I’m the first to admit that, as of late, my love life is essentially nonexistent. To compensate and/or distract from this, I have been finding various outlets in which to live vicariously in the world of relationships and romance. Shamefully, this mostly consists of New Adult novels, romance movies and cheesy TV sitcoms. In a similar vein, I was recently trolling the internet with romance on the brain and I stumbled upon this blog/social experiment that I found incredibly intriguing
The blog follows two single friends in their late 20’s who decide to take a hack at a relationship for 40 days. Throughout this time they see a couples counselor and one of the suggested activities was to physically illustrate their history of past relationships. Because I tend to gloss over the processing of emotions and instead quickly bury memories deep in my subconscious, I (and my therapist) thought it could be helpful to do something similar. So I set out to write narratives describing all my past significant relationships, dubbing it The Ex-Files. Not surprisingly, this dredged up some memories and feelings that had been completely locked away and forgotten.
Perhaps my biggest realization was that there is one particular Ex that acts as the vortex of all of my relationship angst. Somehow, I have placed all of the blame for my emotional baggage on this one relationship despite the hurt and scarring that has come from a whole variety of people. I realized I haven’t even been blaming my ex-husband/the divorce as the source for most of my distrust in men and fear of commitment. Instead, I blamed it all on this one, singular, Ex.
I was further perplexed when I began to recount our relationship, letting myself actually concentrate and feel the memories for the first time in years. I was incredibly surprised how many memories I had hidden away, and moreover, how strongly I could feel those emotions as I remembered our time together. I realized that for so long, everything has been so overshadowed by our harrowing end(s), that I forgot what it was like in our hay day. And even if I had not long forgotten all of our memories (I mean how can you forget a trip to Disney!?), I had forgotten the emotions behind the facts.
I had forgotten how much we actually loved each other, trusted each other and wanted nothing more than to be together. I had forgotten what it was like for my heart to be truly open.
…To feel like you had found your match.
…To involuntarily, light up in some one else’s presence since they made you feel complete and at ease and understood.
…To lose the worry over revealing all your flaws-both physical and emotional- because you know you are loved unconditionally.
…To actually want to put someone else first because making them happy, makes you happy
…To not question a motive behind every romantic gesture.
…To be giddy at the prospect of seeing that special someone at the end of the day.
…To feel so sure in your choice to be together.
All this had me more worried than reassured. To start with, I realized that I had not felt these kinds of things in almost ten years–including with my ex-husband. It made me see how hardened my heart has become since I now typically turn my nose up at talk of this kind of love or relationship since I don’t see it as possible, let alone lasting, in the “real world” or at least in my world.
At the end of the day, if I am honest about my relationship with this Ex, it feels like this was a once-in -a-lifetime-romance. My initial reaction was to feel lucky that I ever experienced such a wonderful, fairytale-kind-of- love. But then it reminded me of how my mother used to comfort me when I didn’t feel cool enough in middle school by explaining that the “cool” people were peaking in their teens, and the rest of their life would pale in comparison.
Did I peak in the relationship world? Was this truly the greatest romance of my life? Am I ever going to find anything that compares or is it down hill from here?
And since I’m currently the depths of emotional ties to fictional characters these days, it quickly reminded me of the lighthouse dialogue from a recent How I Met Your Mother episode:
Ted: You know what sucks, was when I was at the top of that lighthouse, despite everything else, it was breath taking. And I wasted it. I mean how many places have I ruined forever by being there with the wrong girl.
Lily: So come back with the right girl
Ted: I don’t know. Im starting to think a person only gets a certain allotment of lighthouses per lifetime. And I’ve used mine all up.
It’s truly a haunting thought…that this is it. Nothing will ever get better than it was. There are only so many ‘lighthouses’ a person gets.
But maybe this isn’t right either. I guess at the end of the day, it’s really a mystery. We don’t know what the future holds. I suppose, when I think about it, even those who peaked in high school are still in positions where they are happy today. And then look at me. My life certainly isn’t the glimmering beacon of perfection I had hoped to make up for my shitty adolescence.
And, at least for today, maybe it’s this mystery that is keeping my (albeit microscopic) hope alive…
For me, music is a form of therapy. Sometimes a song encapsulates exactly what I’ve been trying to say but couldn’t find the words. It takes me out of my own head, makes me realize that I’m not alone and helps me feel something when I’m otherwise completely numb. That said, there has perhaps never been a song that has made me feel quite like this one does- almost as it was written exclusively about/for me. It has brought me to tears but also made me feel comfort because the underlying meaning is a positive one. It makes me realize there are brighter days ahead no matter how dark it is has been lately. It makes me realize that step by step, no matter how small, I’m not letting this divorce dictate my life. I’m going to survive. I’ve decided to stay.
Was 27 surviving my return of Saturn
A long vacation didn’t sound so bad
Was full of secrets locked up tight like iron mountain
Running on empty so out of gas
Thought I wasn’t enough
Found I wasn’t so tough
Layin’ on the bathroom floor
We were living on a fault line
And I felt the fault was all mine
Couldn’t take it anymore
By the grace of God (there was no other way)
I picked myself back up (I knew I had to stay)
I put one foot in front of the other
And I looked in the mirror and decided to stay
Wasn’t gonna let love take me out that way
I thank my sister for keeping my head above the water
When the truth was like swallowing sand
Now every morning, there is no more mourning
Oh, I can finally see myself again
I know I am enough
Possible to be loved
It was not about me
Now I have to rise above
Let the universe call the bluff
Yeah, the truth’ll set you free
By the grace of God
I picked myself back up
I put one foot in front of the other
And I looked in the mirror and decided to stay
Wasn’t gonna let love take me out that way
It’s a dreary Thursday with bitter cold temperatures. I didn’t sleep well and I can’t get this crick out of my neck. Then I see that this link (23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged When You’re 23) is all the rage on my Facebook news feed, which subsequently triggered a whole new rage of my own.
Rage is maybe extreme; sometimes I like to exaggerate. But it really, it did make my blood boil for a hot second (
no pun intended). I’m not even sure what aggravated me more: the narrative that claims people get married young because it is “the hip” thing to do, the actual list of things to do that is completely uncorrelated or dependent on one’s marital status or the fact that so many of my “friends”endorsed/praised the article. Regardless, I found it downright inaccurate, unfounded and even hurtful.
Coming from the unique perspective where I was married and divorced by 27, I see her point. Yes, I think it’s harder for a marriage-or any relationship- to work out long term at a younger age because you aren’t typically as self-evolved. And yes, I do wish I had taken more time to sit and think more seriously about the commitment I was making before I got swept up in the wedding planning madness.
But, that said, I know very few people get married because of the weather or it’s “cool” or “YOLO.” People generally get married for what they feel (at the time) are the right reasons and things don’t work out for a handful of unforeseen circumstances. Including me. As much as I have regrets about my marriage, and I wish I waited until I was older so that I had time to be more in touch with who I am as a person, getting married wasn’t a nonchalant decision and the fall out was a combination of a variety of issues, from unrecognized childhood trauma to growing into different people. And one thing I’ve learned is that these things happen in relationships regardless of age.
The real kicker is this list the writer provides. You can do nearly any of those things on that list single or taken; I fail to see the correlation. Let’s examine a few of the gems:
1. Get a passport.
She also says “…it’s insane that I have already experienced more of the world in the last 22 years than my married peers will ever experience in their life.”
Whoa, holy judgement and assumptions! I had a passport by the time I was 16. I can affirmatively say that I was not even close to thinking about engagement rings at 16. Probably because I’m not from Kentucky. And actually, I did the most traveling I’ve ever done when I was with my ex-husband since it was a shared passion of ours and we were young enough that we could participate in an excellent study abroad program. Why in the hell does being married have anything to do with experiencing the world? Try again.
2. Find your “thing.”
Oh the naiveté! You are only 22, sweetie. Your “thing”
might will not be the same in five, ten, fifteen years. Your “thing” changes all the time because you change all the time-married or not. Plus, hopefully, you’re never defined by one thing as your “thing.” I don’t know about you, but I kind of like being multi-dimensional.
4. Adopt a pet.
Actually now that I’m not married I really can’t. I don’t have the time, money or space in this tiny apartment for an additional animal and sometimes, I feel guilty for having the two I do have. When I was married, I adopted two of our three beautiful fur babies and we fostered over a dozen dogs for a local rescue organization. That’s not feasible now for the aforementioned reasons. Also, do you have any idea how hard it is to be a single dog-mom? It sounds funny, but it isn’t. It’s like being a real single mom. Except they can’t talk or rationalize and there aren’t babysitters to send them off to if you want five minutes of privacy in the bathroom. ( I understand maybe she didn’t mean a dog but I digress…)
5. Start a band.
Isn’t this some kind of shit you do in high school? I don’t get it.
6. Make a cake.
This one is too stupid for me to even comment on. Except I’ll say that I use my oven for any domestic tasks far less now than I ever did when I was married. So yeah, enjoy that cake. It’s from Shop Rite.
7. Get a tattoo.
If the point is that you’re too young to commit to a life long decision, like marriage, because you’re still learning about yourself and growing up, what the HELL makes you think that something entirely permanent would be a good idea?!
9. Start a small business.
Last I knew, having two incomes would actually prove more helpful in this scenario…
11. Date two people at once and see how long it takes to blow up in your face.
I really don’t recommend doing this. Like, ever. It’s not really fun and you end up feeling like a shitty person.
14. Join the Peace Corps.
No thanks. No interest. Ever. Moving on.
15. Disappoint your parents.
Well this was easily accomplished by age 15.
16. Watch Girls, over and over again.
I didn’t realize Netflix was locked from those with a metal band encompassing their left finger?
18. Make strangers feel uncomfortable in public places.
Um, what? Are we 12?
19. Sign up for CrossFit.
Or I like to eat carbs and a regular gym works just fine, thanks. Also, are married people not allowed at Crossfit? Is that part of the cult rules?
21. Write your feelings down in a blog.
The one thing I have learned with age, is don’t do this. They’re called journals . Buy one. Get a pen and write all of your deepest, darkest secrets or feelings. The internet it not the place for this. I’m not trying to be the pot or the kettle here. I have this blog, obviously. But you have to have a handle on what you say, how you say it and who can see it. I, too, was once an internet crusader, writing all about my feelings as I traverse through the trials and tribulations of life and creating controversial posts that I knew would incite remarks. It’s not worth it and it’s out there forever. Use blogging as a creative outlet, not your diary.
When all is said and done, I get it. I’m sure there are some people, somewhere in America, who are getting married at 23 in the conventional sense where they become overly domestic housewives and pop out a few kids without ever doing anything to stir their self growth or development. But isn’t that quite the sterotype for any one engaged or married at that age? And isn’t that a scenario that has been playing out for a long, long time now? And wasn’t it the feminist movement that fought to allow women to do whatever we want– work or stay home; marry or stay single?
So here’s a new plan: how about you don’t judge those who find meaning and purpose in being married and/or a mom, irregardless of age and they don’t judge you for wanting a career or find being single your preferred lifestyle? I guess what I’m saying is: cut the judgements, cut the stereotypes and cut the crap.
I’m going chalk a lot of this up to the writer’s immaturity. She clarifies that she is 22 but obviously she is a young 22. Age has so much more to do with maturity and less to do with an actual number. The one thing I do agree with is. in the case of this writer, it’s probably a good thing that she is not engaged/married as it appears she has a lot of growing up to do.
The storm is coming but I don’t mind
People are dying, I close my blinds
All that I know is I’m breathing now
I want to change the world
Instead I sleep
I want to believe in more than you and me
But all that I know is I’m breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now