When my marriage ended, I stopped believing that I could or would want to be in another relationship for the remainder of my life. A good part of me felt that because I gave it everything I had the first time around, that I couldn't find myself getting just as invested in another relationship. Or that I wouldn't want to. I more or less resigned myself to being alone, just as I had been before I met my ex.
While I've been surviving that way for the last few years, I can't honestly say I've been alive during that time. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect, and one of the areas in which I'm weak is actually building relationships of any kind with other people. I'm a paradox: I desire strong bonds with others yet I'm somewhat incapable of building those bonds except with a relatively small group of people. That's why my friends are the best friends anyone could ever want, but also why I have so few. It's not that I'm not an easy person to get along with; I have a lot of acquaintances and people that I'm on really good terms with, but there are few with whom I share that critical bond. Knowing that, how could I possibly find another woman with whom I could establish that and an even stronger bond?
There's also my anti-social tendencies. I can't go any further without mentioning them. It's very rare for me to be mean to anyone, or even to just show my anger or dislike, but often when I'm in public I'm fighting an urge to get away from everyone around me. There's a strange kind of pressure that I feel in public that makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. This pressure seems to grow disproportionately to the size of the crowd; in a crowd of thousands, I can blend in, but in a group of a dozen or two, I feel like I stand out and that everyone is aware of me. And not in a good way. It makes me want to crawl into a shell and hide. So can you imagine how I feel one on one?
I said that to say this: if I feel like hiding in an average sized group, and I really, really feel uncomfortable in a one on one situation, how could I possibly find the strength and courage at my age to date again? To go out and find that special woman that I could spend the rest of my life with?
That's been the crux of my expectations that I would be alone for the rest of my life. Yes, I know these are some serious psychological issues, and I've been aware of them and working on them myself (by myself) for decades. As anyone can see by the fact that I have been married, I have lead a fairly good life in public, and that I am getting ready to head into my senior year of college (nearly 20 years late) that I am capable of overcoming my weaknesses and failings. Having the strength to do so is sometimes a challenge, but I do it regularly. So why did I doubt that I could do it again for something so important?
I was tired. I looked to the future and saw myself declining in every way imaginable, and I couldn't see myself getting strong enough to overcome my issues enough to find anyone else. That's not even counting how a potential mate might see me, so I was ready to give up on that part of my life. Now, in the interests of full disclosure, that doesn't mean I actually did give up: I joined a dating site or two, and I've made some good and important friends at Oakland University, but there wasn't and isn't a single woman among them that I thought I might have a future with. I could still be wrong, the future is ever shifting, but at least at the moment, it doesn't matter.
The reason it doesn't matter, is that God had other plans for me. Out of my past, a young woman that I had established a strong bond with, came rushing back into my life. It wasn't a conscious act on her part. Or mine really. I started dreaming about her regularly, and though we had already been friends on a social site or two for years, I found that I couldn't stop reading her posts.
This last week, things shifted between us, and I find that we are now walking together towards a future that could be very bright and what each of us has needed and wanted. We haven't formally declared our relationship yet, but it's abundantly clear to me that she cares just as deeply about me as I do about her. I don't know what the future holds for us, but I'm embracing this new life as full heartedly as I can. Maybe it will last, maybe it won't, but I'm taking it day by day with love in my heart.