Originally I titled this “Goodbye 2018.” Ever looking to be positive I realized this was not the best title. While, I am more than ready to say goodbye to this past year (despite the wonderful and amazing things which have also happened) I am truly looking forward to what the future has to deliver in my life.
To be fair… This post was prompted by one of those Facebook Surveys or whatever you want to call them. They analyze your profile and tell you who are your 5 favorite people, or who are you going to marry, or when are you going to die. You know the ones. When one piques my interest I go to it but rarely post the results because I know they are contrived (at best). How do I know this? I have done couple of them more than one time and they generate different results. It’s all random and contrived so I give them little (if any) credence. Still, they are fun to do. In any case, this post came from one of those “surveys.” I liked the results (didn’t post), so I created this blog instead.
I am not normally one to write about such things. I am not one who makes New Year’s Resolutions. I am not one to commiserate and/or hope for better (different) things. That said, I definitely do it internally. I simply don’t express it to the world. Today… I am breaking tradition.
More than a decade ago I broke tradition and made a resolution to stop drinking soda. I was drinking a significant amount of soda at that time in my life and I knew it wasn’t good for me. I just really enjoyed the taste so why should I stop? However, I decided at the new year I would stop. My goal was to cut it out cold turkey for three months. Then, if I wanted to add it back in (in moderation) I could.
Once I stopped… It was amazing how easy it was to keep going. I tried my favorite soda after a few months and it really didn’t have the draw it had four months earlier. I switched to lemonade when I was out and about, but soon realized that had just as much sugar or artificial sweetener as my sodas. While it may have been “better” that soda it still wasn’t good. Now I opt for water or unsweetened ice tea (coffee in the morning) and don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.
So, what does that have to do with today you ask?
2018 has been one of the worst best years of my life (or best worst depending on your preference). It really doesn’t matter which way you prefer to reference it because in some ways it has been the absolute best year of my life and the absolute worst in others.
A few years ago, I had what I would refer to as the worst best worst year of my life. I mean, it was absolutely terrible—horrific even. I lost almost everything I “thought” was important and valuable to me—including myself. It only took a few months to realize, as terrible as it all was, it was the very best thing that ever happened to me. Yes, I lost my partner of a decade. Yes, I lost my dog. Yes, I lost my house and all the equity I had in it. Yes, I lost more than half my friendships. Yes, I left my 15-year career. Yes, all of these things were out of my life, but they were also things that were exhausting me.
My house was filled with “stuff” I didn’t need (and sometimes didn’t want. It was at least twice as big as I wanted (or needed). I had been clinging by my fingernails to my relationship with a person who was done years earlier. The “friends” I lost were people (like my relationship) for whom I was doing the maintenance. Once I was out—it/they were out. There was zero reciprocation (or maybe 10%). The point is the relationship was out of balance and bound to fade (like my marriage). I had thought about leaving my banking career for almost a decade and I finally did it. It was frightening (and part of this year’s shit-storm) but ultimately it was the very best move for me and my mental health. The only thing I truly missed over the past few years was my dog.
That is part of what suck about 2018. I knew it was coming. Her mom had passed away about three years ago, and she was born when her mom was about two, so I knew it was coming. The great thing was I got one last chance to say goodbye to her. I sat in a park with her, she couldn’t go far from home on her own energy, and cried for almost an hour. Even though she was doing better than I expected and she was so excited to see me, I knew didn’t have much time left.
My ex said to me when I picked her up that evening, “You have a lot more grey hair.”
Are you effing kidding me?
My only response was “That’s what happens when your partner leaves you and you have the worst two years of your life.”
I couldn’t help it. I was so happy to have time with my little girl, but a comment like that… to the person who left me after cheating for years…? It was that strong response or cry, and I needed to save that for the dog.
When I returned her after a couple of hours just hanging out together at the park across the street I was assured I would be notified of any changes. Let’s be real here… I was already surprised to have been notified of her deteriorating condition. I was tempted to contact my ex-brother-in-law to have him let me know when she passed, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So, when I was informed she was not doing well—by my ex—I was surprised and happy to say the least. I believed, after this “grand” gesture, I could expect information about her continued health.
Almost a month later I had heard nothing so I decided to inquire about her condition. I could go back and check the exact verbiage, but I am certain it was close to, “I told I would let you know if anything changed.” I took that to mean two things. One, her condition had NOT changed. Two, I was not to inquire again as I would be “informed” of a change.
Several months later (still 2018) imagine my surprise when the next text I received from my ex was pictures of a small casket in the ground saying “Edna passed today.”
What happened to “I’ll let you know if anything changes?”
As shocked as I was, I really shouldn’t have been surprised by this. This was par for the relationship. Saying one thing, but doing something—not only different, but the antithesis of the actual words.
Me: Do you want to see other people?
Reality: Already “seeing” other people.
I was so angry I wanted to drive over and punch him in the face. I didn’t though. I didn’t even respond. What was I supposed to say? Thanks. Oh, I thought she was doing OK. You said you’d tell me if things changed. Hey, asshole, thanks for the final eff you—so glad we never have to talk again.
See… There’s one of the worst parts.
However, as I said, this was also one of the best years of my life.
In January, I met the most wonderful person.
I had given up on love. I had given up on relationships. Yes, it is what I wanted and wished for, but it just wasn’t happening. Everyone either turned out to be the opposite of what they presented, or boring, or not ACTUALLY looking for a relationship. I was over it. That didn’t stop me from trying, but it became more casual. As in “if it happens, great. If not, fine.”
Our first date came up and I was cautiously optimistic. I’m not gonna go into all the details, but we went to a movie. That part was fine. I was pleasantly surprised. We decided to go to dinner afterward and walked to a nearby restaurant. We talked to each other the entire time.
It wasn’t just superficial stuff either. It was about who we are, what we like, our backgrounds, you name it. There was no kiss to end the date, although truth be told, we both wanted it (as we have since discussed).
I have shown the good, the bad, and the ugly. I didn’t want to let anyone inside my wall. Then I found out, they were already inside and accepted everything about me. Who was this amazing person and where had they been my entire life?
I read something recently about how second marriages/relationships are the most successful of any relationships. First-timers are learning the ropes. They learn what to do and what not to do. Third, fourth and so on mean they are probably not going to find “the one.” With second relationships, especially if it is the 2nd for both are highly successful. Why? You have learned what to do and not, what to accept and not, how to succeed and not. If it is the second “major” relationship for both partners, it most like to be their “forever” relationship because they have figured things out without being completely “messed up.”
I’m not saying that is what this is. It’s been just under a year. Time still stands to test it. That said, there is something significantly different about this relationship. First, I let this person inside my “wall” without even recognizing it had happened. There was no tearing down or working toward trust. It just happened. Second, I believe and feel like we are equals. Third, rather than “working” at our relationship, it simply works. I’m not saying it is perfect by any means.
That is something I learned from my last long-term relationship. I thought, this is great! We never fight. We agree on everything. This is wonderful. The reality was I was comprising everything about myself to “make it perfect.” This new relationship feels natural. I don’t feel like either of us is trying. It just is. Good. Bad. Indifferent. It just is. I have worked hard for open and honest communication in this relationship as well which is a huge thing. If you can’t communicate openly and honestly with your partner, if you feel like you need to shield them from something, if you feel like something will offend them so you hold it back—you are not going to succeed. I’m sorry. That just is. You should be able to say whatever is in your head and heart and not feel like your relationship will suffer (or end) because of it.
There is definitely something different about this new relationship. Yes, it is still less than a year old at this point, but it is markedly different. First of all, I feel like and believe we are equals. Yes we challenge each other in certain ways, but ultimately, we support, accept, and build the other equally. We respect each other. There is not sort of diminishing the other which I felt in my other relationships. Also, we love and accept each other unconditionally.
With my other relationships (long or short term) when things got rough, someone got going. That is not the case here. There have been ups and downs and neither of us has run.
Especially this early into the relationship, that means a lot. You don’t “cut and run” at the first hiccup. In my last long-term relationship there were a couple of points early on where I was almost ready to walk. Then I reasoned with myself and decided they were not “real” reasons to leave. If I wanted, yes, I could have. Others would have probably even backed me up.
Ultimately, though, I decided I really cared about this person and “this” was not something I wanted to break that up. Unfortunately, those things started to come up more and more often and what I willing to tolerate kept increasing to the point that it was un healthy.
When you love someone, I hope you love them unconditionally. That doesn’t mean you blindly accept EVERYTHING they do, but you love them nonetheless. When something they do affects you personally (and I don’t just mean emotionally) that is where you have to draw the line. You can still love them, but if you are changing your behavior and your life because of something they are doing… that is not acceptable. If you are having self-conversations about what level of violence is acceptable—it is not. If you are having self-conversations about what level of cheating is acceptable—it is not. If you are finding ways to avoid difficult conversations in order to salvage the relationship—it is not. If you are getting STD tests regularly because you are worried about your own personal exposure—it is not OK.
Yes, you need to love the other person and love and relationships mean toleration, acceptance and compromise. It does not mean compromising who you are, however. Compromising whether you squeeze the toothpaste from the middle or the end is different from compromising whether or not your relationship is open. Both probably require a conversation, but one is ultimately more serious than the other.
So yeah… Bring on 2019. I’m ready. The recent test I took, which prompted this post, said 2019 was going to bring change for me. On the surface that is scary, because I have just started to become comfortable with the way things are. That said, I know changes are coming. I am in the hunt for a new job. Change. I will be moving in with my partner. Change.
Hopefully my family becomes more tolerant and accepting. Change. Change is all around us. As I have posted before, the path of life keeps moving forward. If you don’t keep walking you simply fall behind.