Significant Other(s)

 

 

I am not the nicest person.

I’m well trained and can put on appropriate manners with the best of them, but at the end of the day I just don’t want to spend my free time and space with another person underfoot.  This is why I like P!nk’s music so much.  She puts into words exactly what I have felt on so many levels, but has some how managed to heal herself to the point where she can live with another person and reproduce without losing herself.

The care and feeding of other people can be quite a lot of work, and that’s when everyone is healthy.  When you add in a situation where one is married and ill, it can easily become a whole new level of entitlement.

As someone growing up in an unhappy household (and then a violent household), and then was moved to another household for safekeeping (that no one knew was violent), I have strong views on the expectations that society tries to impose on each of us regarding our gender specific roles, never mind our “family” roles.  While I’m lucky to have been born at the time The Pill was introduced to give women more options about their lives and the suitability of their options, the reality is that change takes time.  Lots and lots of time.

While I am a very liberated woman, my brain is chock full of programming from the cusp of women’s lib and earlier.  After 57 years here, I can confirm that it’s really hard to get that automatic programming cleared out from your brain about what your life is going to look like, and how you should be a princess on your wedding day.  Regardless of your preferences or your own health reality.

Before moving away from home, I did date upon occasion because it was expected.  Even then, I knew I was not a “keeper” and didn’t want to be kept.  Dating was always unsettling.  I didn’t feel that I measured up or could be myself.  And, when I was attracted to someone, I was nasty.

Not nasty sexually, but simply someone who would goad the other person either attracted to me, or worse, to whom I was attracted to, until I didn’t like the person that I was in their company.

I wasn’t playing fair.  I wasn’t kind.  I was out of control and running on a hormonal reaction of pheromones run amok.  I was doing what society told me I should do at my age and for my gender, and I wasn’t happy.

So, I moved across country.  I figured out that I was a hazard to myself and others when I did stuff involving my emotions, and I stopped doing anything that made me uncomfortable.

I already knew that I didn’t want children due to my birth defects.

I already knew that I didn’t want to entangle anyone in my life who wanted more from me than what I was willing to give.  I wasn’t about to put up with violence in my home, and I wasn’t about to be bossed around by some guy just because I was a woman.

I put up with the presumption that I must be a lesbian.

I put up with the presumption that I “chose” to be fat in order to drive away men.

Despite all the challenges, I built a life that suited me, and which allowed me to explore my sexuality and related cohabitation decisions at my own pace.  And, while I don’t want one under foot, I definitely prefer guys, and have been able to learn to control myself and be kinder than I was when my hormones ran amok.  I found a couple of nice men who helped me find myself as I explored society’s expectations vs. my own boundaries and preferences.

SwampHawk2 / Dale Bowers was a very kind man, 18 years my senior, who showed me how to safely date via the internet.  While I could not stay with him until the end as he, too, battled COPD, we shared our blogs and our hearts, and I did what I could to support him until I lost him as he refused to adjust to reality and accept the limitations of our shared disease.

Dale lived with me for about six (6) weeks, after I got him out of the hospital when they were refusing to let him move home to die.  The Social Worker would not let him move back home to live off the grid, and without someone in the house at the end stage of his illness.  Unable to walk out of the hospital under his own steam, he was trapped.

Dale lived in Castro Valley, hoarding his money for things that were important to him – his son in LA, struggling to be an actor.  His solar or generator powered mobile home.  His freedom of choice.

Like an old time cowboy, Dale lived simply and chose to have nice date clothes and present an image of gentlemanly courtesy and appearance, while struggling to get by on disability.  He would do without for regular meals, surviving on beans and sandwiches, so that he could splurge on nice dinners.  He would refuse to turn on the heat to warm up his tin can home, as heat was expensive and he was saving his money.  Always.  Money was never to be wasted on anything that resembled comfort, as he was sure there were ways to live cheaper.  Even when he no longer had the energy to run the gas generator when the Winter rains moved in and drained his solar powered batteries.

So, I got him out of the hospital and brought him home to live with me with the understanding that it was a short-term solution.  Dale agreed he would make arrangements to move into an apartment, and he would get his freedom back as I was not wife material.  Despite the fact that I was waiting on him hand and foot while working a full-time and very fast paced job, and giving a very good imitation of wifely devotion.

When it got to be 6 weeks of having Dale underfoot, well ensconced in my home, making no effort to line up the aids he needed to live independently I kicked Dale out of my house in March 2009.  I first set him up with liquid oxygen deliveries, which do not require any sort of external power, and ensured that he had portable liquid oxygen tanks to give him the freedom to drive and be mobile once again.

I was done making beds, doing laundry, cleaning and making home cooked meals every day.  I just was not suited to being anyone’s “significant other”.

Living with Dale showed me where I fell short in being someone’s significant other, and even when it was ugly for him and for me, as I refused to be the person he needed me to be in his life, he helped me grow into a better person.  A person who knew what she was, and was NOT, suited to do in this life.

The parting was hard on us both, and he died November 13th, 2010, shortly after I moved my suicidal Auntie into my home.  While I was able to stabilize Auntie and get her out of bed and back on her feet with the help of the professionals at Stanford, and her Geriatric Care Manager, living with Auntie also confirmed that I was not caregiver material, despite the fact that I had happily done so for my Mom.

My Auntie was having a suicidal episode around Thanksgiving 2010, and I was juggling her care needs as well as those of my older brother who was struggling with brain cancer.  I didn’t have time to grieve for Dale, who died alone and due to a COPD exacerbation aggravated by cold and damp weather exposure, as he wouldn’t turn on the heat in his tin can home.  The Winter storms were having their way with his ability to survive with COPD, and he lost the battle.

While I was in MA checking on my brother, Dale’s landlord sent me a surreal text from his phone, informing me he had passed away.  I was sitting in a hotel room in Woburn, Massachusetts, and I had no idea how to handle the news.  I had last seen Dale in April 2010, and I had broken things off between us as he was clinging and I could not come to terms with his end of life choices.  I loved him, we would remain friends, but I was selfish and loved my peace and quiet more, and we both refused to compromise.

We had discussed my refusal to be at his side at the end before we began dating, but it was still a shock to learn that he had passed away.  I never expected him to go without another, final, hospital stay, and without a chance to say goodbye.  I never got my chance to confirm for him that he was important to me.   Instead, I was visiting my family and trying to spend as much time as possible with my older brother before we lost him, too.

There was no funeral.  Apparently, the son refused to show up to take care of things, so the landlord was left to handle Dale’s affairs.  So sad.

But, I tell you all that to tell you this – I will not suck the life out of another person just because I’m scared that it’s getting near the end.

While I have a different wonderful man in my life he, too, has to put up with my boundaries.  We both have very different priorities in our lives, and make it work despite our mutual selfishness.

Yes, being friends with benefits is more than being just a friend, but it’s also thankfully less than being someone’s spouse or publicly-acknowledged significant other.

We come into this life alone, and we leave this life alone.

Along the way we find some nice people to share adventures and fun with, if we are lucky.  Life doesn’t come with a guarantee, and we only lose ourselves if we forget our dreams and preferences in pursuing others.  Whether we’re married, single, or involved with a significant other, it’s up to us to ensure that we do no harm along the way while we are building the life we desire.

When I forget that, there’s always P!nk’s music to remind me of just how good and how bad it can be to try and be “normal” or “conventional” and fit in with the status quo for one’s age, gender and level of health.

Anyway, I’m not sure where I was going with tonight’s blog.  But, I was working in the cold and damp, trying to get more of the garden planted, before flying away this weekend, and this song came on the iPad, reminding me of a bittersweet time in my life.  I can never hear this song without thinking of Dale.  Hard to believe he’s been gone eight (8) years this November.

***************

P!nk – Please Don’t Leave Me

I don’t know if I can yell any louder
How many time I’ve kicked you outta here?
Or said something insulting?
I can be so mean when I wanna be
I am capable of really anything
I can cut you into pieces
When my heart is, broken
Please don’t leave me
Please don’t leave me
I’m always saying how I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back to this
Please, don’t leave me
How did I become so obnoxious?
What is it with you that makes me act like this?
I’ve never been this nasty
Can’t you tell that this is all just a contest?
The one that wins will be the one that hits the hardest
But baby I don’t mean it
I mean it, I promise
Please don’t leave me
Please don’t leave me
I’m always saying how I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back to this
Please, don’t leave me
I forgot to say out loud how beautiful you really are to me
I can’t be without, you’re my perfect little punching bag
And I need you, I’m sorry.
Please, please don’t leave me
Baby, please don’t leave me
No, don’t leave me
Please don’t leave me
I’m always saying how I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back,
It’s gonna come right back to this.
Please, don’t leave me.
I always say how I don’t need you
But it’s always gonna come right back to this
Please don’t leave me
Baby, please don’t leave me
Songwriters: Alecia Moore / Max Martin

4 thoughts on “Significant Other(s)

  1. Love me some P!nk! What a well written post too! Explains the viewpoint of folks who are solitary in nature to a T I think. I’m one, though not to the extent that you are…I kinda miss having someone to take care of (and I should be careful what I wish for, I just might get it. I probably wouldn’t like it..) but overall I enjoy my own company and never was one of the traditionalists vis a vis marriage. It’s been six years since hubby cast off his mortal coil and time tends to soften and rose tint the problems I think. I’m sorry about your friend, I remember when you were talking about kicking him out, but worrying that he wouldn’t take care of himself. But we all have freedom of choice. Take care sweetie..a few days and you get some vay-cay time, don’t you? Enjoy! 🙂

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  2. Counting the days until my vacation, which starts tomorrow, thankfully. For whatever reason I was compelled to check and see if there was a picture of Dale posted yet with his obituary (still no), and just a little melancholy that I appear to be the only one who still remembers him.

    I posted a condolence note back when it happened (and they finally posted the obit months after the fact, in 2011. And, I posted another note last night. I have no idea what happens when we leave this mortal coil, but if he’s out there I want him to feel my love and know that he was missed. Truly a good guy.

    As for you missing someone to take care of, sometimes, boy do I hear you about that. The positives of having company are great, but the down sides are just so down.

    Dale had freedom of choice once I helped him escape, and while I’m sorry for how he died, I know it is how he wanted to live right up until the end. He las the last of the great hermit cowboys.

    Thanks for visiting, and I hope you have a good day.

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