Dread

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Butterflies are the best. When you hear that knock on the door and your heart skips a beat. Every cell phone vibration might be them and your pulse races. Butterflies are fleeting, but should they be gone after six months? Should my heart drop when I come home for lunch and see that his car is still in the garage? I wanted that 45 minutes to myself. I need space. Lots of it. After being in a marriage with infinite space, I wanted a man to be at my side at all times. Now that I have a man who wants to be by my side at all times, I’m suffocating.

We have other issues than space and, though our communication is stellar, I’m unhappy. Sometimes I wonder if it’s my small living space that causes my anxiety about our relationship, but I know it’s not the size of my apartment. It’s the empty beer bottles and salsa dishes and skillets that I clean up almost every time he leaves. It’s my melted spatula and my ruined loaf pan with no replacement offer. It’s the Tupperware he’s had for 4 months and can’t manage to bring back despite constant reminders. It’s the Kleenex and the toothpaste and the toilet paper and the soap and the electric bill and the food and the beer that have exponentially increased in usage and therefore cost over the past 5 months. It’s coming home, thinking I have a night to myself and he’s in my shower after his workout or on my couch watching sports because he doesn’t have cable and I gave him a key. It’s being told that my nieces aren’t my family because they’re my ex-brother-in-law’s kids and not my blood relation, even though they’ve been a part of my life for the past 10 years. Communication improves things for a week or two, but not long-term. I often chalk it up to his relationship inexperience, but that only accounts for so much. I left a relationship in which I was a care-giver rather than a partner and I now find myself in the same type of relationship. Patterns don’t break themselves and I have to find a way. He says he loves me but words are words and, as the adage states, actions are louder. I feel used: not loved for me, but for what I can provide.

I’ve been thinking about the mechanic a lot lately. Though we never had a cemented relationship, we connected in a way that I’ve never connected with another person. I know we may never enter into a committed relationship, but he understands me and I understand him. At this point in my life, that’s all I want. I don’t want a ring or a wedding or even a joint checking account. I want someone to miss me and to love me, but I want freedom. I don’t know if I can have it all, but I need to be bold and try.

I need to be alone.

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Lessons

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I’ve learned some valuable lessons these past two years:

1) How to take care of myself. Before my divorce, I had never lived alone. There was always someone to lean on if I couldn’t pay the rent or I didn’t have enough money for groceries. Living alone taught me how to manage my finances. My name is the only one on the lease, and I’m 100% responsible if I can’t pay. I can now cook for one and I discovered I don’t need a ton of space. I also don’t NEED those $200 boots.

2) How to be alone. Not just sans romantic relationship. I mean hanging out by myself and not worrying about why no one is calling me, inviting me to do something. I discovered there are a number of things I enjoy doing by myself. I took a ten day road trip across the country by myself. I picked the music, how often to stop, where to stop, etc. and there was no one to argue with me. I plan trips to see my friends in other places of the country, and flying alone is great. I chat with my seat-mates or I read a good book, depending on my mood. If I want to see a movie that no one else wants to see, I’m no longer afraid to go alone. Shopping by myself is fantastic. Going to the gym has to be the best: I can go at 4:00 pm on a Saturday and the place is empty. Crap, I just gave away my secret…

3) How to have friends and keep the right ones. Friendships are relationships that must be maintained by all parties involved. I used to think that I needed to be everyone’s friend but now I realize that I don’t need one hundred friends, or even twenty. A handful of solid friends who will be there for me through thick and thin are all I need. I now have that group, and I make sure they all know I’m as solid for them as they are for me. Toxic friendships aren’t worth the heartache. I don’t regret those relationships, as they taught me some of the greatest lessons. I understand now that friendships, like romantic relationships, are two-way. Either party can initiate at any time. No more of this “well, I asked last time. It’s their turn.” That’s bullshit. Call them.

4) It’s okay to ask for help. There are days when I’m not okay. It’s perfectly fine to tell my friends and family that I need their love and support. No one is going to look down on me or consider me weak. It takes true strength to admit you need help and it’s something with which I’ll always struggle, but I grow stronger every time I reach out.

5) Love from another isn’t the be all, end all: I need to love myself. When my marriage collapsed, I was empty. I needed men whether they needed me or not. This was the hardest lesson. I didn’t ask the questions I had floating in my head, so I did not get answers. I was happy to live in the ambiguity of “are we dating, are you my boyfriend, are we just friends with benefits?” Men would drift in and out of my life. I always had a replacement shortly after each departure. Weekends were failures if I ended up in my own bed, alone. I worked so hard for relationships that would never be. The more a man rejected me, the harder I fought to understand why. I needed to know what was wrong with me so that I could correct myself for the next fellow that came along. Then one day, I realized that it’s not me: I’m perfectly fine. The right person will love me, imperfections and all. Love is great, but only if you love yourself first. Self-love was a long journey that started while I was married. I will always struggle to stay on that path and I know at times I will stray and end up in the brush. As long as I find my way back, everything will be alright.

It’s amazing how my life seems to be falling into place now that I have accepted myself. Things I thought would ruin the magic have actually made it stronger. Positive energy breeds positive energy, and I’m letting mine shine into the Universe. I’ll love me, you love you and we’ll all be okay.