Friday, November 11, 2011

Victims and Volunteers

I am told, that at this point in my life, I have great clarity in the way that I see things. Issues in my life are becoming more clear as I dig within myself in order to create a healthier me. I have an intimate knowledge of what has made me any unhealthy companion for myself. However, doing this work on myself has been a two edged sword as it opens my eyes to seeing mistakes others have made, are making or will be making in the future. I would rather shine the light on the things I have done with a bit of levity so that I can laugh and learn simultaneously.

As I said earlier, I have ventured a tad into the dating world. These are people I have never mentioned and there will only be thumbnails here as the names have been changed to protect the not so innocent. These appear to be archetypes that visit everyone in the journey through widowhood. If you see a man here you think you may know, you might, but that's alright. He's who you think he is.

First was a horrible mistake that took forever to extricate myself from it seems. This is the dreaded FWB. For those of you who live under a rock, this is a "friend with benefits," or as I prefer to call it, a MBP. My term means "Mistake Bearing a Penis." I kept him at arms length emotionally. I was trying to fill an emotional hole by plugging a physical one. Except this plug had a voice and personality, neither of which were compatible with my own. Getting out of that situation taught me quickly that being detached emotionally from the physicality that I craved was more damaging to me than starving for affection. Lesson number one learned. I cannot separate my heart from my body and be healthy. One needs the other to live. Was I a victim? No. I was a volunteer. I set it in motion myself and it was up to me to end it.

Second was an older man. He was 15 years my senior. We had a kinetic energy. We talked for hours. He could calm me. Married unsuccessfully three times, he was strong, wise and honorable. But we had never been in the same state never-mind the same room. He found me smart and funny. He said I was strong and honorable. Then he ripped my heart out of my chest. "I'm not what you need." That's what he said. I made excuses for him. "He is honorable and doesn't want to hurt me" was code for "He's selfish and doesn't have room for me." Second lesson learned, I had no boundaries at that time. Being your companion does not give you access to my soul. Was I a victim? No. I was a volunteer. I let him dictate the tone and pace of the relationship. My mind carried me the rest of the way.

Then there was the dreaded married man. We entertained each other on the phone. I conducted, for all intensive purposes, a daylight emotional affair. There were all day texting marathons that lasted from 8am until 7pm. I was a stress free female who always looked perfect and always said the right things in his mind. For me I could flirt and emotionally connect with someone without risking really getting hurt. Although the relationship was never physically consummated, many was the time he met my emotional needs as only a lover can. I never questioned his situation at home. But I would never say I didn't endanger it either. Third lesson learned, emotional fulfillment doesn't mean infidelity is acceptable. Was I a victim? No. I was a volunteer. I participated fully with the knowledge he was unavailable and never would be.

Forth was another older gentleman who sold me a bill of goods in many ways. All I will say about this is, I cannot do sick again. Lap band surgery, brain tumors, drug addiction, and rampant ADHD are things that should be disclosed. I did the walk of shame off a fucking airplane. Fourth lesson learned, all that glitters is neither hard nor satisfying. Was I a victim? No. I was a volunteer. I saw what I wanted to see and reality smacked me on the ass for my ignorance.

Next into the batters box was the younger man. 10 years younger is not quite cougar country but its too close for comfort for me. He and I remain fast friends. But he lives in far too high of a gear for me. His past lives in his home and I cannot, strike that, I will not compete. I am much more valuable to him on his shoulder than in his lap. Fifth lesson learned, I am 44 years old. Was I a victim? No. I was a volunteer. I saw a beautiful man and forgot why I loved being a grown woman.

The accumulation of these lessons is at hand. I am slowly building a relationship. Day by day. Week by week. Month by month. This one will last me until I take my last breath. I am not lost with this person and it grows stronger everyday. I am in a relationship with myself. I need to love me. What I don't love, I need to either change or accept. That's the long and the short of the thing. In order for me to be part of something bigger, I must first be whole.

The lessons have taught me the following regarding myself. A man deserves for me to be open emotionally as well as physically. I must be present in the relationship. A man deserves for me to tell him what I need. If I don't know myself, then how is he supposed to meet my needs. A man deserves my emotional fidelity. My heart must be open in order for him to build a home. A man deserves my full disclosure. I must be honest with where I have been and who I am. The last one is the hardest. A man deserves for me to leave my past behind me. There are of course souvenirs, but one need not wear the t-shirt every fucking day.

See, the issues I saw were not theirs, but symptoms of the sickness of my self esteem. I had to treat them one at a time to cure my illness. It would be easy for me to say "They all took advantage of my grieving and were insensitive jackasses." But that is simply not true. We all come into these things with baggage and expectations. I no longer look at what Mr Soandso did wrong. The more important lesson is what drew them to me. When I am healthy, I will draw healthy to me. There are no victims here. We were all volunteers at one time or another.

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