Committed Monogamous


Relationships are dangerous.

Oh holy fucking shit.

That’s it.

It only took 44 plus years.

And one scary, traumatizing, controlling partner to ruin me for traditional dating.

Not that I think that traditional dating is the answer.

There is no answer.

There is no right.

There is no wrong.

There is only the feeling of love and I don’t have a particular expectation around how I find that love or let myself have that love.

Oh.

I suppose I have definitely introjected the idea that I need to be married to be a whole person, to be enough, that I am somehow not lovable unless married.

And then.

There is the other, not so conscious thing that has been happening for me for over past eighteen years.

I say eighteen years because that is when I broke up with the one man I was in a significant long-term relationship.

We were together for five years.

We probably shouldn’t have been together for more than five minutes, but I’m not going to judge that young very lost, very sad, very fearful woman.

I didn’t know better and I got sucked in.

I got suckered in by my own naive ideas about what love was and how to be in a relationship.

What the fuck did I know about being in a relationship that had any kind of sustainability at the age of 21?

Especially when I look at where I had been the few years prior to the start of the relationship.

Homeless.

Helping out with my sister and her daughter and her first husband.

Helping out my mom, my dad, anyone who fucking asked because I only had this idea that if people needed me I had some sort of value.

That I might be enough, when I felt, although it was not acknowledged, I couldn’t acknowledge it to myself until I had two, almost three years sober, that I didn’t love myself.

That I had no idea how to do it because the love I had been shown was so deadly that I couldn’t escape it fast enough.

In fantasy, in sci-fi books, in chocolate bars, in music, in school, in the backyard of the house in Windsor, in crushing on “unattainable” boys who weren’t interested in me.

It was safer that way.

I found ways to fill that hole of loss of love.

Food became a big one.

Taking care of other people, that was great, focus on someone else and don’t think about myself, my needs, my wants, my desires.

I mean.

I wasn’t allowed to have needs, wants desires, so why even bother?

I would only be disappointed.

I came into my therapy session today talking about the weather, the turn of seasons into Fall, that I was being proactive, that I had purchased a light box to deal with the SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) that I have a history of experiencing.

I segued into a being proud of myself moment for acknowledging that yes, I could have gone to a 7 a.m. yoga class today, but then I would have been crazy pressured to make my therapy session, I would have gotten a quick fast shower, but no coffee, no breakfast, and just barely slapping some make up on and well, I like my makeup.

Not to mention my morning latte and bowl of oatmeal.

Plus I also knew that I wanted to be available for a phone call and if I went to yoga, I’d get less sleep, not eat, no coffee, and miss a phone call from a very important person.

I woke up this morning and reset my alarm, I knew I wasn’t going to yoga and I knew it was the thing to do.

I had my nice breakfast, I had my nice latte, I put on my makeup.

I do remember thinking to myself, heck, I could wear eyeliner today, but therapy.

I mean.

I do have a tendency to cry.

Then I thought, fuck, life is wonderful, what do I have to cry about?

But.

I trusted my gut.

Yeah, I still wore blue eye shadow, it was tasteful, I swear, but I didn’t give myself the winged black kohl liner look that would have put the vavoom on my makeup.

I restrained myself just in case I might cry.

Guess what?

I cried.

My therapist and I were talking about relationships, marriage, family and then I was talking about my ex.

I was talking about five years of living with an addict who was super controlling, although I had no idea at the time.

I talked about what it was like when I decided to break up with him and what happened.

I talked about how he hit me.

I talked about how he knew that I had been hit as a child and it was my boundary, and how he broke it.

I talked about being scared.

I talked about how he stalked me for two years before I could finally pull the trigger and call the cops.

I didn’t talk about the nightmares, but, ugh, they were awful.

I did talk about the police being called and that there were messages on my machine and how not even after listening to a half of the first one the police were ordering a restraining order on my ex.

We went to court after the initial one was filed.

My ex stood in court and asked for the longest one he could get

He knew himself.

He knew he would keep haunting me if he didn’t ask for the longest restraining order he could get.

It was for two years.

We saw each other about two weeks after it expired.

We had one last 24 hours of trying to make something work that was never meant to work.

I said my goodbye.

I was moving to California.

We spoke one last time when his grandmother died.

I had helped with her when she was becoming to senile to help herself.

I will never forget giving her a bath and her tiny frail little body and how she just sat in the tub and let me bathe her and wash her hair.

He thought I should know.

A lot of emotions came up as I talked to my therapist.

How I didn’t want to tell her about how he spit on me in front of my friends, in the face, because I was leaving him.

I will never forget the shocked look on my best friends husbands face, he was frozen in active disbelief of what was happening.

Another friends’ boyfriend intervened.

We drove back to my house with my ex tailing us like an insane man.

My friend’s husband managed to lose him and we took a circuitous way back to my house and, yes, I literally threw clothes into garbage bags and ran back to my friend’s car.

It was January.

It was cold.

I was heart-broken, lost, and in shock.

“Committed monogamous relationships are dangerous for you,” my therapist said with distinct clarity.

I had expressed that I hadn’t really been in a long-term relationship since I had left my ex.

And then she flipped the frame.

And then she gave me the most beautiful perspective.

She told me how it was something a lot of people did, they replicated the same relationships they grew up.

My father, alcoholic, violent.

My stepfather, misogynist, violent, I always remember the blood on the floor from the broken back window of the kitchen in Windsor when my mother had locked him out and he broke the window with his bare fist and turned the lock, the look of his hand, that image is frozen in my brain, bloodied grasping for the lock and turning it, how we ran out the front door and spent the night at my grandparents.

How we went back the next day.

The years of terror that followed that I wouldn’t let myself see as terrorizing.

Of course committed monogamous relationships are dangerous.

Jesus Fuck did you see what happened to my mom?

Did you see what happened to me the one time I get into a long-term relationship.

Not to mention the three-month crazy man I dated when I was 19 who introduced me to crack cocaine and threatened to kill me in a drug induced delusional state.

But who’s counting.

Then she gave me the gift.

She showed me that I had done the best I could to keep myself safe, that I had rules and bylaws  and ways of keeping myself so busy that I couldn’t date.

I spent the last fifteen years trying to figure it out and she went and did it in a session.

Oh.

Of course.

I did a lot of the work too, and she’s right, I did keep myself protected, but I also acknowledge that after a while it stopped working and I longed for a different experience.

And I’m having one and I’m amazed at my life and I’m ok with the fact that I spent so much time and effort taking care of that small little girl who kept being put in dangerous situations through efforts to maintain a “committed monogamous relationship.”

But.

Well.

I’ve grown up.

And emotional intimacy, though still a frightening area, is not the scary thing that I thought it was, it is sweet and sacred and amazing.

I had to go what I went through and I’m not sorry for it.

I am so grateful for getting out, that’s all, that I got out, that I grew, that I changed, it took years and so much work.

So much work.

But.

Fuck.

Worth it.

So worth all of it.

My therapist went over time with me today, it was the first time ever I had talked about the relationship in therapy and I touched into the terror and fear and pain that I was so busy keeping at bay, she brought me back.

She made sure I was back in the present.

She let me talk about the love in my life, the resources I have, my resiliency and that I wasn’t that person anymore, and that I had done an amazing job at taking care of myself.

She urged self-care and tender compassion for myself today.

I think I did ok.

I showed up at work and I showed up for my clients.

And I bought chocolate persimmons today at the market after I got out of my session.

I love persimmons.

I love myself.

I am lovable and worthy of love.

I am enough.

God damn.

Am I ever.

I fucking did it.

 

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