So, now that I'm officially divorced (three years later) and still dealing with the emotional, legal and financial ramifications, I find myself questioning my belief in marriage. Divorce has been a big reality check. It's reminded me that, as much as my marriage was a public declaration of my love and commitment to my EX, it was just as much a business deal. We merged bank accounts, built assets and created joint plans for our future together. Plus, I proudly (& legally) relinquished my maiden name - my identity since birth - and added the title of "Mrs" to my EX's last name. It was as if, effective August 31, 2002, I "belonged" to him. This status "upgrade" involved the tedious task of notifying the social security office, passport agency, DMV, credit card companies, banks and employers. The trouble of making that identity switch seemed fun and insignificant during that initially magical period of our fairytale romance. But, when the intensity of that love and passion faded and we (he) decided to call it quits, I then had to deal with the emotions of an unraveling relationship, broken promises and thwarted dreams. Meanwhile I was faced with the exhaustive task of dissolving all those legal and financial attachments at a time when I felt most vulnerable, weak and helpless. And I couldn't legally reclaim my maiden name until the divorce had been finalized. So for three years I've been walking around as Mrs. EX; stuck with the last name of the man that cheated on me, lied to me and betrayed me, thereby making the divorce process that much more painful. So, will I ever walk down the aisle again? I'm just not sure if marriage is for me anymore. Not because I don't love the idea of sharing the rest of my life with someone. But, in a nation where only half of our marriages are "successful", who am I to be cocky enough to believe I just might luck out with the "happily ever after" scenario the second time around? Just the idea of getting hurt again sends my heart into protective shock.
My new outlook on marriage makes me uber-cautious about diving into the dating pool. Should I dive into the deep end of lifetime commitment or the shallow end of casual dating? Here's the thing: If marriage isn't the intended result, am I to expect a lifetime of serial dating, break-ups, heartbreak and recovery? Casual dating would be like entering every relationship knowing there's an expiration date! And the idea of being completely vulnerable under those doomed circumstances totally freaks me out! I'm afraid my heart would always be playing defense to protect itself from getting crushed again. I'm afraid I might turn into the crazy girlfriend that sneaks a GPS tracking device into your penis, checks your wallet for suspicious hotel receipts and hacks into your e-mail, facebook and twitter accounts - just to be safe! I'd always wanna feel like I'm in "control" of the relationship. Oh, and I'd be damn sure to break up with you first! I'd let you deal with all the convoluted emotions of rejection, failure and worthlessness while I move onto the next one... just like my EX did to me.
But, as much as the idea of casual dating unnerves me, so does the idea of working at a committed relationship. And why shouldn't it? Past relationships prove that no matter how hard I work at being a good wife, partner, lover and friend; it's never enough. I always end up feeling betrayed, abandoned and alone. So, I can't help but wonder if there's something wrong with me. Perhaps I don't know how to love enough. Or maybe I'm just not lovable for a lifetime. All my self doubts have been amplified by my EX's infidelity, his sudden exit from our relationship and our ultimate divorce. So, it's hard for me to trust the safety of love, vulnerability, communication and commitment. That type of deep and lasting relationship seems like an elusive dream I'm just not destined for. And I don't know if I have the energy to repeat the karmic lessons that only confirm my fate.
But... I don't wanna die alone either! And now that I'm 41 years old and single, that's starting to feel like a distinct possibility. I'm desperately trying to think back to a time when I may have made some type of marriage pact with a platonic friend; someone I agreed to marry if we found ourselves in this similar predicament of mid-life singlehood? If no one surfaces, I'll be forced to figure out what type of relationship I really want; shallow and casual or deep and committed? Either way it means opening myself up to meeting new people, getting to know them and building relationships from scratch. YIKES! That's friggin' scary when I've got trust issues from previous relationships. And not only do I have to worry about the common, good-for-nothing philanderer (like all of my EXes); but according to shows like 20/20, sexual deviants on the down-low with predilections for licking shoes, wearing diapers, getting punished and pooed on!
This is why I'm crazy and perhaps unfit to date. I'm still burdened with so much relationship baggage, confusion and fear. I'm lonely, but I'm just not sure if I'm ready for Cupid.