Sunday, October 05, 2008

tentative at best

Let's not call it flaky, let's call it whimsical. Capricious, even.

I didn't used to be this way. I used to rely on a firm schedule and found comfort in social activity that was planned days--if not weeks--in advance. Now, not so much.

I say "let's play it by ear" a lot. I won't buy concert tickets more than a few weeks ahead of time. I have no idea how I'll use up the rest of my personal and vacation days this year. I get nervous when somebody asks to do something more than a couple of days from now. I panic if I feel like my time is being imposed on.

What changed? Did I suddenly realize what precious little free time I had? It's not as if it suddenly dawned on me. How did I go from being so rigid socially to enjoying spontaneous plans so much? How did I go from being thoroughly dependable to a more unknown quantity?

J had a lot to do with it. Between the two of us, we had a healthy social calendar. There were birthdays and weddings and holidays and funerals. There was his giant family and my clan of friends. There were our mutual friends. There was always something to do, something we were invited to.

For a while, I loved having days filled with so much to do, with a person who adored me so much. Then I started realizing that we never had a full weekend to ourselves, to do nothing. Even in the early stages of our relationship, we never had that long stretch of time where we sequestered ourselves in bed and tuned out the rest of the world (mental note to make sure that happens in my next relationship). And when we did have a so-called lazy day, even those had a rigidity to them; there were workouts and errands and little things that always seemed to take longer than expected.

Eventually, the time time we spent together started to feel structured, even when it centered around fun activities. I became frustrated that so many social obligations were stacking up weeks and months into the future. I felt like I had less time to myself, too. Despite asserting to J that I was not a phone person, there were frequent phone calls (he checked in with me up to five times a day). What started out as a feeling of having this loving person so dedicated to me grew into a feeling of being smothered and controlled. Some of our biggest fights were about my need for more personal space. I could see how the relationship could become codependent. I had a life outside the relationship that was beginning to feel hampered.

Since the breakup, one of the things I cherish most is having my schedule back to myself. Invited to a party? No need to check with J to see if there is a conflict on his end. Want to stay in all weekend and be a couch potato? I have the final say. Want to spend days in a row being a social hermit and ignoring all calls/emails/texts? So be it. My free time is all my own.

The problem is this nervousness I've developed about making firm plans too far ahead of time. I was the furthest thing from spontaneous for most of my life and now I've swung to the opposite extreme. Last weekend, I had no plans for Saturday and set plans for Sunday. I ended up going to a last minute gathering on Saturday and bailing on Sunday plans.

Have I become less dependable? Maybe a little, except with my mother and closest friends. With everyone else, it's a crap shoot. I'm probably a frustrating person to date right now and yet potential suitors are on the horizon. My independence and new-found unpredictability is probably attractive to many, yet I've been on the other side of the fence, dealing with people like today's me, and I know how maddening it can be.

There's nothing I can do about it right now. I'm enjoying the last minute, the unexpected, following my whims, carving out my own trajectory. It leads to adventure. I am all about adventure these days.

7 comments:

Dave said...

Very cool - but you should know you're the exception rather than the rule in my experience. Most women easily get wrapped up in a relationship and lose their own identity.

Me said...

Family get togethers: I can understand what you went through, which is why I prefer to date women who do not have family in the same city as them. Some people like the simple life!

As for spending the whole day in bed: marvellous. I was 34 when I first experienced that and it is so lovely I'll never get serious with any woman who does not want them. Of course not wanting children has a lot to do with that.

Dolly said...

Dave,

Yeah, my female friends tell me that I have more of a guy perspective on relationships these days.

Me,

Good idea about dating someone with family outside the state. Though that can also mean using vacation time to see them.

As for the day in bed thing, I've experienced it before, just not in a really really long time. I'm overdue.

Krayon said...

Pretty cool stuff you have going here. There's a wealth of stories to go through, and I've only skimmed the surface, and I'm already enthralled.

I can completely understand where you are coming from. I always ask myself the question, 'Why, just because you're in a relationship, your individuality, and independence gets buried by the relationship?'

And I realise, can you really have a successful relationship, while maintaining your individuality? Things are pointing to no.

Dolly said...

Krayon,

I think in order to have a rich identity it's necessary to continue evolving as a person. One reason individuality might get stifled in a relationship is because there's often a tendency to fall into routines and stop growing (separately and as a couple). I can't help but be optimistic that there is a way to have both, it's just a matter of choosing someone on a similar trajectory, though that isn't easy. How can you insure that you will grow together and not apart? It's something I haven't had good luck with up to this point, though I still have faith it's possible.

shanerobert007 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben Sutherland said...

Interesting hearing about this coming from the other direction, Dolly. Although weekends in bed are really not something I'd ever be willing to give up, I don't think.

There are advantages to spontaneous and total control over my own time that I've enjoyed. Though, I have to say that none of them make up for stable, happy relationship, in the bigger picture, for me, at least. But it's nice to get a sense of yourself with all that, in the meantime.

I suppose the answer, at some level, is to be happy no matter where you're at. The opposite gets wearisome, is the truth. Whatever the endeavor.