I’ve figured it out.
It’s the same lesson I was supposed to learn with my ex-husband, with both of my ex-husbands, which is that I want someone else to take care of me, when I need to learn to take care of myself. Not so much that I need someone else to pay my bills—though that would be nice—but for someone else to tell me how to live my life, how to forge my career path. Maybe I do want the bills paid while I figure out what to do for my career, but it’s not that I can’t pay my own or be self-sufficient. The self-sufficiency part I’m really good at. What I’m not good at is knowing who I am and what I want or how to go after it. Or maybe it’s not so much that I don’t know but that I don’t believe in myself, that I don’t believe I can do it and I am afraid to go after it because I’m afraid of failure… And I’m afraid of success too, because if I succeed and get what I want, and I’m still unsatisfied, then what? I’ll know the problem is me, and I’ll have more to learn, more to change about myself.
Figuring it out is not the solution. Knowing something intellectually is one thing, but taking the right action is another. That’s where I get stuck. I look to everyone else to tell me what to say, how to feel, what to think. I struggle with trusting my gut, trusting a higher power to guide me, or even knowing where my gut or God guides me. That’s why I look to other people, to human beings to validate my feelings and opinions and tell me the next step, and that’s where I run into trouble. I put too much faith into human beings, who are fallible and inevitably let me down. Not that I don’t think I should be able to trust or rely on others, but it’s that unhealthy dependence on other people to fix me is where the problem lies. It’s a hard truth to accept. I am the only one who can do it. 12-step programs will say that only faith in a higher power can do it, and I thought I believed that, but now I don’t know how that works. I’ve prayed to God every day for a sign and for help in guiding me down the right path, and I suppose one could argue that’s exactly what’s happening right now, but why in this way? Why do people have to die or break up with me for me to learn my life lessons? Why can’t I be like other people and learn while in a relationship with the one I love so dearly? I suppose I’m one who has to lose absolutely everything before I can see the light, but I don’t see any light yet.
When I say that I’ve lost everything, that’s a bit of a stretch. I still have a job and a place to live. I could be homeless and unemployed, which would be way worse than where I am now. The thing is, I don’t have the job or home that I want, nor have I gotten the relationship I wanted, and I don’t know how to get any of these things. 12-step programs will say that’s not where happiness lives, that none of that stuff matters, but seriously? I need food, shelter, love. It’s the love part where I’m stuck, and that starts with self-love. But I don’t know what that looks like.
If I had to guess, I’d say that self-love means standing up for myself, setting proper boundaries, using my voice, knowing my gut and trusting it. But I don’t really know how to do these things, and my fear is that it will take a long, long time to learn them, and in the process I may lose more.
As you might have guessed, my boyfriend and I have broken up for good this time, and I am heartbroken, much more so than with either of my failed marriages, because I love this man to my core, and I tried so hard to make it work. It got ugly there for a few days. I couldn’t sleep or eat. I cried to all my friends and my sisters. There were moments when I hoped I would die in my sleep. I was at my lowest, the lowest I’ve been in sobriety, and maybe even lower than when I was drinking, because now I feel my feelings instead of drink them away. And this morning I felt only a couple of steps above that, but now I’m feeling a few steps above that, after having met with my therapist. I think another reason I feel better is because I received some grace in that we ended on a more positive note, with apologies and forgiveness over the hurtful words that had been exchanged. We love each other dearly but it’s just not working out. Love really is not enough. I thought that having the willingness to work would be enough, but it really is not. What is enough? I cannot control what happens, nor can he or anyone else. It seems like sheer luck is how it works. I truly do not know. I didn’t grow up around people whose relationships worked so I have no idea how anyone stays married and happy, and right now I don’t care because I have no interest in getting into another relationship for a very long time.
What I really want is a fulfilling career, and I’ve given very little attention to doing something about this. I thought if I could get the man first then this could fall into place. It sure seems to work for others. But this doesn’t seem to be my story.
I thought that if I stayed with someone who was crazy, it would work. It was perfect. I’m crazy, he’s crazy, and our crazies complement each other. I cannot make money and he cannot manage it, so therefore he can make the money and I can manage it. That would work, right? Wrong. There are certain parts of my life I cannot manage, and certain parts of his life he cannot manage, so those broken parts we can fix for each other, right? Wrong again. I thought he could take care of me, and he thought I could take care of him, when we each have to learn how to care for ourselves. In his mind that means being single forever, but in my mind, that means learning how to do it while in relationship with someone I love and who can reciprocate that love. That’s what I want, but I’m beginning to see that probably won’t happen, and probably shouldn’t.
What I do know is that I have some new deal breakers:
- I will not allow myself to be ignored. It brings up my abandonment issues, and I cannot continue to allow myself to be invisible or unheard.
- I must be allowed to express my feelings without fear.
- If he breaks up with me every time I express a negative feeling, then we must stay broken up.
Well, that’s really all I can think of right now. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to date any fathers again because I’m too jealous and uncomfortable with kids, but that’s not a total deal breaker. I could possibly date someone who had a son that was a young adult. Little kids, teenagers (some but not all), and daughters of any age freak me out.
Still, I would’ve dealt with it. If he came back to me now and said he’d do everything in his will power to try to make it work, that he would honor and respect my feelings and not ignore me or threaten to break up, then I’d go back to him. Even if he said he can’t help how he is but still wants a commitment, I’d go back to him. I’d go back and try to learn how to cope and accept it. But he isn’t saying that, and he doesn’t want a commitment.
Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll learn that him setting me free was the kindest thing he ever did for me. But it sure doesn’t feel like that right now.