I suppose you don't make it to 30 single without some relationship issues. One always prefers to point fingers and blame someone else for the why and how of it all because really, I can't be the cause of the effects I am currently living.
Do you ever stop, take a look around yourself, or within yourself, and wonder - is this really my life? For better or worse, the good and the bad - this is really it? I'm never quite sure what I expected and I generally cannot clearly articulate what I thought the alternate path would bring or that there would be something better but ten years ago I certainly did not envision my life would take me to a one bedroom apartment in the middle of New York City.
Ten years ago right now, March 4, 1996 I was married but I knew I was speeding toward a crash course ending. I was fighting it. On March 4th I was discouraged but probably retained some optimism; I think it was more toward the middle of March that he was arrested and my denial was forced to surface. That life is like a bad movie I watched once long ago - something faded and blurred with small vivid points that make me grateful the rest is in a fog. Like standing at the top of the stairs of my split entry apartment wondering why this policeman was in my house asking me if he used an open or closed fist while I looked past him into the spare bedroom where another policeman stood waiting for Mitch to put on his shoes before the policeman put the handcuffs on him. All I could think to say is wouldn't they let him put his socks on with his shoes. The police officer inspected my arm. My dog was shut in the downstairs bathroom barking, more police at the door and my dad being restrained by them when he realized why they were there. I wasn't sure then how my dad got there, how did he know to come? The longest night of my life. Lying in bed alone with the lights on, waiting for the phone to ring, unable to go sleep, sobbing, trembling, wondering how life would ever progress past that one night.
I like to think that experience has not tainted me. I generally believe there are no lingering effects of Mitch calling me naive for trusting him. But there are.
The truth about why I got married at 20 years old is I was lonely. Not your average lonlieness of a Saturday night with no one around to keep you entertained. The dark heavy loneliness that envelopes you, the loneliness you wear around you like a shield against society. I had such a fear of rejection and being alone I let myself get married because then I would always have someone, not realizing there was no place more lonely than a one-sided marriage.
After the separation, throughout the divorce and for a while beyond I was still driven by the fear of being alone. That fear drove me into another ill-suited relationship that lasted longer than my marriage. Then I recognized it. I was running from it - why not embrace it? Why not become absolutely independent - do everything alone as a choice. It was empowering. I started traveling alone. I decided to live alone. I started going to movies alone. My lonelieness became a comfort. If I welcomed it, it could not control me. No one could judge my solitude or what I did with it. No one could hurt me with it because loneliness and I are well acquainted. As long as I feel it is my choice it doesn't feel so harsh and somehow it was ennobling. I can go anywhere and do anything I want without waiting for someone else to want the same thing.
But fierce independence has its price too.
When someone starts to draw me out of my solitude, reaches in and pulls me out . . . I don't always know how to react. When the extended hand pulls me out into a full embrace the transition is smooth and I can enjoy the transition. But when the pulling out is slow and a bit jerky, I want to let go and turn it down. That is the point at which I am right now. A hand has been extended, a few quick encouraging tugs, then. . . I'm back in the dark, alone and confused. I know the hand hasn't been withdrawn but if I get used to it being there, the return to solitude will be that much more difficult. Right now I'm still here, I haven't made the adjustment. The disappointment would pass quickly.
So I slip into sabotage mode. I lose trust, I doubt everything, I become suspicious of intentions and I retreat to the warm, familiar comfort of my seclusion. I push back and my sarcastic tongue reveals contrary emotions. These are the times my heart doesn't feel whole enough to take the risk of being involuntarily thrust back into isolation after being reminded, even briefly, how comforting it can be to have someone to lean on.