I’ve been reading the Winnie the Pooh stories to my son Liam. He’s enjoyed them even though he thought they were for younger children. One of my favorite phrases (lost on the child, no doubt), is when Milne refers to Rabbit’s “friends and relations”, who are often present.
Tony coming back into my life has got me thinking (no shit, many of you will say) about my life and what I need in it. Tony and Fox couldn’t be more different men. I had all the lovely things with Fox and it felt wonderful. It was nice to be treated so well and have no doubt about how a man felt about me. It was intoxicating to think about having someone in my life as a partner and lover – someone who wanted to fully integrate into my world.
But it really didn’t matter at the end of the day, when the mental chemistry wasn’t fully there. As a friend sagely pointed out yesterday, things fade all too soon anyway in a relationship.
Can I be without a man? Sure. I don’t yearn to be taken care of; I’m rather independent, even when I’m in a relationship. I don’t need financial support. I have friends and things to do and a son and family nearby.
Perhaps most importantly, I don’t need a man to make me feel good about myself or my life. I am secure in who I am, my strengths and weaknesses. I have a strong internal locus of control. I have my moments, but generally I know that any rejection I face, while personal, doesn’t mean I’m failing or bad.
I really do feel like I’ve moved beyond my historical attention and validation-seeking behavior with men.
But do I want to be without a man? Nope.
I crave touch, affection, intimacy, companionship, and sex. I like having a man in my life. I like having someone to talk to over dinner. I like waking up with someone in my bed. I like furry broad chests and resting my head in the nook of someone’s shoulder. I like walking down the street hand in hand and the feeling of a strong hand encircling my waist to pull me in for a kiss.
What’s changed for me in the last two years is what I’m willing to put up with in order to get it.
Coming out of my marriage, I learned how much I’d let go many important things. Friends, family connections, being social. I promised myself to never let it happen again. I had work to do to find myself again.
Two years ago, after experiencing the worst online dating has to offer, I decided to focus on what’s important. While sometimes I lose sight of it, I feel good about the path I’ve been on and the progress I’ve made.
I’m closer to my Mom now than ever. Earlier this week she asked for vibrator recommendations (thanks Twitter friends!). She knows what’s going on in my life and has given me both kind support and tough words when needed. Her latest advice, after Fox? “Perhaps you just need to get yourself a boy toy for a few months.”
The biggest source of joy in my life is Liam. Last year this time I became a single parent when Will (my ex) decided to leave the country for work. It was really hard to work through that, but once I did, I focused on creating memories for him. We’ve been on multiple trips and adventures and since Will’s return, I’ve continued to make Liam my priority.
I still struggle with guilt when I’m occasionally on my phone in front of him (which I try to do very rarely now), or when I miss dinner with him a few nights in a row due to work. But I feel positive about the progress I’ve made on this front and I’m still working on it.
I’ve actively worked on solidifying and deepening my friendships. I have a group of female friends who I can call when I’m sick, or emotionally hurting. We get together with our kids or have boozy brunches without. They reach out to me as much as I reach out to them. I’ve recognized they are the ones who will be there for me always – men come and go, unfortunately (or fortunately).
I’ve made new friends, too. People at work I click with. Friends of friends who I’ve pulled into my circles. Blogging friends like Hy and Madeline who have transitioned to “real life”, and many other bloggers whose paths have crossed mine, online and over drinks. All who enrich my life even more.
Then there’s this blog and all of you. I’ve said it before and I will say it again; thank you.
And while I still haven’t taken tango lessons, cleaned out my home office, continued my genealogy research, or managed to keep a regular routine at the gym, it will happen. There is always going to be a to-do list with lots of things on it.
But my “friends and relations” were the ones I was missing, and just like Rabbit, I now feel like they are always with me.
I am truly blessed.