Monday, July 20, 2009

Relationship drama . . .

. . . and how it impacts how we deal with it, and why.

I'm going to start this with a bit of a disclaimer. I don't really think in terms of labels or orientation. Love is love, be it same or opposite sex. I'm also something of a bad example I guess. In terms of pure numbers and experience (what little I've had) I'm told I'm a Lesbian. Heck I've even had people break up with me because I was a Lesbian. The vast majority of my history has been with women, all have ended badly with me getting hurt. The one man I dated, I married, and he in effect killed me.

Prior to Earl, I was something of a "Militant Radical Lesbian Feminist" of the Man Hating variety. Not because I said so, but because other folks figured that out and decided the label fit.

Earl was a Man "trapped" in a DES body. He more or less "passed" as female when he really put his mind to it, but otherwise he was a dude. Through and through, no question about it. He was also suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Not because I say so, or because anyone in the medical field says so, but because in the years since he killed me, I've found out from reading. So he "suckered me in" sold me someone he wasn't, couldn't and would never be in order to get from me what he wanted. I fell for it hook, line and sinker. And because he was passing mostly as a woman at the time I was head over heals stupid in love before I found out his little secret. Now I'm not a bigot, far from it, I love people. Doesn't matter what the details are, but I just love people. I'm a very social creature by nature, and this has only grown stronger with time. I don't know if it would have made a difference if I'd known from day one he was male, but I certainly would have been WAY, WAY more cautious.

So when we started dating, I thought I was dating a woman. I thought I was falling in love with a woman, again. It was nothing new to me. Every serious relationship I'd had before Earl was with women. In the purest sense of labels, that makes me a die hard lesbian. Before Earl I'd never been with a guy. Admittedly because I had a very unhealthy attitude toward men. The person I was in those days used to say quite seriously that "Men should be kept in cages when not being used, other wise kept on a very short leash, and beaten regularly just so they know their place." Pathetic yes, also a bit prophetic too, because that was in essence what Earl believed about women, and spent more than a decade of my life doing to me.

So like I say, I went into the relationship with blinders on, and a false sense of who I was dating. A big part of that is my own fault and I get that. I'm attracted - even still somewhat to this day - to men who are bad for me. Guys like my Dad. Which is part of why I'm in no rush to start dating anytime soon. I'm still healing and looking at how I wound up HERE instead of where I wanted to go with my life. I want to avoid making the same mistake again.

So as part of my healing and growth process I started to fall back on the whole man hating lesbian thing in my post Earl life. My sister pulled me up short and read me the riot act. "Little or no experience, or one bad experience with men should not be a reason to be a lesbian, let alone a venomous man hating type. You're too old for this crap, I put up with it from you for years, enough okay?" She then launched into the details of why it was so much harder to be a lesbian, and how it cuts down on my options for a serious relationship. She also went into the whole thing of lesbian drama, and how it just spools out endlessly and that Lesbians are more crazy than men. She also argued that I was straight, had always been and was in denial. "At best Sam your a straight leaning Bi girl, but a lesbian? Nah, you're just too straight to be a lesbian."

Wow, well thanks ever so much for the vote of confidence.

Now, in my experience, on balance, lesbians are no more or less "crazy" than men. In fact anytime you bring two people together regardless of the details, there is going to be some drama.

Case in point, my sister (the one of great lectures above) is in a highly dysfunctional relationship with someone who is almost as bad for her as Earl was for me. It's a matter of degrees I guess.

But it, and a comment I made elsewhere on the web, got me thinking. First the comment I made:

Am I asking too much to want one who's smart, funny, AND cares about other people feelings? Someone who is sensitive and empathetic? Passionate about something other than TV and sports? Some who's actually emotionally invested in relationships? Who will get to know me? Someone who will know when to shut the heck up and hold me instead of badgering me with how HE thinks I should SOLVE the problem?

Oh good God, I sound like a lesbian!

So all relationships have an equal chance of being bad for one, of causing one pain, and while I am attracted to men, some of the things I need most from a relationship seem to be, somewhat, shall we say elusive in men's country. My sister for example who is very out about being Bi decided that in terms of social issues, relationship issues, and over all acceptance that it was just easier to be heteroish.

But the very drama she was expounding on when it comes to relationships with women, I've also seen in equal mesures with men, and it doesn't seem to be doing her any good.

So if there is going to be relationship drama regardless of who you're dating, what difference does the gender of that person make? Relationship drama is drama, regardless of the type, and so in the spirit of Carrie Bradshaw I ask you. Does orientation really matter?

In my case, I wonder if the things I most need and want in a relationship are even possible with a guy. Now admittedly I'm not going to base everything on one toxic psychopath. I mean I have two sisters that are happily married, so I know it's possible. I've even met some amazing men (some of whom read this, you know who you are) so I know they exist, but so far, they're all married or taken. Plus I'm not really in a rush to start dating. But still. The question remains:

Does gender in a relationship make that big a difference? Or is it like Spock said, "A difference that makes no difference, is no difference." Is the potential for drama a reson not to date someone? Especially when there are good reasons to date someone? I no longer buy into the concept of what society thinks about who I love or don't. So then it becomes a question of are there any real reasons not to date half the population if or when I ever get back to "dating?"

Right now I'm still working on getting over the need to throw up when I even think about someone getting too close to me. I'll get there. I mean I've made huge amounts of progress in the years since Earl, and I have hope that one day I'll be healed enough to consider a serious relationship. Sometimes, hope has to be enough cause it's all I have.

9 comments:

Chelsea said...

i have always had a thinking that it is so hard to find love as is, that i never want to narrow the scope of who i can and can't fall in love with... why would i want to make it even harder on myself. its refreshing to read that someone thinks the same way...

Samantha said...

Amen sister! Sing it! I just read your entire blog, and now I'm reading your girlfriends too. Good on both of you! Love is so much bigger than labels and restrictions.

So I've started flowing both your blogs, and as soon as I can fire out how again, I'll add you to my blog roll. Keep up the great work and welcome to the world!

alan said...

No words here...just tears...

alan

Samantha said...

Sorry Alan, didn't mean to bring you to tears.

alan said...

Don't be at all! I just wish sometimes I could put into words what I feel...

alan

Reagan said...

OMGosh Samantha, I can TOTALLY identify with what you went through with your ex. Right now I am going through the exact same thing...I'm with someone that I love with all my heart...or who I THOUGHT they were. Turns out she is NOT at all who I thought she was. She claimed to be transgendered...but now is saying she may not even be that. I didn't care either way, like you...love is love. It doesn't matter to me WHAT body you are in, ya know? I am exhausted from dealing with all of it. It's so emotionally devastating...I'm sorry to see that you went through this, too...

Samantha said...

Hi Reagan, I'm sorry you are going through a hard time too. It's never easy finding out someone you love isn't who he or she says they are. I do know what you mean though. I too go with my heart on things, and that sometimes gets me in trouble. While as Kathy Mattea so wisely said "We can't choose who we love . . ." sometimes we, as hard as it may be, have to, for our own health, safety and well being, have to put things into focus. Or try to right? I cannot do anything about the fact that warts and all, I loved (and still love) my later husband dearly and without condition. But I can prevent him from having the ability to hurt me more, and can work to heal the damage he's done. I do that for me. If he were to show up at my door, alive and well, I'd still be super cautious, and not just welcome him in without a thought. Sometimes we have to take care of ourselves first, and I know what a hard lesson that can be to learn. But it's a good one.

continued . . .

Samantha said...

As to people who we love, who are, or NOT, who they seem to be, I think it's terribly common when matters of the heart get involved. We often like to think of ourselves as someone other than who we are, often times we like to think of ourselves as the people we could be, without actually getting there first. Then we get into relationships based on that illusion, and someone always gets hurt. The person you love may be convinced of who she is, and where she wants to be in time-space and relationships, but hasn't reached that point in her life and isn't sure how to get there. It's not all that uncommon.

When our own needs get wrapped up into the web of potentials and possibilities, it becomes this inextricable mess. Could be, and I've seen this happen time and time again with Trans folk, they are so terrified of never being loved, that they try to do more than anyone is capable of, all at once. They rush into finding someone to be with when they are just starting on a journey that changes everything about them. In the end, more often than not, someone gets hurt. It's not even that they do it on purpose, just that they are in a panic trying to get too much done at once, and they don't take seriously the warnings that everything will change. Everything.

The other huge problem, and it's not just with Trans folk, is communication and growing together. Together life is supposed to be so much better than single life, yet few people are truly ready to make the investment of themselves required to grow together and communicate.

continued . . .

Samantha said...

Alas, there are however times when it is safer, healthier, for us to just put some distance into the situation to see if it improves, and prepare ourselves for the possibility that it may not work. If you have reached the point of exhaustion, it might be time to say, "Hey, what about me?" While to some that may sound selfish, it is often ironically the most giving thing we can do when we are tired to the point of exhaustion. I learned this one the hard way. It's hard, it brings up the chance of forever losing someone you love. But loss and the pain of it does eventually pass. I think I'm saying that more for me right now than you, cause in ways, I'm still waiting. Gender issues notwithstanding, orientation, or any of the morass of labels we go through on our way to finding another soul to truly share ourselves with, it's about teamwork and communications. Regrettably I kinda see my crazy father's point in saying all the time as he did "It takes two to tango." If you are the only one dancing love, it might be time to sit one out . . .

Whatever winds up happening, know you are not alone, and that yes, regrettably, some of us know all to well what you're going through. I wish none of us did though. I wish that when the right one came along, we'd happily move into our new lives, and our new selves as people in love, and bask in the contented joys of togetherness. So yes, I'm sorry to see you going through that, I know just how hard it is. I hope it won't offend you if I pray that your life and heart will be blessed with love, health, happiness, and someone who understands you AND themselves.

I'm sending you a mental hug, sounds like you could use one,

Sam