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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Collateral Damage

I waited 39 years to tell a man that I loved him. A couple of men have suffered a long, awkward pause after having made their affirmations, but I was never willing to lie. Not about something like that. Just like everyone else, I want to be loved, but I have always been very leery about committing to anyone. I would say my family has had more than an average amount of divorces in it. By the age of 8, I had decided that I was never going to get married. I wanted love, though. It was just hard for me to believe anyone was going to mean what they say for the rest of their lives. I'd pretty much rather never hear it than have to devote any part of my heart to believing it.

The man I waited to love was very patient. I waited a full year before I would even let him in my house. In that year we grew to really know and understand one another. I felt understood in a way that I had never felt in my life. I believed that I loved him and that he really understood what a sacrifice I was making in telling him so. I'm not sure, now, that it was love. It was safety. It was a kind of security I had never known in any facet of my life. My entire self was safe there. He never judged me. He never asked me to be something other than what I was. My little quirks that had always driven so many crazy were adorable to him. I could wake up after a drunken evening where I'd been nasty to find him in the kitchen asking, "How do you want your eggs?"

After a year together he asked me twice to meet his 12 year old daughter. I was afraid to do that. I didn't want to screw it up. I literally had to see a therapist before I committed to it. From all he had told me about her, I loved his daughter long before I met her. I didn't want to be the next person to walk into her life, tell her I cared about her and leave her later. I knew how that felt and I would never do that. My therapist helped me get to a place where I was sure that I would never be that kind of person. I finally met her and she was even sweeter and more lovely than I had imagined.

We had custody of his daughter. Actually, he had custody and we were together so it felt like I did, too. Her mother wanted nothing to do with her so it was the three of us. I made every sacrifice I could to take care of them. I wanted them to know how much I loved them and wanted to take care of them. I went overboard. I tend to do that. I will be working on coming back from the financial sacrifices I made for a long time. I don't think I regret them, though. It was where I was at that time and they both enjoyed a security that neither of them had ever known, so I think it was worth it.

Toward the end of our relationship I started to feel irrelevant. It had been apparent for a long time that he was incredibly selfish but I made many exceptions and excuses for him. But I finally got to the place where I told myself (and him, though my self was the only one listening) that I deserved a man who would be seen in public with me. I deserved a man who would take me on a date, ever. I deserved a man who did anything for me for the past 3 birthdays or Christmases. I wasn't going to leave him, though. I had long talks with his father and decided that I would stay and take care of them until his daughter graduated. I didn't want to let her down. I hoped that in this time he would learn that I was worth making the small sacrifices that I needed him to make.

Just before Thanksgiving in 2013 I had to leave. I learned something that I couldn't unlearn. I would never be able to commit the next  5 years of my life to him. I wanted to maintain my relationship with his daughter but that wasn't possible. I am unable to write about the tragedy as it is not only mine, but it was one that would change my life forever. The pain and confusion were so profound that I wasn't sure that I would be able to live with it for the rest of my life. The tragedy was compounded by the knowledge that this commitment I had made for the rest of my life was ending. For good. I felt the most intense feeling of solitude that I could have ever imagined. I had gone through a terrible loss when Audrey went to college, but she was still in my life and would always be my daughter. This was something decidedly worse. I thought that if I died, that would be great.

I decided when I left him that I was done. I was never going to be able to date again. I decided that no matter how long I live and no matter how lonely that lonely becomes, I would rather be lonely for the rest of my life than ever be vulnerable again.

I found this picture today cleaning out my iPad looking to make space.

That is what I lost. I lost the idea of ever being able to comfortably connect with a man again. I will never be held or cuddled again. I will never be understood or accepted the way I had been again. It has been over a year since the tragedy and nothing has changed. I am working on my depression and still yearn to have the security I thought I had, but I am not willing to sacrifice my emotional and mental stability to try. I lost my capacity for hope. I can no longer fantasize about someone coming into my life and receiving all that I am and patiently waiting for me to let down my wall. It took me 39 years to be sure that I was in a safe place and I was wrong.  After my last train wreck of a relationship it had taken me 17 years to even try dating again. And, believe it or not, getting your ass kicked daily is not nearly as painful as the pain that comes with deciding to fall in love and being so unbelievably wrong.

There will be no happy or positive revelation at the end today. I will never have the strength to change these truths. I don't think I even aspire to.


  1. "There will be no happy or positive revelation at the end today. I will never have the strength to change these truths. I don't think I even aspire to. " Sounds like you are under a rainy cloud, pfeeuw, how can you forecast what will happen in a minute from now? If you do not want to post your answer, write me.

  2. Hey Rik. I will never oppose replying. I'm pretty open.... I just understand my fear. It's completely unhealthy, but it's safe. Sometimes I have sparks of "what if's" but I can literally feel my body get anxious about just thinking about it. It drves me nuts that I'm this way. But my personality has always been very sensitive and each time things happened in my life I would close myself off a little more.