She probably didn't mean to. She probably thought she was just leaving a comment like any other. But oh, gauntlet-- unwittingly or not --thrown have you been!
Here's what Stephanie did. In the comments on yesterday's post she wrote this:
"What I’m interested to hear about—because, lately, it’s something I’m noticing and exploring in myself and certainly why I’m dwelling on these posts of yours—is how your thinking about relationships, partnership, marriage, attraction, etc. has changed over time, as you have changed, and in different phases of your life."
The answer to THAT is a six volume saga that starts when I was knee-high to a Midwestern grasshopper. It's convoluted, and complicated, and not a little sad. And since I've promised my mother not to write about her until she's dead-- at which point, boy, will I have some writing to do-- most of those early years, which so formed my feelings about relationships/partnerships/marriage/attraction, are out of bounds.
Suffice it to say: Despite everything, I always believed I would meet the perfect man (for me), fall in love, get married, and have babies. That's how it works, right? That's what everybody does, right?
It took a long time for it to occur to me that I would be the exception to that rule. Through many, many long years of either being single or dating guys who were glaringly not right for me, I continued to believe that The Right Guy would show up.
Then, when he didn't, I started to believe that I was both unlovable and, frankly, defective. Or maybe I'd always believed that, and those beliefs were just, finally, confirmed.
I spent a lot of years in that space. They were not pleasant years.
Part of it was the emotional drain of just feeling shitty about myself all the time. And part of it was a general sense of hopelessness-- not about being single, really, but about all the things I was missing out on, all the things I felt I couldn't do because I was alone. Things like traveling. Buying a house. Getting married. Having kids.
Okay, and also about being single.
And then, at some point, I decided to embrace the life I have rather than mourn the life I don't have. It wasn't easy, and it took a lot of time. I bought a house. I took trips by myself. I decided to have a baby on my own.
I also-- and this is recent-- stopped buying into the bullshit notion that married= sane, whole, happy.
For a long time, I really felt like I was so screwed up I could never possibly be in a relationship. And then one day I took a good look at my friends who are married, and the truth is, they're just as screwed up as I am. Everybody's screwed up in one way or another. Most of us are screwed up in fifty ways or another.
Being married just means that, screwed up as you are, you were still lucky enough to find some other screwed up person to be married to. Somehow those ways of being screwed up work together. Or they don't, and people get divorced.
In other words, I stopped idealizing marriage and idealizing married people. (Now if only they would do the same.)
Not that there aren't great things about being married. But there are also great things about being single. And there are really crappy things about being married, just as there are really crappy things about being single.
I'm just not keeping score anymore. Most of the time, anyway.
Stephanie, I hope that sort of begins to answer your question. Everybody else, weigh in! How have your feelings about relationships, etc., changed over time?