Single On Board

Single Life…just what is it? Google defines ‘single’ as; only one, not one of several, unmarried or not involved in a stable sexual relationship.

Yup, that pretty much sums it up, but what does it feel like when you have to own it? Reminds me of that damned roller coaster. The slammed-to-the-back-tug when you pull yourself uphill–the rush when a drop throws you forward and careens around curves, the wind tangling your hair, the deep breath and swallow as you struggle to keep smiling. Aweful, right? Unless…I just don’t know how to get off the roller coaster?

The decades in my dysfunctional marriage was a wild roller coaster ride. I had calluses from hanging on, hanging in there. Weathering years in a toxic relationship preps us for the erratic ride. We are used to the rush and fury of highs and lows. Level and smooth, is unfamiliar.

Once we’re in a drama-free zone, do we unconsciously create thoughts and plots that rev up the roller coaster ride again? Do we get uneasy with the unfamiliar? It this why I’m a closet adrenaline junkie these days; tempted to sign up for a ride at the glider port, remembering my tandem parachute jump, the joy of riding white water rapids? I’m still learning about myself and what motivates me and am consoled that I want a rush from activities, and adverse to emotional drama.

“I’ve never done this before…whatever I wanted,” I whisper as I walk up to my water machine, still smiling.

But the relentless voice in my head, the one that remembers more about me than I do whispers back. “Yes, you have. You had an awesome childhood. Ran free in a neighborhood with friends and no fences. Grey days meant there were clouds in the sky.”

So, then I wondered when had I stopped running free? I’d been daring and defiant, had to be to marry the boy I was madly in love with. I was seventeen and my dad and mom wanted me to go to college, have a career. To wait.

I didn’t want to wait. I wanted him. That must have been how and when it happened so quickly…that wanting him to want me as much. He made me work for that. Never easy. I stopped wondering what I wanted and tried to anticipate and become everything he ever wanted. I climbed aboard the roller coaster for a ride I didn’t know I was in for.

I think that’s how it started. My best guess, at any rate.

Eventually, I forgot to remember who I was. How it felt to be free. Being loved back was all I wanted. His approval. My parents proud that I was a good wife. My sisters shaking their heads when I cooked, cleaned, did laundry…even ironed. Mumbling that they never thought they’d see the day.

“No. It was more complicated than that.” I say this aloud so the voice in my head hears it clearly, as I pull back my sheets, then lower the blinds.

I’d still been independent and defiant in the beginning of our marriage…then that night he didn’t call or come home from work until late. Very late. No apology for not calling or coming home to dinner only angry that I didn’t get that he couldn’t wimp out and tell his friends he had to call his wife.

I know now his girlfriend wouldn’t have appreciated it, but I didn’t know about her then. He yelled at me. Told me I was selfish, didn’t think of him, how hard he worked, how much he needed to let off steam sometimes, or get what it was to be a man. He wasn’t going to be pussy whipped and he was not going to argue with me. Ever. His mother and father yelled with hatred at each other.

“I won’t argue like that. We’ll just get a divorce and get it over with,” he said before he slammed the bedroom door.

I think that was the night it began in earnest. The night I pulled the lap bar down, took a grip and decided to ride it out. I’d had to choose. I’d chosen us.

It was the birth of a codependent. Me. It’s how we begin. Choosing them.

I wonder if it would have been the same if he had been capable of loving me back? Not marred by an abusive childhood, the genetic threads of narcissism inherent or created that rewire neurons to bypass empathy.

Now, I’m free, have a great life albeit alone, yet in moments of discontent I wonder what is it I want now? Then admit I’m afraid to want something I can’t have. I have enough regrets. Have seen enough disappointment in his eyes…in my own to last the rest of my life.

On quiet nights I watch another writer’s vision of conflict and affection, lust and love on serial TV shows. And I talk to you. People who will never hear my voice. People who stop reading when their phone rings or the bath is ready to overrun.

Yet in spite of it all, this is better than my life with the man I once loved and lived for. I’m relieved and happy I left him.

I’m determined to make it…my life better, and most of the time it is spectacular. Just sometimes, once in a while I wonder where I went for so long…before I remember to be happy…and my feisty, daring, smiling self is back. Suddenly I know exactly what I want.

I remind myself that every relationship takes work, checking in, paying attention, resurrecting the good things when the down slides threaten.

Especially then.

How can we bring our single life into focus? By reminding ourselves to value what we have instead of yearning for something else. To enjoy the gentle ebb and flow of life without the rush of the rapids. This transition will take practice, conscious reminders, determination and desire to work on building a relationship with ourselves.

No worries. I got this…we’ve got this.

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