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The Whys of Love

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I have been thinking about relationships and being single a lot lately. I have been single for over a year. I haven’t had a date in almost a year.

It’s the longest I’ve ever gone without a date. I’ve been asked a few times, but I either wasn’t ready or wasn’t interested. I’m tired of wasting my time on people that want to play games with me.

At this point in my life, I need someone to offer me something better than what I am offering myself alone at home. Or, if not better, at least worth the trouble. And thus far, that hasn’t been happening.

I’ve stopped feeling a need to date someone. I’ve stopped wanting to feel wanted by someone. I’m not bitter or angry or sad about it. I have just been spending a lot of time thinking about relationships.

I know a lot of people that are in various stages of relationships. Just meeting, just getting serious, just moved in, just married, married for years and years. I only know one couple out of all of them that is happy. Just one. And they are a new couple.

I’ve never known a couple that had a relationship I envy. I’ve never seen a couple that made me wish I was in a relationship. I’ve certainly never been in a relationship that has given me something worth missing.

I do believe good relationships exist. I know happy and healthy is a possibility. It just doesn’t appear to be the norm. And I’m no longer willing to settle for less than that.

When I look at all these relationships I know, and I look at my own past relationships, I wonder what it is that makes me even want to be in one. In my own personal experience, they involve nothing but control, manipulation, games and abuse.

So why do I want one?

I don’t need to be with someone. I am happy being alone. I take good care of myself. I treat myself right. I buy me nice things. I take me out to dinner. I love me. I show myself care and concern and respect. I cheer myself up after a bad day. I make myself dinner. I run myself baths. I make me feel safe and calm myself down when I feel overwhelmed.

So why do I want one?

Society tells me that I need to be in a relationship. It tells me that I need to get married and have children. It tells me that I need someone to take care of me when I am sick and old. It tells me another person will make me feel complete and fulfilled.

But I am not having children already. I don’t need to be married (though some part of me would still like to be). I take care of me when I am sick. And I already do feel complete and fulfilled.

So why do I want one?

I am running out of reasons. I’ve stopped understanding why people get into relationships. My own reasons in the past were the wrong reasons and I have no right reasons to replace them with.

I will admit that I sometimes feel lonely. But that loneliness is much less now than it ever has been. There is no lonelier feeling than being with someone that won’t connect with you. Or being with someone that wants to abuse you instead of love you. I would rather feel the occasional loneliness of being alone than the constant loneliness of sharing a life with someone that doesn’t want to share.

And at the end of the day, I will be alone, no matter who I am with. I am alone with my thoughts before I go to sleep at night. And when I die, I will be alone. We all die alone. We all face death alone. And I am not afraid of that.

So why do I want one?

I am honestly starting to wonder if I do. I have spent so much of my life taking it for granted. That I am supposed to meet a man and fall in love. I have never fallen in love. I have never met a man worth loving.

I have taken it for granted that I am supposed to want a relationship. That I am supposed to want love. That I am supposed to be good at emotions by virtue of being a woman. But I’m not. And I’m not sure if I do want those things now.

I have spent so much time and energy in my life thinking about someone else. Thinking about a boyfriend. Thinking about a crush. Thinking about meeting someone. And I don’t know for what purpose. I have nothing to show for all that time and energy and effort.

I think I am afraid if I stop wanting a relationship that it will be like giving up. But in a bad way. Like the universe will never send someone worthwhile to me.

And I would love to have just one good relationship. Just to prove to myself that they can be good. And maybe also to help make up for all the bad ones I’ve been in (even though nothing ever really can). It might be nice to experience, just once. Even if it’s only for a short while.

And, I guess, that’s why I want one. To prove that I can have one. Maybe just to prove to myself that someone not abusive would want to be with me. And that I can have one relationship in my life that is good and worthy of my time and effort.

I guess that is also why I don’t want to give up. I want to know what it feels like to fall in love. Just one time in my life.

It’s sort of like a life experience I want to put in my collection that I haven’t had yet. Once again, in writing this, I figure myself out. Now I know how I feel and why I feel that way. It actually gives me a bit of hope.

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Forget

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It’s weird the sort of short term memory loss that seems to come in an abusive relationship. When things are good with him it can be hard to remember how bad they were. It’s hard to believe the man I am with now is the same person that was abusive to me.

It doesn’t help that this is part of his plan. He tells me it was a mistake. Just an accident. A one time thing. He got carried away. Because he was mad. Because I made him mad.

It’s so easy to believe it will never happen again. It is easy to forget. Because I want to forget.

I don’t want to dwell on negative things. I want to believe him. I want the past to stay in the past. I don’t want him to think I’ll hold a grudge forever. Besides, he said he was sorry.

Or did he? He said he was sorry IF he hurt me. When he know damn well he did. And that type of apology really isn’t the same thing. He says “Why can’t you just get over it? Why can’t you ever let things go? It’s over and in the past.”

And technically it IS in the past. Even if it happened 10 minutes ago. That’s the past. Maybe I should just get over it.

Except it’s never the last time. In fact, it seems like he gets progressively worse. But that makes me cling even more tightly to the times he acts sweet and caring. And it’s not like I want to cause problems with him when he is being nice by bringing up something that will upset him. That will only start a fight. A fight which he will then blame on me.

And I want to believe him. He says he loves me and I want to believe he does. I don’t want to have to end things. I don’t want to admit I was wrong. Again.

But I am wrong again. And eventually I can’t keep choosing to forget. I have to remember. I have to keep catalog of everything he does. I have to stop forgetting. Because that is the only way to get the strength to leave.

But, once I leave, there is an more insidious type of forgetting. The forgetting once the relationship is over. My mind starts to forget why I left. It starts to remember only the good things. I start looking through old pictures where we are smiling and look happy.

I know we weren’t happy. I remember that picture. But there were plenty of times where we were happy. There were plenty of good times.

Every month that I am alone gets harder. I know he’d take me back. And I wonder if I will ever find someone that loves me. I wonder if I will ever believe I deserve to find someone that loves me.

Using my voice

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One of the most important lessons that I have been trying to learn (over and over like bashing my head into a wall) is that people don’t know where I am coming from.

I don’t know why I am having such a hard time learning this. I have always disliked those girls that act like their boyfriends should read their mind.

For example:

‘I know I told him that my birthday wasn’t important and that I don’t care what he gets me. But he should really know that it’s actually a big deal.”

Ladies, no offense, but that is so idiotic and illogical. If something is important then you need to say it is important.

Another time my sister told me ‘It’s unromantic to have to tell someone what to get you.”

Really? Is it less romantic than being upset and disappointed and not getting what you actually want? You have a voice. Use it.

And yet, I seem to expect people to read my mind about certain things too. Like, people should know to not make rape jokes around me. But honestly, other than it being in extremely poor taste, why would someone know?

I’m not handing out business cards with it printed on them. I don’t have a ‘I was raped’ t-shirt or tattoo.

If someone does something that I don’t like, my first instinct is to ignore it. I figure if I let it go, they will just stop on their own. But why would they?

How can a man know I hate it when he kisses the back of my hand if I let him get away with it even one time? What part of me not bringing it up would ever clue him in?

I guess I think that I am so damaged that it is immediately noticeable to everyone I meet. But it really isn’t. My past is not written on my face, it’s not coded into my body language, it’s not a stone that I am dragging behind me.

Nobody knows my past unless I choose to tell them. Nobody knows my preferences unless I choose to tell them. And, most importantly, nobody can possibly know that they are doing that one thing that reminds me so much of one of my abusive exes.

And they don’t know that when they remind me of one of my abusive exes I totally freak out because I think it means they are going to turn out to be abusive too. But it doesn’t actually mean that. And I have dated so many men at this point, there is bound to be some overlap in some of their behaviors. The only true predictor for abuse is abusive, disrespectful behavior.

If a new guy likes eating pizza with ranch on it, it doesn’t mean he is going to turn out like the ex that also liked to do that. All it means is that he likes to eat gross things. Also, the fictitious new guy has no clue why him doing that others me so much.

And that’s why I need to start explaining to people where I am coming from.

Hot Air Ballooning

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I had the weirdest dream a few weeks ago. And then again last week. I don’t normally tell people about my dreams because I feel that it must be excruciatingly boring. But this one was so relevant to what I am going through. I apologize in advance for it.

I was thinking about letting things go right before falling asleep. My dreams do not normally work so fast. And they are generally way too subconscious and symbolic for me to make sense of.

But then I had this dream:

I was walking on the beach and I heard a weird noise behind me. I turned and there was a giant, clear hot air balloon. In the basket was all of my abusive ex boyfriends.

I looked into that basket and thought, “god, I would hate to be in that balloon. It’s like the worst place in the world.” But then I looked down and my footprints were leading away from the balloon. I had been in that balloon.

And I realized I had been carrying these guys around with me for a long time. I had been comparing other men to them. Looking for any sign of their behavior in someone else.

I had been assigning meanings and motives to people where there wasn’t any. I was still carrying my past around with me. And I was letting my past affect my life and who I am now.

Then in my dream the balloon took off. I watched as it floated up into the atmosphere. It didn’t take long for it to disappear from my sight between the bright sunshine and the clear balloon.

And I realized that I have to stop carrying them. I have to let them go.

So then I had the same dream again but this time I was even farther away from the balloon. And one of my exes, A, was like “If she’s getting out then I am getting out.” He started to climb out. But one of my other exes grabbed his arm and said, “Dude, she’s gone. You’ll never be able to catch her.”

And then they all floated away as before.

Unhappiness

I had a realization today after listening to some Bruce Springsteen. His lyrics always make me think.

At some point I am responsible for my own unhappiness.

I am generally very understanding and sympathetic, at least to others. This post isn’t directed at anyone that has mental health issues. And I’m not saying “stop being unhappy and start being happy.” Because I know it isn’t that easy.

I have spent many years being unhappy. We all know someone that is always miserable. But I am never stuck. Some things may be hard to change. And maybe I feel so entrenched that there doesn’t seem to be a way out. But there is always a way out.

If I don’t like my job; I can get a new one. If I don’t like my friends; I can replace them with ones I do like. If I am unhappy with my romantic relationship; I can end it. If I am not happy with my body; I can do something about it.

No matter how bad things have been in my past, and even in my recent past, all of that stuff IS in my past. It’s over now. The older I become, the further away it gets from me.

People have told me to “just get over it.” Sometimes flippantly, sometimes dismissively. And hearing that isn’t actually helpful. And yet. I do need to get over it. I do need to let it go.

I keep dating the same types of men over and over. And I can’t help but think that it’s because I wasn’t ready to let go of my past. Maybe I wasn’t ready to stop being abused. Maybe I wasn’t ready to be in a loving relationship.

Maybe because I had internalized my parents’ abuse and thought I deserved it. Maybe because I didn’t realize that better existed, let alone that I deserved better. It doesn’t really matter why I wasn’t ready.

But I know that I can’t keep carrying these people around with me. I have to let them go. I have to stop hanging on to my past. I have to stop hanging on to my hurt. And my unhappiness.

I’m no longer the powerless child I was growing up. I long ago stopped being the shy, insecure adult I was (I’ve stopped most of the time anyway). I’m not the victim of domestic violence anymore.

My life is my own. I don’t want to spend the rest of it talking about, thinking about, and working out, my past.

I want my past to stay where it is. I want to be over it and done. It’s always going to be a part of who I am. But I don’t want it to define who I am anymore.

Emotional Cloud Storage

I have been thinking today about where emotions go. I think we all have seen or experienced that couple They are hot and heavy and passionate. They are “in love” and “soulmates.” (I have never had first hand experience of this but have witnessed it many times).

But then, a few weeks or months later; they split up. What happened? Maybe they weren’t really in love. But whatever intensity and passion they had was real. Where did that go?

Where does love go when it’s over? Or anger? Or sadness? Nothing lasts forever. And though I have known those last two emotions; I can feel them starting to leave.

It’s kind of like asking what happens when we die. Except we may never know where our emotions go. But we will all have a definite answer to what happens when we die. Someday.

I personally don’t believe anything happens when we die. We are just dead and gone. That thought doesn’t disturb me. I’m not afraid of it. I’ve thought about it enough to be comfortable with it.

But, for some reason, I like to think our emotions go somewhere when they leave us. I’m sure this is just me being uncharacteristically sentimental. Or maybe I am just being too literal. (Or maybe I just don’t get how emotions work).

I like to imagine all of our collective emotions are still out there somewhere. Like little pieces of our souls. Our emotions persist even when we have forgotten or outgrown them.

I like to imagine them hanging out with each other in a sort of cloud storage. (Which I do imagine as an actual, literal cloud).

I like to think my emotions have distinct personalities. Which leads me to believe that all emotions have them.

All of my emotions recognize that they once belonged to me. I am their creator. They don’t all like each other. Or me. But they can be cordial at parties if they have to be. They have genders. But the genders of my emotions are specific to me.

My anger is quiet and serious. He rarely smiles or goes out. He has some acquaintances. But they are mostly other people’s anger. He doesn’t really like being around them.

My shyness is very sweet and friendly, and surprisingly, not shy. She’s kind of the mother figure as she has been in the cloud longer than my other emotions. She has tried dating a little, but keeps going for the sadness types. And the relationships never last.

My sadness is very shy and funny. He’s tried to make friends with my anger, but my anger never laughs and he makes my sadness too insecure. So he hangs out with other people’s senses of humor. And they are all so bitter!

My emotional pain is severely morbidly obese and depressing to be around. She and my shyness are kind of friends. My pain doesn’t know why my shyness even bothers. Frankly, my shyness is just about over my pain’s attitude. But she is too nice to say so.

My fear is foreign. Nobody understands him and he is constantly frustrated by that. He’s kind of boring, honestly. So nobody bothers to try to understand him.

Possibly it is just me that feels this way and thinks these things. But I don’t really know. Does anyone else imagine their emotions this way? Are your emotions friends with each other too?

Endings

It is so easy for me to talk myself out of things. To over think. To over think myself out of things.

Either I’m not ready for a relationship or he isn’t right for me. But, honestly, if he was right for me, wouldn’t I be ready for a relationship? I do want one. But maybe I don’t want one right now. Or maybe I don’t want one with him.

I’ve never ended a relationship for not being “right.” It feels so weird to even consider. Like I don’t deserve to be so picky. Like I should just take what I can get.

Every guy I have ever dumped was because they were abusive or had committed some equally unforgivable action.

It’s so strange to just say ‘he wasn’t right for me.’ But I’m hoping as I get closer to that right person, I’ll find myself saying that more and more.

Someone doesn’t have to be a bad person to not be right for me.

But isn’t me making smarter dating choices going to make it harder for me to end things? The closer I get to getting it right, the more I’ll worry that I’m being too picky. And the more anxious I’ll feel about ending things.