Ready or Not?

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Burn.

I’m ready for a new man in my life, but something holds me  back.  I know…it’s  me.  The  fox  walks  halfway  into  the woods and every next step after than is one coming out of the woods. But what exactly is it that keeps me from taking another step?

Flying by Night

In the past month, I’ve talked with two divorced male friends about their own healing processes, and I’ve gotten very different answers. But which is healthier?

From the one who jumped from new girlfriend to new girlfriend—or more precisely, from bed to bed—I heard that women  grieve alone but men grieve with another woman. I guess each of those women eventually tired of hearing his pining for the woman who left him. Yet, with each woman, he threw himself wholeheartedly into             the relationship, proposing “forever” to this one and that one and then backing out before the  wedding. He’s still alone—even if his bed is warm every night—and   that’s  his  worst  fear:  he  equates  “alone”  with “lonely”  and  is  never  comfortable  with  just  himself,  never happy, and can be happy only if  he’s  with the perfect woman and feels as exhilarated in her presence  tomorrow as he does today. He uses romance as a drug to get through his loneliness. He is not a whole person, and I pity any woman who falls for him.

My other friend told me that he thinks sometimes he’s ready for a love relationship. Then again, he’s doing fine by him- self and doesn’t need anyone.

I chuckled when he said that. I think he’s well on his way to  being emotionally healthy. How grand for him that he doesn’t feel he “needs” someone and that he can stand alone as a whole person without needing some “other half” to complete him! I thought it was a good sign for him and far healthier that he would wait and seek a relationship when he didn’t “need” it. I would pity any woman who falls for a man who  needs a woman, just needs a woman, any woman.

Then our conversation went on to his wondering if it’s possible to have a partner who doesn’t squelch your identity or become so domineering that you can’t breathe. Is an equal partnership possible or are  we just biologically damned to getting into dominant-passive dynamics?

Then we hit on a topic that’s been giving me hell recently. Though my friends at first wanted me to wait, wait, wait to date and now, almost a year later, they’re worried that I’m not planning a wedding, some still tell me that I don’t need a man to complete me. Well, duh. I know that.  Since when does being ready for a relationship mean a person is incomplete? Can’t you be a whole person and just ready to move forward with some- one new? I may still be analyzing relationships to see what went wrong and how to keep it from occurring again—analysis is my scarecrow!—but it doesn’t mean I’m incomplete. I’m just trying to learn and the more understanding I have, the better I can deal with my own fears for the future.

Ah, but now I have it. What’s holding me back, that is. I don’t want to get into a “relationship” with just anyone and if the guy’s really special, I want it to be more than a relation- ship…I want it to be “forever.” Only there are no guarantees of forever, whether a commitment comes of it or not. And there’s no guarantee either of us will feel the same in a year or a decade or at the end of our lives. There’s no  guarantee that he won’t stray or turn gay or lose his mind or be abducted by aliens. Or that he won’t crash and burn in a speeding accident. There are no guarantees of anything, and to call it a “relationship” intimates that it’s just a placeholder for something better to come along. And to call it “forever” is unrealistic.

The fear is simple: that my next love relationship will turn out like my last, no matter how different the men may be… that the human race is damned to this…and that even the perfect man for me might not be perfect longer than a few months or a few years and I’ll be heartbroken again.

Whatever that next love relationship is for me, it won’t be like anything I’ve known before, but I don’t yet know how to define it. If it’s too defined, I’ll find it too confining, also. And if it’s not defined at all, then I’m afraid I’ll let the insecurity of the future stir up my worst fears. So nothing  fits, and most men want either something totally loose or totally defined  and I’m not looking for either.

So like the little fox in the woods, I’m walking in the for- est and never know if it’s dark woods or enchanted forest ahead. I walk step by step,  stopping every so often to gauge the distance in or the distance out as I have in the past two months. I walk in the present but fully aware of  what’s around me and what’s behind me and as much as possible of what’s ahead of me. I do just fine walking alone, but I do sometimes  think it would be fun to share the adventure with a “forever” kind of companion.

Even if he walks with me for only a little while.