Thursday, August 07, 2008

Life Lessons

In 2002, I lived on a remote mountaintop in Australia with Turbo. He'd built a beautiful house there on 30 acres of rainforest, using many native materials.

He's getting married today, though I most certainly am not invited. I have recently learned of the concept of "inappropriate friendships," which is a slippery concept. But as an ex whose entire condo was renovated by Turbo while his girlfriend steamed at home, I can see that I perhaps fit into this category.

But this blog post isn't about Turbo.

It's about a little bit of self-awareness that I have come to recently. I watched the actions of myself and others. Gave it some thought. And realized.

I didn't even try with Turbo. I wore emotional unavailability on my sleeve (so did he at the time), though I wasn't quite aware of it.

I came up with long lists of reasons—most of them his fault—for why I couldn't actually stay in that relationship. I've probably spouted many of them off within the last year. They were just smokescreens. Imagine if I'd conversed with him about them instead of complaining to my friends—who didn't know him and had nothing to do with what went on between us. Duh. I was 35 years old and still Marie the Wildebeest-Slayer, the Lara Croft, the Rugged-Yet-Girly Adventurer. I had zero interest in opening myself up to something that I viewed then as a ball-and-chain. Something that might have forced me to, uh, grow up.

Plus I was distracted by a fantasy. Herr Marlboro, adventurer, man like myself. A romance that hadn't yet started, so clearly doomed in hindsight, but one that taught me via his own lousy example that I'd acted poorly and missed out on the full value of being a person. Self-reliance is lonely. Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

So there we have it. Marie was emotionally unavailable, snarky, and lacked the strength to commit to a stand-up man. Mostly cuz she was a damn baby, and maybe because she held a fantasy in her head.

I don't need to read a self-help book or pay the therapist to know I walked away from something perfectly swell and viable because of my own limitations.

But I did learn from it. It just took me a while to stop making excuses and accept that. A embarrassingly long while.

And so what anyway? Anyone who has reads this blog could have told me as much already, right? Certainly anyone who knows me knew that I was spooked by commitment (or rather, struggle to trust anyone but myself) long before I admitted it to be the sub-theme in Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik.

Let's all wish a successful marriage to my ex, then, and hope that my life lessons stick now that, like the Target cashier, I own them.


Amanda Castleman said...

Oh kid, wouldn't it be dull if we all rolled off the assembly line Stepford-perfect?

You're even more fascinating for a life lived and mistakes made and courses corrected. And when Mr Adventurous-but-Sensitive, that stand-up dude, swashbuckles into your life, he's gonna SWOON.

And you're gonna catch him with great tenderness. And self-awareness ... hard-earned self-awareness. Whoooooo!

Marie said...

The Turbo Lessons were invaluable. I learned how much fun having someone else in my life can be.

I blew it with him, because I didn't learn until the next time just how foolish I was being by guarding my emotions and not getting into the gravy boat.

And I was still making excuses for the Turbo failure just a few months ago. Fortunately, no one compared notes to see that all my stories were different on why that failed. But of course, after someone used my falsehoods as evidence to make his own case, it was time to 'fess up. Turbo deserves more respect than being dredged up as evidence by someone who never even met him.

jbabcock said...

Toldja you didn't need a REAL shrink!

That has to be the best entry yet, and there have been some good ones. Yes, I think that Turbotime was exactly when you learned how much fun having someone else in your life could be. But it still wasn't time for you to settle down.

Seeing you guys together was the first time I think I saw you looking comfortable as a couple, and even that was work for you. Anyway, its nice to read this piece, but don't think you get to stay self-aware. I'm always amazed at how everything changes all the time and just when you think you've caught up with yourself you are doing all new stuff and feeling different about everything.

(that was NOT supposed to sound profound!)

Back to work!


Marie said...

Thanks for outing my concerns about do-i-need-shrink-dom in a public forum, man!

Though I'm not sure I was that keen on Amanda's ref to me "catching" someone either. Though of course I dig all the stuff about me ending up swell.

But I guess if I'm going to spill my guts on this electronic forum, I deserve straight talk right back, don't I?

Amanda Castleman said...

Erm, I meant you'd catch him when he swooned and fell hard for you. Not like netting a good "catch".


I guess the sensitive-man-fainting-with-lust paradigm is not as prevalent as I'd hoped!