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love in the time of catastrophe.

**Before I start:

  1. I apologize for the length of this. Get comfy if you plan to read it all.
  2. I can feel myself spiraling down again for a couple of different reasons but I happened to have this in my drafts; I’ve been working on it so I just decided to post it even though right now I’m anti-love (but if you held me for 15 minutes, I wouldn’t stop you). After I post it, I need a little break from you, Internet. I keep seeing things that worry me or make me sad and some of these things I want to pay attention to (like all the what the hell are you even DOING, England and Donald Trump??? stuff and my friend Jamie’s daughter’s updates) and others of these things are just things I don’t really need exposure to right now.

Love part 1:

I’m still examining what went screwy in my marriage. If I am ever married or in a serious relationship again, I don’t want to repeat what went screwy. (I will probably repeat what went screwy, though. At least to a certain degree. Quiz my male friends: they’ll confirm.) (My female friends will go: Honey, forget those men! You deserve better! But you and I and they all know it always takes two to tango.)

I know communication was a terrible problem. I suck at it. C thinks he doesn’t suck at it, but I dissent to a certain degree. If he were truly stellar at it, he’d have figured out how to communicate with this non-communicator in a way that made our communication issues half-resolve. Plus, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to correct him because he’s misheard or misunderstood something that I or someone else said.

I also think I changed as a person. I grew less willing to be okay with just quietly doing everything his way. He was happiest when I was doing that…and I was kind of miserable. My life was well-regimented, scheduled, and really very sane. And I also wanted to get in my car and start driving and never come back and I spent a lot of time seething with resentment over what I felt were double standards and being asked to be someone/something I’m not. But I didn’t – and still don’t, honestly – know how to communicate with other people in a way that doesn’t just gloss over everything with a joke, or isn’t angsty, threatening, weird, and/or combative at a certain level. I am working on this, I do promise, and the sad irony is that maybe, eventually, with enough freedom I will become better at this to a certain degree. I will learn to ask hard questions about things I don’t understand. I will learn to speak up and say “this bothers me” or “I don’t agree with this” or ” this doesn’t work for me.” And I will not back down when I’m argued with. The other part of the sad irony of this is that in order for me to learn how to do these things, I simply couldn’t do them with C. And there are times I wake up at 3 AM and this thought, this realization, pops into my brain once more and I lie there and cry. Dark times, hard nights. I get some good days and then I get to thinking again.

C said (and I agree with him) that marriages and all relationships, really, are like hills and valleys; they don’t stay steady and straight. There are times where everything’s working and you’re super happy you picked THAT person. And there are times where you really have to work hard not to want to stab them with a fork. Some people are wholly unsuccessful at the fork thing, and those people you read about in the newspaper or watch them tell their sad tales on TV to Dr. Phil while you shake your damn head and stuff.

C is right. C is smart. But what about being in a relationship where you’re mostly steady and straight in that you’re super happy you picked this person because you can see all the good in them and you recognize their quirks are part of what make them THEM, yet you’re also constantly in a low because you’re constantly fighting off guilt about not being able to be exactly who or what they want, and there’s a lot of criticism about your way of doing things and so the resentment just builds and builds but you’re also pretty complacent because you recognize they do so much even if it’s not your way of doing things. Because complacency is another terrible dragon I fight a lot. And I’m not really a big fan of change. I get used to how something is, then it changes, and it throws me off. Or something stays the same for so long, I can’t imagine it being any different…like just now, I was thinking: god, if I ever have to go find a new apartment, that would mean packing this whole place up all by myself. And then I become like Scarlett O’Hara and go: “Well, I just won’t think about that right now. Tomorrow is another day.” And that’s not always a healthy approach, if the damn Yankees aren’t even invading.

On the one hand, I think C and I had a fairly consistent, pretty normal marriage. But the resentment (me) and the communication issues (us) and the need to have certain things a certain way (him) and the guilt about agreeing those were good things but not really caring about them as hard (me) was just too much. And complacency kept it all together. Sealed up with a good amount of codependency.

I probably shouldn’t be writing about this publicly – I have a private blog I set up specifically to type out these kinds of thoughts. But it’s been in my head and social media and what I wrote about (blogs and stories) were also always points of contention for us. (C refuses to use social media. And, quite frankly, while he’s always frustrated me because he doesn’t get it, I also admire him for his steadfast refusal to join in the fray – he’s probably a lot more content. You see things on social media sometimes you just weren’t ready for, or didn’t need to see at that moment.)

Can I share a meme I ran across that really speaks to me, where I’m at, right now, here, today? It segues into parts 2 and 3:

image
Loving myself is the hardest thing ever. I got a lot of love in me, a LOT of love. I give away my love all the time. But I rarely love me the way I love other people. I keep saying I’m working on it, but I’ll be honest: I don’t think I know how to. And so I’m going to just sit with that, for awhile.

Love part 2:

Back in November(ish?) I got really mad at that guy who stalked me, and I set up an OKCupid account as retaliation. (I know, I KNOW. I agree that doesn’t make a bit of sense as a retaliation tactic. Listen: I don’t understand half of what I do either. If I did, my home would be more organized and my life would have direction.)

At any rate, I got super weirded out within about, well, an hour. Literally within an hour of setting up the account it became clear this place was like a virtual meat market, and not even a good one. After about a week, I’d experienced the following: a man started semi-stalking me there – he kept begging me to talk to him because he saw I looked at his profile. I didn’t respond because I decided he would not be for me, and then I got these “Hi, please talk to me! I know you were interested in my profile!” “Hi! Don’t be shy! I know you want to get to know me!” messages 10 times a day…gah. And I don’t think he was after me because he thought I was all that; I think he does this to every female who looks at his profile. Humans of Earth: this technique isn’t going to win you friends, and it probably indicates you have an unaddressed, underlying mental health issue.

Another man read my profile and Private Messaged me a 4 page litany mansplaining to me how and why my liberal political beliefs were horrible and therefore I was also horrible, but because he guessed I was there because I’m a blue in a red state and so my dating prospects are slim would I like to meet for drinks? (I guess so he could continue his rant about what a horrible person and how unfit for love in a Red State I am?)

And then a man tried to woo me and at first he seemed really awesome…until I looked through his 500 page historical novel of a profile and realized (a) he’s been on OKCupid looking for love since, oh I don’t know…the Internet was invented? and (b) he works on his profile there like a lovingly, well-tended garden…like, that’s his hobby that he babies: going out on dates, meeting women online, re-writing his OKCupid profile. Some people like reading, some like collecting stamps, some people go antiquing…some people trawl the Internet for dates? And also a Jehovah’s Witness told me I was sexy and that he really wanted to date me (and convert me, because the initial “Hi, you’re sexy and I’d love to take you to dinner…” greeting quickly devolved into a rant on how Jehovah was the one true way kind of spammy spiel he auto-sends to every new female account. This one came to me before I’d even put a picture up; Jehovah must have sent a picture so he’d know I was sexy.)

I mean…what?? Humanity. What?! This is an insane approach to finding love. I stay the hell away from OKCupid and all the other online dating sites now. First because I’m a lot of things, but I’m not dumb: I know when to fold ’em. Second because technically why even bother? I’m still legally married, and I have a LOT of baggage. And last (and mostly) it’s all so depressing and terrifying, all at once. I would rather be alone than end up with someone who makes me cry a lot, and these days I cry easily.

But then the other day I saw something online and I got curious and downloaded the Tinder app. And I started swiping. Left swiping, which is Tinder’s way of saying NO. No, no, no. Over and over. I’d click on a picture here and there to see the profile and then click the X to let Tinder know: NOPE on this one too. Sometimes because I saw something that freaked me out, sometimes because I had insecurity (this person wouldn’t want me – I’m a single mother with saggy bits), either way: NOPE. About a hundred times. No, seriously. One hundred pictures. Swipe swipe swipe click NOPE swipe swipe swipe Nopety  NOPE…x 100. Around swipe 96, I deleted the app because I said: you know what? This is just clinically depressing. Look at all these humans. Thousands and thousands of them. All wanting to be loved, at some level or another. But how much does a picture really tell you about a person? All of my selfies are taken in good lighting when my hair and make up are done. Nobody sees me when I snore in my sleep or what I look like as I chew food or how I sound when I blow my nose…these people aren’t really looking for real – they’re looking for image, an ideal. I mean, look at these 20-somethings with their six-pack abs making duck faces in their bathroom mirrors with a phone in their hand, these fools don’t even know what love is. And oh god. Look at this 76 year old man in front of his rusting pick up truck; he’s either very innocently trying to find love in the one place on social media that has an absence of love…or he’s trying to get a date with an 18 year old and that’s…I’m sorry, fellow Earthlings. I know our souls are ageless, but we simply must have a line. Some standards.

This is who we are now: creatures who just swipe each other out of existence, one casual NOPE at a time. Not even trying. It’s…I don’t want to live like this, Internet. Can’t we go back to the days of IRC chats? For some reason IRC just felt friendlier. Message boards, too.

I’m disillusioned, is what I’m saying. If I were young and dumb and still in my 20s, I would probably go ahead and play this time waste of a head game the Internet has invented. But I am not young and dumb and thank god I’m out of my 20s because I am not exaggerating a single bit when I tell you mine were tragic. In my 40s, I am tired of games. Let’s all stop playing games with each other, shall we. Games work best in card, video, or board form. Or sports. Or on thrones, apparently. Those are the only kinds of games people ought to play with one another. We are already catastrophic enough as a species.

 

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accurate. not saying i have a horribly high IQ, but am saying i’m not dumb.

Love part 3:

One of the things I’m incorporating into the story I’m working on is polyamory. Or a version of it (there are actually many different versions, or ways, to do live this lifestyle, and if you’re nice to me I may write up some of my geeky, I-clearly-don’t-have-enough-to-do research on it in a future blog post because it’s not gross, I promise…it’s actually kind of a sweet way to live). I am fascinated by this concept, I don’t really know why. I think maybe because I read an article that Amanda Palmer shared and the person who wrote it was part of this kind of love, and what he experienced was just touching and beautiful even if the Internet did roll its eyes at him. Because I will confess to you, Internet, there are days I am lonely and petrified and sure I will be alone forever and I don’t want that (and there are days that I do). I sometimes feel an absolute vacancy of love around me when I see other people enjoying life with their significant others. And then there are days where I am certain my heart will burst with how much love it’s capable of giving other people. As long as they are not scary and terribly unstable, I could immensely and freely love pretty much every human being I come into contact with.

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I’ve always thought, in fact, it’s entirely possible to be in love with many people, all at once. Love is patient, love is kind…and not something tangible you get to hoard for yourself. And maybe that’s why – there are people out there who exist like this. I think so many of us go into love relationships with this attitude of “mine, all mine.” But people aren’t possessions. Do you really want to own another human being like that? Isn’t that feeling because of your own insecurities about being abandoned and left behind? I think about like if I had had another child – I would still love another child just as much as I love Miss M, and vice versa. Why can we not do this with people who are not our children? Humans are completely capable of loving more than one person at a time, in equal amounts.

(I think) it’s related to our innate cave people’s survival fears and society’s (and religion’s)  rock hard social norms. We’re constantly battling our cave ancestry and the age of reasoning: polyamory may be the healthiest way to love yet our cave people wiring also makes it the hardest – people who love like this say it is constantly checking in, constantly communicating, constantly developing your self awareness. You may hear “polyamorists” and think: weirdos. But now that I’ve actually researched what they do, I hear “polyamorists” and think: love. It would take ten more paragraphs to really describe what polyamory is beyond that – most people think it’s swinging, but it’s not. It’s literally love. You are not a possession, not a thing to be bought and sold on a meat market. When you’re married, you’re not “taken.” You’re choosing to hoard your love and only give it to one person. (Is how a polyamorist sees it.)

Please know: I’m not saying I’m going to running off to join a polyamory commune. I am crap at communicating and my insecurities make Donald Trump’s thin orange skin look 1000 inches thick. I’m just saying: if you’re really serious about loving someone, you have to let them in and talk to them. You have to be there, and you can’t hoard. You have to let them go be them…and trust they’ll come back to you and if they choose not to, then you have to be willing to let them go find whatever it is they think they need instead of you. If you believe in God, you’ll understand what I’m talking about…because this is, essentially, what God (or the Universe or whatever you call it) does and has always done for the homo sapiens It decided to populate this planet with.

…how bad did I freak you out with Love, part 3? And sorry for the God reference, atheist readers. It’s okay if you need to go find another blog to read now, I will still love you. Just promise me you’ll stay away from that angry, bald Republican on OKCupid. And for the love of all, do NOT go on Tinder. Seriously. It’ll break your heart.

love6
a friend i love a lot sent me this. i go back and read it often. a lot.

 

love5
i’m still working on all of this. particularly the undefended heart part. and being subject to disappointment. i do honor your Gods and drink at your well quite freely though.
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