Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Little Growing Up, a Lot of Backstory

I hesitate to say that I'm growing up, I don't feel like I've done much 'growing up' since I was about fourteen, but I think I'm learning how to be a better 'adult'. Of course, my example for this is somewhat selfish so take it with a grain of salt. Of course, anyone who reads this blog probably keeps a bucket of it next to the keyboard.

I had an interesting thought in the shower this morning (unfortunately it wasn't the one about Kate Beckinsale). I'd woken up still utterly drunk from the night before and with one of the worst hangovers I've ever had. I crawled from bed to the bathroom, clawed my way into the shower, turned on the hot water, and sat there for an hour. During this long re-hydration period I had some time to kill and, as it usually does during periods that lack distraction, my brain went into a drunken (remember, I was still plastered) hyperdrive.

One of the multitude of topics that came up for internal discussion was Kelly, a girl I dated a couple months ago. It'd only lasted two weeks before I broke it off but there were some interesting correlations between Kelly and Cat. Both had really similar personalities, had similar interests, similar independence, similar ages, similar 'appetites'... One I married for 9 years and the other I dumped after two weeks. So my question was, what was the difference?

I poured over it in my brain until I came up with a slightly scary answer: I was growing up, making better decisions (ie. not with my dick).

When I was 21 and I married Cat I was something of a wayward youth. I'd been into a lot of drugs (had just quit when I re-met Cat), dropped out of College, and was working as a Delivery Boy with no better prospects. I was damaged goods, at least in my own head. The only women I dated were also damaged in one way or another, Cat was no exception, they were the only women that I felt I deserved.

So, I dated women who'd just gotten out of abusive relationships- I'd be shoulder to cry on. I dated women with confidence issues, I dated women with emotional issues... I never realized it at the time but my subconscious must have thought I would find some sort of redemption in women that I could 'fix'. I would lose myself in their issues and these relationships would drag on and on because I'd become their therapist/boyfriend and it would have totally devastated them if I left.

I got really used to putting myself aside, putting my goals, putting my issues, putting my life to the side and focusing on what they needed. I probably saw myself as some sort of good Samaritan but all of my own self-worth issues were eating me up inside.

Cat was basically bipolar, among a whole host of other problems caused by the swings. When she was up she was totally amazing, one of the best people I've ever known, but when she was down it was one of the most terrifying things I've ever seen. She needed a rock to lean against and I needed someone to 'fix' to distract me from myself. We were perfect for each other.

We got married, I joined the military to get out of town and get some prospects. I continued doing what I always did, I swallowed all of my own feelings and focused on her. There were some rough years.

Eventually we figured out that Cat wasn't bipolar, she was allergic to various foods. Not allergic in the violent, going into anaphylactic shock way, but the getting headaches, bloating, depression kind of way. We fixed her diet and things got a lot better. Or at least SHE got a lot better.

Then we realized that we'd grown apart. We'd had these mutual deficiencies as a basis for our relationship, her deficiency went away and she was stuck with a lazy, feel-sorry-for-himself asshole ("I'd given up everything for her" and I never let her forget it). So she wanted to separate, and I got really, really bitter. Here was this woman who I'd dedicated myself to helping, giving up everything for so long for, and as soon as she felt better she wanted out. Yeah, that bitterness didn't help anything between us. There were some really bad years, we were too broke to move away from each other, too broke to divorce, and we had a kid.

A couple years later, our finances a bit better, I was on the verge of a couple month long business trip, she told me she wanted a divorce when I got back. I went into a bit of shock, (I was blogging at that point, "Long, Long Time" 5/15/11). It was one thing to talk about Divorce, a whole other thing to actually DO it.

At that point I was a bundle of issues myself, no self-confidence (couldn't keep a wife), depressed, overweight, hated my job, and was angry at the world. Probably the only thing that saved me from myself was picking up a book on Buddhism.

I should say this, I've always been interested in Eastern religions, they actually make me think. I see Christianity as basically "Morals for Dummies", if you already have the morals to not kill somebody, and to treat others the way you want to be treated, what else is it going to teach you? Buddhism, on the other hand, is like philosophy. It asks questions, it interprets different perspectives, it will really make somebody look at their life and decisions critically. Why do you feel a certain way? What was the basis for that? What was the cause? How can you change it?

Unfortunately, I don't remember the specific passage, but there was one day that I was reading and it totally blew my mind... I was the root cause of all my problems.

For someone else, that might not have been a revelation but for years I'd been blaming Cat, blaming work, blaming the world (some pretty shitty unlucky stuff had happened to us), all these things that I had no control over. I saw myself as the the victim of a cruel, cruel fate. Then there's this book that says you're full of shit, stop being a dumbass and life will get better. And it was right.

Almost overnight I took responsibility for myself. Fate, the world, luck, things completely out of our control, whatever you call it, can definitely fuck with your life, but how you deal with it is totally up to you. You can accept the things you can't change and move on. And 90% of the things that happen to us we DO have some direct control over.

So for the past couple of years I've been a much more whole person. All of my relationships with friends and family have gotten better, work has gotten better, my life has gotten better.

And along comes Kelly. She's smart, funny, energetic, and extremely outgoing. We had a blast together. Our first date was probably the best first date I've ever had. I'm a pretty reserved person when I first meet someone but she totally blew through my walls and made me open up. She really reminded me of Cat during the good times, without any of Cat's bad times. In short, she seemed perfect.

But over the next two weeks it became obvious to me that she took no responsibility for her life. She was constantly complaining about the bad things that happened to her, but made no effort to improve her situations. It was like she was so focused on each moment that she didn't put any thought into the next moment or the costs.

There was one night she stayed over. I didn't have to get up the next morning so I asked her if she wanted me to set an alarm. She said no. Then we wake up the next morning and she panics because she's running late for an appointment, fucks my brains out, then continues to panic because now she's even more late.

And that's just one example, I could probably think of at least another dozen in the two weeks we dated.

Ten years ago she would have been the perfect woman for me, a blast to be with and still have something to 'fix'. Now, I recognize that I can't change others, they have to want to and make the change themselves. And I deserve better.

Wow, it's almost hard to write that. I deserve better. I deserve someone who's a blast to be with and has their shit together. Ten years ago I was telling myself that I deserved worse, that if a girl gave me the time of day than I fell in love because she was better than I deserved.

All those thoughts running through my drunken brain this morning and I realize that I'm growing up (a little late, I know). It's a little odd that for this lesson growing up is about becoming more selfish (and a growing feeling of self-worth), but maybe that's the lesson I'm supposed to learn in this reincarnation. ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment