Relationships: Rubber, meet road
My relationship track record is … ummm
… errrrrgh …
… uhhh …
(Do I really have to talk about this?)
Let’s just say, it isn’t all good. But, I wouldn’t say it’s all bad either. True, if you measure relationship success by the “long-term marriage/2.5 kids/ranch house/0.68 acre yard” metric, I have failed. But, then again, I’ve also never been one of those women who felt like motherhood was her ultimate destiny in life. I prefer my current dwelling – a small apartment in a walkable/fairly urban area – over a big house in the ‘burbs. It’s just how I’m wired; I like walking to things and having close access to public transportation.
I’ll also add that this is the most difficult post I’ve written so far, because, truthfully, it’s an area where I haven’t quite gotten past the feeling that people are judging me. As much as I know that isn’t true (and doesn’t matter even to any degree that it is), it still haunts me.
I am divorced. I have some other long-term relationships scattered through my past. To be sure, I chose poorly at times for the people with whom I paired. But, let’s examine the first two words of that last clause: I chose. Now, the just first one: I.
It would be so easy to lay the blame at the feet of these other people, to say it belongs entirely to them that things didn’t work. Certainly, the responsibility isn’t solely mine, but it’s not all theirs either.
For a long time, I had a pattern of getting into relationships with people who really weren’t what I wanted. But through some magical way of thinking, I thought they could become what I wanted. Then I resented them when they didn’t. This is sort of like saying you want a turkey sandwich, but seeing you only have peanut butter in the fridge, then eating the peanut butter anyway, but blaming it for not being turkey, pleading with it to become turkey, and actually getting outright angry that it isn’t turkey. As you can see, it isn’t the most rational of thought patterns.
Another issue I’ve had (even in my better relationships) is communication, particularly in terms of feeling like it’s acceptable for me to have needs, and to ask for them to be met. I was afraid that by saying that I wanted something, my partner would think of me as too needy. Or, they’d deny what I wanted, and then it would just be proof that they didn’t love me anyway. So I’d stuff those needs away, square my shoulders and move forward, albeit with a jaw that was clenched a little tighter, and the seeds of resentment rapidly propagating in my gut.
At this juncture in life, I am not dating and not seeking a relationship. I’m focused on other things and prefer to devote all of my energy to myself. But I would like that for myself in the future and have faith that God will bring the right person into my life, when the time is right. The bottom line is that I’ve learned that a relationship isn’t just two people who know each other and hang out a lot or even live together while letting the chips fall where they may. They take a lot of work and emotional energy, and it can’t fall to just one party to give all of that. A relationship is a living organism, and your “gardening skills” can leave you with either a beautifully blossoming orchid, or a bed full of weeds.
What are your relationship challenges?