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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.

Valentine’s Day

TRIGGER WARNING

I’m so afraid to admit this to people. I don’t want to be a total downer for everyone in love and happy today. I hate Valentine’s Day.

All the hearts and cherubs and flowers are an annual reminder that I was raped 8 years ago today. It’s all I can think about for the two weeks leading up to today. And everywhere I look people are talking about love and relationships. And all I can think about is that.

I should not have gone to work today. Everyone kept touching me. I hate being touched, but apparently it’s supposed to be okay today. It isn’t. It’s less okay today for me than any other day.

People keep asking what my plans are for tonight. I don’t know how to ask them to stop. I don’t know how to say these words out loud. It’s bad enough being a normal single person on a day like today. Having everyone asking about your love life.

Emotionally I feel so brittle. I wish it had happened on some random day. Or not at all. I wish I didn’t have an annual reminder. The same day every year. I wish I didn’t associate all these sweet decorations with such a horrible thing. I wish it was some other day instead of the day that is supposed to represent love and romance and relationships.

I wasn’t even going to mention this but I just sat down and it all came flooding out. I rarely post something the same day I write it, but I just want this out of me. And I am bawling as I type this.

But I also know that if I had gone to therapy 8 years ago I would probably be closer to dealing with this than I am today. I know part of the reason it is so hard all these years later is that I never talk about it. Very few people know. I’ve barely even spoken to my therapist about it.

By this time next year I will have worked through these issues. And in a few years I will have found someone that will help me to make new memories on Valentine’s Day. I hope.

I am sorry for the roughness of this post. I literally just wrote this and am afraid if I edit it at all I will lose my courage to post it.

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?

Love

It’s possible that I grew up equating love and abuse so much that they are permanently linked in my mind. My parents never said they loved me, but I did always assume they did. Maybe I think that if someone loves me it means they are going to abuse me.

So far in my life that is exactly what it meant.

But I have also been realizing that if someone was abusive to me before they ever used the word love, I recognized it as a red flag and dumped them. Immediately.

But once someone said they loved me, even though I didn’t love any of them, it seemed to be okay with me that they were abusive.Why did I stay with those men for so long? Their “love” didn’t obligate me to stay with them. It certainly didn’t give them permission. But I have done it over and over again.

Today RA and I had a big talk about that. He says that I am subconsciously attracted to it because it is familiar to me from my childhood. He said, “If you took a lineup of 5 men and three of those men were abusive (notice how he made it more than 50%?) you would choose an abuser every time.”

I feel like I will never forget him saying that to me. I can already feel it tattooed on my mind. Like the story about the girl being underwater and picking a boy who was also because it was all she knew.

It is so sad and tragic that I have done it without even being conscious of it. And that other people are doing it too. And now I always have to be on guard for it. I wonder how many times I do this before I stop trusting my own judgement and just give up on ever being in a relationship. I already feel like I am so close to being there.

Abuse

I didn’t deserve to be abused. It isn’t my fault my parents were abusive. It isn’t my fault they never said or acted like they loved me. It is their fault. And they are horrible for doing that to me.

I have to stop letting it fuck me up forever. I have to stop dating abusive men. I have to stop being afraid of relationships. I have to stop hating myself.

There was nothing I could have done to make them love me. There was no secret code phrase, there was no action I could have done. There was not a single thing on the planet that could have helped me.

They did what they did because of themselves. Not because of me. It had nothing to do with me. It was never about me. This is the hardest lesson to learn for some reason.

It was always about their inability to deal with their own issues. They were shitty parents with their own problems and no concept of how their behavior would affect me, or any of their children. Because I wasn’t singled out by them.

It wasn’t personal. And the issues that they have doesn’t let them off the hook. Knowing someone’s reason isn’t the same as excusing their behavior. And knowing that none of it was about me isn’t the same as being able to forgive them. I’m not ready for that.

I also am realizing that I don’t need the validation of my siblings. They aren’t the missing puzzle piece in all this. I can fix all this without their input, though it would have been nice to have. And helpful.

I don’t want to make them talk about it when they don’t want to. But they don’t owe it to me. No matter how nice it would be to have someone to talk with that shared my exact same experiences.

And it also sucks that I didn’t get to have a childhood. That I had to be a mother to my little sister. But at least I was able to protect her. And I’m proud of her. I did a good job. She’s turned out so well.

I had no choice on giving up my childhood. I don’t want to lose my adulthood to my parents too. I’m tired of living in the past. I have to move on from this. I have to get over it to tackle the next big thing.

But the next big thing is, not surprisingly, related.

My abusive ex’s. They weren’t mistreating me. They were mistreating their girlfriend, the way they had mistreated every girlfriend. I had nothing to do with it. They weren’t even focused on me. I just happened to be there.

And I stayed with those men because it didn’t occur to me to leave. I didn’t think things were even wrong. I had no basis for judgement. I couldn’t recognize normal or healthy. I thought I deserved to feel shitty about myself. My only experience with love has been abuse.

When I finally thought to leave those men, I did leave them. It is sad how bad things had to get before it occurred to me. But at least it eventually occurred to me. I wouldn’t want to be with any of those men now. I’m thankful I’m not.

Making a point

Today was suddenly more than I can handle. I feel like I am barely in control. Like I want to go ahead and have a nervous breakdown, but I won’t let myself.

I feel like attempting to deal with my emotional problems is making it much harder to handle my normal daily issues. I was a totally energetic, responsible adult. I was getting shit done in my life.

I was cleaning, exercising, cooking, making art, writing, going to work, hanging out with my friends, dating. Now, I’m not even bathing every day let alone doing those other things.

Maybe this is what depression feels like. Apathy, insomnia, and inability to handle mundane shit going on in my life. I feel like I was doing better when I wasn’t dealing with things. It was easier in many ways. And I was more productive.

In some ways I was even more satisfied because I felt I had more to show for my life. But I didn’t have the things that really matters. Emotions, friendship, love, a sense of purpose or fulfillment. I still don’t have the love. But the rest are starting to come along.

Is it more important than creativity, motivation, fitness? I don’t know. I feel like I should be able to have all of that at the same time. I guess I’m just not there yet.

I suppose I expected it to be more of an uphill battle but that I would make progress every week. And that isn’t happening.

I have been working on my problems. I’m trying to get through this. Things just feel so bleak right now. It’s like I’m waiting for a breakthrough that isn’t coming. And I’m starting to wonder what the point is…