A get a lot of variations on the question “would you ever get married again?” And I don’t give anyone the real answer, which is, the idea really scares me. A lot. I have the same fears about living with someone.
I learned a lot about myself in the soul searching and thrashing about that went on during the months and years before I decided to leave my marriage. I realized that I feel selfish if I think of myself first. But that it’s not that I’m selfless and noble. I’m scared of being alone. Afraid of not being liked. If I don’t do what you want, you won’t be happy. And you won’t like me. It’s hard for me to say no or to ask for things I need. Because I’m afraid.
It’s not that I think I’d fall back into that pattern exactly. I’ve worked really hard to dig out of that, and yet not go too far over to the other side, where I only think of myself and don’t care about anyone else. And I know that the problem was not just that I was so quick to give, but that I was with someone who couldn’t to see that, and became comfortable with the dynamic. And when I realized I had to change, was unwilling or perhaps unable to change with me.
When you’ve finally mustered up the courage to ask for what you need and to make changes, and you’ve made yourself vulnerable and explained why past behaviors have overhwhelmed you to the point of exhaustion, have wounded your soul, you don’t want to hear “I want to go back to the way things were before.”
I know that’s not going to happen again. I’m not afraid that will happen again.
But I am afraid that my insecurities will undermine my relationship. And that my need for acceptance will try to persuade me to give too much and that the struggle itself will be damaging. I really lost it the other night. A feeling of certain failure follows me everywhere. I failed at a relationship I tried so hard to save. Why should things be any different now? What if I’m unable to be successful relationship ever?
So, there I was, crying for no reason, after a particularly pleasant evening with P. I mean, he made me go see National Treasure with him, so I guess I had reason to be upset, but then he had to sit through it too, so that was punishment enough. But we had margaritas (that were not at all strong enough to carry us through the movie) and sushi and the wasabi almost made P. cry. So, it was a good time all around. And I felt like a dumbass, crying over nothing.
“Do you think I’ll always be a failure?” I wailed.
“Of course not. Do you think I would be wasting my time with you if I thought that?” (He’s very romantic.)
When I get like this, he reminds me that I’m in a shame spiral (he even has a little hand motion to go with it). And he’s right. I start to feel as though I’m unlovable and then I realize that I’m sabotaging my life by being so insecure which makes me mad at myself for being so dumb. Which makes me feel more unlovable. It’s a vicious cycle.
Fortunately, he’s very patient. He’s the most patient person I’ve ever known, maybe. But even his patience scares me sometimes. He doesn’t tell me to stop crying because it makes him feel bad (which I have been told in past relationships, and that of course, doesn’t help, because in addition to being sad, now you’re mad that the other person is making it all about them and how they feel, but anyway). He supports me, and lets me cry and complain, even though he’s heard it all before. And then I wonder if one day he’ll break. If he’s the long-suffering partner who can only suffer so long.
He would remind me of the shame spiral.
But anyway. Living in the same house is tricky for other reasons. You don’t have to care about lots of little things that take on greater importance when you’re living together. Like how and when you clean and do laundry. I’m thinking mostly of me here as I’m reminded of the huge pile of clothes on my closet floor. There’s even more to worry about when you’re married, of course. Suddenly, all of these places — credit reporting agencies, car insurance firms — think of you as a single entity. If your boyfriend gets a speeding ticket, you can laugh and mock. If your husband gets a speeding ticket, suddenly your insurance premiums go up. If your boyfriend gambles away all his money in Vegas, again, you can laugh and mock and make him perform special favors so you will cook him dinners. If your husband does that, well, so much for the down payment on that new house you both had been eyeing.
And I don’t want to get caught up in the little stuff. I don’t want to worry about becoming a naggy, controlling overseer. Of course, again, this isn’t likely to happen. If you have a true parternship with someone, you’re in life together. You plan together. You compromise together.
But it’s hard for me not to feel that I’m doomed. To forever repeat my past mistakes. And, as I tell P., to end up a crazy cat lady, alone with my piles of laundry.