Some of those who read my blog and Facebook posts are baffled by what I wrote in my last piece. Dare I say, then, it is because you have been one of the lucky ones. You have, perhaps, found “your person.” This person could come in the form of a friendship or a romantic liaison, or a combination of both. If you don’t have “a person,” you know it. A person is someone who has your back no matter what. I am fortunate to have family members and a few close friends who have supported me through some really tough times and I will never, ever forget their kindness to me. But your person, in my mind, is someone else.
It is a person to go on adventures with, the person you want to tell both good and bad things to, the person who you just like to live life with – run errands, watch movies, etc. Everything becomes better with this person. You may have had people you have done these things with. The one missing ingredient – and it is a vital one – is the part where, at the end of the day, you support each other. I have never been in a relationship where, unequivocally, I have known that person would always be in my corner, looking out for my best interests. No soft place to fall; no complete trust. It makes you guarded and, after you venture out and, yet again, find that a possible person has almost everyone’s back but yours, it sends you back into hiding. It does get easier to put in perspective as the years go on. In retirement, if that ever occurs, I think I will venture only as far as getting a puppy.
Having a person who has your back goes along with my last post about being the one chosen. I am not advocating for someone to defend the indefensible, condone bad behavior, give the thumbs up to a lack of kindness. It might be that this person is the one to hold up the proverbial mirror for a person to check themselves. The trust would have to be so great that the mirror was just a tool to actually cause a person to reflect and amend behavior, not a source of judgement. No one really needs a “yes man” by their side but, rather, a supporter whose interest lies in helping a person become the best version of themselves possible. This someone has to be the one when, given the choice between you or another, knows that the choice is always you.
Some people have an insecurity or a need to have everyone like them. This manifests itself like a shiny object. These people are, generally, not able to be your person because they have so many others vying for the position and they are so easily drawn away. They might have good intentions but will “turn on you,” so to speak, whenever it looks like someone else is better able to grant them immediate satisfaction for their vanity and desire to be liked. I think this is why some people put so much importance on past relationships. They can’t give up that feeling of someone liking and/or loving them. It is hard for me to believe I am their person if they have others waiting in the wings. I am not sure if that is their way of keeping me on my toes, or keeping their options open, but I find myself unable to settle into a relationship when one person has his foot in the past, like Gatsby with Daisy. I understand that everyone has had people in their past that they loved but to continue to have those people be a part of this new relationship just doesn’t work for me. The long-estranged-but-not-divorced wife or the ex-girlfriend who calls the house incessantly are two good examples.
I will say at this point that the problem was always me and my inability to set boundaries. My tactful daughter called me “a very forgiving person,” but that becomes pushover then doormat if boundaries are not in place. Here’s the thing: you don’t always see this clearly. Once embroiled in a relationship, you get used to being relegated to second best or beyond, so you forgive and adapt.
I didn’t set out to “take back my power” or anything as profound as that. In fact, I would say that the intervention of my children is what helped to open my eyes. In my experience, there is a process that goes on, once you leave a situation. First, there is numbness. It is kind of a shock to the system to leave a relationship you expected to go on. Next, comes sadness, a kind of grieving for the good parts of the relationship, and what might have been, such as future plans made, etc. Acceptance comes after that. It is what it is; live and learn. It doesn’t end there, however. Like those maps and charts that say, “You are here,” next comes anger. That is where I am currently residing. Anger is both exhausting and freeing. It is, at times, all-consuming. If you wake and think, there is no return to slumber. If you are walking, you may be reenacting conversations in your head…or talking to yourself.
I am most angry at myself for not treating myself better. Others may have mistreated me, but I let them. Forgiveness and another chance were always my weapons of choice against myself.
There were red flags, of course there were. Just note: if he is receiving calls from his ex-girlfriend, if he tells you how much he loved his wife, if he talks about the expensive gifts he has bestowed upon an ex-fiance, he is letting you know that you are always on shaky ground, if not second best. If he does not weigh your opinion, consider your feelings, or try to help you but, instead, gives credence to every Tom, George, and Harry instead of you, and if he demeans your work, pay attention. These are all red flags. His words might say he is invested but his actions don’t. That “single” as his Facebook relationship status is telling.
My advice to myself is to be grateful to my children, to my family members and a few close friends, for being there for me. It is also to not be distracted by the pretty flags because red is such a vibrant color. It is not to forget forgiveness, both for myself and others. I am a flawed human, after all, and I have made mistake after mistake, obviously. My advice is, mostly, to have my own back. I am too old to believe there will ever be a trustworthy soul to shelter mine. I am not cynical, just realistic. I have all I could ask for in life except maybe a Basset puppy and, in this pandemic age, a visit to my hair salon. Oh, and the ability to drop ten pounds. All in all, I am on Lou Gehrig’s page: I am the luckiest person on the face of the earth.
I don’t want to be cliche and say, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life,” or some such tried-and-true phrase but I do feel a shift. It is about time but, then again, better late than never.
This is where it ends and the rest of my life begins, I guess.
Thank you to those who make my journey worthwhile.