I’ve been divorced since 1997, darn near 20 years. In that time, I’ve had lots of relationships, some good and some awful. The good ones were exceptions and the bad ones were the rule. The bad relationships were generally due to my choices in men, made when under the influence. I’ve got an excellent track record of subconsiously attracting or seeking people who are in some way unhealthy. Some had anger issues, or a propensity to cheat, and still others had addictions. In a couple of cases, some had all three. What a lovely combination, am I right?!
For years I believed that I was just unlucky in love. In my skewed state I saw some of these men as good catches, despite wildly waving red flags and warnings from close friends. After a few months of infatuation and dating, generally things went south but I hung in there, always making excuses for their bad behavior, and many times behaving like an asshole myself.
In one relationship in particular, when we’d drink together, we were like gasoline and a match. Something always erupted between us, escalating to an ugly crescendo of screaming and crying and throwing things. It was one of the worst relationships I was ever involved in. And yet I stayed with him for nearly 2 years.
During that relationship, I made a decision to stop drinking with him, thinking that if I was sober, I could control the outcome. I believed that when we had a conflict, I could simply let it slide, stay calm, and keep things from getting out of control. But I was only half of that equation, he was a mean-ass drunk, and we always ended up in the same place. This was the first time I began to realize that alcohol may be playing a vital role in my failed relationships.
What I’ve realized through working my 12 step program is that my drunken choices in mates were often doomed from the start. I didn’t think enough of myself to aim very high so I accepted people in my life who were unworthy of my love and when they tested my limits, I kept piling on the love and going back for more pride-swallowing, soul-crushing treatment in hopes of salvaging the relationship. I thought I alone could fix things even though they were so clearly broken. I certainly wasn’t in a position to properly give myself love, let alone someone else.
But now, a magical thing is happening after 8+ months sober – I’m beginning to settle into the new me. Someone I like and respect. I’m content not having a long term relationship and not making that my focus right now. While meeting someone wonderful and forming a bond sounds incredible, I don’t quite trust myself yet to know a good one when I see him. I’m now quite good at identifying people who are CLEARLY bad actors, so that’s progress, but I’m not certain I would know a good man when he comes along.
What that tells me is that I’m just not ready yet. I’ve talked to God about it quite a bit, and by turning that decision over to a Higher Power, I feel very, very free. I have none of the restlessness and uncertainty around finding a man that I used to feel constantly. Now, I truly believe that when I’m ready the right person will come along, if that’s what’s in the cards for me. And if not, I’ll be just fine.
And fine is a wonderful place to be.