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After my mother died in 2001, I found myself un-layering years of accumulated expectations. One of those expectations, and what I haven’t achieved, was to have a middle-class life, get married, have children, and thus validate what she always wanted for herself. My marriage lasted eleven years. Her marriage lasted only six and she raised me by herself. My father was gone by the time I was six and was away in the Navy for most of the four previous years. My mother considered their divorce her life’s failure.
She believed that anyone who had been divorced should not be elected president, that they were somehow invalidated as human beings. Her self-hatred overflowed onto many things she wanted for me. I carried this feeling of failure for her in all my years of sexual abundance and later, serial monogamy. When she died, I began to free myself. This is how it often happens.
Most of the pain in my relationships has been from the notion of enforced permanence. You are married for life. You never stray or even think of it. This false permanence damaged my relationships either because I wanted a lover to stay forever under those conditions or I was afraid they WOULD stay forever. In the first case, they would usually leave; in the second, I’d take off at a dead run.
In this long project to accept myself exactly as I am, with compassion, in fact, with pride, I’ve thought a lot about old relationships and have grown to see most of the women in my life as partners in my growth, as catalysts, and finally as beloved friends. I hope I’ve done as much for them.
As for the future, I have no expectations at all. I have many women friends who are as dear to me as a lover ever was. Some of these friends have been or are lovers. I have no more interest in locking them into a “relationship” than they do me. Nothing is permanent. We lose all the way through life, but we gain, too. And finally, we die.
I find myself, finally, happy, loved, and content to be a conscious responsible person.
copyright 2015 Doug Anderson
Doug Anderson: 1967 Que Son Valley, Vietnam