Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Shift In Perspective


There's a character I once started to develop in my thoughts a while back who I never did sit down and write about. She's an older lesbian who lives in a little cabin on some property on Mt. Hood in Oregon. It's just her and a few big dogs up there. She had given up on love relationships long before so she was single and preferred to keep it that way.

I think I may be becoming that character.

I find myself in this place where I have no desire to be in a relationship after spending most of my life doing nothing but obsessing over being in a relationship or getting into one or figuring out what's wrong with me that creates this track record of failed relationships. Falling in love and finding “the one” was all I could dream about or think about. Being loved was all I wanted.

Now here I sit with none of those wants or desires. I've asked myself if I'm just numb. Perhaps, in a way, yes. That feeling of desperation and brooding over love that I have had in the past, when in those periods of being single, is not here. This is so new for me that I'm stumbling through it feeling a bit confused. Am I depressed or have I really made this major shift in perspective? Or, am I depressed or sad about making this shift in perspective? I seemed to have let go of the idea of being in the happily-ever-after and have embraced just being. Which is a good thing. A healthy thing. In my perspective, at least. My inner romantic seems to have been replaced by a realist and cynic.

Over the past few months I've really opened my eyes and taken a good, hard look at myself and where I am in life and can see the reality of its unattractiveness to others in this world. I am burdened with a tremendous amount of student loan debt for my own degree and most of my son's. I have old credit card debt. My credit score is terrible. I own only a car and all of my belongings fit into said car. I haven't rented my own place since April of 2012 and even in getting that place, I needed some help. I have a finance degree that I have absolutely no desire to find work with, hence no desire to bust past the $15 an hour salary in the field of business.

About a year or so ago, a friend of mine on Facebook posted something about a dating site requiring that you post your credit score in your dating profile, or something along those lines. I disagreed with and even tried to argue that my credit score or my financial position in life does not define who I am. That I am a good person with lots of love to give despite my crummy financial state. While that may be true, the reality of this world is that being a good person and loving well isn't going to hold things together or help make dreams come true.

I am 44 years old. How I expected anyone to look past all of this and “just love me for me” is beyond me. It's also incredibly unrealistic and not at all conducive to a healthy and equal ground relationship. It's been my experience that when someone in my position is in a relationship with someone in a much better position in this life, judgement and resentment eventually raise their ugly heads. Those two things are toxic to love. They'll slowly choke that love out until they are the only things that remain.

Back in 2010, I thought that all I needed to do was learn to love myself. That's still part of it but it isn't all of it. This time my plan is to stay single. For a while. While I work on these things. I think I've finally found a career path that resonates with me and my passions plus it will sustain me and is one I want to excel in. It'll require taking on more student loan debt, but it's worth it to me. I've also finally learned to be smarter with the money I make and have discovered the joy in watching my savings account grow. This summer I start back to school to work on my pre-reqs for the Radiography program, which I am beyond excited about. While doing that I'll need to work to pay the bills and, as another re-req for the program, I'll need to volunteer at one of the hospitals. While all of this is happening I'll be living as simply and inexpensively as possible and working on paying off all of my old debt while working with the company who holds my student loans. Also during all of that I will be working on finishing up the photo project book I started a couple years ago.

Basically, I want to get to a better financial spot in my life before I even start to think about getting into a relationship again. Even when that time comes, if ever, there will be many years of dating someone before committing and when that commitment happens I want to walk into it on equal grounds with that person. Which could mean I'll be single for a good long while but I am willing to accept that. I'd much rather it be that way then some other way that will end painfully again. I can't bare that pain again and I definitely can't bare to be the cause of it.

In the past, this all would have been an incredibly sad situation to me. Sad and lonely. But it isn't. It just is what it is. Reality. I've finally moved past the fairy tales and the desperate need to be loved and it feels, well, realistic and healthy. Ok, yeah. Maybe a bit lonely at times. But, this is my time to be selfish and find the things that make me happy and support myself through school and not worry about how it affects someone else who has their own hopes and dreams. This is when I figure out what my hopes and dreams are. This is when I stop simply surviving in this life and start to thrive.

10 comments:

  1. You can do it. And single doesn't mean lonely, you can be lonely in a relationship.

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    1. Thank you. True. The loneliness pings have already hit on occasion and those were what I was writing about.

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  2. Honey, you are singin' my song!

    Student loans debt - check
    Low earning power - check
    (Um, I have a degree in Creative Writing)
    Improving earning power would mean more debt - check
    (Manuscript contests come with a reading fee. At $25 a pop, and who knows how many contests before I am discovered for my genius....)

    I have health issues - physical and mental, each exacerbating the other. I'm on disability. I recently left my apartment and my part time job because of the health issues and moved in with my mother.

    Now I'm even more poor. And living with my mother. With an MFA degree.

    Not exactly a great catch, by the popular culture's standards.

    Starving, neurotic artist ain't so sexy.

    Oh well- ain't nobody around here I've seen all that cute anyway.

    I've got a great sense of humor and I'm really, really smart. The other stuff I can work on.

    But yeah, my current situation has pretty well dried up my romance radar.

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    1. I think part of me is of the mindset that all of this really shouldn't matter and that "love shall conquer all", but the realist is squashing that ideal more and more everyday. Sad but real, I guess.

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  3. Optimist mindset: You could marry someone willing to pay the bills while you live as a housebutch and work on your photo project. :-)

    But, yeah. Reality.

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    1. That just sounds really uncomfortable to me.

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  4. Also, I lived in a financially unequal relationship for a long, long time. Pretty much all of mine have been unequal because I'm so poor, yet so smart and picky.
    At some point in my last relationship, I couldn't afford my car payments and was thinking I was going to lose my car. My girlfriend said, "I'm not okay with this" meaning "I'm not okay dating someone who doesn't have a car. Apparently, my other attributes as a girlfriend - my humor, compassion, intelligence, creativity, passion - couldn't make up for not having a vehicle. I was so humiliated. And angry.

    We broke up. I'm a lot happier.

    Equal financial relationships make things easier, but more important are equal values - like compassion.

    Because no matter how much your current financial situation improves, there's always cancer, there's always natural disaster, there's always national recessions.

    And you want to be with someone who's going to see you through that, and by that I mean see YOU - see that you have value as a partner, that you are worthy.

    That said, don't be a bum who isn't living up to their potential financially or otherwise. Make those positive changes. But don't let any improved financial status make you feel more secure for seeking out a relationship.

    Make sure you find someone who would stick by you if you were bankrupt.

    That's my goal.

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  5. I live in a financially unequal relationship also, and I am the one making more money. However, the value of my partner's contribution to parenting and making our house a home far outweighs (in my opinion) the paycheck I bring home. That is not to say that we don't have arguments about finances. It is just to say that there are many, many ways to contribute to a relationship. Finding parity in all of them would be next to impossible. I agree with Amber - it is much more important to know what you each value.

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    1. I would agree to that, as well. It just hasn't ever been my experience. If you don't mindy asking, has your relationship always been this way from the beginning? Because I totally understand negotiating parenting once a relationship has been established. I'm just curious to know if it inequality really can work from the beginning.

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