Jenn and I were lying in bed the other night, reading. The window was open, the room was cool; it was a lovely spring night. I’d gotten some writing done; she’d been working diligently all week on a bunch of psych studies for her doctoral thesis.
I turned to her and said, “It’s nice to be happy. I don’t think I ever really knew what a normal relationship was like.”
For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m dating an adult. Our biggest arguments revolve around stuff like who gets to use the 30% off coupon at Borders and whether or not we’ll watch another episode of Babylon 5.
I tended to end up with guys who had mother issues. I got to fill in as Mom; if they could convince themselves that I loved them, then maybe it would make up for the absent or abusive mothers they had in their past. It’s nice to be wanted and loved, but all that wanting and love starts to suffocate when you realize that you’ve gotten emmeshed with someone who’s an emotional black hole. No matter how much you love them, no matter how often you say it, no matter how much you try and change your behavior because they find it abhorrent, you’ll always be the bad guy. You’ll always be the terrible mother figure. You’ll never do or be enough, no matter the contortions you engage in.
So to be in a relationship with someone who’s emotionally stable, has a normal family life, and doesn’t try and claw you into pieces so that they feel better is a new experience. It’s strange to have long weeks of total happiness without emotional freak-outs or strange, sudden emotional reversals. I spent so long in relationships where somebody screaming or crying all the time was the norm that I had no idea that it was possible to have a relationship where you could just be happy… and have the luxery of engaging in arguments about Borders coupons.
If you date a crazy person, you eventually become a crazy person too.
I’d always wanted to date someone I thought was my equal, somebody who was my buddy, and that’s exactly what this relationship is. And… we’re getting things done. So much work is getting done in this house. There are no screaming fights, no sobbing fits, no work-tradeoffs so we can spend three or four hours calming the other one down from some perceived slight. We can tackle each other and harrass each other and read books and quote from things and write books and stay late working on various projects as needed without worrying about what the emotional fall out will be if our actions are misinterpreted. If I’m having a bad night and want to go to bed, I can say I’m having a bad night and want to go to bed, and Jenn doesn’t accuse me of hating her (and vice versa).
Since we both came out of relationships with partners where one didn’t take such things for granted, it’s been a revelation to realize that that’s *not* how relationships have to be. The problem was, Jenn and I had done so little dating that we weren’t sure how “hard” a relationship should be. How much fighting and exhaustion and depression and counseling and hysteria should you put up with before you realize you and your partner aren’t compatible?
Because it’s not only Jenn and I who are doing much better since our breakups (we were both the ones who did the breaking). Our respective exes are doing a hell of a lot better as well. They hate us (mine especially hates me), but they’re doing way, way better than they were when they were dating us.
I’m so happy I made the right decision. If my ex has to hate me and paint me into the Big Bad Monster from his childhood in order to deal with the breakup, that’s OK, because that’s how he has to get through it, and he’s been doing a lot better since. I hope things continue to go well for him.
As for me, I’m loving life. I’m loving springtime. The tree outside my window has put on its leaves, I just bought some tomato plants, and my backstoop garden is looking lovely (particularly the morning glories). Wiscon is coming up, my buddy Patrick and his family will be here soon, God’s War is clipping along nicely once again, I cleaned out my closet so I’ve now only got clothes that acutally *fit* me in there, I’m reading lots of books, and have I mentioned how lovely spring is?
What a terrible thing stress and depression are.
I really don’t want to box myself in like that ever again. I don’t want to live in a world covered over in the gray gauze of depression, or suffer long stress-induced illnesses.
I need to figure out the life I want and live that. I can’t try to live the life I think will make someone else happy, or the life I think other people think will make me happy.