Getting over girlfriend #1 - an introduction
Ok, so it's a wonderful day in my 'neck of the (rapidly shrinking!) woods', how about you? I stayed up late (as usual) working on aspects of my business, which is devoted to helping lesbian women find and cherish love (work that for me isn't work to me but a 'labor of love').
So, I slept in a bit. In fact, on this morning (not true of most lately) I was awakened by my four-legged gal, 16 year old miniature pinscher Ruby.
Here's a pic of the Rube: Ruby on a cool, Floriday night
So, up I was about 9a, to tackle the day. In the midst of my usual routine (which keeps me hopping!), I'm preparing for my annual snowbirds to fly in on Sunday (my parents and their baby, Rosie, a 3 year old 'Snorkie' - you'll hear more about her soon I'm sure!).
Let me tell you, for those of you who are newly single or feeling emotional pain right now because you are single:
for me, living as a single lesbian becomes easier, the more I 'practice' it, with enough support!
The 'with enough support' part is key!
Let me begin at the beginning...Girlfriend Numero Uno
Just to give you some background: I've been in relationships most of my adult life. I've only had two girlfriends: my first long term relationship with another woman lasted seven years. Why that is, is a subject for future discussion, but suffice it to say for now that I was pretty 'unconscious' in my select of both girlfriends, which, is, even today, very common for most of us, when it comes to love, gay or straight.
My first girlfriend and I met at work. She was a couple of years younger. She was beautiful, feminine and funny as hell! We were alot alike in personality I thought and we were very close friends as well.
When I think back to the ways that we cared for each other and the purposes that relationship served, there were so many. We helped each other with the requisite late adolescent/early adulthood tasks: breaking away from our parents and becoming adults. We both attended the same college for a time.
Eventually we grew apart, which is the best way I can describe what happened. I think that, often, the ending of our first, very significant relationship is inevitable. It's alot to expect two young people to meet in their teens, marry or commit to one another and stay together 'till death do us part'. Now, I'm not going to say it never happens: it does and, when it does, ain't it special?
I am a big supporter of lifelong partnerships (preferably monogamous too), I just know that, sometimes, especially in today's world when we are living longer and we are more independent and mobile as individuals, that it's truly rare for two individuals to stay together till the end (and not drive each other crazy!).
There are NO victims
In my opinion, another great truth or universal law (that will save you alot of pain) that I'm learning to 'get' is this:: there are no victims! What this means is this: I could whine about how she did this (or didn't do that) and that's why the relationship didn't last. I could, but I won't. Instead I subscribe to beliefs such as...
* I am responsible for training others how to treat me (and I can do it gently)
* I get to decide who to allow into my life/space (again, it's best to do this 'with class')
* I can be powerful AND loving (to counter my sexist, 'I must be a good girl' conditioning as a woman which is deeply ingrained)
* the more lovingly powerful I am in the world, the more I can become the 'next greatest version of who I am' (which I believe is THE point of life and is critical to the quality of life on the planet - I am NOT an insignificant blurb on the timeline of history - even while, in the moments where I need to get 'zen-nish' - I can revel in my insignificance as well!)
* life is an amazing gift and, alot of what is going on (soul learnings) is actually happening outside my conscious awareness, however, as I become more 'conscious', I believe I am parting the veil between my life here on earth and my, excuse the expression, eternal self! And, btw, it is my sense that our eternal selves are not just incredibly loving; they are also incredibly intelligent and conscious.
So, my first love didn't last! And, I'm sure I'll go into more details in future posts as to why, when I think it would be helpful to readers. But, I will also be careful to respect the privacy of my former partners, which I hope you will understand.
Speaking of which, I'm still on great terms with both of my ex-partners, and I don't want that to change, however, I also know there is a bigger purpose here that I have chosen to serve: sharing my wisdom, leaving behind the lessons I've learned, in the hopes I can save someone, somewhere, sometime some grief!
BTW, I could go back even further and speak to how I got into my first love relationship (how it was, as well, an exercise in 'U-Haul'ism' and not knowing how to be single, slow down and date a variety of women before getting serious with one - which I chalk up as a GREAT learning experience). But I'll address that when I talk about gay and lesbian youth (be sure to remind me to do so, if you check back and I haven't addressed this issue yet).
My first years as a single lesbian: late 1980's/early 1990's
After my first relationship (of 7 years) ended, I was in my late 20's. I spent a year or two struggling alot, especially emotionally. I was finishing up graduate school and working all I could to put myself through school and support myself. This was very challenging as my MSW program required a 16 hour internship in the first year and a 24 hour internship the second year, in addition to a shitload of classes, readings, assignments, projects, tests, etc. That's why most MSW programs take more than two years to complete. Thank god I was young and had the energy because I really needed it!
I'd been on my own since the age of 18 (that's another story I'll tell you about someday when I cover the gay youth issue) and I was completely dependent on my own wits to survive! When I look back on that now, it makes sense who I 'chose' for my next love interest.
What happens when single lesbians don't have a support community
So, as I was saying, I was struggling emotionally as a late-20 something single lesbian. I had no one I felt truly comfortable turning to, to receive support for grieving the end of my relationship. I wasn't 'out' yet to anyone in my family and, eventhough they knew we were a couple and we had broken up, no support was offered, which I know made living doubly difficult, as straight folks going through divorce or separation receive much more help and support.
Now that I think about it, I was more resourceful than I thought - I did reach out for help by going to a counselor at school. And, I continued talking to an older, straight male (and married) friend from my undergraduate school who had been supportive during the breakup.
Now, that relationship was weird, because it ended up that this friend's true intention was to 'get in my pants' and, I let that go on for awhile (because he was also a friend, I think! I know he was a good listener! Perhaps, in a way, I was 'using' him too - not a very conscious relationship!) before I ended that relationship because of it's dysfunction. Now that I look back on it, and taking full responsibility for my actions (vs. blaming him), I believe why I allowed that relationship to occur was the fact I hadn't created for myself healthy systems of support in my life (personal, professional, etc.).
Why did I choose to highlight the above incident? Because I think it's indicative of what we, as lesbians, often set up for ourselves when we DON'T have a strong support system encouraging us to be ourselves and respect ourselves. When we aren't supported enough for being ourselves in the world, we don't have very high self esteem and expectations for ourselves. Then, when we walk around with that attitude, we are open to inauthentic and/or, frankly, abusive or exploitive 'seductions' or 'advances' from others who are acting out of their own inauthenticity and disrespect.
We do the best we can, until we can do better
It's a simple, yet often overlooked concept that when we aren't being truthful with and respectful towards ourselves we can't be truthful with others or be respected by them. I really had no sexual or romantic interest in this friend, however, to ensure his ongoing support, I wasn't totally clear with him that I WASN'T interested in him. I grudgingly 'played along' and/or gave him a 'mixed' message. And, I never tested the relationship to see if it was truly a friendship. So, he kept coming around.
Why did I do this? I think the main reason was my lack of having close, trusting relationships with friends and family. Relationships that were so good and close that I'd be willing to risk sharing my challenges, vulnerabilities, etc.
In fact, to this day, I still struggle asking for anything from those I am closest to (even those in my closest circle). I still don't like to 'burden' my parents or siblings by asking for much of anything. I think that alot of gays and lesbians have this problem, IF their primary discomfort is about being fully accepted for who they are. Now, I recognize this is a 'universal' issue that many non-gays struggle with as well, however, I would like to suggest that I, like many gays and lesbians, have been so unsupported that we have an even greater road to travel on this one.
So, I had the relationship with my counselor (which was pretty good although he was straight) and the nasty one above. I also had a pretty good friendship with another lesbian that I'd met in college.
Still, those two years I spent single in the late 1980's/early 1990's (before I unconsciously dove into long term relationship number two, which lasted from 1990-2004) were full of me running from myself. I remember not wanting to stop or sit home much and think. Or feel. I went to alot of gay bars. Met some new, not so healthy friends. Had a crush or two on some of these same folks...you get the picture.
Thank god I'm not going through all of that anymore! I do know that that all of my experiences - positive and negative - offer value, because I choose to view them this way. So I'm grateful for what happened when I've been a single person because all of my experiences have helped me become the more conscious, happier person I am today.
Stay tuned - I've got so much more to share.
PLEASE COMMENT AND HELP THIS BLOG GROW: If you would be sure to comment on this post. Specifically: Tell me what this post stirs up in you? What memory(ies)? How does this post relate to your experiences as a single lesbian? Or, if you're in a relationship or, you're a friend or family member, your opinion counts too - post and tell me what's on your heart and/or mind!
Let's have fun here while we grow in our 'love intelligence'! The more you post, the more this blog - it's resources, ideas, topics, solutions - and readership - will grow too!
Stay tuned for my next post, where I'll continue to tell you about how I spent my first two years as a single lesbian...I can't wait to tell you more...