I dreamt about Lee the other night. After all this time, we were going to get together for a glass of wine. And then something happened and we didn’t. I think I woke up trying to reschedule and then slowly realized it wasn’t real.
Sometimes I think he visits here. And sometimes I’m sure he doesn’t. I was so certain he’d come back into my life, but without any evidence or reason to believe.
For a long time, I checked out bald dudes. I started listening to Country music (you can check out my playlist on Spotify). I dug deep into how to communicate better in relationships. I stopped eating gluten and dairy. I’ve learned to more authentically stand in my truth. I have a rescue dog (that’s supposed to be my daughter’s).
I’m also in a relationship with a kind and loving man. It’s been more than two years now. We moved in after a year. Then he got a job out of state. We thought we’d make it a pretty balanced situation, where he’d be home two or three weeks a month. But it hasn’t worked out that way. And, in those times of distance and (not gonna lie) a bit of resentment, we’ve argued — and thoughts about how happy I’d been in relationship with Lee snuck in.
It’s indefensible, I know. It’s not fair to compare people — and, if it is, my current guy has several different legs up on Lee. But our relationship doesn’t have that same level of ease; we have to work on it. And sometimes I crave the harmony and stronger political alignment I shared with Lee.
I’ve tried to put my finger on what it was about that relationship that seemed so right. After all, I still had my own stuff — I struggled with some anxiety, I was on the verge of descending into consuming grief — but I liked myself and who I was in our relationship. I liked that I wanted to be my best self and was actively taking steps that ultimately resulted in a promotion at work and feeling pretty fit. I liked how natural we felt, as though our souls had known each other before. I felt authentic in how I was navigating the world. My personal momentum was toward the positive.
These days, I regularly feel angry and lethargic. Being positive seems to take extraordinary effort. And rather than casting about, trying to assign blame to a stressful situation at work or a normal, mostly positive relationship, I sometimes find myself wondering what life might be like if I were navigating it with Lee.
Deep down, I know the relationship we had wasn’t real, even as it felt more so than most. Let me clarify: the connection was real, the love was genuine. But our relationship didn’t have time to become real because we never got bored, never watched television together, never learned how to negotiate conflict with one another, were never tested. And this occasional fantasy can’t match a man who wants to create a life with me, even if his vision for our future makes me consider possibilities that are different from what I would have chosen for myself.
And there’s another possibility that plays into this malaise: What if my current mental state is simply a side effect of the outrage fatigue so many women I know are feeling… since right around January, 2017, and more so since the Kavanaugh confirmation fiasco (during which a series of ancient, shriveled white men demonstrated how little they value women, and a female senator from Maine rapturously sang the praises of an abusive drunk as though he was lapping at her labia even while she spoke).
I keep thinking I’ll be happier, calmer, better able to look forward after the next election… provided it’s free and fair, and hatred is defeated.