Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Pattern Emerges

In my post from Sunday, "Lost Love (Sigh)", I briefly discussed finding an old "Dear John" letter from my first true love (dated 1979). As we age, almost all of us skip down memory lane a time or two. However, because I'm obsessive-compulsive, I couldn't simply look at the letter and think about it for a little while, then move on to other things. Oh no! Not me. I've probably read this same letter 20 times and I've spent the better part of the last 4 1/2 days brooding about it.

As I described in the earlier post, I now realize what brought about the unhappy ending! At the time, however, I was absolutely clueless. My beloved patiently explained to me her reasoning, but it simply didn't compute in my strange brain wiring. I vaguely remember leaving her house completely dumbfounded as to how such a beautiful relationship -- at least, in my mind -- had so rapidly and forcefully gone south.

Of course, this beautiful image didn't actually exist. I'm sure there were signs along the way that indicated that this relationship was headed for a fall, but, as we know, inferences are not my strong suit! I merely looked at the surface and that surface appeared smooth and placid.

As I've contemplated this episode in my life, it has slowly dawned on me that it represents a template for each and every romantic relationship I've ever had. The ones that eventually ended were each ended by the other party. It's not that I might not agree with the final outcome, but ending a relationship is a big change in routine and I don't deal well with such changes. So, even when I was very unhappy, I still clung to the partnership because it was the then accepted norm.

At the outset of each coupling, I think I was a grand boyfriend (albeit an exceedingly strange one). I continued to be a generally great guy UNTIL the inevitable moment when the relationship began to change.

As with all things, change is the only constant. When you have two people in a committed relationship, this marriage of two entities into one will naturally cause changes in not only the sum but each part. Each person grows within themselves as a direct result of the closeness and impact of the other.

While I can easily type these words on my keyboard and I can rationally acknowledge their existence and primacy, my Asperger's-infused brain starts to short-circuit when, often subconsciously, the changes start to become evident. Because of my overarching need for sameness, I try to keep the relationship from oozing out of the established parameters.

Of course, the more one tries to force something into a preconceived slot, the more it continues to change -- often in very detrimental ways! Far worse, when that thing you're trying to force into the slot is another person, she is going to become angry, resentful, hurt, and bewildered. Any chance of saving the relationship is fairly well thwarted at that point.

And so, this represents my pattern. During the first 1 - 3 years, while the patterns themselves are being established, I function relatively well in the relationship. However, once the patterns are cemented in my mind, the moment they begin to alter is when I start having issues. To combat the insecurity I feel from the changes, I try to force the changes back towards my perceived norm. The more I try to exert a measure of control -- generally without me realizing it -- the more my partner begins to have second thoughts. Eventually, my significant other asks herself, "Who needs this?"

The only reason that Della & I broke this pattern is solely because of Della, not me. The same pattern emerged in our relationship. We went through a real rocky period for 2 or 3 years. During that time, we had 2 trial separations.

Fortunately for me, Della grew up in a family in which the women cater to the men (not that I approve of this dynamic, mind you). In part, because of this model of socialization between the sexes, Della was willing to stick it out a little longer. In addition, because we have always been best friends, I'd like to believe that Della was able to see the kind and gentle part of me through the hubris of my Asperger's-affected brain.

It is because she was willing to wait it out that we were able to establish new patterns which allowed us to weather my storm. I'm not saying that things have been hunky dory perfect since that point, but we've made a lot of accommodations with each other that has allowed our relationship to stand the test of time.

This is not to suggest in any way, shape or form that the fault for the demise of previous relationships was the fault of that first beloved (Maryse) or any other woman. Each relationship is different and I just happened to luck out with this last one. As I stated earlier, all the credit for this one goes to Della.

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