Thursday, January 26, 2006

First Prize

This happened on January 3, but it took until now for me to work up the nerve to publish it.

I hate all that new age bull&#%* I used to dwell in, but for some unknown reason the following question grabbed a hold of me this past holiday season: what belief or fear might be getting in the way of me reaching a goal? Now I've asked this a million million times, but for some bizarre reason I went through the old motions again: I want a relationship but I’m afraid of intimacy, I want a relationship but I’m afraid of being suffocated, blah, blah, blah. Nothing new there. Same old crap.

Tuesday [January 3rd] I was turning the dating problem over in my mind (again) and I thought of all the people who have reassured me that I’ll meet the guy, it’ll happen, don’t worry, it’ll happen, I’ll find him, I’ll meet the guy. I thought with scorn about these people, all these friends and therapists and strangers and the entire world. All of them so certain that I’ll fall in love one day and every single one if them a complete idiot because I’ve never fallen in love and it’s nowhere on the horizon and everyone is completely wrong.

For the first time I noticed the satisfaction I take in telling people they’re wrong. Every few months I announce that everyone is wrong and I still haven’t met anyone, so there. For the first time I was able to see that the deep down reason for my behavior is one of my core beliefs: I have to be unique. I have to be different from everyone else in any way possible. And that includes being without a relationship. I saw that I have been working hard to distinguish myself as the Amazing Solitary Hot Chick, totally hot yet totally alone, almost 40 yet never fallen in love, but everyone’s crazy about her, isn’t it a mystery? Have you ever known anyone like her? No? Great!

I wondered briefly why I hadn’t tried to be unique in the opposite way, by being in the happiest, most long-term marriage ever known to man because that sure as hell would be unique, too. But that question only flickered briefly because the answer is obvious: marriage is terrifying to me while being alone is familiar, easy and safe.

I got this image in my mind of being alone on a bleak open plain, with no one else in sight. “Congratulations!” I heard in my head. “You have won! You are completely alone, against all odds and expectations!” The picture made me feel devastated, isolated and furious with myself for doing this for so long.

After the kleenex, I forced myself to look hard at that lonely image: “Congratulations, I have won. I’ve won, okay? I’m completely unique. I can stop this now.” Then it occurred to me that the experience of falling in love has seemed too ordinary for me and I have scorned it. Well, this is the end of that. I could do with being a little less unique. If falling in love is common, then let me be fucking Jane Q. Public.

Afterwards I felt like a part of me had softened and become more yielding. I felt like dating might finally feel different now in a significant way, and although I knew better than to think my pathetic, hopeless, suckrat love life could ever really improve, I felt myself moving less slowly to stomp out this new smoke-wisp of hope. As I walked away with this new feeling, I decided that even if there was no change in my sad, crappy love life, this slight feeling of being altered was pretty good.

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