My divorce isn’t finalized, and yet the questions are starting to circulate.
“Are you dating?”
“Oops, sorry, I shouldn’t talk about ‘things’ when you aren’t getting any.” (Meaning sex)
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Are you interested in…. <insert name>?”
Absolutely not. I don’t care. No. Hell no. In that order.
Right now the prospect of ever being under the thumb of another romantic relationship makes me feel nearly physical ill. Early on, I decided love was a choice. I decided my wedding vows meant something (they did, more to me than him). But I had been choosing love, and loyalty, despite his sickness, for so very long that I don’t know where the real emotions of love disappeared to, or even when. I think, likely, they started fading the first time my life was threatened, five years ago. I tried to find my own ways of being happy, taking charge of that for myself, and not relying on him to meet those needs. When some unpleasantness erupted, I had to adjust for that.
Adjusting became a daily occurrence.
Now, I am only really responsible for myself. It’s freeing. Refreshing. And although I’ve been to a wedding, bachelorette party, two baby showers – it was the latter that hurt the most. Other’s happiness doesn’t hurt, really. But what I find myself grieving most? The loss of the standard family unit within which to have a child. I always wanted to be a mother, not that I could ever have had a child with my ex. I fantasized about it, and in his good moments he could have been a good parent. But he never held onto those for long. I kept waiting for a day when he made better choices, healthier choices, that would give me confidence that we could make it work. But those moments never came, not really. Just the fleeting hints of the man he could have been, had he given himself even half a chance.
Whatever I tolerated of his treatment of me, I knew I could never tolerate with a child in the home. And I knew, on some level, he would never change. And that his jealousy issues, suicidal issues, possessive issues – would make a barely bearable situation entirely intolerable. He made it clear to me, through his commentary on others’ divorces, on public news stories – that he would never let his kids be taken away, no matter what. He would never be the weak man who slept on the couch. He would never be the man kicked out of the house. It was never stated, but always implied, that anyone trying to force him into doing what he didn’t want to do would suffer the consequences. Men were oppressed, and he’d be damned before he catered to a weakening of his manhood.
But I digress. Though I suppose the above highlights, better than anything, perhaps clarifies why I am so reluctant to enter in to any sort of relationship like that again. Even setting aside considerations of my faith, and old convictions on one marriage only.
It isn’t as if the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. That faint deep longing for a connection with someone who offered a real partnership, rather than using me as a verbal punching dummy. The idle thoughts as people, men, old friends, occasionally crop up who I’ve not heard from in a long time. There is a part of me that doesn’t want to deal with the hurt, and the pain, and the emotions of the last decade and try to sort things out. There is a part of me that wants to be rescued. And yet – there is a part of me that doesn’t really trust that romantic relationships can be safe.
And for those reasons, until I have rediscovered myself and grown strong in my own identity, I realize I don’t really want to go near another relationship. I don’t want to need someone to rescue me. I don’t want to let anyone subsume my identity with their own. I don’t want to need anyone else to find my own happiness and joy in life. I need to be enough, for me.