Schrodinger’s Baggage

(This post originally posted on FetLife on 4/27/2015)

There’s a thing I’ve heard said, when it comes to dating someone in his/her late 30s or older who has never been married or had any children: what’s wrong with them?

It’s not really a fair statement to make. First of all, marriage is not the end-game for everyone. It used to be for me, but it’s not anymore.  There’s a decent chance an unmarried male in his 40s is that way because *he wants to be.*

There’s a guy that approached me two weekends ago on OKC.  He had the best intro email I’d ever received.  Our back and forth that day was full of wit, personality, laughter.  He’s attractive, local, available – all the pieces fit.

But he hasn’t pulled the trigger and asked me out. (Oh, but why don’t you ask *him* out, phi? Simple. I want to know he’s got enough Alpha in him to do it himself.  Then I’ll know he might have what it takes to give me what I want down the line, should it get that far).

My guess is that guy has never been married because he never asked.

There was a really great post on the topic of “baggage” recently. Some people carry their own baggage, and some people pawn it off on others to carry for them.  That was the gist of it.

My baggage is odd. It’s Schrodinger’s Baggage.

I’m 36 years old.  Nearly 37, actually.  I have been married.  But I’ve never been divorced. Widow is a weird check box to tick. To declare myself “single” or “unmarried” feels like I’m not acknowledging an important part my identity for a significant chunk of my life. I don’t have the baggage of a messy divorce, and while I am still carrying the load of having suffered a major loss, I think I’m handling it very well.

I don’t have tethers to exes. I’m a clean slate.  And I’m not.

My husband had a daughter.  I had been an active participant in her life from 8 to 17.  She’s 18 now.  I helped raise her. I went to the track meets, dance recitals, helped her with her homework, and attended all the open houses I could.  But she and I aren’t that close since he passed away. I haven’t had contact with her since her birthday in February.

There’s that weird spot again, between being a mother and not.  I’ve never given birth. I’ve never changed a diaper. But I know what it is to worry when your child has a need and you’re in charge of providing for it.

I’m a mother (albeit a step-mother).  And I’m not.

And when it comes to emotional baggage, well…  I mean, I’m closing in on 300 blog posts on Fetlife alone – many of them fraught with emotion. I carry a ton of it, but here’s the thing.  I don’t carry it alone. I have friends. I have readers. I have family. I have an ability not to stuff my feelings deep down where they’re hardest to carry. Through my writing, I’m able to free up so much of that dead weight.

And it’s not like the emotional stuff is that horrific. Just your run-of-the-mill I can tongue-in-cheekly blame my parents for everything stuff; but have been through enough therapy to recognize my triggers and learned coping mechanisms that don’t require a pint of Ben & Jerry’s anymore.

Communication about how I’m feeling, when I’m feeling it, and why I’m feeling it is the key to my being able to maintain a level head most of the time.  *Most* of the time. Nobody’s perfect.

I am ruled by my emotions. And I’m not.

It’s difficult to be objective about oneself.  When I take a look at who I am today, I have to admit I’m a fan.  There are some things about myself I’d like to improve, and some flaws that I’ve learned to accept as “character enhancements.”

The more comfortable I become with admitting that I am worth a whole lot better than I’ve allowed myself to accept over the past year, the easier it is to feel content with my current status:

I am a single, childless, emotionally healthy individual.

I am also a married woman with a teenager and a whole lot of back story.

I may have some baggage, but it’s the kind with wheels.
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