In the last few days I’ve kinda broken things off with Boss, talked to a dear friend going through a divorce and another with a long anticipated relationship that didn’t grow legs, and another who is parting from his very long-term wife. It’s going around. Talking to my first friend going through a divorce, and there in the thick of the most painful bits, I wished I could show her my memories and my mind like something from Harry Potter. I so feel for where she is at. I’m just getting out of it myself. It still looms large in my rear view. And it sucks, but it does get better. I have been mourning but also mostly happy this past year. I realized, I’m doing quite well.
In a bunch of these break up talks, the idea of all the relationships you mourn in a single break-up came up. There’s the relationship you actually had, the one you dreamed of, the one that now will never be, and the one that really was and could have been. There is reality, and making the best of it, and hope and dreams and history. I agreed that it had made me crazy too. I thought about all those years of sacrifice and sea duty and deployments and long work hours and missed birthdays and holidays and Christmases and whatever that I’d done that for “someday”, a someday that would now never be. There wasn’t going to be a time when we’d live how we’d dreamed. We weren’t going to build that big garage and workshop and we weren’t going to build custom motorcycles together or see the Willoughby parades from the end of our street where we lived in our cute little bungalow. Silver haired “us” is gone. Poof.
So much loss in a break-up. Even a pretty small one like Boss and me. I spent most of yesterday missing him and wanting to talk to him. I left that up to him, as to how and when and if we’d talk. I miss chatting here and there all day with him. It leaves a hole. But it seems relationship change, like so many things, is inevitable.
I wonder about this desire to have more permanent bonds and how rare they are and how unhappy it makes us to want them so much. I think about unlikeliness that most of us will get these forever bonds. Most of us, if we are lucky, have at least a few romantic lives. I’m certainly not alone out here making my life anew. LOTS of us break-up and start over and build our new lives. It is weird that we don’t talk about this as being the way it generally IS. We talk about trying for forever and that some of us will face loss, but the truth is that MOST of us face loss. People grow and change and form connections and shit happens. In fact, shit usually happens. And then there we are feeling like we’re the only ones, like we failed. The majority of marriages end in divorce and most relationships don’t last till death. A lot has been said about this maybe not being the best standard to judge a relationship too. If both people are alive at the end of a relationship, and they separate to find better ways that work for them, if they shared a time and were happy and grew, is that relationship really a failure?
Even as I type that I feel a pang in me going.. but.. but.. please say they can last. Of course they can. But maybe the point isn’t that things last till death as much as the point is to love the people we love and to be with them the way that we are with them for the time we have with them. I am not saying that commitments shouldn’t be made or that they don’t matter. I absolutely want and believe in commitments. It’s a need of mine. It’s a deep need of mine. But maybe what we are committing to is the wrong thing. Maybe I should commit to being a family. Maybe then the romantic partnership holding up or not is less of a thing and it’s not expected to be something it usually isn’t. Maybe we commit to communication and love and trust and care. Maybe we commit to being there for each other.
The idea of marrying again holds no appeal for me. I don’t want a primary partner or another ring. (Well.. actually a ring would be nice. I love rings but not diamonds… but I digress.) I do however want to belong and have people belong to me. I want to tell the people I love that I will be there for you, whatever. I want to say “that this is valuable” and “you are my people” and “I commit to working our shit out, being real, and being trustworthy”. “I’m not going to take my affection away if you piss me off”. “I won’t wake up one morning and just not love you”. “I’m not going to forget about you if something that’s also exciting comes along”. “I’m asking you to tell them to pull the plug”. “I’m asking you to be there”. “I’m asking you to love me and to let me love you”. “I’m asking you to be my family and wanting to be yours, with all that entails”. “If you are old and ugly and penniless I will care about you”. “I want to share my life with you and I want to share yours”. “You are my family”.
The tricky part is that when we make this commitment to people we are kissing and fucking and cuddling. I don’t really want for that to stop. I’m not sure how to navigate that well. It would be easier for me to make my promise to Quinky Girl than to Cleveland, because we aren’t sleeping together and the tricky business of sex or romance isn’t involved. It would clearly be an adjustment and a difficulty if our relationship changed, Cleveland and I. It’s harder to navigate romantic/sexual relationships, maybe. Feelings about sex and romantic love are just a little more complicated, at least for me.
I find it oddly comforting to think about not relying on the permanence of romantic love, even as I celebrate the wonder and magic and fucking fantastic-ness of it. I dunno. Just something I’m thinking. I’ve known for a while I’d rather have a family that a singular commitment. I really think I might be onto something here.