Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to Thrive

I recently ended a year-and-a-half relationship. It's okay; it was necessary and a positive step. Even so, it's cause to reflect on my past relationships and what I've learned about why each happened and/or ended. There is one glaring variable in each and that is how much I have changed.

When I was first divorced, with a three-year-old daughter, I was afraid to be around other people. Specifically married people who had supposedly "gotten it right." I felt as if I just stood out, like there was a neon sign designating me as the failure in the room. I wanted so badly to have that again, to fit in with the "normal" parents. Now I find myself looking at these people and wondering if they're really happy, assuming most of the time they aren't. Marriage is hard.

I then went through a very difficult relationship that never gave me what I wanted. In trying to get what I wanted I bent, I twisted, I did everything I could think of to contort myself into what would make it work. Because I was Relationship Girl and I was damned if I wasn't going to make it work. I never got what I wanted and, instead, I lost myself in the process.

In the years after that relationship ended, I worked at finding myself again. Discovering what I liked. What I wanted from my life and who I wanted to be. I chose my friends carefully, surrounding myself with people who offered me the missing pieces of me. My security. My passions. My confidence. My humor. Self-sufficiency. Self-acceptance.

While discussing this most recent relationship with my hairdresser, I suddenly realized that I don't thrive in relationships. I thrive when I'm on my own. I've gained more out of my life in the times I've been "alone" than in any relationship I've ever been in. I thrive.

I shared this thought with a friend who expounded on it, saying that as women we focus on our partners, building them up until we, ourselves, are crushed. We fall behind in the shadows and expend all of our energy making sure the man in our life has what he needs to be secure. We lose track of what we need.

In each relationship of mine there has been an imbalance. Whether that imbalance was rooted in intelligence, a lack of mutual feelings, family backgrounds, or life stages, I feel like that is the core of why they didn't last. What I need is equality. Maybe equality will allow me the ability to thrive.

And, maybe, there is the possibility that I'm just not meant to be in a relationship. At this point in my life I value my independence over the many compromises that are required to be a successful partner. I've worked hard to be me and I'm not willing to just trade that away for the "security" offered in a relationship.

Maybe. I don't have the answers yet. I'm getting closer. What I know right now is that I have love in my life. I have a beautiful daughter who still needs me, even if for just a little while longer. I have love from friends who offer support, encouragement, and plenty of laughter. I have dogs who love me no matter what I'm going through and are happiest snuggling next to me. I have passions and interests and new adventures yet to be discovered.

These are the things that help me to thrive. I prefer thriving over wilting.



Irish said...

The only person that can truly make you happy is you. After all, you're the one who has to live with yourself ALL the time. Having a partner can "add" to the happiness and good times. It can also take away from that happiness and add "bad" times at times (and result in the overuse of the word "times"). Anyone can be a "part" of your life, but no one should "complete" you. You should already be a complete person. I remember being in love with someone who wasn't ready for a relationship, they had said "I'm broken, pieces of my life are everywhere, and it's not fair of me to ask you to be there to pick them up". I replied to her "You're right, I shouldn't have to be there to put your life back together, it's you who needs to know how to do that, you need to be able to rebuild your life, you need to be able to make yourself a whole person again...... but that doesn't mean I don't want to be there to help you". To really sound like a cliche " You can't give someone wings, and expect them not to fly". I guess that's true, it's a risk. But maybe if you had wings also, you could join them. Either way, I'm glad not everyone has wings........ I have enough problems cleaning my car as it is...

Also remember, Vibrators don't eat your food, spend your money, crash your car, invite their friends over, argue with you, sulk, insist on watching tv programs you hate, or chase after your friends. The day they assemble Ikea Furniture and cut the grass, mankind is doomed!

Kat said...

Absolutely. I don't expect anyone to make me happy, I'm not broken and I don't need fixing. What I would like is someone who appreciates my quirks and understands me enough to give me space when I need it. Unlike my dogs who have zero boundaries and insist on laying on my lap when the laptop is already there.

Vibrators doing yardwork? Now you're on to something.....

Irish said...

Aye, but try finding a guy who isn't broken or needs fixing (definition of "fixing" open to interpretation). I find a lot of people don't know what they want, while others are so sure of what they want they get frustrated by those that don't know what they want. (like right now, I WANT a coffee, but I'll get frustrated by the first person that asks "are you sure?").

Your dogs seem to act like my cats. I have a very fluffy laptop.

At least with Vibrators, you know exactly where your money is going. Batteries! I think men have the wrong idea about them. They think "Vibrators, getting women off who can't get a boyfriend!". Actually more like "Getting women off because men aren't capable of really satisfying them!"

Damn I need my coffee, I seem to be having a "you go girl" type of morning. Hmmmm yup, a bout of sarcasm coming on, I better find someone who deserves it, like a televangelist from Texas or something.

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