Today, I had an epiphany. You know that niggling feeling you have when something is not right but you just can’t identify exactly what is off? I have had that feeling for months. Six months, almost to the day. Today, it is nearly six months from my last birthday and nearly six months till my next birthday. The past six months have been wrought with pain and change. I have had time to reflect on my life – just a bit – not too much – and I have determined that what has been missing in my past relationships and what I most want, I guess, is someone who chooses me. That sounds silly, I know. If I am in a relationship with someone, we have chosen each other, right? To me, however, that overall choice does not preclude the need to choose your partner in other ways. Listen up, gentlemen, this is not a one-time only proposition.
Let’s face it, I have been around the block once or twice…or maybe a few more times. Although my relationships have tended to be rather long-term, overall, I have still had a few trips around the block, as it were.
In one relationship my partner got into financial troubles and kept it from me. They were our finances, however, and I was adversely affected by it. To this day, I don’t know what happened because he chose not to share that with me. He chose silence.
One partner had been estranged from his wife for 20+ years. Neither of them wanted to be married – had not for years – they lived across the country from one another, and just had not gotten around to legalizing the estrangement. It bothered my mother, and it bothered me. But he did not choose to get a divorce. Too much work? Cost too high? I was not important enough.
Yet another partner could not really separate himself from past relationships. If an old girlfriend called his house every day, he chose to allow it. If a former lover wanted to spend an unspecified amount of days – and nights – staying at his home, despite my objections, he chose her. If an ex-wife was feeling down and wanted to spend an entire day and evening at his home – the home we shared – bring it on. It was irrelevant if it made me uncomfortable to spend the day as an outlier in the family dynamic.
One partner had a drinking issue he did not address. Evenings became him falling asleep early since he had begun drinking earlier still. I understand the school of thought identifying this as a sickness but he did not choose to address this through a 12-step program or some such remedy. He chose alcohol.
There are little things, too. Choosing not to make the bed or leaving the kitchen a disaster, despite finding them made and clean, was choosing to make more work for me. Choosing not to take advice I gave, giving no credence to my voice, whatsoever, was choosing anyone else over me. When given the choice to consider me or others, I was the unchosen one. The thing is, I didn’t realize that was the exact problem till now. I guess there is something intrinsic to me that causes others to think it is enough to choose me to be their significant other, shall we say, but to leave that at the door when we become a couple.
I don’t mean to sound jealous, needy, or insecure. It is not that at all. I am an adult who invests herself in relationships. I don’t need constant reassurance or attention. I guess at this point in my life, however, I don’t need to be the last person on someone’s list of priorities. I have children and grandchildren, I have a demanding job I love, I have hobbies and interests. I am not looking to be the center of anyone’s world. I guess I am looking for someone to be respectful to me in ways of deference. When one person in a relationship spends a good deal of time and energy on other people’s needs and wants, including their own, without bothering to give me a second thought, it gives me second thoughts. It is about value, priorities, and respect.
I am six months away from my next birthday and anything could happen in this time of global pandemic and chaos. I am sure I don’t want to spend my next birthday like I spent my last. I will work on myself and try to find why I choose people who don’t choose me. When it looks like a pattern, you must look inside. I have realized, however, the one person who always chooses me, has to be me. I have to defer, value, prioritize. Perhaps I sent out a signal that it was okay to put me last on the list. I have looked at couples and spoken to people who have partners that value them. Their opinion is valued, their work is respected, their happiness is high on the other’s list. Apparently, I lack the je ne sais quoi to conjure that up in others.
It’s funny because I have always thought talk is cheap and the proof is in the pudding yet I gave chance after chance to those who proved to me – time and again – that I really was not valued. When they were given a simple, clear-cut choice, someone –or something — else was more important to them. They valued another person – or another thing – over me. One of my children told me I am a very forgiving person and that does sound like something to aspire to, but it causes others to believe that they can disregard you time and again and be given a pass. The following quote seems to sum up what I am saying:
Here’s hoping that, with age, comes wisdom.