The Thinking Other Woman

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What's Changed In Seven Years, Book Three: On Neediness

Posted by The Thinking Other Woman on March 27, 2022 at 5:20 AM

I once read a series of books by a homeless guy, who one night, in a fit of rage, started an angry letter to God, then reported that he heard God's voice, which gave him an answer. His writings became the Conversations With God series. While I eventually tossed those books, because there was too much "law of attraction" in them (THAT stupid concept doesn't deserve caps), one concept in them does still stand out years later as real truth.


For most people, wrote Neale Donald Walsch (and "Coauthor"), love is a response to need fulfillment.


I have found that to be true in some approximation. There's that bedazzled, He/she walks on water kind of thing, that makes you envision that With this person, all my needs will be met.


Therefore, you envision the relationship (in our case, the relationship we didn't get to have) as Paradise on Earth, and the loss of any possibility of that brings on a depression that lasts some six years and then some. (Because what you were really looking for was the ecstatic feeling it is easy to give a child, just by smiling at them and hugging them and listening to them and loving them, which we all needed as children in order for our brains to develop right, and many of us didn't get.)


Man, once you get older and become aware of things like dinners and homes and money and cars and social approval and success, how much more it takes to give us that same feeling. When, if Mom and Dad had just treated us right, we would have carried that in our hearts all along.


I saw this in a card reading once: You are proceeding on the plan that Once *this* happens, then I can be happy. And this is the wrong way to do it.


And, you know? That fucking card reading sure was worth some salt. (This is what I mean when I say, Tarot and astrology can really do a lot to get you on the right path.)


I mean, let's look at this.


I wish I could post pictures on here, but if I did, someone who knows me might ID me, and if they do, they might ID him. No, thanks.


The reason I would like to post pictures is I could put up a Before and After of where I live.


After my husband died, this place Was. A. Wreck. Not only did we have little money, so much of what was in here was hand-me-down, junky, and collected dust, but the layout in here required that we put very heavy equipment, such as an old entertainment center and a very heavy old tube TV, right in front of the intake for the furnace, and then it was too heavy to move it all and clean. For sixteen years. You want to talk about some DUST. (And I am allergic to dust.)


I wanted to make things look so much better in here, but there was no money. I actually did find the last model of a lovely desk and hutch for the office, one it broke my heart we couldn't afford while my husband was alive, and I bought it, but ...


I had to leave it at the warehouse for, like, a WHOLE DAMN YEAR. The reason being, in order to fit the desk in there, I had to have a bunch of old stuff moved out. In order to get the old stuff moved out, I had to sort through the stuff in it ...


and every time I had a day off and was home and could get started ...


the phone would ring. My great aunt needed to be taken to the hair salon to get her hair washed and set. My cousin was out of medication and could I run to the drugstore? Both of them needed dy-dies, and could I please run all the way downtown to Discount Medical (where the prices were best) before they ran out? Their paperwork needed doing, checkbooks and bills. They needed taken shopping. On and on.


And this godawful MESS sat here ... and sat here ... and sat here. I couldn't even get the damn sliding glass door open and go out on the patio because it was broken and too heavy for me to slide, and there was no money to replace it.


This went on for MONTHS. I became resigned to the idea that it would always be this way, junky, dark, dusty, depressing, because there would never be time and there would never be money for me to even do something so basic as make a decent environment in here to live in.


I thought I needed a man to help me do that.


Slowly, slowly, things improved. I made a mistake on my taxes one year and got $4000 back, which was enough to replace not only the door, but the windows, as well. Now ... at LONG last I'm being paid enough money, which last year enabled me to buy things for the patio to spruce it up, colorful pads for the chairs and these decorative flowers which, with effort, I got up on the walls BY MYSELF. Then I hung a spice rack BY MYSELF, which emboldened me to purchase the baker's rack that went with it and put that together BY MYSELF, as well as a cart for the Clover coffee maker (which I have yet to hook up) BY MYSELF.


So, now I have something in the kitchen area that looks nice, which I've adorned with fake flowers and a little light-up tree, that's supposed to hold things like the microwave and toaster oven and packages of coffee and nuts and seeds, instead of my mother's age old bedside table, which clearly belonged in the bedroom and collected dust and just LOOKED JUNKY.


This year I've splurged on a small cabinet for the hallway, which came from Sundance and really cost too much but looks divine, and some wall decor from Sundance, which also cost too much but also looks divine, plus some artwork from this funky little store in ... oops, the Center of the Universe (since there ARE several of those). And then I found a new table thing to put the TV and the DVD player and VCR on ... with DRAWERS to put all the CDs and DVDs in so the whole thing is easier to dust ... and then I had all that old JUNK taken out.


And then I bought a new, modern, flat screen TV, and a few more things for the garden (flower stakes, since the damn garden will never actually grow flowers that bloom, that came from Viva Terra and cost way too much.)


I got it all unboxed and put together and hooked up yesterday BY MYSELF and watched a couple of movies already. And with my garlands and my fairy lights I have up, It. Looks. So. Stinking. CUTE. In. Here. (Although it may be a bit girly for some.)


I thought you needed help from a guy to do this. (And, in the past, that was the truth. My husband and I bought a $600 diswasher, and later, a table made of slate to put in here, and we strained and struggled to do it. So, when you don't make enough money, you DO need a guy to help.)


But I did this all by myself. I have weathered two trips to the emergency room and three trips to the cardiologist by myself. I have found an emergency person all by myself and I know who can serve as an executor and found that by myself.


I understand, sad though it may be to say it, that part of the charm here was the idea that I could not do this by myself. That the female myth was that You Get Married, and then you build all this With Your Husband, was alive and operating in me.


And, to be fair, I had a lot of trouble in my career. A LOT. For years and years and years and years, I could never have done this by myself.


But now, I have.


To be sure, this place desperately needs remodeling. The kitchen and bathroom needs torn out and completely redone. They're from the sixties, run down, and they look it. I will never, ever be able to do THAT on my own.


But, I've done what I can. I have my lights and a leafy garland on my mantel above the gas fireplace. The patio is a lovely place to sit now, and there's a pool here. Now, I have to pay for all of this, including the recent $1300 car repair bill, AND of course now the toilet is leaking. But I know I CAN pay for it.


I understand now that I will be alone here until it's time for the nursing home. So I might as well make this place as lovely and livable as I can for the ten or fifteen or twenty years I will have left before I get too old and feeble to live here alone anymore. So, pay for it all I will.


I gotta vacuum and dust. But I love it here now. I used to dream, when I worked by the sea, of having a beach house or condo. Even if I had the funds, I would sort of miss this place now. It's so small and cozy. (And the POOL.


I've also changed in that I've sat here writing and napping all day, and I've been completely happy to do that. Eight years ago, Sundays would have been special time for my husband and me. And they were so special that I thought I'd never be able to feel happy alone here again.


But I am. And that's been a BIG change in me.


I think I spent so very long as a child and young adult, struggling furiously for the bonding healthy kids get with parents, with family, and with school friends--and telling myself something must be wrong with me because the great majority of that didn't happen, therefore I was fat, I was ugly, I wasn't "social" enough or in the right ways and nobody would ever want me--that life was too much about finding loved ones and not enough about finding me.


But, in the end, all I am ever going to really have is myself. Even if I married somebody else, I'd just get widowed again ... and there'd I'd be in the nursing home ... all by myself.


Even being a writer was about getting other people to love me. If I were a famous writer, surely then I'd be good enough. Then I'd have friends. Then I'd have close familylike relationships with people who loved me. Well, turns out I am not good enough. And even if you are successful ... that won't make you think you are good enough. All that happens then is you're only as good as your book sales. Which I won't ever get. These essays are just what I've learned and that's it. I don't actually expect people to give a shit.


I used to picture a life with this guy, if he had've left, that we're simply too old for now. We're OLD PEOPLE now. And, I see now that so much of how I imagined life with a husband was about me being younger. The treasured younger person I was not when I was little. So I was bedazzled with the idea of getting childhood needs met that I dreamed a dream, and imagined a feeling, and the loss of any of that possibility of that happening plunged me into dark depression because that was actually supposed to happen when I was born and being raised, as a tiny, tiny child. Not now.


So, I can accept that loss. I don't need that any more.


What is love?


Once upon a time, I would have called it dreaming that dream. But, it wasn't. All that dream was about was yoking someone into doing something for me so I wouldn't have to do the childhood recovery and growing-up work that I've spent the last six years painfully, painfully doing, and that you can see on this website and its predecessor. Talk about some raw pain. UGH.


Does not feeling that way any more mean I don't love the guy?


I think a lot of the feelings we call "love" are unhealthy. Sure, they are bedazzling, and you think the other person is a kind of savior. This is because we don't want to know that all the ways we need saving are the ways we're going to have to save ourselves. Nobody else can fix those things for us ... even though every romantic movie still says they can.


If we got together, what kind of life could we have now? Well, we'd just be two old people. Maybe we could do a few things before we really got too old, but mostly we'd be puttering around the house and shopping and cooking food and doing housework. I'd be going to work for at least the next twenty years. (No more visions of bestsellerdom and quitting the day job for me!) I hope we'd be able to have sex for a few more years, anyway. But let me tell you, the old, fat gray mare ain't what she used to be.


If it ever happened, we'd just be growing old together in quiet companionship. Nobody larger than life, nobody appearing as some kind of "better" person because of this or that worldly success. We're getting too old for that, and worldly success is a mirage, anyway. It has nothing to do with how healed you are, or how able you are to show up and share your real self.


It would be a far different life than what I imagined seven years ago, but it would be a more honest life. A healthier life (if HE ever got healthier, which remains in serious doubt.) I don't have any prescriptions for it any more. We'd just get together and discover who each other was. And I don't have any illusions anymore about someone older and more successful than me "proving" I am worthy or making me feel worthy in some way.


It isn't a life I have to fight some other woman over, because I am okay if it doesn't happen. I can sit here alone in my little nest, safe from covid 19, and finish my essay book and enjoy movies on my new large screen TV, and I am okay. And when I'm watching them in the nursing home, and my cozy little nest is all taken down because someone else is living in it, I will be okay then, too.


I've done what I was supposed to do in my life: recover from childhood injury. And that is all that was supposed to happen. Anything else was gravy. (Gravy we BOTH had to work for, but only one of us ever did.)


Maybe somebody else has finally wised up and become willing to work for her gravy. And if she has, they deserve it. It's going to be their fortieth wedding anniversary this year. If it can finally be a good marriage, it should be. That would be the best outcome. I love him enough to wish that for him, if it can happen.


I think that's what REAL love is. 

Categories: Life Lessons, Current Happenings