I am a firm believer that you learn something from every romantic relationship, especially the ones that don't work out. As you can seem from my MANifesto, I have learned what I want out of a relationship, but more importantly, I have learned what I could never accept.
Today, I went up to Columbus to meet my parents for dinner, and we were talking about some of my ex-boyfriends. And there have been some DOOZIES, ladies and gentleman. DOOZIES. But what I got out of these relationships is this--I was never meant to be a long-suffering wife.
Everyone knows a long-suffering wife archetype. She has been married for some ridiculously long amount of time by a man who is, for all intents and purposes, a giant, selfish, egotistical prick. He expects his wife to build up his already inflated ego and to wash, clean, cook, raise his children, and be damned grateful for the privilege. The long-suffering wife is miserable but clings to her pitiful existence out of some bizarre, misplaced loyalty or even worse, out of some equally bizarre, misplaced religious ideal (Virgin Mary, "Women, honor thy husband" unadulterated bullshit). And then, to cap it off, she beams as people tell her what "a saint," she is. Because her unlimited threshold to take shit from people is all she has.
I have been in several relationships where I was expected to assume the role of the long-suffering wife. In these cases there were "rules" (like only one weeknight sleepover) or he needed "space" (like only one weeknight sleepover) and my emotional needs were completely secondary. I tried for a while. I baked pies and lopsided cakes, tried to be attentive and put my needs last, but then I got sick of it and wanted a fucking back rub. Why do I do this thing where I try to convey to the men with whom I'm in relationships how acceptable and desirable I am? Shouldn't they be exerting as much energy trying to demonstrate to me that they WANT to be in my life? It's a two-way street; I may be applying for the job but I also have to accept your offer. At this point, it just comes down to the fact that I refuse to play a supporting role in my own life.
I think at one point or another everyone has been a "long-suffering" something--employee, student, daughter, sister, brother, friend. But at some point, being a martyr has got to wear thin. I'm definitely guilty of it, but tonight as I was thinking about it in terms of relationships, I had a breakthrough. I have been long-suffering, but now I'm pulling a Kenny Rogers and knowing when to fuckin' fold 'em. Because I am done feeling sorry for myself and delighting in my own bondage. This day, ladies and gentleman, marks a change in my life. More to come later.