Sunday, March 11, 2007

I finally got it

It kicked in about a month ago. I had spent the last year and a bit single - except for mostly easy going dating - in order to break out of old yucky patterns. The biggest part of the year was spent examining my own unhealthy, unhelpful relationship beliefs, that kept me in places I didn't want to be. I felt like I had to keep going further and further with this stuff, until I could trust myself to function in a relationship. Then it happened unexpectedly. I was walking down the street, mulling over random relationship issues, when I started thinking, "I am so bored with relationships. Thinking about them, being in them, talking about them. Bored, bored, bored."

It felt like a revelation. I might just be over all of this. Because if I can feel nothing but annoyance and boredom at the thought of significant others, then I might have just overwritten my girlie programming, which is supposed to push relationships and lurve as the answer - when stress, loneliness, dissatisfaction or simply a lack of plans for the immediate or long term future is bothering me. In many ways my female training has been very traditional, with my mother training me in cooking, cleaning and running a household budget (okay, so at least the cooking aspect sunk in), however job skills outside of wife and mothering just wasn't transferred. So no wonder the relationship as saviour was part of my thinking for so long.
Right now, all that relationships mean to me is more pressure from external sources, more expectations on me to focus on anything aside from my own life. Over the last decade, I think that my significant (and significantly awful) relationships have been the biggest threat to mental health, stability, self esteem and pursuing my own goals. I don't want my epitaph to read: She was a great wife. I want it to read: She was good at self care, was self sufficient, and balanced putting out energy into her friendships, community and world with putting it into herself and nurtured a whole life, without draining herself of all her life's juices, just because others asked her to, demanded it of her, or manipulated the situation.

It's not even that most of my ex's have been purposely horrible, just needing more parenting, care and support than is reasonable to expect a partner to provide, or struggling through huge issues of their own, which probably means that they need to be anywhere but in a relationship. And when I have voiced my own needs, they have gone unheard. At that point, in hindsight, I should have walked away, rather than endeavouring not to have needs so I can better support my partner around transition, or get my alcoholic partner out of the bar before she starts a fight, then take her home and put her to bed. Too much hard stuff to deal with, particularly when you are in your twenties. Too much responsibility, too much work on other people's issues.

I might have more room for the whole lurve thing at some point, however, right now, I'm thinking of self-nurturing as feminism 101. Take care of yourself, before you take care of partners, or indeed, the world. My therapist reminds me that some of my self-denial history as it emerges in relationships is also often a huge part of activism. And as my body is telling me in explicit and loud ways right now, I need peace and rest and wellness.

I can't even feel proud to have finally gotten to the end of this long journey of discovery, where I am not just saying this stuff from intellectual knowledge, but actually feeling it deep in my bones. I can't even feel excited about it - it just comes as a huge sense of relief. Like this particular piece of screwed up programming is dealt with. Now to work on all the other bits of screwed up programming.

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