Men and Relationships: My Favorite Addiction

This is the time of my life in which I’m single. I hope. I can’t make any promises, y’all, because you know how I am. The first good-looking, interesting guy who catches my attention I’ll be imagining how we’ll live together. Men are like a drug to me; relationships are an addiction for me. If Mark texted me today to see if I wanted to get together, you better believe I’ll be there. I’ll say it’s better this way, I can live my life and he can live his, we don’t have to get married, we’ll just see each other on occasion…

But if I play the tape the whole way through, as they tell us in recovery to do, it doesn’t end well. It can go one of two ways. Either he comes back to me or he doesn’t. Let’s say I get what I want. Guess what? I won’t want it anymore. Oh I’ll play the game for a while, years even. We may even get married. And then I start feeling trapped. You mean I have to stay with this guy for the rest of my life? Eventually someone appears on the fringes who seems much better, who I have much more in common with, who I wish I was married to instead. Secretly I’ll pine over that guy, or I’ll create some persona of who I think that guy is, and I’ll feel like a fraud, living a double life, knowing in my bones and in my heart I don’t want to be married to this guy anymore, pretending that I do. Wishing I was single. Free.

How about being grateful for what I have today?

Yesterday I woke up so grateful not to have the flu, which has been going around, literally killing people. At work our immune support section looks post-apocalyptic, empty, signs up that the manufacturer is out of stock. I’ve been taking so many supplements I don’t even need to eat food (JUST KIDDING—everyone needs to eat food, y’all, and that whole breathatarian bullshit is a dangerous lie). But I’ve been taking a lot of herbs and vitamins, and washing my hands like a mad woman. I’d gone home the night before not feeling great, paranoid and convinced I’d wake up with the flu.

But then I woke up feeling SO happy, and so grateful to be well. That’s a blessing that not everyone gets. For example, one of my friends has rheumatoid arthritis which has no cure and causes her so much pain she can’t work. And I’m over here worrying about my silly boyfriends? I mean, come on. Now’s the time I can embrace this moment.

Last night I went to a women’s meeting, which I love because rarely does anyone talk about drinking, which I don’t care to talk about so much anymore. Even though I’m an alcoholic, drinking is just not something I think about very often anymore (which is a miracle because for 20 years the obsession dominated my life). In March I’ll have eight years of sobriety, and I thank God for that.

At this women’s meeting I go to we usually talk more about what’s going on in our lives today and how to live a spiritual life, how to find peace and gratitude without using alcohol or drugs to escape. It was so nice to be in a room full of supportive women talking about our lives and how to live better. We all laughed a lot, and I got them laughing too which always makes me happy, and a few women came up to me afterwards to chat. It’s so comforting and welcoming. A few of us even talked about the culture we live in, the families we grew up in, how we’ve grown up with low self-esteem as a result of being taught that getting married (and to marry well) is a sign of success, or that we’re not as smart as men, or just not smart enough or good enough.

When I was in Georgia visiting my dad, he asked me what he often asks when we see each other, which is why my oldest sister and I don’t have good jobs. He couldn’t understand her especially because she has such a high IQ. I’m his dumb, pretty daughter, so I guess it makes more sense for me, and plus I still have a chance to get rescued by a husband. (That last sentence was meant facetiously; I feel like it makes the writing worse if I have to explain that but I would rather have y’all understand me.) I explained to him that Sherry had a good job as a director at an animal sanctuary, and now she’s searching for something new, and we’re happy anyway. Then I tried something new and I asked him, out of curiosity, “Are you disappointed in us?”

That surprised him. He said that he was just baffled, because he’d gotten a job out of college on the air force base working as a chemist, got promoted several times, and retired with a pension. Today is a different day, I explained. If we could have that, or if I could, I’d take it (IF I liked the job, which I probably wouldn’t, lol, but no need to tell him that part). I asked him what was it that makes Tracy, my other sister, better than us? She didn’t work for many years. She got married and raised kids (and she’s an excellent mother and has done a great job, btw, so I’m not knocking stay-at-home moms).

“Well, that’s something,” he replied.

Wow.

Don’t get me wrong. If I’d had a good head on my shoulders like Tracy has always had, I’d have found a good man as she did when I was younger, and maybe I’d have had kids (but knowing me, probably not). I’d love to not work, and have free time to do something fun or rewarding such as volunteer work or taking a painting class. And it’s not that I can’t do those things now, but my time is limited right now while I’m in school. And I’m not saying that’s how she spends her time because it isn’t—she’s actively involved in her kids’ lives which takes a lot of work and time, which I couldn’t have done when I was younger, given my alcoholism. To prepare a little human being to become a good, responsible adult is a huge task I don’t think I could undertake. She also got a part time job and has been working to get her CPA. So it’s not like she does nothing; that’s not what I’m saying.

What I’m saying is, when have I ever gotten credit for my independence?

All through college I didn’t ask my parents for money, I took out student loans, I worked part-time. I got married and paid half of the mortgage and bills (my ex-husband did buy my alcohol and food which was ridiculously expensive so I’m not saying I was a saint). The second time I married I paid half the bills, maybe more. I told my dad this, just the part about the husbands and paying half, and he said, “Well they should’ve paid more.”

That’s not the point. The point is I did this all on my own. And am still doing it on my own, working while in grad school. And no one gives a shit.

And honestly, why should they? This is my life, not theirs. And am I going to be on my deathbed one day feeling glad I paid for all of my stuff? Will people be at my funeral talking about how financially independent I was? God, I would hope that wouldn’t be the most important thing anyone could say about me. I just wanted my dad’s approval, is all.

He must’ve thought about it, because lately he’s been sending my sister and me emails talking about how much I helped him with nutrition advice, that I gave good advice that his doctor corroborated. He really is sweet—he’s become much sweeter lately, since he quit drinking a year ago. He’s the person I remember from childhood, who I’d forgotten, to be honest. But he’s a product of his generation, the baby boomers, and his goal in life for my sisters and me is for us to get married so a man can support us. He just wants us to be okay, to be taken care of. But that idea is not helpful for me. My subconscious has been ingrained to believe that I need a man to complete me, and it’s just not true.

As independent as I pride myself on being, which is my ego talking, I’m not really independent as long as I keep looking for a man to “fix” me. I can take care of myself. Today I have God in my life, and for that I’m truly grateful.

No promises that I won’t go back to Mark if he asks, but I’m not reaching out to him, and today I’m not reactivating my online dating memberships. And that’s a start. I really, really want to try to stay single for a while this time. And I will probably go back to Codependents Anonymous meetings.

Here’s a song I love by my new favorite, Taylor Swift. She’s been around for years but at the time I snubbed pop music and country-pop before that. As a side note, I like what she says in the beginning. She’s funny and human, and it makes me glad not to be famous, not to be criticized for my life choices by a public who doesn’t even know me as a person. I love the line, “Oh my God / Look at that face / You look like / my next mistake.” Oh man can I relate.

Peace and love,

TCH

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