable and fine. But comfortable and fine is never what I wanted, and come to find out he didn’t want it either, he only asked me to marry him because that’s what he thought was next… sadly I almost married him before I figured it out (luckily, we didn’t get a dog). We almost married each other because we thought we were supposed to. Isn’t that crazy!?
After that, I thought long and hard about what went wrong. Was it me? Am I what’s wrong? I dwelled on the fact that maybe I’m not loveable, maybe I’m just “too much of a handful.” I realized not being true to myself was the most painful thing about any of it. Feeling regret for letting someone else take on the burden of making me happy. I regret settling for less than what I wanted. I regretted the time I wasted waiting for things to get better instead of being honest, direct, and taking action for my own needs.
I bounced back easier than I think I should have. I surrounded myself with my amazing friends and family, I lived with roommates for a while, I joined a softball team, I kept busy, I read things that opened my mind, realized I was a feminist, I learned how to self-calm, and talk to myself the way I would if I were someone I loved. I gave myself room, I did stuff like look in the mirror and say “damn that’s a fine ass!”. I went out, tried new things, got my own apartment, lost weight the right way, bought skirts, started jogging, dyed my hair red, focused on my career, and spent nights alone with my cat and a bottle of wine. I laughed out loud to myself about how far I have come and sometimes I cried about the past, but only for a few minutes, because it felt better to just be happy about the now, but feeling everything was part of being me, and I know that is ok. I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t wrong. I was on an adventure, and it was so exciting. Finally, I was excited.
I’ve been in love with myself for over a year now and I have to say, it is one of the most fulfilling relationships I’ve ever been in. I do whatever I want to do. I say no to people and things I don’t want, and I’m even learning not to feel guilty for it. I make amazing candle-lit dinners for myself, I go watch the Bruins game at the bar by myself, I don’t give guys my number just because they ask for it, and I let myself be me without feeling shame for my choices or my body. I enjoy being with others, and I know when I need a friend to talk to or a person to lay with me just for a night. I have figured out how to be alone without being lonely. I think this is one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.
But here is where it gets complicated…
I love myself so much that I’m not sure that I will ever want to be with anyone ever again.
This makes the old me, sad and depressed… but I’m so happy? But is this just a state of mind that will pass? Will I get tired of being all I have? I’m having a hard time letting go of this idea that I will get married and live happily forever with someone of the opposite sex. The more I think about it, the sillier it sounds.
“Yeah I have this amazing life of complete autonomy and self-awareness, great friends, my own place, my own routine, my own life, my own freedom to be and do whatever I want… I think I’d like to fuck that up by shackling myself to someone who will always compromise all of that no matter how wonderful they might seem to be!!! Bring on the disappointment!”
Because of this, I don’t know if I’ll ever be someone’s ideal partner. Will I ever be able to give up my own freedom for someone else? Will I ever be kind, selfless, forgiving, or nurturing again? I don’t want to share. I don’t want to be told what to do and I don’t want to let anyone else make me feel unworthy, helpless, broken, or sad, ever again.
I no longer need someone else to make my life full.
So why is it so hard to let go of that picture of kissing the one I will love forever in front of our family and friends, dancing while looking longingly into their eyes because they are the only one in the room with me and eventually watching our kids play in the yard with the dog in the quiet neighborhood we live in. (Just kidding, I’m not a dog person)
I know that is only a picture of what it “should be.” But in my realistic mind I know more often than not, after the glitz and glam of the fairytale wedding and honeymoon… you realize that love was fleeting and now you see that you’re all each of you has, and it just isn’t enough, the marriage fails because there is cheating, and growing apart, and longing for a different life, so you divorce and you fight over who gets the dog (he can have it) and the house, and if you’re lucky you figure this all out before you have kids… then you’re sad and lonely and full of regret, Or worse, you stay together and live like this forever.
Yeah, that’s not pretty, or ideal, or the dream anyone had at all. But that’s the statistic, that’s the reality.
If you have a happy marriage, I envy you. If you think you truly love someone while also loving yourself to the full extent, I want to read your book.
If you can identify with anything you just read, I want to know, so we can be lonely, loveless, people together!
If you are a dog person, we can still be friends, but it seems I still don’t want to marry you (because of the love part, not the dog part.)