Saturday, December 16, 2006

Relationship challenged

When I am confused, I go to ground. I may call the kind of friend who doesn't mind me sobbing snottily into the phone and blubbering the awful admission that I am a disasterous mess on several major counts. Or the kind of friend who, if I start the litany of self-abuse, goes me one or two slags better until, by the end of the call, we have declared me to be worthless dirt - but hysterically funny dirt. Mostly though, I pace from room to room, waiting for clarity. Clarity, like my muse, usually doesn't know what day it is.

Theoretically, I am a grown woman. There are people, here and there who may have time to time thought I possessed some small wisdom. Occasionally, while in the grips of dangerous attacks of ego, I might even lay claim to that sort of virtue.

Clarity suddenly remembers what day it is and visits immediately when that happens.

And there is no area in my life more muddled, less wise or more confusing than the area of relationships with men.

Recently, I tried an internet dating site. The object of my affection being, as usual, a mostly unavailable man, I thought it would be wise to try to move on. It did not deter me that my feelings were entirely unchanged for this man and that I had, really, no interest in seeing anyone else. My large left brain began talking down my right brain. Look here, it reasoned (for that is what it does) do you really want to face years more of being alone this much? Would you not like to have an actual date now and then? Actually spend Christmas with a man? My right brain is easily intimidated, and even though it's trying to stand up to the logic monster, it can't do anything better than But...but...I like this man. And the left brain groans in disgust.

I write an honest ad. My banner line? "I'm not her." (The right brain is sneaky like that. It will do what it's told, but it's passive-aggressive.) I try a little harder in the body of the ad. Very little.

Yet, people answer me. Desperate widowers, nice men who would like to have sex or a wife or any combination of those, 22 year olds who suggest that we could have sex once and then be friends. Angry men write. Misogynists write. Most of them write badly. Few of them can spell.

Worst of all, a nice, intelligent, interesting man writes - and I write back. I am drawn into hours of genuinely engaging conversation and end up making a date for just before Christmas.

I tell my current love-interest and he is heroically selfless about the whole thing. He thinks that maybe he should step out of my life and out of my way. He thinks that if he doesn't, I'll never really try, never really make the effort and that I deserve more.

And then it occurs to me. I never tried with him. It hasn't been smooth or painless, but it has been effortless. You can't try to make an attraction anymore than you can try to like a song that has one jarring note.

And even if my friend decides to be honorable, to leave so that I can find the "more" he is sure is out there for me, relationship is not something you can pick up during a stroll down some internet shopping aisle.

Better alone than trying, Clarity says. And much as I wish she'd get her feet off the coffee table and stop feeling so entirely, obnoxiously at home here, I know she's right.


Anonymous said...

lj. This is so heart-felt. You take a break and come back with this that side swipes me.

You say better to be 'alone'. Alone or lonely I wonder? And your gut, the deep down gut of you? What is that telling you? Clarity can be a little too sparkly sometimes, a little too dazzling.
I'm blathering now, I know!

herhimnbryn here. Blogger being a sod again!

Take care seems less than I mean... sometime typing across the miles distorts what we want to say.. but I am thinking of you today, I am truely.

Anonymous said...

Try a long read on the Carolyn Hax archived columns. Will make you laugh, if nothing else.

Be happy, friend. It takes a great person to be better than no partner at all.

Anonymous said...

That was me, Zhoen. Blogger is being funky.

Darkmind said...

I don't know whether to embrace this or be terribly disappointed in it. "Better alone than trying." This phrase has been my mantra all my life. It has made me into a bitter, self-centered monster who desperately wants nothing more than for the opposite to be true. I have always felt alone, like I was different somehow. To hear someone else wallowing as I do gives me comfort that this is common. These feelings may very well be the standard, that this is what life is like. That would be satisfying to know.
But it is a hopeless state of being, LJ. I know this from personal experience. And to hear the woman who gives me hope lessons say this...its borderline hypocritical. You were there to offer encouragement in one of the darkest and loneliest times in my life. You were one of a very small group of people who helped me find a path out of that place. I have had trouble battling this 'voice of clarity' myself. "Better alone than trying?" Never STOP trying. You told me that. Never, LJ...NEVER let negativity overtake your life. You are not alone, LJ. Sure, it is a "ones and zeros" type of 'not alone', the kind that still leaves you with a cold mattress and empty house, but you are not alone. You have a family here, LJ. You taught me to seek happiness, no matter how elusive. Now, fair preacher, its time for some practice.

LJ said...

I'm okay. I'm sorry if this felt upsetting...I was actually writing because I was feeling better.

I should add that, by "alone," I mean without a partner. And I mean for as long as it takes. I don't mean without friends, without connection - because that would be truly horrible. And between my friends here and my friends in the more physically immediate world, I'm very blessed.

D - I did not mean to let negativity overtake.
Nor did I mean that I wouldn't make efforts for a partner.
I find, though, that with both friends and lovers, it isn't a good idea to "settle." Does that mean I'm looking for perfection? Certainly not. It only means I have to love the wrong notes in the song, too. There has to be that undefinable quality that draws me in the first place - the quality that my heart is in charge of recognizing, even while my left brain is busy ruling a person out for practical reasons. I will make great effort for the strange and motley group of imperfect people whose wrong notes I accept and like.

And it isn't fair to anyone concerned for one person to begin something with another when it's for any other reason than they truly are drawn to that person. Even on their bad days, warts and all.

I like you all very much. Not, of course, that any of you have a single wart or that you ever hit a bad note.


Thank you for this.

And D, that was a nice Christmas present. Yell at me anytime you like.


herhimnbryn said...

I like you too! here, can I tell you about this wart I have?
'Twas not upsetting, 'twas lj back on form.
love herhimnbryn x

LJ said...

That's it Herhimnbryn. We'll do the "these are my warts meme."

And D - nobody but you could accuse me of "wallowing" and make me laugh like hell. I love that you can be so utterly tactless sometimes, and utterly tactful other times. It's one of the warts I like with you.

Thing is - negativity comes and goes like weather. We don't live in Disneyland. The point is to have a sense of humor about it, and whenever possible, look for the umbrella.

Much love.

Date-Tard said...

Touching post... kinda like looking in the mirror...

LJ said...

Well date-tard - maybe we should meet. (Sorry. Couldn't help it.)

Darkmind said...

Tact? Sorry. I used to have it as a child, but one day we went down to the docks where they held the Savoir-Faire, and while poise-d on top of the fairness wheel, I went to take a sip of my sensitivi-tea and my tact slipped and fell into the diploma-sea. Been tactless ever since...

LJ said...

D? You figure on ever using all that imagination to make a living someday? You could, you know. You crack me up.