I Don't Date - I Subscribe
Yeah, I knew it. I knew from the first time she stuck her tongue out at me. It was love. L. O. V. E. Cupid and arrows and saccharine and sappy songs. I knew I loved her.
I’ll do my best to lay this out without relying on hindsight, which would probably make it more real and visceral, but that’s not what you want when you talking about love, is it? You don’t need reality getting in the way of a good eventual heartache. So here we go. Again.
We went on our first date and we kissed and we went on a few more dates. She somewhat ditched me on New Years and I still allowed her in. She was more or less mine as she enrolled back at community college and attended support groups. I say more or less because there was always something there…or rather not there…that I could never put my finger on. Was it fear? Was it excitement that wasn’t manifesting itself quite right? Was it a knowledge that she had no idea what she was doing but knew she shouldn’t be doing it?
Yeah. It was probably that. I know for certain that was my issue.
See, I knew from the day I met her that she wasn’t quite like the other girls. She was fun and pretty with a great sense of humor. But she was also broken in a way I didn’t know. She was in need of guidance and love and I was honestly in no place to provide either of those things. Hell, I didn’t love myself at the time. I suppose she was more like the other girls I’ve dated than I give her credit for. After all, I tended to gravitate toward women who were in some way damaged. Daddy issues, codependent, addiction - whatever it was, I was down to help, though my assistance usually only served to make matters worse.
Let me put it this way: The women I tended to pursue had so many issues I didn’t actually date them: I subscribed.
(As promised in the first post on this topic I’m going to get real about myself as well. I know I’m flawed and I know I’m to blame in what’s happening now. This should be an interesting journey finding out exactly how…)
So where was my mind in all this, you may ask? Easy: not with me. Lost. Gone. Somewhere else. I tend to switch off common sense when beginning a new relationship. It always seems to add an air of fun mystery that always fades as the years pass. It also helps me ignore the large and small flaws in both the woman and myself - not to mention my pan of “happily ever after”. And by the time I regain my senses and see the reality of the situation years have gone by and we’re in really deep and something is going to happen and it’s not going to be good. Up to now it’s only been a tiny scar on a heart. This time the heart has been forcibly removed from my ribcage and dissected to see how it works. A kinder person would have tried to mend it and place it back when they were done but that isn’t going to happen now.
I don’t recall the first time it dawned on me that this particular relationship had turned out to be just like the rest but I know there were more than a few. It was only a little more than two years in that I slowly realized she wasn’t there - her head had gone somewhere else and didn’t seem to be returning any time soon. I took the opportunity to conduct some soul searching and, while not very deep, I did come to one conclusion: she didn’t love me. I mean, she liked me and all but the love wasn’t there.
Please note: I didn’t end that sentence with “anymore”. The love just wasn’t there. In total honesty I do not believe it ever was there. I still think I loved her in my own way though over the years even mine began to wane.
At the time she started to become distracted our son was not yet a year old and she was most likely battling postpartum depression, though neither of us knew that. She would yell and cry and I would tell her to grow up an “suck it up”, like that was something she could do if she wanted. Which she did. I failed to understand her plight. I actively ignored reality and my common sense never made an appearance. Hell, man! That’s your wife and she’s obviously in pain! Get in there and make her happy! But I didn’t. And that’s my mistake and something I’ll have to work on when I get to Step 5 with my AA sponsor.
There were a lot more instances like this. She crying and begging (if silently) for help. Me being too wrapped up in “being an adult” to help or even care. She would tell me she was happy but I could tell - anyone could tell - she wasn’t.
After the other children came she continued to withdraw into herself. Again, postpartum depression - but this time mixed with something more. Something that would turn out ending the marriage and our friendship. Depression has a starting point and if you’re lucky it can have an ending point as well. But you have to acknowledge there is a problem and work for a solution. She did. And now we’re here. And now the pain has become much more bittersweet than I had ever expected it to.
Here’s the deal: we both got trapped. She felt it more directly and intensely than I did but we shared that one thought. We got pregnant before she had a chance to go back to “real” college. I had already given her a promise ring at that point but her parents strongly suggested marriage. We told them we weren’t ready quite then but she took it to heart. She talked to me about it and we agreed to go ahead and do it. In Vegas. I really think we loved each other that day. But she cried that night. And on the way back to the hotel after the ceremony.
She had so many other places to go in this world and so many people to meet and inspire and love. And I had my future too, whatever that may have (or does) entail. But we got married because she felt her parents would want that.
And this was all fine by me. I’m fine. Everything is fine. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine.