Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

September 16, 2008

Step 1

They say the first step is to accept that you have a problem. So here I am. Accepting it.

I am the abnormal one. Not them. Not him. Not you. OK, maybe you. But, definitely me too.

All of the Ex talk lately got me thinking about a few of my own. Well, aside from Only Child and Naval A-Hole, the rest of them are just minor footnotes. But they are Exes nonetheless. One guy in particular, Allman, always pops up fondly in my memories. I wrote about him here.

He was a fundamentally sweet person. Smart too. But he hid that from most people beneath his long, blonde hair, porkchop side burns, goatee, and a constant haze of pot smoke. For the 20-year-old me screwed up me, he was just what I was looking for. We had a unique bond, probably because we both lost our fathers at a young age. I enjoyed his calm, mellowness (likely pot-induced). It helped take the edge off my still untreated anxiety and depression. I fed off of it actually.

But a relationship of any consequence we did not have. He was a blank wall against which I could throw all my bullshit, and it would just slide down and fall to the floor with little consequence. And yet we had affection for one another. Simple, sweet affection. Our relationship was not all that sexual – more sweetness – and no one else really understood. I liked that. It made it feel a lot more special than it really was.

I’ve always kind of wondered what happened to him. Last I heard he moved back to his rural hometown in California and was playing guitar all day in a house he shared with a bunch of other slacker/hippies. When you asked him what he did for a living he would proudly and succinctly say, “I’m retired.” He was 25.

Ten years later (or about three days ago) I found him on our college alumni site and sent an email just for the hell of it. I just got his reply sitting here in my hotel room (I’m away on business). He is married, with two children and owns his own financial advising company in his hometown. The link he sent me to his website included a picture of him and his Leave It To Beaver-appearing family. He’s got short hair (a receding hairline actually) and looks and sounds happy and normal. Oh my God.

That seals it. It’s me. I’m the abnormal one. It’s one thing to see your well-adjusted Exes make these steps. Fine, I expected that. But it is now official that all those other Exes that I thought were at least a little more fucked up than I was have managed to pull off the “normal” life. It feels like I’m the last one standing. So who’s fucked up now?

I know, you are going to hit the comments section to tell me that “normal” is relative. That life is not a competition. That just because you are married and/or have children doesn’t mean you are happy, normal and well adjusted. Blah, blah. You’re probably right. But the fact is that this is what I keep telling myself I want out of life. Not a fancy career. Not fame. Not a shrine in my honor. A family.

And I still don’t have it. I get close, or I find imposters (and yes I’m increasingly paranoid that Wine Guy is yet another imposter leading me down the primrose path). But it never actually happens. I’m sure I have SOMETHING to do with that.

Whatever fucked up thing I’m doing is putting me in this position of not getting what I supposedly want.

Maybe I don’t want it but I’m too fucked up to notice?
Or maybe I do want it but I’m so fucked up that I only pick guys that won’t give it to me?
Or maybe I really do want it but I’m so fucked up that the perfectly normal guys I pick get scared off?

Get it? It’s me.

Not Allman. Not Only Child. Not Naval A-Hole (OK, maybe it was Naval A-hole in that scenario). Not any of the other unsuspecting guys that have crossed my fucked up path.

I’m worn out. So I’ve admitted the problem. Now what?

(Yes, yes. The shrink appointment is already on the books for early October. I scheduled it a week or two ago. I must have known something big was coming.)



Jaclyn said...

It can be incredibly challenging when your exes move on and get married first. But I'm a bit confused about your concerns with Wine Guy - is the relationship not moving forward at the speed you would like, or are there actual problems between the two of you? I fully understand that you may not want to address this in your blog, but I just wanted to wish you the best in resolving these issues.

Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare said...

Good question Jaclyn. I realized after I hit publish that blogging while still emotional is probably not a good idea. Or at least it can lead to confusion for readers.

I guess I was just stunned to hear Allman had become just another married mid-30s, semi balding dad. Lately it seems like everyone is. And although "on paper" it seems like Wine Guy and are I heading happily down that path after only a year and a half together, I have a hard time trusting that - based on past experiences alone (OC and Naval A-hole), not on anything that is going on with WG.

Actually, we are getting along just fine and enjoying "parenting" our dog. Of course, there is that "wait and see' mentality he has based on finances - whereas I would say let's elope and have a baby today.

And yes, I understand that my desire my not be the best answer. But I would like to hear a SOLID PLAN or timeline from him to put my mind at ease. So far, not getting one. I'm not good at subtle hints and negotiating politely. So the whole topic makes me nuts.
That probably doesn't help at all but heck, I feel better.

Anonymous said...

if you are not good at subtle hints...why don't you just say loudly and clearly what you want and when you want it? You have a right to do this and you have a right to expect a solid answer and/or time frame.WG sounds as if he is able and willing to do that, but why should he, if you don't ask.It sounds as if it is time for action and not so much woul searching.

Jaclyn said...

I'm glad to hear that there isn't a specific problem in your relationship. After a year and a half, I would be climbing the walls if I didn't have a specific timeline from my boyfriend. At this point, you are entitled to knowing where Wine Guy stands, and whether or not he has plans for the future. It is quite possible that he actually does have a plan, and doesn't think that it is necessary to articulate it. Do you get the sense that Wine Guy is stable and secure enough to get married? Does he enjoy spending time with married guys his age, or are all of his friends single? Has he started to put his finances in order and think about eventually purchasing a house?

I think that you are at the point in which you should have the talk.

If he doesn't have a plan then he needs a gentle reminder about how important marriage is to you, and how much you want a family. You need to tell him that you love him, but that you cannot be happy without a marriage and a family.

20 yr old girl said...

i wouldnt say you are fucked up at all because your boyfriends moved on and got married etc. you werent right for each of them, and they werent right for you. its just so happened that allman found a person who was right for him. (or maybe not- maybe youll find out in a few years he gets divorced?). maybe if you think of yourself as normal like everyone else because everyone is different (and weird and strange!) you might feel better?
re: wine guy. i dont know about the whole timeline thing, i wouldnt really say im experienced enough to know about that. but surely him wanting and actually moving in with you shows how serious he is? clealry if he is doing that he is planning on sticking around for the long run.
well i hope so anyway!
i hope u feel better soon because you seem like a really nice person!

Shanna said...

Oh, I have been where you have been. I actually cried--cried!--when I discovered an ex of mine had moved on and was married. An ex who I'd bought a house with a few years prior, but was abusive. (Why shed a tear over that jerk!?) Later, I found out he'd had a baby, and even though I was/am in a (good) relationship, I had the same sadness again. There should be a name for this phenom. It happened to me when my first love got married, too. It's not you, babe.

Oh, and might I recommended the book "Getting the Love You Want"? A workshop weekend based on the book made a dramatic impact on my life (and bred engagement talk!!)...