To sum up: I’m dating a guy (M) who I think is far too good for me. His wife died only 3 months ago – after a 34-year marriage – from a sudden, unexpected illness.
He’s an engineer, so he’s smart. But he’s also sort of doofy and silly and childlike. I’m remembering my first husband, who was also that way.
Yes, I’m one of those women who falls madly in love with difficult men who don’t really want me; and can’t force myself to love a really good guy and settle down and be good. [Insert your disparaging, self-righteous thoughts about me here.]
Yes, there are other men in the picture. I’m also seeing (if sporadically) another local man, K. [Insert judgy rant about what a slut I am here.]
There’s no future with K. But he is the one whose body I like, who is awesome at making out….and etc. And he’s smart, too – and funny in a sharper, snarkier way than M. (K’s mind is more like mine.)
Now, let me tell you here about the one time in my life when I got it right.
Usually, my love life is like a Venn diagram with two circles that have very little overlap – men who want me and men that I want.
But there was one man who was firmly in both circles, for 7 wonderful years and then another 6 years where things were going south.
That would be L, who really qualifies as my second husband, although we never made it legal. I didn’t fall madly in love with him fast; he grew on me. At first, I wasn’t sure he was my type. (I came to realize that my type is more of a personality type than a “looks” type. I like smart men with kind of a dry, snarky sense of humor. Men who want my body and are assertive about that. Men who adore me but will not tolerate bad treatment from me. Sadly, all those things together seem to be a rare combination. Then you add in things like, “single/available,” “in my geographic area,” “not a right wing lunatic,” and the sliver of overlap of the two circles gets narrower and narrower.)
But L was in that sliver. When he wanted to be monogamous, I was ready. I think I actually fell in love when we had been together about 6 months. Up until that time, I was happy enough with him that I wasn’t looking at other men.
And once we got together, we got past the first 18 months to 2 years (which could be considered the early infatuation part of the relationship) – and we still liked, loved, and desired each other. Life was good. Not perfect – life never is – but I was so happy with L that I didn’t want any other man.
Then life threw some shit at us. He had some health issues, including chronic back pain. He had surgery, which helped but didn’t completely fix it. He became addicted to prescription painkillers, and also went into a long, deep depressive episode.
He lost interest in sex, and seemed to withdraw from me emotionally. But he didn’t want to break up; he wanted to keep me.
I have depression myself. Not the blue mood – the disease, which needs to be managed. When someone close to me is depressed, it can set off a depressive episode for me.
I felt abandoned, and I panicked. In addition to personal insecurity, I was feeling job insecurity. In the area where L and I lived, I always had trouble finding good jobs, with health insurance.
After I was laid off for the fourth time, L and I agreed that if I found a good job with benefits in a part of our state where there are more government and military installations – where I seem to have an easier time finding good jobs – that I would take that job, and we would visit on weekends.
So in December 2014, I found a job about 80 miles from the town where I lived with L. The company paid for my move.
From 2013 right on into the present, I have tried to encourage L to find help for his problems. I remember going online and researching pain management, and compiling a huge list of resources, including a pain clinic not that far away from us. I handed him the printout, and his eyes filled with tears, and he said, “I love you.”
But he didn’t follow up on any of the information on my list.
I’ve also tried to encourage him to get help for the depression. I’m a veteran at handling depression; I could teach a class on it. He did go to his GP and try a few antidepressants; but none of them really helped, and they all seemed to have some side effects that he couldn’t tolerate.
He has gone through periods of doing physical therapy for his back, but he has always fallen away from it after a few weeks.
In January 2016 – to kick off a very bad year – we agreed to take a break from the relationship. That means we no longer talked on the phone everyday, and he has not come to visit me since then. I have visited him about once a month.
It also means we are both allowed to date. I have done some dating, but I don’t know if he has. I don’t think so.
I posed the arrangement as something similar to what high school sweethearts often do when they both go to different colleges – during this time, they are both free, but they don’t totally forget each other either; I guess they keep each other on the back burner, so to speak.
Because deep down inside, I still wish L would get help, get well, and be the man he used to be again. If that happened, I think I’d get back with him in a heartbeat.
But if he never gets better – or if it takes something like 10 years – that feels like a jail sentence for me. Because I still want to have sex. I still want to have other forms of fun, both with my man and without a man. I’m just not ready for a lifestyle of celibacy, and going to work every day, then coming home to a man who just lies around on the couch or the bed all the time and doesn’t want to do anything. I’m not 80 years old yet. I’m going to be 53 next month, but I think I’m a young 53; I no longer want to go out clubbing every weekend, but I feel trapped when I think of the prospect of never going anywhere except work – or home to a man who has a heavy cloud around him, who doesn’t seem to really enjoy me.
And that turned out to be a long essay about my love life, which is NOT what I want this blog to be. But maybe having some background information about me could be useful to future readers. I guess it tells you what I’m like: an aging slut with literary pretensions. (To support myself, I work as a technical writer and editor, currently for a company with a contract with the U.S. Army.)
But know this: If I can have a man I want, a man I would choose if I got to do the choosing – I can be a good, faithful wife or girlfriend. If I can have who I want, I can do it.
Twelve years with L, and I had no interest in other men. So I can do it.
In other news: since the election, I am considering making a KEXIT.
Yesterday I talked on the phone with an immigration attorney in Montreal. Pretty much, I would need a job offer in Canada to get anything started on a residency permit there. The assistant I spoke to a few days earlier was more encouraging; he spoke of an Express Entry program.
And, we still have NAFTA. My occupation is on Canada’s NAFTA list.
The attorney yesterday said that he doesn’t think NAFTA is going away; and he’s in an occupation where he needs to know stuff like that.
So, maybe there is hope. I’ve been applying to technical writing jobs in Canada, including one in Ottawa with Lockheed Martin.
So, we’ll see.