Saturday, 5 March 2011

Who am I?

And what do I want?

I was out for a drink with a good friend last night and as ever our conversation turned that bit deeper after we'd finished the first bottle of wine. We didn't quite get as far as the question in the title of this post, but we did talk about the second one posed above. What it made me realise is, that if I want to answer that second question I probably need to understand a little bit more about what my answer to the first one is.

WARNING: This is about to be an introspective post, for those not wishing to know more, look away now!

Some bits of the answer to Who am I are straightforward. I'm the younger of two sisters, the baby of the family, and I realise now that I've always been used to being the youngest. I was the youngest in my year at school, at least a year younger than most of the people in my year at University and consequently I started on my post University graduate career, just that little bit younger than most. So, I've been used to being younger than my peers all my life and largely it still continues. I don't know if that has any great relevance, it just is.

I'm also relatively independently minded. I don't like to be penned in, tied down or told what to think or do - and that goes for work as well as my personal life. Perversely, I do like to have support and guidance around, but if I'm honest it's probably only ever on my terms and when I think I need it. Which possibly makes me not the easiest employee to manage or person to have a relationship with. I'm probably best when I get to have the ideas and call the shots - unless, of course, I've decided I don't want to, and then it's definitely your responsibility!!

I have (perhaps unsurprisingly given the above) two failed marriages and a handful of equally unsuccessful serious relationships. At the moment, I'm on my own and have been for almost 2 years. It's the longest time I've been without a partner since I was a student. In fact I think it's quite possibly the only time in my adult life I haven't been part of a couple for any length of time. I'm not saying this for sympathy, again it's just something that is and is part of who I currently am.

I can't say that I entirely enjoy it. At times I very much feel the lack of an 'other' in my life, but equally do I want to be joined at the hip to someone else again? Not really, and certainly not at the moment. A fair proportion of the time I thoroughly enjoy the freedom of being just me, doing what I want to do, having (largely) to suit no-one but myself and being responsible for no-one but me - apart from Cat that is, of course!

But - and here's the rub - I do want something more, I'm just not sure I know what that 'something more' is. Do I just underestimate the love and support I already get from my friends? Or is there something substantively different that I want, need from a partner?

Perhaps it's a level of intimacy that I don't feel I get at the moment that I'm looking for. And by intimacy I don't mean sex - although don't get me wrong, that would be great! - but there's a closeness that I don't think I get in my current circumstances and may well be what I'm looking for. That, and the feeling of having someone on my side when things get tough.

Which gets me to thinking, do I only really want someone for the tough times, or is it just that I feel their lack more accurately then? And if I only want someone for the tough times, to support me, does that make me selfish? And is that perhaps why I find myself 43, on my own and with no realistic prospect of that changing any time in the near future?

Who knows! And I still don't really know who I am or what I want!!


ebbandflo said...

It's an incredibly honest post and shows how far you are already down the road to working out what it is you want with the rest of your life.
Personally speaking, I'm finding my forties a really exciting time to be in, where I am starting to see the glimmer of awareness at the end of the tunnel. I've found I'm stronger, more resilient and resourceful, intelligent and aware, and adaptive. I'm also realising that my needs, wants, expectations are not concrete - they are more fluid than I ever imagined and cannot be pinned down with a handy label. Frustrating? You betcha. But exhilarating too if I 'surrender' somewhat to the ride.
I have no doubt I'll get there eventually, I am a little concerned it might not be until decades in the future.
I have no doubts that you will also get to wherever you need to be :)

Just Frances said...

I’ve always believed that the best time to find a new relationship is when you are happy and content without a relationship. You have to be a complete person in your own right then find someone to complement you. When you look to find someone to complete you, or to fill in the gaps, you do both parties a disservice.

Of course you’re going to want a relationship more when you’re feeling down because the theory is that if you had a partner, you wouldn’t feel so alone. (Which isn’t always true!) It doesn’t mean you’re selfish—it means you’re normal.

That said, you should be selfish. You should think of your own needs first because you are the most important person in your world—or you should be. Your own needs and desires should come first and foremost because fulfilling them will make you a happier person. And if you’re a happier person, it is easier for you to think of the needs of others. It’s sort of like the safety demonstration on the airplane when they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first so that you’re better able to assist others.

(Sorry, that’s probably a load of rubbish. I hope it’s not completely unhelpful!)

Bex said...

Thanks for your comments.

Frances, I really like your oxygen mask idea. I find it so hard to allow myself to think about my own needs and wants first without feeling selfish about it. It seems wrong and then I feel guilty, but at the same time I know that if I'm not in the right place, it's so much harder to be there and strong and loving for anyone else for any length of time.

I agree with the concept of being a whole person, complete, strong and not looking to fill the gaps with someone else before getting into a relationship. I guess I just didn't think it would take as long as it's taking to get me to that point. I can't work out if I'm happy with who I am and am therefore ready to be complemented by someone else, and just missing that, or if I'm still needing someone else to make me whole.

Who knows? It sure ain't me at the moment though!!