Today one of The Tribe gets married. She will join her life to that of another and make the pledge to spend her life partnered to this man. It is funny how much I believe in that, on some level want that, but am coming to realize that I am not really capable of that.
I am capable of committing as evidence by my marriage of 11 years. I am capable of finding love as evidenced by my many loving relationships. What I seem to lack is the real ability to partner.
Perhaps that is because I have chosen men that were dependent, allowing me to shoulder most of the navigation. Perhaps it is because I am broken and self reliant. Perhaps it is because I do not want that on some fundamental level. Perhaps it is because I do not know what it means to be a partner. I know how to control, insist, do, demand, direct, plan, love, like and have many other skills but I do not know how to partner.
Today as my dear friend says I do, I will be thinking of how I may grow my ability to partner. I know how to love. I know how to commit. But my version of partnering is skewed. It is damaged. It is stunted.
I think in part because I don’t think I have ever thought of marriage as a partnership. I think if I am truly honest, and this is really incredibly selfish, I thought that, for me, partnership would look like this:
I would fall in love and he would adore me. He would love me so much that while he would put his foot down on occasion, in general he would let me lead. He would agree with my decisions and allow me to guide the relationship. I would consult him about things but usually after the fact. I would act as if I were giving him a say but in reality I was going to do what I wanted and his only real job was to get behind it and support it. The way the house was decorated, how the kids behaved, where we went on vacation, etc. Those would all ultimately be my decision.
What I have just described is every relationship I have ever had. I picked men that would allow the above dynamic to unfold. I picked men that would agree to the above terms then resent me for it. They would require a lot in return for giving me my way. They would become controlling socially. They would become more needy and dependent in an effort to get my attention. They would become jealous of other men that were tangentially involved in my life. They would act in ways that caused me to dislike, disdain and disrespect them. I would blame them. Not anymore.
My problem lies in the fact that getting my way has always been super important to me. It has only been recently that I realized that I can get my way but that is probably going to be at the expense of a partnership. One cannot be a relationship dictator and be in a partnership. One cannot insist their needs be met to the exclusion of another. One cannot have a life vision that is not developed, encouraged and grown alone. One has to allow someone else’s life, needs and wants to be equally important.
I am not sure I can do that. I really am not sure. This is why it is good that, for the moment, I have resigned from trying. This is why I am sitting still for now. Examining, unearthing and working on who I am and what I want. It is like I have spent decades trying on dresses because they look so pretty on other women. I wanted them for myself but now realize that I don’t like dresses on a fundamental level and will never feel comfortable wearing one without changing how I feel on the inside.
I say all of this and also realize that perhaps I have yet to meet the man that makes me willing to change. Perhaps some of the fault lies with the men I have chosen. Maybe, I see some truth there. Perhaps it is because I wasn't able to be honest about this most basic truth...I am not sure that I want a partner. Mostly what I see is a scared yet self directed woman who really, really, really wants to own this life of hers. That being independent and free is really fucking important. The difference today is that I can see that I have two competing and divergent needs that have been a power struggle for decades. What I see now is that I can stop the struggle and accept that I am ok being independent and self possessed. I can just give up trying to stuff that into a partnership. I can either do the work to make me partner worthy or I can just opt out. It really is my choice. For now, I am picking the latter, and putting us all out of that cyclical pattern of pain.
Today, as I watch my beautiful friend marry her best friend. I will sit in awe of who she is and how very much it takes to partner. I will be happy for her choices. I will be happy that they found each other. I will also feel good about being alone. I will feel confirmed and supported in my own recognition that I am not a good partner. I will be glad that I am there...alone. I will not fantasize as to when it will be my turn, instead I will revel in the idea that I am present, happy and free. I will see that I am independent and strong and that is just a different kind of commitment. I will be ok with my inability to partner and I will let myself off the hook for not being so great at it. I will honor myself just as I am while I honor them for their willingness to commit to putting each other first, to deciding to grow through life hand-in-hand partners for life. Best of all good things N & M.