Does It Mean a Thang If You Ain’t Got That Ring?

After years of riding that roller coaster of love, I’ve arrived at a new place: The future.
Sure, the last go around included a discussion of moving in together, possibly having a child together, but it was all contingent upon the completion of a year apart. All those things were far away in some distant plan I couldn’t yet visualize, and I really only had a matter of weeks to mull them over before the ideas were eviscerated. (See previous posts)
I didn’t think I would ever love someone in a meaningful way ever again, so I really hadn’t revisited my own feelings about marriage, children or “family.” I pretty much had the love of the only male who would ever matter to me forever, so what was there to think about?

slob

Single life can be so fulfilling

Now I’m stuck in the present– a deep well of emotional uncertainty. Sure it’s cool, comfortable, and giving me life, but it’s a limited view of the world around me. I don’t know how deep this goes, if these feelings will ever run out, what the “light” outside the tunnel is to me.
Worst of all, I’m a bit afraid to think about any of that for fear I’ll be disappointed.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve chosen to spend my time focused on the great things I possess rather than mull over the things I don’t. Sure, I thought I’d have a better job and be more financially stable by now. I expected to remain married until death, and a child, which I now have and adore, had never really been “in the picture” because of prior struggles in my life.
However, I am healthier than I’ve ever been. My son is brilliant, and makes me proud every day. I have tons of artistic, loving, intelligent and impressive friends whom I enjoy. I feel as though I spend my time with the people I love doing the things I love.

ladies

Cupcake Church 4 LIFE!

And then, of course, there’s my love.
Yes, I can choke the word out now. After weeks of struggling to accept the vulnerability that it drags along with it, I revel in knowing the love I have for this man I have the pleasure of calling “mine” is requited.
I feel it’s warmth radiate from his heavenly body when he pulls me into him. I see it fold into tiny stars that line his eyes as he smiles. Most importantly, I feel it when he goes above his own comfort level to make me happy. People tell you all the time, “I just want YOU to be happy,” but he doesn’t just say it. He makes it happen.
He knows I like to take photographs, so he suggests we go to some of the most beautiful places around to capture them. Together. He knows I like the charm of a street fair with local vendors, so he plans a trip to the farmer’s market. Together. He knows my son is the most important being on this planet to me, so he suggests kid-friendly activities for us to do… together.
When I wake up with irrational nightmares of his absence; fears of him leaving us behind like everyone else, the sound of his heartbeat as he holds me to his chest is my deafening mantra of comfort.
I know for a fact, I’m happy. I love him, and I want nothing more than to be with him. He’s genuine, kind, benevolent. While I’ll always want him, I’m finding I need him more each day.

happy

Luckiest woman evah.

With that intimacy comes questions, though. (What I surprise, Malinda has to question everything)
Mr. Pahhh rasss has made it abundantly clear, he doesn’t want to get married. He doesn’t want to have children.
Ever.
He literally just wants to keep floating through this life, enjoying it as it comes at him. I can’t blame him. It’s a beautiful thing, life is, and we never really control it, so what’s the point in trying.
But what does that mean for “us?”
He’s made a very important promise to me… that he won’t leave until I tell him to go. That he will never stray to another, and I’m starting to believe that with our histories of unfaithful spouses, hurtful divorces and heartbreak, he’s telling the truth.
That goes for the no marriage and kids thing, too, though. I believe he knows what he doesn’t want, and I would never try to change his mind.
I just don’t really know if I mind.
Marriage is great. I’m a huge fan of it. What’s better than a celebration of and dedication to love? (Money, sex, chocolate, whiskey… okay, there are a few things) As much as I love the idea of marriage and I try to share in the excitement surrounding matrimony, I could be happy with someone for the rest of my life even if they didn’t want to sign that contract.
I understand that after divorcing once, some people aren’t exactly eager to get back into that tux and slap a ring on someone’s finger. Divorces are tough on the heart and soul, and sometimes the pocketbook. I grappled with the idea of being 25 and divorced for some time. I felt like a quitter; I felt like I had betrayed my own supreme ideals.
Now, I’m just like, “Meh.”
Getting divorced was the best decision I ever made. I’m no so scared of it I would never agree to marry again, but I’m not exactly dying for a diamond. Having a companion is the best part of marriage, and as long as I could have a companion I love to be with, I’m good.
Babies, on the other hand… sigh.
Again, I never really thought I’d have another child, multiple times in my life. After Cullen, I did vow never to have a baby unless I had a solid foundation with the other potential parent, but that was about it.
My second life love had expressed a desire to procreate, rather unexpectedly, and, rather unexpectedly, I was quite responsive to the idea. He was a great father to his daughter and really treated my son well.
I wanted Cullen to have a sibling so he could avoid being a spoiled, self-centered only child. Plus, there’s few things better in the world than the bond between sisters and brothers. He’s so imaginative and active it would be good for him (and me) to have another child to run and gun with.
Also, I feel like I was robbed, somewhat, of the traditional experience of bringing a child in to the world. You know, the images of a man and woman lying in bed with all four of their hands touching her mountain of a belly erupting from the sheets. Days spent painting walls and assembling beds and nights filled with singing songs to that same mountain. The two peering into each others eyes as the purple oatmeal-covered being is finally placed into their arms.
Yeah, I didn’t have that.
I should’ve just fastened a pair of boxing gloves to my hands for nine months since I spent the entire time bobbing and weaving through 40 rounds of knock-down drag-out fights. It would’ve been nice to have that “picture-perfect” pregnancy experience… but I didn’t.
I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about couples choosing not to have kids, and one thing they always nail is the concept that this “family fantasy” is really nothing more than a societal norm. It’s what we’ve all been programmed to believe is the path to the end goal of “happiness.” That doesn’t make it right, and it certainly doesn’t make it right for everyone.
So is it right for me?
Some part of me desperately wants to have another baby. It’s exciting, and emotional and, honestly, indescribable. On the other hand, I find myself wondering if I should’ve had a baby at all.
I think about how free I would be to pursue all the adventures I love so much. I get a bit resentful of the fact that more and more people have “child-free” policies at barbecues and parties, not because I find their choices offensive, but because it makes it fucking difficult for me to find babysitters. (Honestly, it would be better for this “us v. them” battle between the childless and child-having to just relax a bit. Let’s just accept each other and move on). I get frustrated asking, “Is this movie appropriate to show a child?” “Will he be still and quiet to enough for that place?” “Is it wrong to go to this activity and leave a child behind?”

cartman

… except anything that an irresponsible adult would do.

Now that I’ve made so many changes in my life, my realm of desire has just exploded, too. I live a substance-free existence. I work out. I want to go back to school and get a new job. But I barely have enough time to manage all that with a 3-year-old as it is. He’s just now old enough that he can stay with grandma and grandpa much easier for longer periods of time without many problems.
Honestly, I’m enjoying the marginal freedom I have. Do I really want to start over again with a demanding, fragile newborn?
Let me sigh even harder… SIIIIIGHHHHHHHHHH.
I’m not 21 anymore. The time I have left to make mistakes and dick around is ticking away, and I still have no fucking idea what it is I want from what little I have left. On one hand, I’m a little scared and upset that I’ve been denied an option for the future against my will… That if I stay with this man I adore I will be forced to remove several other possibilities — whether they are or aren’t societal norms — from the agenda. I really don’t like being told what I can’t do. But the more I think about it, the more I understand why we get along so well: We both seem to really enjoy living in a chaotic good world.
I have no idea what I want, because I don’t spend much time thinking about it. I really spend much, if not all my time, focusing on what’s happening right now or in the immediate future (by that I mean, “What’s going on this weekend?”)
How is it possible to be such a control freak and spend your life just going with the flow? Is it possible for me to just take this love as it’s given with no consideration for where it’s going? “Planning for the future” is one of those things society tells us we “have” to do, too, but why? Why does it have to go anywhere? Because I’m almost 30? Because planning something somehow will protect me from being hurt?
My father always says, “If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail.” I really don’t think love and companionship can be set to an agenda or verified with an image of what it’s “supposed” to look like. But I also don’t want to wake up five years from now feeling like I’ve failed my heart, again. The only thing I know for sure is that I love this man. I’m honored he’s chosen me to be his partner, and I believe he wants to keep it that way because I make him happy. Shouldn’t that be enough?

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Exorcism anyone?

It’s like he died with the suddenness of it all. It’s been less painful, almost, that way. To know someone gave absolutely no thought to how their actions would crush you makes it a little easier to simply not give them any of your thoughts at all (other than the ones related to crushing them, maybe literally). But the last two days have been different. He’s floating around in the back of my heart. I don’t want him back, but it fills me with incredible sadness. His ghost reminds me of how happy I was. But its still a ghost of a man who drove me to madness trying to decipher his thoughts and desires, tiptoeing around conversational landmines, and using an order for war as an open ticket to behave as a morally inferior human and to take advantage of a good woman’s love. Scary.

Ready? Set? Deploy!

So resiliency training is a big deal, and the National Guard has taken the time, at least in Oklahoma, to address family readiness and the importance of support for their soldiers.
Since Sept. 11, 2011, 19 Oklahoma National Guardsmen have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a press release from the Oklahoma National Guard. In that same time frame, 16 have committed suicide. Interestingly enough, five of those persons had never been deployed–it was family or relational problems that prefaced their acts (or as he likes to say, resiliency training is the number one cause of suicides”). So, what family or relational problems would do to someone while deployed?
I read through some of the resiliency training points.
I’m starting to understand now why couples in dating relationships break up before deployments. There’s a whole lot of advice on what married couples with children should do, and I’m sure the military probably doesn’t want to endorse any other sort of arrangements among couples. However, the world is a different place today than it was yesterday, and certainly different than it was years ago.
People in love may not be married. They may not have children. They may not even live together. But does that make a connection to a deploying soldier or his or her spouse any less significant? It’s easy to glance over throngs of young men dating girls with their panties oozing to wait for their man as silly, fleeting phases, and just say they don’t know anything about life, but these are the men and women whose relationships end with a suicide pact. It’s important to them.
While he and I would never agree to such a ridiculous thing, nor do I find our relationship silly, the relationship we have is important to us.
Here’s the layout of “us.”
We’re both divorced. He has a 4-year-old daughter with his ex-wife, and I have a 1-year-old son with a man who came after my divorce. We met online, when I;m not sure if he was, but I wasn’t looking for a life-long lover. We sent emails, then texts, then talked on the phone, then met in person. From there, we tried to spend every moment together that was possible. Practically every single night for months and months, we were together. Before he left, we discussed the possibility of moving in together when he returned.
I was 26 at the time. He’s 31.
We are far from a young, silly, high-school love struck couple of teens wanting to blindly follow love wherever it would take us. Although, I think there might be some sort of benefit to blindly following pure, untainted love in to a war zone.    You don’t question what being apart from his child will do to his well being. You don’t wonder if your child will remember this person when he returns. You don’t worry about anything but how you will survive the time apart. That must be refreshing.
School came, and the time apart was difficult. I spent a lot of time in denial about the upcoming deployment, and I didn’t ask to talk about it like I should have before it was too late. The stress started building and building. So I would find myself waiting until my intensity level was up to 11, bracing for 12, and just having explosions of thoughts, worries and feelings.
I wasn’t communicating effectively. He was pulling away even further. I can still go from happy, to angry, to depressed, to lonely and back to happy in less than an hour as I try to wade through the bullshit that is pre-deployment.
He broke up with me, stating he found himself fighting to stay in the relationship and simply couldn’t be in one with anyone at the moment. He later (too long later) clarified that he felt wrong asking me to wait around for a man especially when we weren’t dependent on the other, married or lived together–which are all the situations the military addresses for family readiness.
So back to the resiliency training. There’s all this great advice for spending time with your children (but we don’t have children together) and ensuring a parent’s transition to being a single parent (which I already am) will be easier. But there’s absolutely nothing there to help me better understand and prepare for this situation, nor is there anything to help him turn the love of a good partner into an asset rather than a hindrance.
What’s happening, is he is being, somewhat forced to try and squeeze in all this quality time with multiple individuals without any of that time overlapping.
For “normal” families (I just threw up in my mouth a little), taking individual time for each child is no biggie. It could be simply letting your significant other and a child camp out in the back yard a night, or playing video games after work until 2 a.m. or taking him or her to the movies. Your man or woman is still close by. You’re still together under the same roof (unless you camp outside, of course). But not for the military girlfriend.
I have time allotted to me. Anything beyond that time is dedicated to his daughter, as it should be. But I can’t say it doesn’t hurt my feelings to know he’s just a short drive away when he’s been hundreds of miles away for months and I cannot go to him. I cannot be under the same roof. Especially when that distance is going to climb into the thousands of miles range in a short time. Such a short time. Way too short of a time.
You start questioning whether your allotted time was good enough. Is he’s even thinking of you anymore? Does he just need some time with the little one, free from distraction, or is his unbridled passion fading again? Did he just need some time together for physical intimacy? Is that what I’m here for? What AM I here for?
I’ll tell you why I’M here….love, quite simply.
I’ve made a lot of dumb mistakes, a lot of them involving men, in my life. When I was married, I didn’t recognize how we were smothering and enabling each other. I freaked out afterward and sought the attention of anyone who would give it to me, got pregnant by a guy who was not anywhere near ready to be a parent, and tried to do the FWB thing (why does anyone still believe this is a good idea?). By the time I met him, I was burned down and worn the hell out.
He did nothing but restore my faith in love, men, family, the freakin’ universe.
I have never met someone who makes me laugh like he does. I have never met anyone who makes me want to be a better person the way he does. There’s this boarder line creepy, direct link between our brains. He’s a good man. An excellent father. And just an all-around fantastic human being.
Weeks after our official separation, we decided to make some changes and give it another go. I couldn’t be happier.
The point of all this mess of words, I suppose, is that there isn’t a clear answer to the question, “He’s getting deployed, what do I do now?” I live in a world where answers are asked, sought, found and re-produced as tools for others to use. I’ve tried and tried to seek out the answer to the question, “How do I do this?” and it simply doesn’t work that way.
How can the military expect families to prepare when they aren’t even acknowledging the fact that families don’t look the way they used to? No wonder these men and women believe it’s better to not take a partner’s heart in their duffels. It’s a heavy burden to carry, especially when the agency sending you away doesn’t even recognize someone special to you as someone that “matters” in any real sense of the word.