last night i watched two episodes of “the great british baking show” on my pvr and ate leftover baked macaroni and cheese in front of the television for dinner, because i could. i skulked around on social media and made a bit of noise before crawling into bed without getting undressed. i brushed my teeth, but only because my eating disorder has left me dentally impaired and i try to bestow appropriate levels of care and attention on the ones that remain. i slept in the centre of the bed, with the cat at my feet, and i didn’t have to engage in a discussion with anyone on whether the window should be open or closed.
my evening went this way because, at this point in my life, i’m single. i don’t have to check in with anyone about anything and, sometimes that’s really good.
my last relationship ended three years ago, right before i went into rehab. it was a rather dysfunctional relationship; still, i’m shocked i broke things off like a grownup. i usually either ghost the person or carry on with the relationship, regardless of how awful things are. my relationships are never healthy and always problematic. some of that’s on me. i lose myself when i hook up. my life becomes all about the other person, and what i want or need is irrelevant. what i believe is secondary. i never argue, never voice opinions, and never enforce my boundaries. i do things i don’t want to do, regardless of the psychic cost.
for instance, in my last relationship, i agreed to have surgery i neither wanted nor needed because the man i was involved with wanted it to happen. he didn’t want to practice safe sex and he also didn’t want children. he decided, therefore, that i should get a tubal ligation. i didn’t disagree and went about getting a doctor and a surgery date, even though every part of me was screaming “no”. it’s not that i wanted more kids, it’s just that i didn’t want the operation. as it turns out, there are advantages to having a complete mental breakdown; the surgery was cancelled. my boundaries in relationships are so weak that i agreed to a procedure i was opposed to because someone else wanted it done. it makes me shudder even now to think about it. it’s a blessing i didn’t go through with it; i’d have found the results difficult to live with.
i don’t do intimate relationships well. in general, they tend toward the abusive. water will always find its level; i don’t hold myself in high regard so i don’t look for that quality in a partner. i gravitate towards damaged men, men i can’t fix no matter how hard i try, men who are abusive, and men who need a lot of help. i throw myself at their lives and their problems, which allows me to escape my own. the abusive behaviours cause me new problems, of course, but i blame myself, convinced that the issues are my fault. if i just tried harder, worked at the relationship more, and fixed them better, then it would all be fine.
i’m not going to get involved in a personal and intimate relationship again until i can hold my ground. until i can stay me and not disappear. until i know what my boundaries are and am comfortable enforcing them. until the thought of spending time with a partner doesn’t bring on anxiety attacks.
this is not to say that i don’t miss having a partner around some of the time. occasionally, it’d be nice to have someone to take a walk or have a chat with. i just don’t want it all the time. even thinking about it feels suffocating. i’ve spent my whole life living for my eating disorder. i’m just getting back to owning myself. i don’t want to give that up for someone else and i remain unconvinced that i won’t.
i also need a lot of personal space. this can be problematic in relationships. people seem to want to be attached at the hip. i watch my friends and they are together with their partner almost all the time. even when they’re apart, they text or face time, as though being separate for more than mere minutes is a fate too awful to contemplate. i couldn’t stand it. i find if smothering even from the outside. i need room. i like spending time alone. i like being able to focus on the things i need to do, or even on the things i want to do. i don’t want to have to consider anyone else.
then there’s the whole fear thing. the idea of getting involved with someone again scares me. what if i fail? what if they decided they can’t handle my issues, assuming i remember to share them (an historical problem). what if i can’t maintain my stability and progress in recovery when i start expanding my horizons? what if i can’t find someone who likes me? it would make relationships a lot easier if you were just assigned a computer-selected compatible life mate. an ordained match-up would take the stress and struggle out of the whole partnership thing.
i think about all these different factors and start to wonder if i’ll be single and alone forevermore. i wonder if that would that really be so bad. i have friends. i have family. i have my books and my putterings. i have mental stability now, most of the time, even if the mood remains somewhat depressed. i’m not ready or willing to give up what i’ve gained to accommodate someone else. i’m not confident that i wouldn’t.
if that means i spend my days as a single rather than as part of a couple, then so be it.