html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: I don't think I ever told him how much it meant to me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I don't think I ever told him how much it meant to me.

This post of Sherry's knocked me back as well:
I'm longing for a partner these days, and that's hard. I used to feel ashamed of this wistfulness, or like my sadness or my wanting meant that I was somehow "incomplete." Like wanting partnership is an admission of co-dependence or simply an unwillingness to be alone or to work on my own issues. That's crap.

I stay away from longing for a partner. If I let myself think about how much I want a partner I get sick and scared and sad. That leads straight to an ugly feedback loop, precessing between ‘what’s wrong with me’, ‘if I were thinner’ and comfort eating. I simply can’t spend time there; at the early signs I have to stand up and go swimming or call a friend. An entire chunk of my emotions is off-limits, because I am not brave enough to want something that much. I mean, I know intellectually that I miss having a boyfriend, but I won’t let myself feel it until there is a good chance I'll get one.

I also hate the popular idea that wanting partnership is an admission that I can’t be by myself. Obviously I can do a fine job by myself; I have for years. But what I miss, when I let myself, is the easy, easy courage I got from knowing my boyfriend loved me. For a short year, I would wake up every morning with his hard-on pressed into my backside and for the rest of the day I was invincible. Speak up in class? Invite a neat stranger to get lunch? Take on a new project? I could do anything, risk any failure, because I knew for sure, with physical proof, that the only person whose opinion mattered wanted me for one more day*.

And then that was gone. I had to replace it with stuff like ‘it worked when I did this before’ or ‘if it fails, I will have tried something neat’. People say stupid shit like, ‘real courage comes from within’ and ‘it’ll make you a better, stronger person to stand on your own two feet’. Well yeah, but… fuck that. Doing it on my own works, but it is so much harder. I have to draw so much deeper and be so much more vulnerable when I try to do something hard. I have to be more afraid that people are judging me and even when a risk goes well, it takes me longer to recover. In addition to the stupid work of dating itself, being single imposes the constant drain of sustaining my own courage.

I miss the smell and touch of a boyfriend, and meaningful sex and shared context. But I can ignore all that, because the default just re-sets to being friended or solitary or promiscuous or celibate. After four years, what I still can't ignore is the fear that I am going to have to keep being brave by myself.





*I am not looking for any other explanation for this.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Yitz said...

You know what I like about you? You set goals, and then you accomplish them. Nice work

1:44 PM  
Blogger lil miss dubin said...

Here's a comment I should be ashamed to leave:

There's the cliche about "you can't find love until you learn how to love yoursrlf," or whatever bullshit people spew, but I for one always hoped and suspected that wasn't true.

And then I read this article somewhere (obviously quite a while ago) with Jennifer Aniston talking about how she fell in love with herself after Brad fell in love with her.

OK: ridiculous that I should bring it up (and more ridiculous that I think I cried when I read that in some nail salon) (and anyway, we all know how the Brad/Jen love story turned out in the end), but anyway, I think it's brilliant and beautiful when you can admit to yourself--totally rightly--that, while you're a great gal, you're incomplete without your puzzle piece. You can do everything for yourself, except be your own good man.

Let the fish have their bicycles, cuz this girl needs a man and that just is what it is.

1:44 PM  
Blogger LizardBreath said...

There's a nice Cynthia Heimel piece on how being lonely and wanting a relationship doesn't make you broken -- that normal, decent, healthy people can be lonely and want relationships.

1:54 PM  
Blogger ScottM said...

The "what's wrong with me" cycling back and forth to "improvement projects" was something I did too. Sure, some of them were good (finally learning to appreciate some poetry, learning some song lyrics I enjoy), but the feeling of helplessness was horrible.

I'm glad that pretending can get you doing the cool stuff, and that you're smart enough to swim when you feel it coming on. I walled it off, and just grimmaced when it would surface again after 6 months or a year. Eventually I'd persuade myself that I was OK... for a few months, at least.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

Megan:

Brilliant, as usual.

Since you handle being single so much better than most people, think of how well you will handle being not-single! Then you will be a formidable thing, and what will keep you humble? NOTHING! We'll have to start talking behind your back about "Ms. Thing who has a boyfriend and is now skydiving and spelunking and whatnot..."

OthaDubin:

Word. I agree. The only reason I am married is that a few other dudes helped me with my confidence and didn't break my heart too badly along the way. I hope I did the same for somebody somewhere. I hope I do the same for the Teej right now...

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The real courage comes from within thing is nonsense. People are much more likely to do crazy things when there are other people around. I know, when I'm alone, I give up on things that scare me a lot more easily.

Skiing, I remember I'd be much more likely to go for something if someone was watching. Sort of a feeling of you want to impress this person, or at least not disappoint.

Climbing I'm more likely to go for something when someone is on the ground encouraging me.

And bouldering I'm much more likely to go for some crazy overhung dyno when I've got someone actually spotting me.

It sounds like you miss the spotter version. It's nice to know you can take the risk, but have someone there to save you from really getting hurt.

But, there are a lot of ways having someone else around can make you feel more confident, and safer about the risks you're taking.

Justin

3:41 PM  
Anonymous UnderwearNinja said...

There's so much sexual aggression building up that someone is going to get HURT when the unleashing happens.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never had that. So, I guess I'm lucky. Because I don't know how much easier it can be.

6:25 PM  
Blogger capella said...

Not to rain on everyone's pro-relationship parade, but when I'm with somebody it feels like permission to be my laziest, most timid self. (Actually, at first it feels like permission, and then pressure, and then confinement, and then I leave.) After all, I don't have to be brave; I have someone to be brave for me. I don't have to talk to waitresses or make new friends because he'll do the talking and I never need more than one person around me, so I don't, and that's not good for me. When I'm out of the habit of relationships, I get in the habit of pushing myself, and I like that side of me better.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Pandax said...

Megan, good writing. I still dwell quite a bit on "what's wrong with me." It's a hard habit to break after being on the dumped side so many times in my life.

The security and confidence that unconditional love from an SO creates is amazing. I miss that. It's so rare to believe that someone can know about you and still love you.

I worry about loving myself, but I'm beginning to realize that there's always something to improve. Besides, we all change a litle over time, the key is to find someone who can grow with you, right?

9:01 PM  
Blogger billo said...

Go for some comfort eating M.
A marathon/snickers can work wonders:)

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never understood comfort eating. I mean, does that really make you feel better? I could understand comfort Married With Children watching. It's funny, it makes me laugh, and that makes me feel better. Of course, Megan says she doesn't have a TV, maybe she could read some Calvin & Hobbes, they're funny too.

Justin

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as we're on the topic of courage, I'm going to promote this again, but this time in book form:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060730552/sr=8-8/qid=1156438950/ref=sr_1_8/104-2040105-0591154?ie=UTF8

It was made into a movie as well.

The movie was amazing, it's really more of a documentary, or reenactment of a true story. The 3 people who were there give interviews throughout. And they do actually spend some time talking about courage, weakness under pressure, and stuff like that.

I wouldn't even read the plot summary, it gives too much away. It's at the video store, damn it! Everyone should just go rent it.

Justin

10:15 AM  

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