Sometimes I wonder if I'm protesting too much when I say how grateful I am for all the freedom and opportunities I have. Then I think, if I tell myself what I have to be grateful for enough, then maybe I really will start to be grateful. That's the whole damn point of this exercise, right? I do seem to actually feel grateful more often, which makes this a successful exercise and one worth continuing—despite the risk of smugness. Look how lucky I am! Aren't you jealous?
I never thought I'd say this and mean it, but I'm currently grateful to be single. Having a boyfriend has been my one consistent desire for almost my entire life. Remember, I was first engaged at age five. Grades K thru three represented my fallow years, but beginning in the fourth grade, I had strong boyfriend desires. First, for Bruce, who was in the sixth grade. The next year, it was John in the third grade (a younger man!). Heck, even in the third grade, I remember having a crush on a boy in my Sunday School class. I could go on…but the point is, I've always wanted a boyfriend. Sometimes, having a boyfriend was enough to make me happy...even if I didn't like the guy very much.
So, it's a little hard for me to believe that I'm actually happy to be single. Not just happy, but grateful.
I was talking to a friend the other day who was venting some boyfriend angst. She said, "What a waste—all that time—if we broke up!"
I said, "No, not a waste! That's your life—you had a lot of good times with him."
"I know, I know."
I'm sympathetic to her frustration. I've been there. We've all been there. But I'd hate her to think she wasted her time with someone she loves, even if the relationships ends.
A few days later, I was talking to Pele about Owen. (Remember Owen? He was my last steady boyfriend.) I said, "He wasn't worth my time."
Pele said, "I like Owen and I hate to say it, but you're right. He wasn't worth your time."
Is it different to say someone isn't worth your time rather than a waste of your time?
I haven't given Owen much thought since our breakup. I haven't missed him. I wasn't even sad for very long. I had occasion recently to read some of the blog entries about Owen. What struck me was how god-damn crazy he had me feeling. I hate that. And I said to Pele, "Never again. I am never putting myself in that position again. If I'm feeling that anxious, it means the relationship is already beyond repair and I need to get out."
I also haven't done much worrying/reflecting/post-breakup analysis about Owen. (A quick perusal of the blog confirms that.) Isn't that odd? Instead of worrying about Owen, missing him or thinking about what went wrong, I jumped into a couple of dead-end dating situations and starting missing other exes. I guess that's one way to deal with things. And it seemed to work. Who knew?
Reading one post in particular about my complete inability to contain my anxiety while waiting for a call from Owen, spurred some reflection. I got pissed. No, not pissed in any meaningful way, but pissed that dating him made me feel so crappy.
I said to Pele, "You know what, I'm grateful I'm single. I'm grateful for every day I'm not in a relationship that makes me miserable. And every single relationship I've had recently was a misery—for at least half the time! A misery! What's the good of that?"
She shook her head and said, "No good at all."
We know that I was miserable with Owen during the weekdays when I waited, anxiously, to hear from him. When I was on pins and needles, wondering if we were actually going to see each other. I could not relax, as much as I wanted to. I could not lower my expectations sufficiently to be happy seeing him whenever. I could not plan my life as though there were no Owen in it and fit him in around whatever else I had going on.
I wonder why that is. I know I value my time and I can be very busy. But a lot of my time is filled with optional activities that aren't of high importance. Sure, I like going to the movies, but missing any particular movie isn't a big deal. Not going swing dancing on any particular Friday? Again, no big deal. I'm flexible and open to last minute plans, to an extent. I have a schedule that I can shift around without much heartburn and I like it that way.
Also, I saw him as my boyfriend, which meant I was reserving time for him. Those expectations were reinforced by some of his words. He told me he loved me. Several times. And then he stopped saying it. He spoke as though he wanted to be engaged (!). To me. Dummy.
I didn't believe that stuff. I knew it was too soon to tell. I knew he didn't know me well enough to be so sure. But I still thought it was sweet and maybe I believed it…a little. (Did you know I never reciprocated? Not once, though I was tempted a few times. Maybe the break up was my fault for not being affectionate enough? Ha ha ha ha. Awesome.)
I also knew that as soon as we broke up we weren't going to be friends. What was the basis of our friendship? Watching football on tv and sleeping together? That's not much to go on. Oh, we also went out drinking with his friends a bunch. Yeah, that doesn't help much either. We rarely talked. He wasn't interested in working on the "getting to know each other" aspect of things. I was flexible—I would have like to talk more, but I was happy to hang out and let the talking happen eventually. Hmm, that's not quite accurate. I would have liked to talk to him on the phone more, since I think that's a good way to get to know someone, but he wasn't willing.
I wonder, if you're dating someone and you know you wouldn't be friends after a break up, does that mean the relationship is doomed?
While I feel a little dopey for dating Owen, I remind myself that it was like a fact finding mission. I learned what I needed to know: Owen was not for me. Our time together was not wasted, I enjoyed a lot of it. What I didn't enjoy was the time I spent worrying. Did the good times outweigh the bad? I dunno.
That's why I'm happy to be single. I'm getting a lot out of it these days—savoring the freedom—even the freedom to do nothing, if I choose. I also very much appreciate not being in the misery and muck of a relationship. Nothing makes me quite so unhappy as a bad relationship.
Now, I'm all in favor of good relationships. I've even had a good relationship or two in my day, but I just don't see the point of wasting my time making myself unhappy. And I can't blame anyone but myself—I'm the constant in all of my relationships. If I'm consistently unhappy, then I'm consistently choosing poorly. I choose to be happy—single or coupled.
If I could have had the relationship I'd wanted with Owen, I would have been happy. Oddly, that would have been a freer, fewer-strings, less serious one. It would not have been a "let's see if we're going to get married" relationship. That pressure was all from him. I know, I know, it doesn't sound right, but I wasn't the one insisting he wear an engagement ring! (No, really, he got upset when I said I wouldn't wear an engagement ring. We compromised on a hypothetical non-diamond ring. Yeesh.)
It's not that I don't want to get married or be in that kind of relationship. I do. I just didn't want it with Owen. (And he didn't want it with me.) He was sweet and a good kisser, but, the potential? I thought it was there, I convinced myself it was there, but it was never there. For whatever reason.
Oh, and you may wonder why I'm not musing more about Kansas, my more recent mistake. That's because I have no regrets about Kansas. I did all my reflecting about him at the time and I have nothing further to say. I'm actually a tiny bit proud of the way I handled things. I mean, if you can get past the part where I got involved with him in the first place. Yep. I rock.
Grateful for: knowing my mind.