When unhealthy relationships become so normal, so par for course, that you actually begin to crave certain aspects of them...
well, that can perpetuate years and years of unhappiness.
It begins an addictive cycle like unto that of drug abuse, where the majority of the time, you are fighting withdrawals, pain, emotional and physical trauma, lower and lower self-esteem by the day, and trying ever and always to mold yourself into whatever someone wants you to be so you can get your fix. And you get your fix, and it's this huge, crazy magical high, and then the next morning you wake up alone and it starts all over again.
And you like it, for some fucked up reason. You love it. you can't get enough of it. And a "normal" relationship looks like .. boring. it looks like "settling". It's not psychotically passionate so it's not love, right?
Luckily for me (I can't believe I just said that), the main "target" of my dysfunctional affection (and I, the main target of his) was so unwilling to commit that we never got in far enough for it to be an outward, financially, life-habit-changing difference for me when we finally said enough is enough, and went our separate ways. For good. However, it was and has been one of the most painful emotional experiences of my life. I have been in pieces.
This was in March... though I saw it coming for months. And held on like the family of someone who is dying of a terminal disease... hoping and praying for a cure... disbelieving. In complete denial.
And so began a lot of soul-searching. And writing. And traumatic events. And revelations.
And all of it led to me finding that instead of 1 day out 20, it was more like 2 days out of 5, I was waking up and feeling like I could maybe LIVE through that day. Like maybe I could get up and take care of my kids. Maybe I could sit and hold my son on my lap and just bask in the moment instead of my head wandering off to places I should've kept closed and locked. Maybe I could listen to my daughter tell me one of her long "riddles" or stories without wanting to scream "STOP TALKING" just so I could listen to my own dismal voices in my head.
I was getting better.
I still missed him. But I was getting better.
And one night, this random guy I'd talked to a few times on facebook posted that he was having a hard night. His son's mom had effectively kidnapped him and taken him to live 6 hours away without even allowing him a goodbye...
He needed a friend. I didn't have my kids that night, and for once I was in a place where I felt like maybe I could be the one who wasn't falling apart. in fact, maybe this was my chance to finally lift myself up by lifting someone else, again...
That was June 7th.
Last night, we finished moving his stuff into my house.
in the middle of all that, we haven't spent a night apart yet.
I didn't know what was happening. I still missed my ex, every day. I still cried in quiet, lonely moments. I got scared, I had doubts, I talked to other guys, I tried to "keep a few on the line". I told people I didn't think this would last very long and I had jumped in too fast. I sabotaged.
so did he. We were both scared.
But what I KNEW was that in the middle of all the confusion, when I was in his arms, or holding his hand, I felt good. Happy. At peace. I haven't self-harmed for a month now. My drinking has slowed to, generally, a glass of wine or the equivalent (in wine coolers or something) each night before bed, or sometimes no drink at all. On nights out with friends (which are becoming rarer due to work) I will drink, but still not extremely heavily. I don't think I was ever a full-blown alcoholic, but I was using it as a crutch. And I don't need it anymore.
And I found that I was falling asleep easier. Fewer nightmares. I had moments when I was excited about the future.
moments when I would look at this boy and just smile because he was there.
Moments when he would walk in the door and I felt myself heave a sigh of relief, like... he's home...I'm home.
I'm not going to lie, I don't know what's going to happen. When I made the choice to have him move in, it was largely out of a need for a roommate. Yup. Financial convenience. But I also enjoyed his company, knew we got along, trust him with the kids, and we were consistently spending the night at one another's houses anyway. He had to move, so why not here?
Then one night, I passed out at his house, exhausted from the lack of sleep that most "honeymoon phasers" suffer from, and he took me and my phone to bed. My daughter's dad texted me at 2:30 ish am about some things we'd been talking about the night before, and thus, my boyfriend got to read every insecurity and every doubt and every assumption I'd made... he got to hear how much I still miss my ex. He got to read that I was still considering running off to California to be with my daughter's dad.
And the next day we fought and I knew it was over because I learned over the past ... 7 years? That in a relationship, if I screw up, if I piss the guy off, if we fight.. if something cracks, we throw it out. We don't even try to super-glue it before it gets worse, we just throw it out and run. Go find a new version.
And sometimes come back later after we've superglued OURSELVES back together and try again, until the foundation starts to falter again. And then we run. Again.
And then the rain started pouring... my utilities were about to be shut off. My car has been without insurance for months. My front tires were bald and one had a bubble in it. I have to start my community service for my "driving impaired" charge... the A/C in my house died THAT day (it was 98 degrees inside the house and 95 outside, with the week forecasted to be near 110 every day, and it only gets worse in July...). I was inconsoleable.
And I just wanted my boyfriend's calming presence, I wanted him there to tell me it would all be okay, but I had ruined it.
And then he called me, and he told me it was all going to be okay, and that I don't have to do this alone.
And he has told me every day... that I don't have to do this alone. And instead of throwing it away, we talked. We made up. We worked through things, we set boundaries, we compromised, and the cracks disappeared.
All of this is such unfamiliar territory that I feel like a visitor in a foreign country, where I know nobody, I don't speak the language, I don't know the laws or rules or how to act properly and not land my ass in a foreign prison. That's how weird it feels.
But it also feels like seeing something extraordinarily beautiful for the first time and having this weird happiness that I don't really understand, that doesn't come from the satisfaction of groveling and begging and changing who I am externally to please someone and finally getting a few moments of attention from them.. it comes from knowing the person I'm with accepts me exactly as I am. Faults and all, faults that he sees clearly and knows may be a part of me forever. He accepts me.
He works his ass off. He has 10x my energy and understands that and encourages me to reach beyond that but also doesn't cut me down for not being able to keep up some days.
He is a good man. One who's been screwed over, but who didn't let it turn him into someone who uses that as an excuse to treat the women he's with like trash.
For the first time in my life I'm "in it together" with someone. Like, really. Equally.
And at night before we go to sleep, I feel so right it's ridiculous. I wonder if this is what love is supposed to feel like. I wonder if this is the foundations that real, lasting relationships are built on.
I don't ever let myself hope, but I hope.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning after he's left for work and look at the empty side of the bed, and memories of my ex fill my head. And it hurts. But most of the pain now is just residual pain, from the ways he tore me down, the ways he squashed my spirit and my soul... It's the pain of wounds almost healed, but that will always leave scars.
It's the pain of knowing how wrong something was for so long and wondering how I could have thought it was right.
It's wishing that he could have loved me back the way I loved him, but in the same breath being grateful that he didn't... because it never would have been like this. I never would have felt completely safe... And I never would have been able to be me.
Or hope. It would've been a life of fear of the next disappointment.
It still hurts.
But I have someone that's willing to walk with me through the pain, and every day, I find a little more joy than the day before, and a little less pain.
I know that things will come up. We will disagree, we may fight. We may hurt each other's feelings. But we are people who fix things, especially things that are this valuable. You can't just replace a person, and I found one of the best.
It's a good thing. Love. The real kind.
And now I need to go try to get at least a few things done while he's at work. Eek.