Saturday, July 18, 2009

Balancing Hope and Disappointment After a Breakup, Part 1 of ?

The words of BSEW regular, Big Mark, triggered this series for sure. He offered the following words to describe the His Side/Her Side split (and pinpointed a deep feeling that I had yet to specify on my own):

Keeping the disappointment from mixing with the hopes is a challenge for sure.

So instead of cussing out Big Mark for swimming around in my head and finding the words I couldn't even express, I decided to blog about it. LOL

Just as Mark prophesied suggested, the war between hope and disappointment started the moment I asked His Side to leave the home. In fact, the hard line I took on the decision constantly drew swords to fight off hope that "well maybe he doesn't have to really leave the house." Memories of the last time we split kept me on track. The in-house split featured him on the couch and absolutely no work done to resolve the root of the problem. Bzzzzt. Not gonna do that again.

I won the first round of the battle between hope and disappointment because reality dictated the necessity of pushing the STOP button and gracefully exiting the ride. Misdirected anger, bitterness, and even rage stole so much peace from the home, and efforts to resolve the problem were met with an increased frequency of bad moments. Sometimes you have to admit when a problem is over your head. And this one was waaaay over my pay grade...

You see, I won't declare Armageddon over routine spats, droughts, imperfections, and petty squabbles. That stuff always exists in relationships where two imperfect people come together and their human frailties collide. I am not going to lose any sleep over occasional nuisances. There ain't enough hours in the day and there isn't enough malice in true love to be that petty. His Side faced issues that only he has the right to tell (or keep to himself, dammit). And I am not one to blow up anybody's business in a public forum. Besides, technically it's irrelevant if he shares or not, because I only have two concerns

(1) How am *I* going to conduct my life and

(2) Does my home currently offer an environment that is good for my boys?

Because really, those are the only two things I can control - my behavior and my decisions.

The entire thought process (at times a small act of mental gymnastics) led me back to a conversation I had with Negril about men/women who simply "settle" in a relationship. Men and women settle for bad mates all the time out of fear... or dysfunction... or plain old stupidity. Shortly before asking His Side to leave, I made a declaration. Out of the blue. No warning. Just a sudden moment of clarity. I WON'T SETTLE FOR THIS. THIS IS NOT OKAY.

There's a fine line between patience and settling. That line is just about as fragile as the distance between love and hate. For instance, a temporarily unemployed husband requires patience. So long as you're in it together, you can overcome. A chronically unemployed husband who prefers TV over the classifieds requires that you settle. Settle for disrespect. Settle for financial hardship. Settle for less than you hoped for or deserve.

The day I diagnosed that His Side and I were facing a chronic condition that needed the shit slapped out of it, I was sold. My hope that we could overcome was drowned by the disappointing realization that only one option existed...

As the story continues:
My first battle to balance Hope and Disappointment ended in a successful decision to split. Next time, I'll describe what happens when Hope tips the scale (in the wrong direction) and leads to an ugly post-breakup episode.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Young love is great, but the grown game ROCKS

I just finished reading an article, "Over 40 and Ready for Love?" Men and women ranging in age from 40 to 79 got their groove back and found love, with some entering marriage for the first time.

Too often, I think, pop culture characterizes the excitement of falling in love as a drink best served during youth. Teens and twenty-somethings are pegged as having the most fun with self-discovery, dating, marriage and even sex.

But in the spirit of the Over 40 article, I find something deeply sexy about relationships as I get closer to my 4th decade on this planet. The fantasy slowly transformed into the experience and wisdom it takes to attract, recognize, and nurture more fulfilling experiences.

In other words, I enjoy earning the right to say "Been There. Done That. AND Got the T-shirt."

Trial and Error: The Beauty of Experience and Learning from Failures

I read a lot of books about finances, business administration, and management. If anybody deserved an honorary MBA based on their library, I'd be that chick. The first time I was presented with the idea that 'we learn more from a failure than a success,' I was hopelessly intrigued. Many wealthy men and women give credit for the quality/depth of their success to memorable failures that shook their foundation, imparted priceless lessons, and sometimes almost broke their spirit. Failures present some of the best opportunities for growth, a unique view of "what not to do," and a powerful springboard for "what to do better/differently next time."

I wholeheartedly believe this concept applies to relationships. Isn't that why we bother with courting, dating, and engagements before jumping headfirst into marriage? We feel our way around the relational landscape, learn how to use the maps, discover how to stay on the road, and stumble upon ways to avoid pesky land mines left behind from all the wars fought in the land.

I find it particularly disturbing that casual observers can criticize couples - especially young couples - for "not making it work." There's no friggin manual for relationships/marriage. If there was, we wouldn't have terms like "hook-up" and "side piece" to describe the unfortunate purgatory that folks live in while pretending to look for love. And hell, divorce lawyers wouldn't be able to fart around with the rich and famous. Some might cite the Bible as the closest thing we have to a Relationship Users Manual. But even the Bible makes room for dreadfully-flawed human nature.

I have dated (seriously) since I was 18, but some of those puppy-love, budding love, and mature love stories stand out:

When I was 18, I had a boyfriend whom I loved as much as an 18-year old heart could stand. To me, he was the epitome of what a boyfriend should be, and he never proved anything different. I was the one who broke his heart to experience the sudden newness and freedom associated with attending college far from home.

When I was 26, I fell head-over-heels for an island man and our time together always took my breath away. For eight months, we worked, played, laughed, and loved. The sex was... the... SHIT. Suddenly, when his internship in the area was over, he was on the road to home to marry his ex-girlfriend. WTF? I was devastated. He was my first truly adult love experience.

When I was 28, I married somebody completely outside of my "type." He looked great on paper, but there was no true fire. In fact, I still had a small fire buring for the island man, who I remained in contact with. (What kind of crap is that?) I was compelled by the promise of stability - financial and otherwise - that my ex-husband seemed to represent. Three years and 11 months later, I learned why a resume of practical considerations won't do much to sustain a marriage.

When I was 35, I met His Side. I didn't date at all after my divorce. I was celibate and mastering life as a single mother. His Side looked awful on paper. No money. No assets. Past problems with some still unresolved. And. I. Didn't. Care. I was crazy about him, and he was clearly crazy about me.

We had a wonderful "phone" relationship that resulted in dating, which led to an intimate relationship (OMG, talk about finding extra icing on top of my cake), which led to him moving in. Together, we marveled about the organic, simple-yet-complicated, raw, unadulterated bliss that comes with falling hopelessly in love. Yet here we are in the chaos chronicled here at this blog. I am still in the process of recognizing and embracing the necessary lessons from this one...

In spite of it all, I feel poised to keep living a vibrant life armed with the lessons from each of these experiences. I am thankful for what I learned, primarily what I learned about myself as each of these stories played their necessary role in my life.

The Frickin Point I am Trying to Make Is...

In spite of recent developments as I watched My Favorite Relationship of All Time devolve into chaos, I am deeply happy and satisfied.

I don't have to cry my eyeballs out.
Been There.

I don't have to just accept the chaos out of fear of being alone.
Done That.

I don't have to worry if love still exists or can be a part of my future.
Got the T-shirt.

I'm all grownded up. hehe I am as free as I allow myself to be. I'm as wise as the experiences behind me - according to the degree I opened my heart to receive. And I know fo'sho that the ups-&-downs of living and loving during the uncertainty of youth never EVER felt this good.