Just Another Fly on the Wall

Thoughts and Observations From the View Over Here
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JULY 15, 2012 3:23PM

Truly, Madly, Deeply ~ The Single Life

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On August 20th, I attended the wedding of a young couple whose relationship I had witnessed from seed to full blossom over the last few years. My friend, a whip-smart, delightfully bohemian princess goddess and her to-be-groom, a deceptively non-conservative gent who draws subversive comics, held their nuptials that Saturday afternoon at the "Town Hall" inside an amusement park.

The room had been transformed into a tropical paradise with a decor drenched in vivid colors drawing to mind a Keel-billed Toucan (think Fruit Loops cereal). The tables were adorned with hand-painted tree branches that made centerpieces worthy of theft, and the wedding cake was staged in three-tiers comprised entirely of miniature pecan pies.

It was an eclectic ceremony highlighted by tender vows that were exchanged through tears and ended with each offering the promise of a "rad, awesome and totally amazing marriage" with one another. A DJ entertained while the bride, luminous in a '70's style ivory satin dress,  floated amongst her many tattooed guests, family, friends and even the caterers.

I was riveted by the whole affair and cried through most of it. When I left, the park was still packed with families of exuberant children and crammed picnic areas. By the time I reached my car at the end of the lot, I was overcome with feelings I could not identify.

This past April, my dear friend of 27+ years called to let me know that her partner's 10-year battle with cancer was finally over. Although her voice was steady and calm, her despair was palpable. No stranger to death's clutches, I found myself at a complete loss as to how to comfort her and so frustrated that I could not summon anything more than a paltry, "I'm so sorry".

My reactions to these two polar opposite events registered at an untapped level in my psyche. They continued to roil and the always loaded questions of "what?", "how?", and "why?" surfaced and festered; however, what bubbled up were not the usual suspects. Time-stamped memories, disjointed dreams projected in muted technicolor, and shaded recall of my checkerboard past only served to elicit more questions.

To my genuine surprise, the elusive answers turned out to have nothing to do with either event per se but rather to myself in respect of my inability to form a lasting *marriage* (or facsimile thereof). It had seemed familiar territory as I long ago concluded that I suck at relationships, but all the while there had been a nagging pinch of incongruity that wouldn't leave me be.

That "Wow! I could have had a V-8!" moment took its own sweet time making its way to cognition. One would think that all the years of introspection and analytical effacement would have lent some insights, but that was not to be the case.

By the time I hit pay-dirt, I had relived and redissected my *true love* relationships ~ sans the rose-colored glasses, self-flagellation whips, and all those T-shirts emblazoned with *VICTIM* on the front and *STAB HERE* on the back. I stood stark naked and knee deep in a history that would make even Mz. Taylor blush a little in order to make an unbiased assessment of my participation in those failed unions.

I haven't a clue from where I formulated my ideas about relationships. I didn't have a real concept of my parents' marriage as my father died when I was very young. I don't remember them as a couple, nor do I recall ever having seen them hug, kiss or otherwise show affection toward one another. I know they had to have been close as my mom did give birth to six (6) of us inside of nine (9) years! My siblings have told me stories, and I have love letters that attest to their mutual devotion, but their relationship was not to become part of my personal experience.

My greatest exposure to love relationships in my youth was primarily fiction ~ as in Herman and Lily Munster, Gomez and Morticia Addams, Lucy and Desi, and Samantha and Darrin (Darrin) Stephens. Just a little disparity there and nothing upon which I could surmise what love was actually supposed to be.

I don't recall a defining moment where I grasped any real sense of love or intimacy between the couples I knew in my real life, either. After my father died, I learned about life vicariously through observations, books, asking questions of my teachers and girl friends, and then with the assistance of drugs (prescribed and not) and alcohol. Essentially, I fell in love with the idea of love or with someone's past or potential not who they were while standing in front of me.

Congenital and hereditary conditions forced a split in my learning curve which resulted in a tangled, messy and somewhat stunted time-line. As my immature hormones were ramping-up, I got sick and stayed sick, but not conventionally sick nor sick enough at the start to really keep me safe from the youthful rebellion in me that set in motion patterns I was doomed to repeat over the years to the point of absurdity.

I lived in capsule of simultaneous and diametrically opposed feelings ~ chemical reaction and emotional commitment. I was stymied that I could feel so inexplicably connected to and carnally ache for someone yet at the same time fidget in an uneasy claustrophobia.  How could I *want* so desperately and still want to be alone?  How could my heart suffer such profound butchery yet once the blinding pain subsided feel relief?

Years of serial monogamy dubbed me "Queen for Four Months" which was about the sustained length of the *passion phase" of my loves. That phase usually lasted just long enough to seal the deal by moving in together and setting up shop (oops, I mean house).

Somewhere along the line I had equated living under one roof with a sure-fire guarantee that the relationship would last. Buying furniture, opening joint bank accounts, meeting the families and in general being sewn at the hip served as collateral.

When perfunctory details like showing up for work on time (or at all), buying groceries, paying bills or some such seeming nonsense took priority over sex, I didn't fare so well. I discovered I was only good at playing house ~ not actually keeping it.

As we became more enmeshed I would lose myself and morph into who I thought they wanted or needed me to be.  I would grow resentful, restless, irritable and discontent.  Still I did not do the breaking up ~ it was always *them*, and I wound up road kill more times than I care to admit.

I incurred slanderous blows to my self-esteem, held in position as a second choice ("If it weren't for {so-and-so} it would be you."), maligned my inability to maintain a relationship, hung my head in shame after vain attempts to reconcile with a lover, or being pursued by an ex only to reconcile and be re-dumped because I wasn't enough or I wanted too much.

Yet again, in the end of mayhem and in hindsight, the relief over-shadowed the loss.

All the times I derided myself and my behaviour or stewed in jealousy and envy, it never once occurred to me what role my internal disabilities had played in any of it. I had compromised my health so as not to rock the boat, always hid the extent of my torture and conjured new and creative excuses not to have to participate in some activity (including sex) because at the time I was so physically, miserably distressed and uncomfortable.

These issues were less self-evident when I was drinking "medicinally" and allowed for more outrageous behaviour and lingering dalliances. After I got sober I had to learn to live with self-specific chronic conditions, none of which ever had or have now a single sustainable treatment. It became a deal-breaker.

Hidden disabilities have a tendency to evoke judgment, suspicions of hypochondria and even disdain rather than compassion or empathy, and often inspire guilt and self-loathing in the sufferer. I'm quite certain if I had come into any of my relationships with an outwardly visible physical disability or deformity, there would have been noticeably fewer emotional consequences. Vicious, vicious circles.

I have come to not only accept my limitations but to understand them. I am able to draw my own boundaries now and live peaceably within them. Funny thing is, I don't care a whit about being in love or with a lover anymore. I am fiercely private and have become less likely to invite someone in to share my secrets or my life.

I prefer living by myself and am generally content with my own company. I live simply nowadays, and no longer feel as if I'm missing something *out there*. Anyway, at this stage in my years, I would be better suited for a friend-with-benefits than an otherwise committed pairing. Still, not knowing what the future may hold, I remain open to the possibilities.

Not everyone is meant to have a life-long love relationship, nor would I begrudge those that do, but being human I do admit to feeling a bit lonely on occasion. It is in family and the friendships that have been forged, nurtured and have endured over the long-haul, as well as new alliances taking root in the now that fill that temporary void. They evince a kind of love that commits as unconditionally as can reasonably be expected by an imperfect humanity.

Together these relationships yield rewards that far surpass the gilded lilies and transient payoffs of being *in love*, and continue to hold me to a higher standard of wonderment for the genre in all of its incarnations.

~ simply complex and vexingly simple ~

Even in this age of technological genius,

there is no app for love.

 

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Comments

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Each and everyone of us finds or own way to what we need.
Better the second time around. So much content here and so much to relate to . I want to read it a few times more before I return to add any substansial comment. No app for love indeed. I think so many play at house and family and so few really know how to do it right.
I see myself in all of these posts re being single, and in yours, as well. The "I would lose myself and morph into who I thought they wanted or needed me to be" has been me to a T. Glad to know I'm not alone in it.

And I really like your conclusion.
Thank you, jmac ~ it was a long time coming, but when the dust settled ~ man-o-man was I a happy camper! Still am, I might add. Life as a single woman definitely fits for me.

fernsy! Thanks for re-reading and re-commenting. Always makes me happy to see your footprints on OS. ;-} I'm so much better living alone. It is absolutely THE preferred choice for me now. It's not that I don't play well with others in general, it's more that with so much of my soul invested in what I conjured to be a "marriage", I wound up making compromises and not concessions that ultimately hurt me in order to keep what I thought I wanted as well as to keep the peace. It becomes an arduous journey when one is always walking on eggshells. I'm free from the bondage of myself in that regard. Finally.

just phyllis: Well hello! Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I've read many of these posts on being single, and NO you are SO not alone in the identification arena!! One of the things I believe society as a whole seems to push is that there is something wrong with being single. Like somehow everyone needs a partner to be complete. To this day (although far less often now) when learning of my single status, people tend to give me that "oh, I'm so sorry look" before launching into "you'll find someone", and when I say I'm not looking, the comment that always follows is "it's when you're not looking that you will find!" ... well, it has yet to occur to any well-meaning person that I don't care! It amazes me that there are those that still believe one cannot be happy by themselves. I no longer feel the need to be a twisted pretzel ... I am who I am ~ the good, the bad, the ugly ~ and I choose me today. You will too whether that be as a single woman or a woman in a relationship. All the best to you ~
Very moving and honest post, eyespye. No app for love is right. Congratulations on the EP!
Hey Erika! Thanks for stopping by and for your thoughts on the post. I'll tell you, though, I won't be a bit surprised when (not if) the techs of this generation actually come up with an App! Good thing I don't have a smart phone. :-D

The EP was (is) a shocker but it sure made my day. Thanks.
Congrats on the EP!!!
I haven't read your post yet but I just saw that you have an EP !!!!!!!!

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am SO EXCITED!!!!!!!

FINALLY "the powers that be" have noticed you and have seen what a great writer you are!!!!

Now ... I must go read! LOL!!!! : )
Miss Fernsy is right ... better the second time around! I marvel at not only the amazing gift you have for exceptional writing but also at your capacity for deep and sincere personal reflection; your absolute honesty; and, your amazing strength and courage.

But more .... I marvel at the beautiful and inspirational soul that is you.

Much, much love .....
Thanks Madam fernsy! Kinda blew me a way a little.

Mzz. Katie: You do so humble me with such accolades, my friend. Thank you, thank you. I remember when we first *met*, we exchanged a few PM's about our shared awkwardness and uncertainty about using the term "writer" in reference to ourselves. While I'm thrilled to have received the EP, that sense has yet to leave me. I suspect that's a good thing as my ego tends to run in wild extremes from time to time, and it's best to keep that beast in check!

I am so happy you stopped in as I haven't posted since mid-April and in OS terms, I may as well have fallen off the planet! Well, here's to all of us to keep up the writing (and reading)!! And love, love, love right backatcha 'mate. ;-}
I remember those conversations well. And somehow I'm not at all surprised that you still find it hard to shake the awkwardness and call yourself writer. It's something ingrained in both of us I think. But you know what? You truly are a writer .... a very good one.

An ego? You? I can't imagine that though! Not for one moment!!!! : )
Oooh ~ such a lovely surprise to find your comment this morning! Again with the compliments ~ and you can't imagine a burdgeoning ego from that?? HA! I take your comments to heart, my friend, and they are gratefully appreciated. I don't ever feel like we're members of "The Mutual Admiration Society", either. I believe you would tell me (if only in a PM) if you didn't care for something I'd written or if you were wholly unimpressed with the writing. The *boost* encourages me and the *boot* would most definitely propell me to train a different eye!

Thank you for all ~ so excellent to see you, too.