At the time in our lives when we met one another, Mr. Idea and I needed one another.
He was in a job that didn’t respect him or give him the opportunities he deserved, and with a severe dislike for driving (especially curvy roads), North Carolina was no place for this native New Yorker. I was struggling to keep myself together my final semester in college, fighting away the fears in the pit of my stomach that I’d never make it where I wanted to be, and saving every nickel and dime that came my way. I had not been given the position at the newspaper I had eyed since I was a freshman, which kept me out of the office I practically lived for the last three years, and on top of wanting out, I somewhat felt like a failure and an outcast from the world that meant everything to me.
And so, Mr. Idea and I leaned on one another.
He reminded me of my talents and ensured that bigger and better things were waiting for me in the days and addresses I couldn’t imagine. I kept him confident that his Southern stay would come to a close and he’d find himself doing more of what he wanted in a place and a company that knew what they had when they had him. In a matter of weeks, we went from strangers who met on a semi-blind date to inseparable. I literally could not imagine my life without him and the way we clung to one another was definitely not healthy, but at the time, it was the only thing that felt right.
But that sense of need that so easily translates into a sense of urgency, kept me back more than it pushed me forward. I was so afraid of losing what I had found – Mr. Idea – that I did anything and everything I could to keep him around. I said all of the right things at the right time. I was never late but not annoyingly early. I supported him and stood by him, even when my heart begged me to question my intentions. I gave him the benefit of a doubt when he would say or do things that weren’t appropriate by my own standards. When he wasn’t interested in sex night after night, I tried not to take it personally and hoped he’d come around.
As our relationship progressed, I watched him turn more and more into someone that I knew I didn’t want to be with. All of the red flags were obvious, the signs were pointing to the exit, and I couldn’t help but wonder what else was out there. But for a while – I didn’t go. I didn’t leave. I didn’t walk away. I remained exactly where I was, miserable and feeling like I lost myself more than I had discovered some great love. But why?
Because it was safe.
When you’re in a relationship, when you finally find that man who isn’t deathly afraid of commitment, and actually wants to call you his and have you call him yours -there is a wave of relief. The guard can come down, the negotiations and convincing can stop. And that feels good. It feels comforting. It feels easy. Especially in my case, at a time when Mr. Idea and I were both unstable, it became a safe harbor, an arena where we could be accepted and not worry about “that part” of our lives, when all of the other parts were jagged.
And so, as many people do, I became comfortable. I knew I had someone there when I needed to be reassured. I knew I had someone to depend on. I knew that even if he wasn’t exactly what I wanted, I had wanted him at one time, and I thought maybe, he could grow into someone I couldn’t live without. I knew that I had prayed for love and I had been sent some sort of love, so why would I throw it away when problems and incompatibility outnumbered the good and the synced? Every time I felt the urge to hit the road, I remembered how difficult it was to be on my own, how much I hated being single, how much I didn’t want to face everything in my life alone – and I’d stay.
It wasn’t until right before I moved to New York that I had a great realization that I wanted to do my journey to the big city on my own. I wanted to say I did it just for myself, by myself, and in the right state of mind. And as much as I loved Mr. Idea and as badly as I wanted something to work out or for him to transform into my Prince Charming, I knew I couldn’t wait for it. No matter how awful being alone felt to me.
And what I found, after months and months of convincing myself I made the right decision about ending things with Mr. Idea, was there are worse things than being alone. One of which is being single in a relationship and having the only purpose of that union to be a bed of comfort, not a bed of joy. I was with Mr. Idea and I was committed, but my heart couldn’t get there because my mind was too worried about messing up the safety I found with him, and in return, I never was myself. And when he started becoming himself, I realized he wasn’t the man I wanted – but his presence kept me from facing the world single. Even if I was already singular as it was.
A few days ago, after a very long healing period for him, he extended a ring of friendship. He doesn’t read this blog (and I don’t blame him), and he doesn’t care to know about my Mr. Possibility – but he did want me to know what I meant to him and what I will always mean to him. In attempting to be a mature adult and explain to him verbally what I’ve discussed in this blog, he said:
“You never needed to be anyone other than yourself – you would have kept me even if you were a wreck – because Linds, you were at times. Or if you decided it wasn’t what you wanted sooner, I would I have forgiven you. Please, don’t ever be anyone other than the special person you are, because it is beautiful and I will always love that about you.”
So even with my charade, even with putting on my happy face to keep my comfort around, I had not fooled him. He had known my intentions in the relationship and what I hoped to gain. He wasn’t oblivious, even if I felt like I was being sly and strategic to keep my safety net around. Maybe he had felt single in our relationship too, or maybe he was at a different point in his life than I was, even if we both were unsteady.
But the thing about being unsteady and wanting to find structure in another person is that the more you look outside yourself to build the frame, the less dependable it will feel. But when you venture out into the shaky world, no matter how shaky you may feel when you’re single, you’ll come to find that while you thought you needed that protection or added support, the one thing you need more than anything else…is yourself.
And one day, you may just find someone who doesn’t need you to be comforted or vice versa, but they simply want you.