When You Feel Like Your Life Has Been Disassembled
Sometimes we have those days when we remember what’s missing.
Let me start by affirming that it’s perfectly natural and healthy to want a companion. Humans seek out connection and comfort from each other. It’s what we do. It’s how we’re meant to live. I’ve wanted nothing more than to be close to another person, sharing an intimate partnership and home together. I had so many plans. I’d get married, have a lot of kids (yes, “a lot”), and live happily ever after.
I amended that last part after I grew up, had two energy-consuming, wonderful children, and deprogrammed my Disney Princess influencing. But most of it hasn’t changed. I want an intimate partner with whom to share my life. I even considered that I’m polyamorous. So, I’m open to a couple of intimate partners.
I assembled a bunk bed by myself today. It was a fairly straightforward design, but I was short some screws. It may sound like no big deal to some, but it was stressful for me. I’d forgotten to vacuum until I brought in the frame, so I inconvenienced myself from the start.
I put off assembling it because I knew I might get like this. Why do I find it such a difficult task? Because I’ve tried to do it alone far too many times. I’m good at a lot of other things, but tinkering doesn’t come easily for me. And it’s when I do some stupid project like building a simple bunk bed that I remember.
I’ve been single for 12 years and have only had a few long-term relationships in my life. I almost forget being with my kids’ dad was a partnership. I had a heavy mental load as the one doing most domestic duties, and he was rarely an intimate companion. I’ve been trying to accept it, but some days are hard. I want companionship.
I’ve lived alone with my kids for most of their young lives. They played with their friend today while I grumbled and cried over bunk bed problems. I knew I’d have to walk them over to the hardware store to get spare parts. It’s only a five-minute walk, but we have to wear masks and cross the street together. We made it with little effort and enjoyed our shopping trip. The people who work there are amazing.
And we got the bunk bed and mattress for free, so why was I grumbling about everything? It was such a generous gift. We even had another person pick it up and deliver it to us. I felt ungrateful, which is never a good place to be.
But I’m also rarely gentle enough with myself during these moments. Everyone needs someone else sometimes. The top bunk fell on my head, and I cried even harder. No one was there. Sure, I could call on a friend to come over and help. But I’ve hardly ever had a person already there, ready to lend a hand.
As you might guess, it’s never about assembling a bunk bed. It’s not as simple as needing an extra pair of hands. I haven’t had a warm, snuggly adult human next to me in my spacious queen bed for years. I don’t know what side they’d want, so I’m always on the side away from the wall, usually the right, if anyone wants to know.
When I look back on how I might’ve gotten here, to this place of lonely single parenthood, I see where I was led astray. I developed unrequited crushes from the age of five. My biological mother struggled with boundaries and codependency in her relationship with my father and often appeared obsessed with him. She modeled what not to do.
I slept around after my first boyfriend in high school broke up with me. I became an alcoholic and did more damage to myself. I fell in love with every stupidly drunk asshole who’d sleep with me. I got sober in 2003 when I was 31. I hadn’t matured much while I was drinking. I wasn’t ready for a relationship, and stayed happily single. I enjoyed getting to know myself, cultivating my interests, and developing platonic friendships.
When I started dating my last boyfriend (before my kids’ dad), we fell head over heels in love. He was my soul mate, twin flame, and everything in between. Little did I realize how difficult a twin flame can be, nor did I acknowledge his tragic alcoholic relapse.
Before he fell apart, he showed me what it’s like to have a full-time boyfriend. He was my sexy teddy bear, and I was his sweetheart. We had cutesy, quirky things we did for and with each other. We held hands walking down the street and made music playlists as presents. He replaced my refrigerator light once, and I’ll never forget it. When given a chance, he would’ve assembled things beyond my scope of expertise.
We spooned in bed, holding hands. He cooked dinner, then we’d wash dishes together. He motivated me when I needed encouragement. He communicated his needs and allowed me to share mine while he listened. We resolved our conflict or agreed to disagree. We spent time with his kids, and he was honest with me — until he wasn’t any of those things. His addiction took over, and I lost him.
I addressed my codependency shortly after we broke up in 2009. I’ve healed a lot of wounds and practiced healthy behavior since then. Although I sometimes feel codependency rise in me, I feel like I’ve recovered from it. Not only do I no longer feel a need to fix or change anyone, but I also don’t need anyone to make me happy.
No one else can make you happy since it comes from within. But it sure would be nice to have someone to share life’s ups and downs. When we’re not feeling good, it helps to have someone to lean on. I’d be grateful to be the person they need, too.
I assemble a bunk bed myself, and suddenly I’m a mess when my favorite guy doesn’t respond immediately to my texts? What if that’s not codependent? What if I simply need to reach out a little more on a particular day?
I’ve been worried I’m overly dependent on someone who values non-attachment and doesn’t want to feel trapped. I’ve forgotten it’s ok to need people sometimes. I’m not trying to trap or suffocate him. I know people need space apart, but we can also share space.
I suppose if I felt more secure in my relationship, I’d simply ask him for attention. But until fewer question marks are swimming around inside my head, I thought it would be best to simply acknowledge my legitimate desire for a partner.
I don’t need him to fix everything. I want him to fix it with me. It’s incredibly lonely for me to be this fucking independent. So why did I get attached to the idea of him being the one to do it with me when he currently lives miles away? I don’t know. I guess it’s because I feel good with him, and it’s hard to think we won’t be together eventually.
We all know these feelings pass. Tomorrow’s a new day, and the energy will be fresh. But when you’re falling apart, it feels like forever until you’re put back together again.
It’s hard to have people come in and out of my life but never stay. My local friend has been around because our kids are friends. We became closer by default. I’m not discounting our friendship, but I find it interesting that playdates are the only time we hang out. I have to admit I want more than that with her.
I’m learning not to dismiss it as codependent when I want company. It’s a legitimate need, too. You might notice that we’re all a tad bit more lonely these days. We’re not always getting out and mingling, with our pandemic social circles reduced.
It’s human nature to desire an intimate connection. Balance is a key element of any relationship, but you don’t have to pretend you don’t need or want them. Go ahead and tell them you could use a little attention tonight.
The next time I plan to assemble something, I’ll ask a friend to help out ahead of time. We don’t have to struggle. It’s ok to ask for help. And it’s ok to want someone alongside us so we can fix it together.
Maybe next time, that extra set of hands will be attached to my smart, sexy companion who’s ready to assemble our life as we wish.
How to Foster Trust and Intimacy in Your Relationships
Begin with asking the right questions upfront
7 Qualities That Make For A Desirable Partner And A Friend
Pay attention to how you feel when someone is attentive and honest with you