There – I said it. I never thought I would. I’d always been the type to crave and desire love, the type that seeks out a new partner the millisecond a relationship is over.
But let’s face it, dear ones: after having been through (decades of) narcissistic and psychopathic abuse, I know that another relationship is the last thing I want right now, and at this time, it should be my lowest priority. I’ve tended to attract–and be attracted to–people who ended up pathologically narcissistic or downright psychopathic, and until I can reorient myself, I’m just going to attract more of the same, and who the hell wants that?
The code-key, then, is to turn inward. To work on myself. To analyze what went wrong and how I tend to respond. To determine what my patterns tend to be. To heal the wounds inside and overwrite those dysfunctional patterns and tendencies with healthier, more balanced, more assertive ones. New and improved, now with boundaries and self-respect (!!).
I know I’m moving in that direction because I can spot plenty of (although not necessarily all) narcissists/psychopaths before they even get started and take up space in my heart and life. I know I’m getting closer because aside from logistics, I’m no longer afraid of–or devastated by–the idea of being single and living alone. I’m not in a rush to find another partner, or even to date. I know I’m making progress because I no longer have time for those who display narcissistic or pathological traits (they may be charismatic and charming at times, but many of them do indeed allow early warning signs to slip despite their best efforts to conceal). I know I’m getting stronger because I’m learning how to set boundaries and stick to them, and I no longer even feel fear or guilt when I do.
I imagine my new life, not too far in the future. I’m single Until, and I leave that question hanging, open-ended (or the statement unfinished), resisting any dichotomous urges to slam my heart’s door closed and swear off love, or to immediately seek another attachment. I have found peace in the limbo, solidity in the uncertain, clarity in the vagueness. I feel more confident when some questions are unanswered. The world is (might be) my oyster, maybe, but only if and when I get hungry.
I can’t say that it won’t get lonely sometimes, snuggling up to only a pillow or teddy bear on some nights. But it’s not worth what I’ve been through – the fighting, the discussions, the wondering, the suspecting, the snooping, the finding, the discovering, the processing, the recovering, and the self-defending and self-protecting. It’s not worth the conflicts, the lines of questioning, the assuming, the doubting…too many verbs already. You get the idea.
When this has been your life, the pillow is not only un-lonely, but oddly comforting and peaceful. Because a pillow won’t take you down to that same level of bullshit. It won’t respond much differently to your venting than your pathologically narcissistic/psychopathic partner, except for maybe the nodding and the staring elsewhere or preoccupation with something else. The pillow is more respectful, remaining still, without hurrying you along or giving you the impression that what you’re saying is unimportant or boring.
Pillows don’t get bored. Pillows don’t pull away or withdraw. Pillows don’t lie, sneak around, or keep secrets. A pillow will never confuse or hurt you.
A pillow isn’t satisfying, I know. It doesn’t hug you back, doesn’t comfort you when you’ve had a rough day. It doesn’t even ask you how your day was. But then again, neither do pathological narcissistic or psychopathic partners.
I’ve long decided (well, as of a few months ago) that the idea of self-partnering is satisfying enough, at least during this part of my life Until, whenever Until happens to be. Until I balance myself and build some solid foundation upon which I can stand up straight and see clearly and hold onto myself, even if I ever meet someone. Until I can overwrite the dysfunctional patterns and tendencies with assertive ones. Until my boundaries are so solid that they’ve become second nature and uncompromising. Until the people I attract–and am attracted to–are healthy themselves, and not those who would try to use, hurt, manipulate, or exploit me. Until I don’t feel like I have to look over any shoulders–mine or theirs. Until I don’t feel like a parent despite the insufficient age difference. Until I don’t have to explain basic adult concepts to people who are…adults, at least chronologically. Until I respect myself enough to insist upon a finished and fully-functional adult product, instead of toxic-optimistically imagining one’s potential – what they could be(come). People are not houses, after all. And I no longer have the energy, time, or patience for fixer-uppers.
So, I’d rather wait Until. Because otherwise, the exhaustion can flatline you.
I am a fixer-upper myself. The difference is that I can change myself. I can decide to work. I can’t make that decision for anybody else. Only they can do that themselves. The vast majority won’t. The only solution for us is to disconnect, and see what they do when we leave them to their own devices. Unless and Until. Which is another oft-uttered phrase of mine lately.
So, Unless and Until then, I’m perfectly okay with being single. Finding my way, slowly but surely. ❤