New Year’s Eve is a funny holiday. On the one hand, it prompts drunken debauchery and hedonistic partying in a kind of frantic send-off for the departing year. On the other hand, it is embraced as an opportunity for rebirth and reflection, a time to break old habits and make new ones, a time to openly and diligently define and pursue a new and better version of ourselves and the world around us.
My year ended today with a period at the end of my relationship with James.
My friend Annie is having a New Year’s Eve party tonight, and soon I will rise and dress and join the celebrations for all that has past this year. But first, I sit here this evening, bundled in clothes and wrapped in a blanket, for I’ve been unable to get warm all day. I have every light on in my little house in an attempt to drive away any creeping shadows that might undermine my wobbly composure. The television and iPod have both been banished, lest they heartlessly deliver some reminder of what is no longer. I munch my way resolutely through a slice of pizza, the first food to pass my lips in over 24 hours.
It would seem, from our conversations of the last couple weeks, that James and I want different things from a relationship and have different ideas about where that relationship should ultimately go. Relationships are a constant work in progress — tweaking that a bit, enhancing that a bit, taking more care with that a bit… — and ours was perhaps more contentious and dramatic than most. But I loved him and was committed to that love because I thought we were working on it together, toward a common goal. I thought, particularly after our last reconciliation, that we wanted the same things and felt mostly the same ways and that we just struggled with the details.
But apparently I was wrong.
At some point, I want to be a family again. He’s not sure he does. He acknowledged that he might just be passing time with me, seemingly without any intention or desire for us to ever be more than we are. I discovered this week that the wonderful Christmas I thought we’d shared was actually something he felt I’d forced on him; not something he’d wanted with me or my children. Ouch. It’s bad enough that I’d offered myself on Christmas, but apparently I managed to drag my sweet daughters into the intrusion. I’m so ashamed for that; they deserve better than to be felt a burden on someone else’s holiday.
It is a difficult thing, this idea of family, and one that I thought we’d shared. I don’t want to marry again, but I do very much someday want to be important to someone in that way, and vice versa. I want my children to have a solid home when they’re with me, that includes a healthy adult relationship. Beyond the first months, I have no interest in a long-term, casual-but-exclusive relationship that serves a purpose only until something better comes along. I suppose in my next relationship I will be more guarded on this one. For the sake of my children, I’d better be.
I want to trust my partner and be trusted in return. James doesn’t trust me and probably never will, as plainly evidenced by some recent, painful events. And this week, hints have emerged that perhaps I have been foolish to have been so trusting of him. It’s now a question I don’t need answered. No sense in more pain.
I want to be really, truly known, I don’t want to hide pieces of myself or my life from someone I love. But James conceals so much from me, and I think he does it without even realizing that other people do not. I think he is so used to hiding parts of himself that he doesn’t even know how to be open and be comfortable with it. Or perhaps that’s only ego talking, and he simply can’t be real with me. Maybe when he truly falls in love with someone, he won’t need to hide so much. Or maybe when he truly falls in love with someone, he won’t have so much to hide.
I want someone who likes me. I was crazy about James. The thought of him made me smile and I always felt like I was lucky to have found him. I can’t speak for him, of course, but I don’t think he felt the same way. I heard quite a bit about what doesn’t like about me (and the list is a long and serious one), but only once did I feel like he had a similar list of things he liked about me.
I want to love someone freely and without reservation. And I did. And it was wonderful to feel that again and be able to give that to someone. But it seems that it was also unrequited. I guess that’s the risk we take when we give someone our heart.
So I will begin 2012 sifting through my regrets and attempting to learn whatever I need to from my multiple missteps in this relationship. I want to own the stuff that’s mine, without taking on his personal issues, too.
There was plenty wrong in our relationship and so much external drama and crisis from his ex-wife that I suppose I should feel relieved that I will no longer be a part of all that. And yet, one of the things that I’m good at is sticking through the tough times with someone. Running when they need me is not something to which I’m accustomed.
I will miss so much from this relationship. I will grieve it deeply. There were obviously things about it and him that I valued with my whole heart. I suppose I could call him up and sweep all this under the rug and carry on as if I didn’t need any of those things I’ve just written. But it wouldn’t last, and we’d be right back here again.
So, instead, I’ll usher in the New Year with some friends and a bit of champagne, and hope, like so many others, for new beginnings in 2012.
Happy New Year to you. Please be safe and healthy and happy. See you on the other side of midnight….