I quickly dismissed the questions, unconsciously filing them away for later consideration. The questions became a pest, popping out unexpectedly, persistently, yet I refused to answer.
Now I'll try.
This week I became aware of an embarrassing truth about the way I see things. In a strange twist of perception, I actually associate intimate relationships, such as the type resulting in marriage, with weakness. Rationally, I know that's nutty, but in whirlingbettyworld it's reality.
It's easy for me to tell where this idea came from: my family of origin. My mother was a smart and beautiful woman who allowed her life to be marginalized by her husband. He cheated on her and controlled her. Even as a very young child, I was appalled. Is it any surprise that she died an early death from pancreatic cancer?
My older sister, also beautiful and intelligent, became pregnant as a teen and married the Catholic father of her fetus. Three years later, she had three out-of-control kids, a rented house worthy of condemnation by the Health Department, and a newly obese body. Her husband left her. I was not yet 10 years old by the time all of this had occurred. Was I influenced? You betcha.
The same sister decided not too long after her divorce that life would be better if she snared another man, so she quickly lost her excess weight (temporarily) and before long, guess what? She had a beau. Within a few months, said beau had absconded with what little bit of money my family had, including my grandmother's life savings. He had convinced my sister (who convinced the family) that he was about to become rich from a South African diamond mining deal. After he fled the country with my family's savings, he was never seen again.
My sister moved on, first to a drug addict, then to a psychopath who sexually molested her daughters and then held them at gunpoint while threatening suicide. Weary of men, my sister gained back all her weight and then some.
As for my big brother, he has been a member of Sex Addicts Anonymous for years. He has had hundreds of "partners". He married one of them, a 16-year-old model, for 6 months when he was 38.
And then there's my hero- my grandmother. By the time I was born she was long divorced, unheard of for an Irish Catholic. According to family legend, the American she married not long after landing on Ellis Island turned out to be lousy at earning a living. She took matters into her own hands and got a good job at Ansco Camera. She was proud of her job, very proud. Her ne'er-do-well husband eventually succumbed to the flirtation of the woman next door, who coveted not only my grandfather but the shiny new car my grandmother had just bought him. I knew my grandmother as a single, independent woman (there was no man/albatross around her neck!), and she was the only happy woman in my family. She was the only one who smiled.
It's easy to see how I came up with a negative view of intimate relationships. But now I'm an adult, unencumbered by the unfortunate escapades of my immediate family members. I'm left with nothing but my self and my idiosyncracies. Every human has a need or desire to be loved and appreciated by another, right?
Sometimes when the going gets rough, I do feel sorry for myself and wish that there was somebody around who could offer me a soft place to fall. A child cannot fill that role.
But most of the time I numbly forge onward, oblivious to basic human social instincts. Before The Child entered my life, I did seek the companionship of a partner- several in succession, actually. But once I had the relationship going, in each case I then sought to abandon it and shop around for a better guy. Paradoxically, I wanted to be available while harboring a boyfriend. I never imagined myself getting married- I wanted to play the field forever.
Once The Child showed up, I was somehow finished with men. I'm not sure why. But it's just as well, considering my inability to form a lasting relationship. Maybe on some level I was aware of how hard that would be on The Child.
Am I unwilling to trust men? (Look at the doozies the women in my family ended up with!) Do I think I don't deserve a longterm committed relationship? (I suffer from self-esteem issues.) How do I get by without intimacy in my life?