Ah men. There have been so many. There have been husbands and lovers. There have been stalkers and sweethearts. Too many to count on fingers and toes even if I were a centipede. They have been large and scrawny; short and tall. Mostly not terribly dashing, but some not bad looking. Nowadays balding, but back then full heads of lovely hair. Some as athletic as me, but now mostly with hypertension. There have been drunks, debtors, whiners, yellers, creatures of habit, creatures of the night and seemingly knights in shining armor. But now here I am alone. No man.
My friends tell me I should write a book. Like about the one eyed midget with teeth that could make a vampire envious. Or the self proclaimed Unitarian Universalist that I found myself in a rather scary situation with when he decided to go all S & M on me. Or how about when I got on the cop kick (I know, my bad)…the one that just couldn’t stop playing the dominance game. I’ll just leave at that! You just can’t make this stuff up!
Ah men! They intrigue, they frustrate, they satisfy. Well, they must because I keep playing at this dance with them. Every time I swear I won’t do it again, another comes along and seems, well, different. At first. More mellow, funnier maybe, has a job, doesn’t smell like alcohol (at first)-or something that first lures me in. Or maybe I’m just horny? Whatever the case, I put myself out there again, tell my story over again; sounding in my head like a broken record. Ugh. And step on the conveyor belt of ‘relationship’ again only to find that it’s really the down escalator to the men’s department where no woman belongs. And I step off, lost in this world of unfamiliar stuff: man stuff. Anger, lack of communication, distance, compartmentalization of emotions, sex without love. I run around quickly trying to find the up escalator to get me the heck out of there as fast as I can.
At first the loss of these ‘relationships’ hurt. I cried and wept and felt like it was me. I was a bad woman. But when the revolving door of men came and went, I began to reflect. Was it really me? Was I the dumper or the dumpee? And I realized that I had told most of them to leave! This was a huge epiphany. Sure, there were maybe a grossly large number of them in and out. And the guys at work tease me about this fact. My kids, too, would roll their eyes and wouldn’t want to hear about yet another guy in Mom’s life. But hey, I wasn’t about to waste one extra second with someone that didn’t work for me. So the door kept revolving.
A dear friend of 30 years visited a while ago with her partner. When I first knew her she, too, was married to a man. She rolled in and out of relationships with men and women through the years. Loving the one she was with at the time. I told them about my ‘man’ troubles and they tried to convince me it was time to be in a relationship with a woman. It was a very interesting conversation that only old and dear friends can have! No, I don’t think that’s the road I’m on yet, although I do see the value in it for sure. Women get women. There’s not that disconnect that seems to happen between men and women. But not the closet I’m visiting yet.
But the gap between most men and women can seem like the Grand Canyon at times. Does it go back to caveman times? Is it hardwired in our brains to think differently and now we carry these differences with us no matter how hard we try not to? It seems the kids now that my generation has raised is slightly different in how they interact with one another. I don’t see as much gender stuff between them on the surface. And of course, laws are structured for equality and society preaches a gentler relationship between the sexes now too. But deep down the undercurrent of the male/female conflict still exists.
So what’s the answer then? For me? For women everywhere? How do I personally learn to peacefully coexist with the male species in an intimate relationship? Or do I? As I’ve progressed in years and run the course of these crazy (and some good) relationships, the one thing I have taken away is a sense of self. I’ve taken away a strong sense that one does not truly need someone else in their life to make them whole. We all have the yin/yang within ourselves. While it might be nice to have the male species to share perspective on the world, it is not necessary to have a full and happy life. One can have them as friends and this works equally as well. This leaves out much of the drama and confusion that comes with intimacy.
Men have been a sort of reverse mirror for myself. They have told me lots of things about who I am. Some of them not so great. And they haven’t been wrong. It’s made me grow. Certainly they have their own perspective about women (me) and have shared (albeit sometimes in a very loud voice), but it’s made me a better me. After I got over the weeping stage when they would come in and go away (barely before I knew all their kid’s names), I became more introspective about what they taught me. Not to mention, many of them fixed at least one thing in my house to boot!
So at mid life, 3 ex’s, more lovers than I like to think-I am now happily single. I’m not saying I would never fall in love again. I just don’t know if I can. I promised myself I would never be bitter or cynical, and I wouldn’t say I am. Maybe I would call it skeptical.
Ah men. A friend posted something on facebook recently. It was new statuses for relationships. Some were pretty funny. I had one to add: I prefer the company of my dogs.