I did really well on Valentine’s Day this year.
I was actually quite proud of myself. While friends of mine expressed their dissatisfaction with being alone on this day, I found myself strangely content, at peace with myself. Really, I don’t mind being single. To be honest, at this point, I can’t picture myself any other way. I feel like I have a rich life–I have friends and family who love me dearly, and kids in my life that I love more than words can express, and who think the world of me–and while I certainly am not where I want to be in life, I am still here, and my story isn’t over yet. So yes, I’m okay being alone . . . I really am. But there’s one small problem . . .
In therapy today, I was talking about looking at the choices some of my friends make in relationships, and how I can’t fathom how they tolerate certain behaviors or accept how they are treated. We were trying to unravel this, and things were going along fairly well, until she asked the question that tore apart all my hope of believing myself to be “normal”.
“Well, you can’t really speak to this issue, because you’ve never been in a relationship.”
Maybe she saw my face, because she attempted to clarify. “That’s true, right? You haven’t ever been in a relationship?”
No. No, I haven’t.
And as much as I say that I’m happy with my life, that I accept being alone, that I can’t really see myself in a relationship at this point anyway, this single question touched upon my deep, dark secret–namely, that there is something wrong with me. I am inherently incapable of doing what every other human being since time began has been able to do, that is, be in a romantic relationship.
I know that there will be those of you reading this who will try to argue with me, but please don’t. I know that there is something wrong with me, something about me that makes me different, strange, a freak. “Freak” may seem like too strong or too harsh of a word, but I don’t think it’s an unfair characterization, and I’m not just saying that so that you will reassure me that I’m wrong. It’s a human impulse to want to mate . . . if everybody was like me, and just had no interest in being paired in a love relationship, the human race would have died out by now. I have long fielded questions from people who ask me, “But don’t you WANT to find a man?” I am not usually ashamed to answer “no” to that question, but tonight I am. I know that this is something that makes me different than “normal” people . . . I know that everything in society and in nature tells me that this is something I should want . . . but I don’t. I just don’t. For years, I’ve fielded the lesbian question, since apparently not having a man=not being physically attracted to men. This is not the case with me, and what I always want to argue in response is that if I did have a preference for woman, then I wouldn’t be alone–I would be in a relationship with a woman.
But I am not in a relationship. I am not with anybody. And I never have been, and I’m pretty sure I never will be. And no, I’m not dissatisfied with my reality. I am, however, horrified by the implications of this. People far dumber or uglier or more dysfunctional than me have all mastered the art of being able to date someone. I have not. And it is the “why?” that haunts me.
Other people are fat.
Other people have been abused.
Other people are brash and opinionated.
Other people live with mental illness, are in dead-end jobs, talk too loud, are hoarders, wear ill-advised clothing, spend too much money.
Other people are not incapable of being in a relationship. I see people on the street sometimes, and it’s someone you might think was the last person on earth who could find a partner, but guess what? They do. They do, and I do not.
I have long lived by the mantra, “I’d rather be alone than be with a guy who treats me like dirt”. I do believe that–I believe it with all of my heart. I have seen too much heartbreak in friends of mine who fail to value themselves enough to see that they deserve so much better than what they are living. But it doesn’t change the fact that they are in it–that they are capable of what I, apparently, am not.
Let me say this one more time–I am not unhappy with the status quo. I am not trying to be something I am not. Most of all, I am not living a life of despair because I don’t have a man. I just want to know what’s wrong with me. I want to know why I am lacking the ability and the desire to engage in one of the most basic aspects of being human. I don’t want to change the way I feel. I just don’t want to be the only one. I want to know the specifics of why or how I am so irreparably damaged that I cannot do life as I am “supposed” to. And I just don’t know if there’s an answer to that question.