Thursday, June 7, 2012

Having vs. Wanting

I tend to dream up blog posts while I'm drifting off to sleep. Don't you?

Back in January, as I was trying to fall asleep, my mind spun around the idea of how I was going to continue to tell the story of this recent break-up. As I considered how to explain it all, I thought about the length of the relationship. It was eighteen months long. Then I starting thinking about the number eighteen, seeing the numbers in my mind, floating above my head, hanging in the air Sesame Street style, and I thought,

1 + 8 = 9

At that exact moment, as I was laying in my dark, quiet bedroom, I flashed my eyes open, stared at the ceiling, and said out loud,


This blew my mind and I thought the following things in this order: (1) That's pretty fucking weird, (2) That's pretty fucking cool, (3) That could be a prolific coincidence that solidifies the fact that my journey out of this 18 month relationship will end with me feeling awesome about my life again and that I have made the right choice (much like I felt at the end of the journey out of my 9 year relationship), (4) That could be a prolific coincidence that solidifies the fact that I make some pretty shitty choices in relationships and stay in them longer than I should, and finally, (5) This thing with the number 9 is pretty deep and whatever it is, I gotta listen to what it's telling me.

And then I fell asleep.

So here I am, trying to understand what this connection is trying to tell me, and most of all, trying to understand my choices (shitty as they can sometimes be). Dear Readers, I have to admit that I was at first very hesitant to tell this story. I always thought that the relationship that followed my last one would be "the one." I figured that my story, and this blog, would end with my successful return to dating and the eventual meeting of the man with whom I would spend the rest of my life. I didn't expect to be writing about another breakup, but here I am. Again.

For a little while after it all ended I couldn't even remember why I had been in the relationship in the first place. I kept trying to remember what the relationship felt like when I was in it and all I could see, as best as I can describe it, was a blank spot. Just a big, blank spot. I couldn't figure it out. Why did I fall in love with this person? And why did I stay after I had so many good reasons to leave, so many times?

The Beginning

As I remember it now, it had all started out as innocently as you might expect. When I met my now ex-boyfriend I was charmed instantly. I thought he was insightful, thoughtful, and interesting. He didn't gesticulate wildly when he talked, he looked me in the eye when I talked to him, and didn't seem to be telling me what I wanted to hear. He was not on a frantic wife search. And he wasn't overly sweaty either. I thought he was adorable, dapper, loving, family-minded, and committed. He listened to every word I said and was interested in everything about me. He seemed like a true partner to me. A person I could love, no question. In our first few months we spent all our time together. It was seemingly idyllic with long walks along the beach, hand in hand, and exchanging "I love you's" on the second anniversary of our first date. At that time I stopped jokingly calling him my friend, chum, or pal and began calling him my boyfriend. I was a girlfriend again. And it happened fast.

After "I Love You"

Quickly after "I love you," we saw our futures open up in front of us and for the first time ever, I started to make plans with the man I was with. It was all blissful and fun and felt extremely honest and open. We both thought we had finally found the relationship we had been searching for so long. It all felt ideal. Perfect.

And that, my friends, was ultimately one of the things that kept me in it for as long as I was (and probably him too). I know I don't speak for everyone who has baggage (the only kind of baggage a long-term relationship that dissolved into a big, heart-wrenching break-up can bring), but when I found a guy that began talking to me about "our" future, "our" life, and plans he wanted to make with me that included a family, I was sucked in. In my last relationship, this was simply never talked about. And for him, I think it was very similar. He had a string of unsatisfying relationships and had been single a long time before he met me. So to meet me and think of me as the one he was waiting for, well, that was everything. And it was everything to me too. I haven't wrapped my mind around exactly what happened yet but I will eventually. But there is one thing I'm sure of.

The Catalyst

For two people looking for perfect, searching for the kind of relationship they always wanted, thinking they found it, and then seeing anything wrong with this vision of perfection, was a powder keg just waiting to go off. There was so much build up, so much expectation, and two very different visions of what love was going to be, that when those expectations weren't met and what was WANTED was not had, it led into a long string of disappointments and a conflict between what we had vs. what we wanted.

I think that one of the ways relationships break in half is when two people try to force a fit that just isn't there. When I think about that, it seems so simple. A very similar thing happened in my last relationship, my boyfriend and I didn't make each other happy. We wanted different things and ultimately we kept forcing something that wasn't working. Holding onto comfort, history, security, and great desire to avoid conflict at all costs, we stayed together for years. The same thing, I think, happened here again. My ex and I didn't make each other happy. Happy the way a true love should be. I knew it and he probably knew it although I can't speak for him. But we stayed, clutching onto what we wanted to happen between us.

I remember my ex and I going out with another couple a month before the break-up and saying something that night, out loud, that rings in my ears now. We went out with a couple that was close to my ex and who I really enjoyed being around. This couple had a relationship that I know he wished we had. Theirs seemed effortless, happy, long-lasting, free of conflict, and easy. So the night we went out with them, his female friend and I found ourselves alone while the guys walked up to the bar to get us drinks; after they walked away she leaned over to me and quickly asked, "So how are you guys doing?" She knew about most of the fights we had over the last year. I remember saying quickly to her, as the guys were walking back, "We just want to be with each other so much." And I meant it. (I know that when my BFF reads that last line she's going to throw up in her mouth a little bit. Sorry, dude. I really said that.)

The Reality, for Realz.

So why did I say that? What does that even really mean? I think what I wanted, and I believe what he wanted, was something very much like the relationship his friends had. We both wanted to be in a happy relationship, an easy one, a good one, the right one, the one that was going to make all the bad and disappointing relationships from the past look like they were the unruly and hard-fought path to this one, the one that would be the last one. The one that would make it all worth it. But it wasn't. We didn't have the love we deserved from each other, we just wanted it. There is a big difference between wanting and having, and I'm understanding that now.

I have got to believe we were not the only two people in the world this has happened to.Wanting a perfect relationship is a strong pull for some people, not for all people, but for some this is a huge goal especially when past relationships have been so disappointing. I wish I hadn't gotten sucked in by my own visions of a future that wasn't really there, and I'm guessing he probably feels the same today, or at least I hope he does. I wish I had seen the writing on the wall and cut my losses much earlier, but I held on soley to a fantasy and not exactly to what was right in front of me. And what was right in front of me was not the right person. Again.

Deep down I knew it, but I avoided it. More to come on that, Dear Readers. Bear with me as I process this all, albeit very slowly. And if you can relate in any way, drop me a line because, as you know, you are not alone.

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