Sometime ago I entered the wonderful world of being single and since then I’ve been scared. I don’t really know what a healthy relationship looks like and it scares the crap out of me I might end up back in the places I’ve already been. I thought for a while I was scared of rejection but I’ve worked out that’s not it. Rejection is easy, you don’t truly have to face your fears when you are rejected, and being rejected just means things don’t change. No, I’m not scared of rejection; I’m scared of being accepted. I’m scared of ending up in another relationship that isn’t healthy and wondering if that’s the best I can hope for.
I don’t have any friends to ask about this, not many people I know have been married longer than I was and those I do know, well some of them have more dysfunctional relationships than the ones I have had. I have Aunts and Uncles who have been married a long time but I only see their relationships from a distance. I only see the party dress versions put out for display at Christmas and Weddings, but I’m not close enough to see how they work from the inside. I don’t know what I should be looking for in a partner and now, even worse, I know I don’t know. Sometimes ignorance is bliss but sometimes you hear stories and it makes you wonder about what things should really be like.
I hear stories of good relationships sometimes, the sister of a friend of a friend. Two people who live almost separate lives during the day, the husband with work and sport and the wife with her clubs and charity. Yet to hear to tell when they come together at night they become inseparable, absorbed in the stories of each other’s lives, wholly present living each other’s day. I often wonder what that would be like, to find a partner who was genuinely interested in the things I did from day to day, why I did them, my motivations and how I felt about it. I’ve grown so used to saying I work in IT, I write articles, I study astronomy and watching people’s eyes gloss over I rarely offer more. It scares me more than anything that someone other than me might care about what I do. It shouldn’t, some of these things are my passions, but if someone cared enough to find out than they would see the real me.
I hear stories of good relationships sometimes, a colleagues golfing buddy, stories of two people who support each other as partners should. A story of a couple with shared bank accounts that trust their partner to make healthy spending choices. A couple who assume the other has their backs and even when they fight it isn’t fighting to win. It’s a fight because they have divergent views on life, but in the end they aren’t fighting to prove who the winner is, they know they are just two people who now understand each other that much better. I often wonder what that would be like, to trust your partner unconditionally to have your interests at heart when they made decisions. I wonder what it would be like to have someone try and understand why you think differently to the way they do rather than try and win. I’ve grown so used to hearing how wrong I am that it’s taken me years to work out that my own opinions, thoughts and feelings are important and they matter as equally as my partners. It scares me more than anything there might be someone out there that considers me an equal; it shouldn’t be scary to have a true partner yet I’m so used to shouldering all my burdens alone.
I hear stories of good relationships sometimes, stories about a bartender’s client. A story of two friends who have known each other forever and at some point decided to choose each other’s rings. Friends who are there to hold each other when sick, friends who encourage each other to be better each and every day they wake up. Friends who want nothing more than for every day to be an adventure they share with each other, each one building the other up in good times and offering a hand when times are down. To hear it told when in company they have so many shared stories of adventure, trials and tribulation it makes Huckleberry Finn seem dull in comparison. I wonder what that would be like, to have someone by my side who wants to take on the world, someone who helps me see that nothing is too impossible to achieve. What would it be like to have so many shared experiences that even in the darkest of times you could reminisce about the best parts of life? It scares me to think that there might be someone out there who would want to join me, I’ve become so used to adventuring on my own I’m not even sure how to make room for someone else. I shouldn’t be scared of sharing my adventures though; deep down I know shared experiences are what bring people closer together.
I don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like, not from the inside at any rate. All I have are stories, my imagination and my friends. I’ve been careful with choosing my friends in recent years, always choosing people who want nothing from me other than my company. My friends are the closest I have ever come to a healthy relationship, good people, people who are interested in me and I in them. People who I support and are there for me in return, friends I can share adventures with, and we do. I love my friends but now I’ve seen a little of what healthy friendships are like I want more.
I know I sabotage myself in dating, rejection is easy, I don’t have to face my fears if someone rejects me. Acceptance though, acceptance is hard. I will have to face all the things that scare me, all the things I’ve never really experienced before and embrace someone who is so much more than a friend. I’ve never experienced a healthy relationship from the inside; all I have ever heard are stories. I want to be a part of a story like I hear about strangers I’ve never met. Stories of ordinary people who somehow seem to have relationships worked out. Isn’t it funny how the scariest stories of all are the ones that end in “and they lived their lives together, perfectly content.” Perhaps it’s time I write my own scary story.
“I heard a story of a couple, a guy who met a girl, a friend of a friend…”
*A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. Although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. The Modern Minstrel observes the world around him and shares it with us as lyrical story. This series was inspired by Luke Davis, whose eye for story and ear for lyrical prose are featured here.
Also by Luke Davis
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