You may have noticed that my Facebook page says I'm in a relationship. Normally when it says that it's because I just felt like messing with the settings, but it happens to be true at the moment.
This long-distance relationship is my first relationship since my failed marriage and I'm on the edge between eagerness and straight-up panic. This is nervescitement on steroids.
Let's go over my past relationships. I fell head over heels in love with my first S.O. while we were in high school. We had a great deal of *ahem* fun together without actually losing our virginity. Family pressures and the waning of that first huge rush of adoration led to a breakup after two years.
Then there's my ex-spouse. I never really felt much physical attraction, but I loved X. Unfortunately a week after the vows were spoken I was no longer worth impressing. My new spouse jumped immediately into unemployment, stopped showering, and started lying. Somehow my full time factory job wasn't enough to pay $200 per month rent and still have enough left over for utilities.
Physical relations were unpleasant. I tried everything I could think of to make it better, but X had no interest in my happiness. It quickly became something I did in the hopes of not being cheated on. After all, I was told often how my X's exes wanted to hurt me for taking this prize specimen. So I'd spend days beforehand working myself up, trying to get interested and bracing myself for the event. Then I'd see how many Pokémon I had memorized.
I had no driver's license, no friends, and rarely saw people outside work. I would call in sick when X didn't feel like driving. I would fend off accusations that I was cheating, but I was never anywhere that I hadn't specifically been taken. I was driven to work, picked up, and taken home.
If not for my daughter I'd have stayed longer, but during her first month of life, when she was fed through a tube and hardly moved, X wanted to use the time off to go explore the city, to go shopping and eat out. I wanted to sit by my child and pray she lived. When we three got home together, I sat by the bassinet and did all the physical therapy the nurses had shown us while X went back to video game marathons.
Then one night X walked into the living room with the biggest knife we had.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"I'm going to kill myself."
"Go put that knife away now and go to the bedroom."
Let me pause here. My X threatened suicide now and then when I was giving something else too much attention. It was really only a few times during our marriage, but that knife got put away with no fuss whatsoever. Just a melodramatic sigh on the way to the bedroom. I'd been catching lies for months and the style of manipulation was starting to show.
To make a long story short, I moved out while X was in the Stress Unit at the hospital. I said that all I wanted before coming back was for my X to have a job and hold onto the house for a couple months. Naturally X moved right in with family and started convincing people that the whole marriage was a sham so I could get a baby.
Here’s a good one:
"I filed for divorce last week."
"Does this mean we can see other people?"
"Yes. We can see other people."
Fourteen years later, X is remarried and I've been on a total of one date. I've also developed a fear of losing my common sense to a relationship. I haven't pursued anyone. I've been torn between wanting a significant other for romantic or physical affection and the two years I spent loathing the whole thing. It seems impossible that a relationship so short in the scheme of things and so long ago would still tear at me like this. Then I remember that I still have to deal with him and the mind games he plays on behalf of our daughter.
But on to my new relationship and how the hell that happened. My best friends are people I've met online. I'm in a rural area where writing and the arts aren't valued, and those happen to be things I love. I've written forum-based role play for years. I create characters with depth, send them off to places I can't afford to go, research these places to get a feel for them. My characters develop, face their fears.
My friends and I have written couples who fought, loved, married, and had children. Friends, enemies and lovers, in whatever combinations. It gets intense. Feelings started to happen with a friend. Hints were dropped and it all came out.
I'm so afraid of messing something up that I keep reflexively falling back on the idea that I'd better please or I'm going to lose everything. I know it's not true, this friend has stuck with me through bouts of horrible depression, has talked me down from suicidal thoughts despite the toll I know it takes on others. We've argued, we've made up, it's an awesome friendship.
This friend didn’t push. There was eagerness and a power behind the want to try that's everything I could have wanted. Someone who can tell when I need encouraged and won't get offended when I half panic.
I hope the panic passes. It should, right? When I still don't get friend-dumped me for being scared I should be okay? I want to be what someone wants so badly that I forget what I want. Being single has helped me grow as an individual, but I need to figure out how to function with a plus-one.
This info dump deserves a story.
One time, at the cheese factory, they got me a cake to congratulate me on my daughter, but by first break the maintenance crew had eaten half of it. There was a guard next to the box when I walked in. It was pretty funny.