So it’s been 6 days without the Mayor. And, well, I feel…mostly relieved. I can imagine that he does too. That was a very interesting, fun, and entirely stressful two months. Of course, I was about 98% responsible for all of the stress. I’ll explain:
Men are often honest about their feelings or lack thereof. They say things like “I’m not ready to be in a relationship right now” or “I’m not ready to settle down,” or the ubiquitous, “I’m just having fun; I don’t want anything serious.” All meaning “I don’t want to be your boyfriend.” If men are giving you this speech, they are not interested in buying the house. I’m not really sure what happens when women hear these declarations, but I know for a fact that I never quite believe it.
I mean, I hear what I’m being told. I process the words; I just never quite believe them. I wiggle my head side to side and think “no, that can’t be right. There’s no way you don’t want me” (I have a very strong sense of self-confidence) and voila! I’ve manufactured a relationship. I’ve single-handedly willed myself into a couple without the desire or consent of the other person.
Men are always confused by my ability to do this. The Mayor especially. On my last night in town, over a bottle of moscato, he looked at me with furrowed brow and asked in complete confusion “how did you get here???” He wasn’t talking about his house so much as his personal space and head, or maybe even heart? How did he become a part of this pseudo couple that he never wanted in the first place? “You are very persistent,” he said.
He’s right. I am very persistent, strong-willed and headstrong to boot. The thing that the Mayor never realized – that I didn’t even know myself – was how unbelievably stressed I was.
The upcoming 9.5 month deployment was a black cloud that haunted my eight months in Virginia. I didn’t make new friends like I normally do because I didn’t want to increase the people that I’d have to say goodbye to. I didn’t get plugged in or involved in my church because, hey I’m just going to leave anyway. My pictures are at this moment still leaning against the long wall in the hallway, waiting to be hung so that my apartment can be decorated and furnished. This deployment loomed over my life in a way that I’d never quite experienced before. And you know how I dealt with it?
I didn’t. I manufactured a relationship to worry about instead. Instead of thinking about being stuck on a boat for a long time, instead of (God forbid) praying about the stress that exists in my workplace. I thought about the Mayor.
For three months, I talked about the Mayor endlessly. I even wrote several blog posts about him (obsess much?). Instead of telling my friends that I really don’t know how to handle the absolute craziness of my work environment, I told them that the Mayor was an arctic tundra – a complex puzzle that I couldn’t quite figure out. Instead of figuring out what to do about a bully in my office, I worried about whether the Mayor really liked me or not (he did) and whether or not we could be long-term (we can’t). All things I already knew the answer to. I over-communicated with the Mayor. We had parking garage show-downs and dramatic exits. We had lots of “what are we doing” type conversations. I even convinced myself that I had a bruised (not quite broken) heart. I worried the poor Mayor to death. I persisted in this relationship because it was easier than dealing with the thing that was bothering me the most.
It’s the LOST conundrum. Did you ever watch that show? It was about this group of people whose plane crashes on a mystical island. For five seasons, it was the thing that I watched on tv. It had mystery and drama and a great story line. The sixth season was the last season and I was super excited about it because I thought they were finally going to answer all of the mysteries they’d brought up in the last 5 seasons. That didn’t happen. Instead, they created a whole new problem for season 6 and then solved that problem without really answering the rest of the mysteries. And that’s effectively what I did with the Mayor.
And now here I am, 6 days into the deployment. The thing that I was most anxious about has happened. I’m at sea. And it’s not completely amazing, but it’s also not as bad as I thought it would be. And the season 6 problems that I created with the Mayor ended the day my ship left the pier. I’m still a fan of the Mayor. I still like him and all his craziness. I just kind of want a do over when I’m not so stressed and overly persistent. Perhaps next time, I’ll try to deal with the problem at hand instead of dragging another person into my issues.
In the end, you can have all kinds of reasons to manufacture a relationship. Loneliness is a big one, fear is another. Avoidance (as you can see) is my modus operandi. But always take a man at his word. If he tells you he doesn’t want a relationship, then steer clear. Probably not the one for you.