This Really Happened:

20 Jul

I am currently enmeshed in a brutal power struggle with a relentless commitmentphobe: Myself. More on this later, but suffice it to say that as of late, I have been obsessed with my own: commitmentphobia, commitment conflicts, intimacy issues, relationship ambivalence; and as a result, have immersed myself in a quite excellent self-help book about the topic, hence all the fancy labels for what I am feeling/experiencing. The upshot of all this is that my own self-sabotaging (or self-protective, depending on how you look at it) behaviors have been on my mind a lot (read: all the time) lately.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I went out to buy myself a TV dinner (perhaps this is evidence of my bachelorette-hood. But it was Amy’s Organic brand, so I think it is slightly different and, dare I say elevated from like, a Hungry Man Salisbury Steak type deal-y. And while we are the subject, if you are looking for further evidence to support my fear of intimacy, look no further than my refrigerator, which contains: soy sauce, a carton of spoiled milk – I’m not sure when it expired, I can probably pinpoint it to the nearest month, somewhat melty tofutti cuties, and a couple of beers, although I don’t own anything that could remotely open such bottles, and a few other miscellaneous items not worth mentioning).

Anyway, I was walking towards the market when I saw a woman sitting on a bench in front of a coffee shop, and the remarkable or at least somewhat remarkable thing about her was that she was perched next to a tiny cage containing even tinier kittens. Two of them. Spooning. I started looking at the kittens (they were super-cute), and she started talking to me about the kittens, and how they were siblings – a pair – and couldn’t be separated. And THEN (and this is where it gets all Twilight Zone-y), she said that everything is better off in pairs you know, and “studies” have shown that it is better to be in a relationship, any relationship, an unhealthy and terrible relationship even, than none at all (ok, this surely has to be wrong, and there definitely must be some “study” out there proving just the opposite point but whatever). And THEN she said, ’cause she was really on a roll now, that ACTUARIES (did she just use this as an example because no one knows what actuaries actually do?) have PROVEN that living alone, health-wise, is the equivalent of smoking! (!)

“Your kittens are adorable. Good luck finding a home for them!” (Oh, that’s me, walking away waving, pretty much done with being a part of this conversation, yet still managing to be polite. BA-bye. TV dinner, here I come. Wait for me!) I forgot to mention that before I got up and walked away, in between, maybe, the “it’s better to be in an unhealthy relationship than to be single (which, I am totally not advocating here and I completely think is a total and complete LIE; at the very least, this woman was seriously misinformed. And honestly, I don’t think she meant any harm, I just think she was trying to state the case for the kittens staying together and not being split up. Point taken.)” and the bit where she tried to confuse me with a song and dance about actuaries, I did, what my friend and I like to call “The Dog Look” (so named because it’s what we imagine a confused dog, or even a cartoon dog, would do if he/she wanted further information. Or food. And it might even be accompanied by a Scooby Doo-esque sound effect.), which means that I cocked my head to the side and put a look on my that said “Huh?”.

The next day in a subway station I was bopping down a set of stairs when something made me look down, and at my feet I saw a sticker that said in big bold screaming (at least to me that’s what it seemed) letters that shouted: “MARRIAGE NOW!” Closer inspection revealed that it was referring to homosexual marriage so it was not as applicable to my life as I had initially thought, but still, it seemed like a sign. A sign that was echoed when, later that same day, I walked into a deli (that same day), only to hear Al Green’s plaintive voice crooning: “I’m so tired of being alone,” and later even, when I rented the movie Shopgirl to see, or remember as I should have known, being that I had read the book, that is about: commitmentphobia, commitment conflicts, intimacy issues, relationship ambivalence.

So, basically, I’m kind of, or actually really, in this weird place whereby I recognize and am further obsessed with observing and analyzing my own “ambivalent” beliefs and behaviors, and yet, although I want, I think, to not be this way; I want, I think, more, my beliefs and behaviors haven’t exactly caught up to my inner whispers of desire and stirrings of my soul on the matter of letting someone into my life in way that requires I release my need to be, or habit of being, alone. This tension leaves me feeling, generally, like I am hatching from this commitmentphobic shell that has encased me – I would be lying if I didn’t say, my entire adult life (I didn’t have this problem as a child: in kindergarten, I was engaged to not one, but two of the cutuest boys in my class) – only, my particular shell contains all these pulsating nerve endings, which I’m not sure if real shells have; i.e. it hurts. A lot. And then there is the matter of all these signs from the Universe…

3 Responses to “This Really Happened:”

  1. Justinanne July 24, 2006 at 4:55 pm #

    cat lady is wrong! the actuaries i know have determined that, from a longevity perspective, men do better in relationships, even a crappy and hateful relationship, than their single counterparts. conversely women are better off alone than in an unsatisfying relationship. like a fish needs a bicycle…

  2. nicole July 25, 2006 at 11:45 pm #

    When I find myself caught in a web of self analysis, unable to see to the surface, much less catch a breath, I find it best to stop thinking. I mean that both figuratively and literally.

    I do something inane. Something childish and stupid. Just something that gets me out of my head. And then things look like they’re more in place. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t care anymore.

  3. Jennifer Garam July 26, 2006 at 8:15 pm #

    Justinanne – Thanks for the good news! PS – You know actuaries???

    Nicole – Sounds like a good idea. I just sometimes feel like, what would my entire sense of self/identity become if I stop the incessant thoughts? But, then I think, it’s definitely worth a shot! Wait, am I thinking too much?

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