Monday, October 29, 2007

I don't regret this life I chose for me

Life is so strange. This time last year, I had just returned from a week-long prosecutors' training and was feeling energized and inspired about the job. I was scheduled to spend the next two consecutive weeks in trial. . . . one of the trials the most serious of my prosecutorial career to date, a child molestation case.
I was living in Tucson with SL; we had recently celebrated a year of cohabitation, and it had been mostly good. SL had just gotten a new job and would finally be earning something close to what he was worth, greatly improving our joint financial situation and helping to finance our April wedding. His parents were due to start their trek south from Alaska in a week for their months-long winter visit. Our wedding invitations had arrived. . . . and shortly thereafter, I'd given SL an ultimatum about his drinking after yet-another binge: go to counseling or end it now and move out.
My weight was pretty much out of control. I had been at around 225 for months and was doing nothing to try to get things under control. . . . despite the fact that I'd ordered a size 20W wedding dress less than a month earlier. Not exercising and eating whatever the hell I wanted.
Obviously things in my life weren't perfect, but I was relatively content. I'd grown accustomed to my level of work stress and was feeling like a competent prosecutor; I felt I'd "taken the bull by the horns" in forcing SL into counseling and truly believed that together we would overcome his drinking problem; and despite the fact that I was going to be a fat bride, I was looking forward to being a bride at last. I remember that a lot of my spare time and money back then was spent on wedding stuff. . . . favors, bridesmaid dresses, and the like. I'd set up our wedding website and was on nearly every day. In the balance, if someone had asked, I would have said that I was happy. . . . and I don't think that would have been a lie.
Fast-forward to present day. I am working at a private medical malpractice firm in Phoenix, making about 65% more money and living alone in a huge apartment in a very urban area of the city. I'm about 15 lbs lighter than this time a year ago, and though I am still far from consistent with healthy eating and exercising, I'm at least more mindful and working on it again.
And the biggest change: SL is no longer a part of my life. (Actually, come to think of it. . . . I haven't talked to him since the beginning of August and haven't even emailed him in about a month.) Strange to think that the man I lived with, saw every day, and thought would be my husband is now mostly memories.
Am I happier today? I think so. My life is so different that it makes the comparison hard, but I'm happy. I know that I'm finally, at age 36, making some financial progress with this new job and its higher salary. I believe it's been a good career move for me, and I am learning a lot. I can't deny that I miss aspects of my job as a prosecutor. . . . appearing in court regularly, trying cases, talking with victims. . . . but I don't miss the politics and poisonous management of my old office. My current workplace is so much more congenial (though I do miss my friends at the old job). As busy as I am at work right now, the stress level doesn't even come close to a typical week as a prosecutor.
I am blessed in that I already had several good friends here in Phoenix. . . . so to some extent, I had a social life to "step into." My best friend KC and a few friends from law school were here the whole time I was in Tucson. And so far I've maintained my friendships with my people in Tucson, too, though obviously I see a lot less of them than I did when I was there. Surprisingly, even a few friendships that had just begun developing when I moved have continued despite my relocation. And I always have my reliable old friends all over the place. I've been fortunate in being able to help some friends through some difficult times of their own of late.
Of course, my one true constant--Sebastian--is still a valued part of my life. What would I do without my boy? :-)
Last, but not necessarily least, I'm now dating MM. I am in no way implying that my relationship with MM replaces the one I had with SL; they are quite different relationships, quite different people. But comparisons are, to a degree, unavoidable.
Last year at this time, I thought I'd found the person I could spend the rest of my life with. SL wasn't perfect--among his other quirks, he left his socks under the coffee table and often froze up around my friends--but he was funny, he treated me great, and he was one of my closest friends. SL often brought me flowers, did little favors for me, and always out-gifted me on holidays. I knew I could count on him to do anything for me. . . . except quit drinking. I was (and am) realistic enough to know that no man will be 100% of what I'm looking for in a life partner, but SL was about 95% of what I wanted. He just had this "one little thing" I found very hard to live with. . . . the problem was that it wasn't such a little thing and gave me grave concerns for the future and his ability to be a true partner, in every sense of the word.
Who knows what will happen between MM and me? I know that I love being with him and that I am growing more attached to him all the time. Like SL, he is not perfect. So far, I've not learned anything about him that makes me believe I should take a step back. But, to be honest, after less than 6 weeks of dating SL, I hadn't found out anything about him that would give me pause either.
An internet friend tonight commented via instant messenger that I am "afraid to commit." Maybe. But, given my experiences over the past 12 months, I believe I'd be a fool not to be at least a little bit afraid. I admit that the thought of not knowing something really important about someone until it's too late to extricate myself is, frankly, terrifying.
I came within 13 days of being married earlier this year. . . . within less than 2 weeks of making what would arguably have been one of the biggest mistakes of my life. It was sheer happenstance that saved me, no credit to me whatsoever. Sure, I'd realized months before that there was a problem and taken steps to fix it. . . . but had SL waited 2 more weeks to get drunk, I would've gone ahead with our wedding even knowing what might happen. The thought of how close I came scares the hell out of me.
Given what I went through with SL, I don't know if I can ever feel secure enough in a relationship again to commit to marriage. I nearly called our wedding off twice before we actually broke up, and yet I came very close to going through with it. There is something to be said for just moving out and moving on. If that makes me a commitment-phobe. . . . then so be it.


JessiferSeabs said...

I am so impressed by this post -- by the courage, strength, and insight it took to end your relationship -- BEFORE taking that step down the aisle. I don't know many people who would get THAT CLOSE and then call it off.

It reading this just reaffirms my decision to end my own relationship. Though we weren't engaged, we were getting close to it -- and we were for sure at least at the point where we were about to be PUSHED into an engagement just to appease our families and friends, even though neither of us REALLY wanted it...

I'm so glad that you ended your relationship and that I ended mine. You give me hope. :-)