Warning: Inane navel-gazing ahead!

I had a lot of time to think while I was driving this weekend, and since stepping back into the dating world and being inundated with guys who REALLY REALLY want a girlfriend and don’t particularly care who she is or what she might be like, I’ve had a chance to think about myself and my role in past relationships.

I’ve wanted a boyfriend since I was 10. That’s also around the time I first felt suicidal. I didn’t actually have my first date or kiss until I was 19. Immediately after, I jumped into my first relationship. It did not go well.

Now I’m coming out of a seven-year marriage, and I’m fighting a constant struggle to stop swooping in to save my ex from himself. It’s taken so much time and crying to figure out that I really cannot be everything to him, and even when I tried, he wasn’t happy with it. I took this to mean that I’m a spectacular failure. If only I could be thinner, have better skin, if that one tooth hadn’t gone bad, if I was better at cleaning the house and taking care of everything, and made more money, and was sexier and better in bed...

But that’s not my fault. I cannot live the lives of two people just so that one of them can be perpetually depressed and angry. I can’t fix that, nor should I have to. I’ve put in more effort than any one person can be expected to, and for what?

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Except for a brief one-year hiatus, I’ve been in monogamous relationships since I was 19. Every single time, even when “just dating,” I’m a caretaker. I’m a servant. I’m so willing to turn myself inside out for the other person, that I make myself physically ill and broken-down. This, in turn, makes me stress out, break out, and gain weight. It’s a self-defeating cycle.

I now have the opportunity to be a caretaker to me. I have the chance to make sure my needs are met, and the apartment is clean to my standards, and the bills are paid and money isn’t secretly being spent, and I get to use all of the things I pay for.

Over the weekend, I was lamenting all the belongings I have to replace that were either broken, lost, given away, or I just could never buy before, and a very wise person commented, “Don’t think of it as ‘having to.’ Think of it as ‘getting to.’” I get to choose new towels and decorate the bathroom how I want. I get to pick new bedding and not worry about whether even the softest comforter is “scratchy” to someone else’s oh-so-delicate skin. I get to load up my living room with tchotchkes and memorabilia from vacations, and not listen to grumbles. I get to do things MY WAY, on MY TIME, with MY MONEY and be happy with MY HOME.

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I don’t want to be in another relationship anytime soon. I won’t rule it out, but whoever it is will have to be super freaking special. A foot in the grave and one on a banana peel (with a fat bank account and a tornado tongue, please and thank you) would help.

Maybe.