Sammy Lynne

Settling for less

For me, this situation has been resolved for quite some time, but I still think this story is worth telling. While I fervently hope that this (or something like it) is not the norm, I suspect that it is not exactly uncommon either.

I left home in the winter of '86 at the age of 18. I was 25 when I returned in the summer of '93. During the time that I was gone my situation dictated that I keep my sexuality a secret. I was 27 years old before I realized that the necessity for this restriction was no longer present. That's where this tale begins.

As soon as I give myself permission to live my life freely, I immediately fall into a completely unhealthy relationship. I am so in love with the idea of being committed to someone - of being in love - that the fact that we are completely wrong for each other never even registers. I am finally OUT AND PROUD! I have a woman on my arm - in public! I finally have someone that I can point to and boldly proclaim to my family, my friends, and even strangers on the street, " She is mine. We are together."

It's immediately apparent that drugs and alcohol play very prominent roles in her life. Having spent many a night drowning in the bottom of a bottle and ending up in a rehab center because of it, I know that this should raise a huge red flag. I refuse to see it. ( We will fight over this countless times in the ensuing years.)

She has been living on the couches of various friends and family when we meet. I move her into my home.

She doesn't cook, or clean, or do laundry. We don't talk about it.

She has no transportation. I let her drive my car, even allowing her to drop me off at work nearly every night so that she will have it in case she needs it. I don't question why she might need it. (I know she doesn't work and in fact will not hold a job for longer than 2 months the whole time we are together).

I have very few friends because not many people are willing to hang around long enough to get past my trust issues, and yet I allow this woman to march right in and disrupt my life. (My best friend of 17 years and I will not speak for 4 of the years that we are together because she doesn't like him).

We have absolutely nothing in common. I don't care. I just keep sealing any relationship issues that come up into nice, neat, mental boxes so that I can go on pretending that we truly belong together.

Fast forward 3 years...

The gap between who she is and who I am has grown exponentially larger. It's gotten harder and harder for me to delude myself into thinking that anything about our relationship is really working. We rarely talk without arguing and probably couldn't carry on any kind of meaningful conversation anyway. (She is now spending 12 hours or more a day playing with her X-box. I'm not a gamer - don't even dabble - I know absolutely nothing about her games). I volunteer for as much overtime as possible at work so I don't have to be at home with her.

The arguments have become physical. I yell. She screams. I punch walls. She throws things. I slam doors.  Sometimes, she actually throws punches at me. I'm aware that I am bigger and stronger than she is. I'm afraid to hit her back because I'm sure that if I do I will inflict some real damage.

I know by now that it's over. I've even realized that it never really measured up to my imagination to begin with. My self esteem has taken a hit though. I start thinking that I'm not likely to ever find anyone else. Who would have me? So I stick it out. For 2 more years. After all, someone is better than no one, right?

Sure. Except when it's not.

In hindsight, it is all too obvious how willfully blind and unbelievably stupid I was then. I have always been proud of my ability to examine things with a critical eye and to face hard truths and act accordingly. It embarrasses me to admit that this happened at all, let alone that it went on for 5 years.  That I do so now is only with the hope that somebody else can see this and not make my mistake.

The day I woke up and finally ended this ridiculous charade was our most violent confrontation. I carried the marks from that one for several weeks, but thankfully no permanent scars (not physical ones anyway). I'm pretty particular about who I'm looking for in a partner these days. Why? Because I know what happens when you settle for less.

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That was a very engrossing post.  I was in suspense reading it, anxious to see what would happen next!  

And wow, sorry about your ordeal.  But thanks for sharing and congratulations for surviving that.

I couldn't help but wonder if you eventually came to any conclusion regarding what was driving her apparent lack of motivation and/or unwillingness to do anything to contribute to your collective wellbeing, on the homefront or otherwise?  

I know you mentioned drugs and alcohol played a large role in her life and you now feel that should have been a red flag.  I'd guess many would assume you meant substance abuse WAS the whole problem in your relationship, and while that's obviously possible, I still couldn't help but wonder if you ever felt certain regarding cause and effect there.  Like, was substance abuse the cause of the lack of motivation, or were both (the lack of motivation and the substance abuse) possibly caused by some third factor?

And/or were there any other red flags for you near the beginning?

Or if not quite that early, anything else you know you'd avoid now . . . anything you actually could have potentially noticed BEFORE she moved in, that is?

But even if there was a third factor, or perhaps especially if there was a third factor TOO, the substance abuse probably didn't help much.  Nope.  Totally get that part.

As far as feeling embarrassed to admit that this happened at all, I actually think it's quite brave to share stuff like this. 

And while I'm not sure either exactly how common your EXACT situation or something VERY similar might be . . . in my experience it is quite rare to make it out of your twenties without at least one major relationship regret . . . or somehow feeling the need to ask at least a few friends, "Precisely what the #&!* was I thinking during that relationship? Or can somebody please explain why in the bloody #&!* we got involved in the first place?  'Cause I sure as #&!* can't anymore."

(I've heard something like that so often I've truly lost track.  Not even remotely close to being uncommon.)

Maybe some have their relationship needs all figured out in advance of actually having relationships.  Maybe.  But I have a hard time imagining that.  To me, it seems almost impossible to become well-acquainted with what you can't live with in a relationship without trying with be with at least one of that certain sort of someone and miserably failing first.

But to whatever extent someone could . . . it could definitely be because they read a story like this that helped them recognize something as a serious problem earlier in the game than they would have otherwise.

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lesbotronic said:

I couldn't help but wonder if you eventually came to any conclusion regarding what was driving her apparent lack of motivation and/or unwillingness to do anything to contribute to your collective wellbeing, on the homefront or otherwise?  

I know you mentioned drugs and alcohol played a large role in her life and you now feel that should have been a red flag.  I'd guess many would assume you meant substance abuse WAS the whole problem in your relationship, and while that's obviously possible, I still couldn't help but wonder if you ever felt certain regarding cause and effect there.  Like, was substance abuse the cause of the lack of motivation, or were both (the lack of motivation and the substance abuse) possibly caused by some third factor?

And/or were there any other red flags for you near the beginning?

Or if not quite that early, anything else you know you'd avoid now . . . anything you actually could have potentially noticed BEFORE she moved in, that is?

I'd like to blame her lack of motivation on her propensity to start most days with a "wake and bake."  That this habit rendered her too lethargic to accomplish anything else for the remainder of the day. That would be nice - a simple, definable, concrete reason for everything. Alas, I don't believe that's the case.

Blaming her drug/alcohol abuse for all of the issues we had is way too easy. It went beyond that.  Even on those occasions when she was completely sober, the intensity of our arguing still reached some pretty epic proportions. Sometimes I doubt that she ever had any particular affection towards me at all.  I learned later that she had been actively seeking a sort of "sugar mama", long before she came across me. Knowing that, it seems logical that while I was deluding myself into believing we were good for each other, she already knew that we weren't. I may have just been the perfect mark for her convoluted con game. The longer the game went on, the less interested she became. 

I actually met one of her ex girlfriends before she moved in. This woman tried to warn me off. I believe her words were, "she's high maintenance. I mean really, really high maintenance." I wish I had listened to her. But she was an ex. The ex always exaggerates the negatives, right? As it turns out - nope. Not at all.

Shortly after she moved in, I discovered that she was using Xanax. I know that Xanax is used to treat certain anxiety disorders and/or panic attacks.  What I don't know is whether or not she actually had a prescription for them. She always said they were hers and I never felt the need to question it. What I know now, is that one of her best friends (who is an expert at working the system) buys her cigarettes with the money she makes selling her prescriptions - one of which is Xanax. So, while it's possible there was an anxiety disorder at play, I'll probably never know. In retrospect, I don't recall seeing any signs of one.

The best explanation that I've been able to come up with is that some people are just content to be users. They thrive on getting something for nothing (or next to nothing). She got a place to live, food on the table, new clothes, a car to drive... all she had to do to get it was pretend to like me a little. Who knows? Maybe she even did in the beginning. If our sex life was any indication she did. That may just be my ego talking though. There was more that I didn't know about her than what I did know. It's that fact alone that I should have been paying attention to. That's the red flag. I don't know if users are born or bred (or maybe a little of both?), but I've pretty much convinced myself she is a member of their clan. I don't blame her as much as I blame myself. She did her job or at least what she perceives to be her job.  I just never bothered to learn how to swim before jumping headfirst into the deep end.

The thing that's different for me now vs. then, is that today I'm no longer looking for a relationship - instead I am looking for someone special to be in a relationship with. It's a subtle difference, but one that I believe will prove to make all the difference in the world. There have been other women, but I haven't moved anybody else in. A few had potential, but the chemistry just wasn't there. I'm patient now. I want to get to know her - really know her - before I jump into anything.

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I can relate as I have stayed in relationships far longer then I should have because I have a hard time giving up on people. Even when everyone around me is telling me to go.

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I can relate to so much of your story. Wanting to be in a relationship so bad you'll disregard the red flags and screaming sirens of former lovers just to be with her. I think it's pretty common for lesbians to jump in too soon at least once. All of our socialization and skills for quick, deep bonding, cemented with sex = Uhaul potential. 

My guess is that something else was going on besides just addiction due to the intense arguing. Sounds more like traits of a personality disorder. You won't know for sure, but will know what to look out for.

My 2 cents regarding the Xanax. Benzos of any stripe are very addictive and not the best drug for ongoing anxiety treatment. They're ok for short term, brief situational based treatment - for example a person who has panic attacks so bad they can't fly anywhere to take on occassional flights. From what you describe it sounded more like abuse, irrespective of whether she had a prescription for Xanax.

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When I read your story, all I could think was, “uh...this is very very similar to what I went through”. She had a job and she did a great job supporting herself but she was very high maintenance. She was constantly drinking to get through her pain instead of talking it out and she started smoking a lot more than what she claimed in the beginning of relationship. 

Did you feel like you didn’t want to give up because you wanted it to work out because you guys have been together for so long? Did you hope things would get better? 

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"... all she had to do to get it was pretend to like me a little." I get that. I have also been on the receiving end of that behavior, more than once and in different types of relationships/friendships. "The thing that's different for me now vs. then, is that today I'm no longer looking for a relationship - instead I am looking for someone special to be in a relationship with." Nice. Excellent way to look at life. 

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