When it comes to finding a partner for marriage, I am wondering how much of an issue love actually plays in it. When I was looking for a new partner after my husband died, love was the farthest thing from my mind. I was much more interested in finding someone who had a good sense of humor and could make me laugh. A few good jokes would go a long way in my book. I also wanted to find someone who would talk to me — about everything from politics to global warming to their favorite recipes. I said I wanted passion but what I really wanted was friendship.
Most of us want to be loved and I certainly did but I really wanted to find someone who I could love, someone who I could depend on to help me through the tough times, someone who would not shut me out when things were difficult. Instead what I found was a man who said he was an introvert and was not comfortable talking about feelings at all. I ended up doing all the heavy lifting and carrying the emotion ball for both of us. Until I couldn’t anymore.
I remember one night early on in our relationship and we were sitting at my kitchen table having just finished the meal I had prepared for us. I said, “So, tell me your best joke!” He just sort of looked at me blankly. “I don’t know any jokes,” he said. “Really?” I replied. I was incredulous. That should have been my cue to call the paramedics. But I thought, “Okay, not everyone knows jokes! I myself only know about three or four. But those are VERY good jokes!” And I let it go.
I wanted to find someone who shared the same kind of values as me, who had a similar vision for their future as I did, someone who wanted to travel, have adventures and go to wine tastings. What I got was a homebody who wasn’t at all interested in traveling. I told him once, “You know, I never said this before but you not wanting to travel with me? That’s a deal breaker for me.” He didn’t say anything.
What I wanted was a man who would give me a back rub every now and then and want to sit in the jacuzzi with me at the end of a long hike on a Saturday afternoon. What I got was a guy who said, “Jacuzzi? Do you know how expensive those things are to operate?” I should have turned around and headed for the hills. Except I didn’t.
Instead I was convinced he was the ONE I had been waiting for and searching for all my life. And as much as I detest the term “soul mate” I was convinced that he was mine. I essentially turned my head away from all the red flags he was waving in front of me.
Like the way every time I would say how much I wanted to create a life with him and he would say nothing. How he made me wait and wait and wait for him to finally file for his divorce. When he did he told me that he had said to his wife that he finally wanted to get divorced because he wanted to get married again. I waited for the divorce to become final thinking that he would propose to me but when it was finally final, he didn’t propose. But still I waited.
The red flag which was that he would make time to drive 60 miles every Saturday morning to go to a Japanese language class but didn’t want to drive to come and see me even though I don’t own a car and can’t drive to see him. Those kind of red flags. I paid NO attention to them. Until I couldn’t anymore.
So why am I so devastated by our breakup? My son asked me that very question. He said, “Mom, why are you grieving a relationship that you kept trying to leave in the past?” I said, “Good question! I wish I knew. I still don’t. I think it’s because I put all my eggs in the basket that I called “HIM”. Then when I dropped it and all the eggs were lying broken at my feet I couldn’t bend over and pick them up. It was almost as if I had forgotten how to bend over. Soon, I lost my bearings and I started to split and I could not stop. And he was not invested enough in the relationship to even help me pick them up. Instead he just turned and distanced himself from me and eventually walked away. All my abandonment issues got triggered full-tilt boogie and I was swept away in the tsunami of my bad, negative feelings. And what happened to all my DBT skills? Was I able to use them? Yes but it was extremely difficult. The whole experience was so painful that I immediately reverted to my old default behavior of suicidal ideation and planning my exit strategy. I was heading down the mountain at breakneck speed and by the time I saw the cliff in front of me it was almost too late to put on the brakes but I did. I managed to stop myself.
What has this episode taught me and what does it have to do with my BPD? It tells me that I still have work to do. That, yes, I have managed to put my BPD into remission but it is always there lurking just under the surface and that I must never allow myself to become complacent. So it is back to therapy for me. Back to examining my life and my emotions again so I can figure out why I almost got derailed with this.