The Good (and Hard) Life

“Life is good. Life is hard. These two truths are unrelated.” Stacy Morrison

I’m not sure why I decided to pick up Stacy Morrison’s Falling Apart in One Piece, a memoir about going through a divorce. For someone like me who is trying to piece a broken relationship back together, it certainly wasn’t inspiring to read about the pain and heartache of dissolving a marriage. I struggled to get through it at times, her tales of disaster upon disaster (some divorce-related, others just plain old life-related) which at times sounded a bit on the melodramatic side, even for someone going through hell.

I waded through nearly 200 pages of sadness and misery until her words began to click. I saw much of myself in Morrison as a young woman—focused on pushing, pushing, pushing to a place that she imagined would be safe, secure, and stable. Only after they divorced did she realize she’d left her partner behind.

When SCL and I first started dating and I realized where the relationship was heading, I remember telling my mom how hard I planned to work to make our relationship last. It was like I was armed and ready for the first conflict to arise, so I could tackle it, identify our issues, work through them, and continue forward. I wanted to anticipate every single problem that we would face and be ready to work through it. I was going to make it work no matter what, damnit! I wasn’t going to be one of the statistics about children from divorced parents. I saw my relationship with SCL as something to be conquered rather than cherished.

And what that meant was that in preparing to combat the future problems and issues, I lost sight of the daily joys, the small pleasures, the being together on the couch, the real stuff that made our relationship what it was. I quickly became so engrossed with creating a long-lasting relationship that I forgot to nurture the relationship I had at the time: a young, exciting, vulnerable, unpredictable love.

What I couldn’t prepare for was rupture. In my mind I was already at the altar, making a commitment to SCL, that it hadn’t occurred to me that I had charged ahead of him, leaving him behind. I didn’t realize that he’d wanted to slow down (in part because he had not told me) when all I wanted to do was accelerate to a place where I thought I’d feel safe: a ring on my finger, a public commitment made, and a life bonded together by marriage. I wanted SCL to grow up—to catch up. Then, I thought, I would be content with where we were and could really start living as partners, as a family. Then his parents would accept our relationship as something real. Then I could really love him the way that I want—freely, generously, and without fear.

In the months since SCL broke up and made up, I have found myself in a constant state of anxiety and fear about our coming back together. Am I just setting myself up for more heartache? Have we learned anything in such a short period of time that would really help in beginning again? I fear SCL’s lack of commitment and what that might mean for the future. I tell myself, “If this isn’t forever, then it isn’t worth it.” My love for him has become tainted by fear, which is a hard place for love to reside. Some of the time my love feels more like desperation, like I’m just clinging to what one day I might lose again—ring or no ring.

There is no way to know if these decisions I am making now—to stay with SCL, to be patient with the process, even to live a few blocks away from him—are ¬wise or foolish. But I know they are heartfelt and risky and out of the love, care, and hope I have for him and for our relationship. I want to love without fear of the unknown. I want to give myself to SCL in spite of him having hurt me and how difficult this time has been. I cannot control him, his actions, or his feelings. I cannot dictate how the next month or year or decade will go. But I can be true to myself in how I love and live throughout this good, yet hard time of uncertainty and discovery.

9 comments:

  1. I don't know what it's like to be in a relationship like that. BF is not by any means a commitment phobe - he'd prefer to get married sooner than I would. But until his job and financial situation stabilises, I'm just not willing to go there.

    I'm rooting for you and SCL.

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  2. "I'm rooting for you and SCL." I LOVE that! Thank you, thank you.

    I guess it's probably tough to find two people on exactly the same page about the timing of marriage, so it's probably going to require compromise and patience and waiting.

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  3. I love how you work these things out in your head. You seem so much more... I don't know, sane than I am, lol.

    I do think you're on the right track. And I hope you and SCL find so many good things. You deserve that!

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  4. I don't know about sane. It's much easier to reflect after the fact. In the middle of it, I think I'm pretty nutty.

    We are trying to work this out as best we can!

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  5. All the advice/thoughts I was considering reminded me of a conversation I've had...how the advice that people give is not so much for the receiver, as it is for the advice-giver.

    That being said, reading your posts scare the crap out of me. I feel myself in your place, when I was in a 3 year on-again-off-again relationship until it finally exploded. I eventually realized we had too much history, too much bad-ness in our past to not unintentionally hurt each other. It had to end somewhere. But really, it's up to the individual to determine where that line is.

    The Yes and Yes blog has a good post on these sorts of things (i.e., the Bad/Break Rule).

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  6. I can really relate to the wanting to rush to a place of safety aspect. I'm realizing that I need to be much more thoughtful in my next relationship. It seems like you are on the right track, and aware of what's going on in your relationship right now. My Dad used to always tell me that the hard times are there for a reason, we may not see it now but it will all work out in the end. Hope things continue to get better!

    xx,
    Delilah

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  7. I can totally relate to what you are going thru. You are being very honest with yourself and you relationship. Relationships are not all easy peasy, and nice and level. They have ups and downs. Yours seeems to be frought with a particular amount of angst though, and this could be a good thing, or it could be the beginning of a b/u. Only time will tell.
    I understand that you want the uncertainty to go away. You want to feel secure, safe and happy in this relationship, and you aren't there now. In part because of the b/u and the work it takes to make sure it is right for both of you. You are on the right road to find out. Overall, the big questions are this: will things get better? Will you feel more secure and loved in time? Will you be happy as time goes on and the 2 of you settle into the "comfort zone". Or will you always be wanting and feel uncertain? Can SCL give you what you want to feel happy, fulfilled and loved and appreciated?
    You never get everything you want from a man. That's only in fairytales. But does he give you enough?
    The place you are at is a difficult one right now.....but in time, there should be a trend ....a trend to feeling better and more secure. You can't hurry anything. Accept the fact that you hve to take it day by day and see how you feel in a month or even 3-6 months. That is the true test.
    I am rooting for the 2 of you too, but only if it is something that makes you happy!

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  8. Having experienced something similar myself not too long ago I can only say this: no one can tell you what to do in your relationship, but there comes a time when you realize what it is you want from it and you have to figure out if your needs are being met by your partner. Never lose sight of the things you want out of life. If you want a ring, a house with a garden, and a swingset for your kids... don't allow someone to tell you it can't happen. I always cheer on the couples that go through a breakup. Because without hitting the lowest of the low, we forget what the euphoric moments with our partner feel like. We need the pain, the hurt, and the complication... because so much of that is a part of life. It's how we make it through the rough patches that determine if we are meant to be or not.

    Best of luck to you and SCL :)

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  9. Thank you for the beautiful comments, everyone. You are are so wise and lift me up more than you know!

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