Previously – Why oh why am I single? Some days I so wish that I wasn’t, and other days I thank the Lord that I am. Looking back at my last relationship, the love story and the broken ending, reviewing the questions on why I seem to only choose to date the absolute wrong guys, how I’ve learned to deal with all the icky feelings that come out of the all-too-regular heartbreak of relationships, and then practicing forgiveness, it leads me to here, the bit where I can look back on all of this, all of these relationships, all of this life so far lived, and see the wonderful happenings that lead me to the places I’m meant to be.
I’ve mentioned before how we refer to the term “learning experience” as a euphemism for “oh shit” moments. Well maybe I didn’t quite describe it that way, but it was implied. Every relationship, friendship or romantic, is a learning experience, but there’s something about romantic relationships, and usually peering back through time at those relationships, where you can’t help but say “Well now I know a little better”.
And my best friend can attest, I have gotten better. Each relationship taught me certain things. Sometimes we look back on these relationships and regret them, thinking we should have known better. I’m not in the habit of regretting things, gets too messy and the guilt just kills me (I’ve never heard of “Lutheran guilt”, maybe there’s something to that). But when looking back on past relationships, I know I’m not alone in the fear that we passed up opportunities for a guy, or that we gave up something we cared about for someone else, and although this can happen, I realized something – I never did that. I used my relationships as an excuse to not do things I was too afraid to do, or maybe there was a higher hand in it, it’s hard not to think that “someone” (hint hint) put these people in my life at certain times to lead me to where I am now. I don’t know, maybe? Let’s take a look at these men that have so shaped who I am, who I’m becoming, and have led me to where I am now, who they were, what they taught me, what excuses they enabled me to have, and a little bit on their “stats”.
There’s just something about a man with the power to level up my character
The Dungeon Master (Fiance #2)
Stats: Constitution -1, Charisma +5
Special skills: Bluff +4, History +3, Dungeoneering +2
Don’t get me wrong, the DM definitely has his qualities, a photographer, a grip, an entrepreneur, he always had some kind of “project” that he was working on, but there were a LOT of lessons learned here. That even if someone is an amazing DM and they can create a wonderful world of dungeons and dragons, doesn’t automatically make them a good mate, that alcoholism is a disease that really can destroy people and is not easily fixed, and that if someone doesn’t have an income and needs to move in with you and “rent” a room but never pay rent, you probably shouldn’t start dating them. I used “settling down” with the DM as an excuse to turn down an acceptance to NYU’s Social Work program. There were plenty of other excuses as well, but it didn’t feel right, and I couldn’t say yes, thankfully this was a person put into my life to keep me occupied while I figured everything out, and it did work. It was in one of the worst moments in this relationship that I started praying, it was out of the brokenness and desperation of someone repeatedly choosing alcohol over me that I finally opened up to God.
Nothing beats your first love
Stats: Dexterity +2, Intelligence +3, Wisdom +2
Special skills: Insight +9, Streetwise +9
If I could ever convince him to marry me now I think we could totally live happily ever after. Except that we were off-an-on more times than Ross & Rachel, granted that’s high school, but it was my first break up – get back together sort of thing, still hadn’t quite learned from it yet though. I did however learn how important communication was through our break up, but it was his voice that gave voice to my doubts, it was him that started me on the path towards agnosticism and atheism, and although he’d probably hate to hear it, it was that path that lead me back to faith, a faith that was all my own, a faith that doubts and learns and evolves. Not to mention one of my closest and best friends now, a rock for me to lean on, even when he himself feels a bit shaky.
Having more pictures of him with large groups of women than you on his Facebook is a good clue
Stats: Charisma +4, Constitution +3
Skills: Bluff +4
The one who probably first instilled in me trust issues and self-doubt, I learned that even if a guy is scrawny and awkward doesn’t mean he doesn’t have game, and if he used that game on me when he had a girlfriend, he probably will continue to do that once we’re together. The Player had his own place, and a lot of “female friends” that were never friends for very long. He partied a lot on the nights that I had to be home with family, and it was only after the relationship ended that I realized I should have listened to my instincts. I don’t know if The Player was really that good at deception or if I was just in denial.
Poor Bad Luck Brian
The Nice Guy (The Ex-Husband/Fiance #1)
Stats: Constitution +2, Strength +2
Feat: Human Perseverance
When I was seventeen years old, fresh out of the relationship with The Player, I so needed a nice guy. And there he was, five years my senior, Army Reserves and student with me at college. Family life at home had gotten pretty rough, and so when the possibility of a deployment came up, we decided to get married. The thing was, he was never deployed, and I realized after six months of marriage, that it had been a terrible mistake. I used this relationship as an excuse not to apply for the Peace Corps, granted now I know that they wouldn’t have taken me anyway because I wouldn’t have really been very helpful with my Associates of Arts degree and lack of skills. This is still teaching me things today, the importance of what marriage is really meant to be, and how not it was when we were together, how my own agendas tend to get in the way of real relationship, and how not to treat someone who is genuinely very nice.
I really disagree with the Frozen trolls on fixer-upper men
The College Boyfriend
Stats: Dexterity +3, Intelligence +4
Special skills: Alertness +3, Diplomacy +2
We still talk here and there, The CBF was my first boyfriend while I was in college. He was sweet, and cared about me a lot, but was incredibly obsessive compulsive (it was a requirement in our apartment to clean the microwave after each use, even just for popcorn!) But for the first time that I could remember, the relationship REALLY wasn’t about me at all. The CBF needed me a lot more than I needed him, and what I learned is that the relationship wasn’t about me learning anything, it was about him. It was for him that I was there to learn how to relate, and in some ways (he’s told me this years later) how to feel. Fortunately I did finally learn the off-and-on relationship lesson through him. I hated the phrase “Oh you’re back together?” and learned that needing to break up is a lot like needing a lawyer – if you think you do, you probably should make a phone call.
Stats: Charisma +4
Special skills: Knowledge (random) +3
He was so into his utter veganism, will spend hours watching videos on youTube about what the best proteins are and laughs hysterically at the huge muscle-builders and all their “protein” supplements. Honestly this relationship, as heartbreaking as it was, did SO much for me. It taught me that there are guys out there that would date me even though I’m in seminary (I know that’s a weird thing to have to learn, but trust me I needed it). This relationship taught me that just because a guy is everything I want, definitely means he is probably not what I actually need, that I don’t want to be a savior anymore, I don’t want to “fix” anyone, or to help them to “be better”, that I need more than that in a partner. I can’t have someone standing on my shoulders, I need someone to hold my hand. But this relationship came the moment I needed it to, for multiple reasons.
It’s amazing to think about these people who have so shaped my life for better or for worse (I like to think that it’s for the better), and if it weren’t for these strange and wonderful people who loved me and unloved me, who taught me more about myself than some days I care to know, and who through these experiences helped me to be stronger, smarter, and more myself than I was willing to be.
Coming Soon the Final Part – Liberation, Leaving, & Love