I swore I would never, ever do this again and I meant it with every fiber of my being, but yesterday at approximately 1:25pm I became known to the world as “In an open relationship with” the boyfriend.
Then I cried.
More on that in a minute.
When I was married I simply had my status set as “married,” and, as the ex wasn’t on facebook, it was very simple. When I filed for divorce I couldn’t bear the thought of the “changing of the status” moment that I’ve seen play out so many times. You know you’ve seen it- the obnoxiously large facebook announcement goes up and suddenly everyone and their mother (literally because, facebook) is chiming in with “OMG! What happened?!” and you know the members of the now-defunct relationship are thinking “Really, dude I was in cub scouts with? You think you deserve the inside scoop on my broken heart?” I knew I would have no patience for that. Hell, I was already getting disgusted by the parade of folks who barely knew me jumping on my timeline to say shit like “New apartment? I thought you owned a place with your husband?” (Seriously people?!! I changed back to my original last name and started talking about a new apartment – you don’t have to play CSI and bust out the luminol to figure out what happened there). So when it came to removing my married status from my facebook page, I took the path of no resistance – I removed “relationship status” from my profile altogether.
I found not having it there to be freeing- it’s nobody’s damn business what I’m doing. Cue dance break:
The single life I envisioned was all about cocktails, cowboy boots and random, non-committal sex. No boyfriends, no feelings, no complications. I’ll stop now before I start babbling about lone wolves but I think you get the picture. I even set out to move clear across the country by myself (it was only due to an intervention on his part- and a bit of extreme loneliness- that I landed in Portland where my brother lives) I arrived in Oregon mid-April and moved into my apartment on April 27th.
On May 3rd I had a date, my second in Portland (yeah, I didn’t waste time). That date lasted 26 hours and we have been together fairly constantly since. I love this man (who you all know as “the boyfriend“) but engaging in this relationship has been hugely challenging. I fought so hard to maintain that we were just “casually dating” even when it was clear we were so not. I maintain very strict boundaries that may seem arbitrary (“the Bedhead travels alone” is one that has been a point of contention) and I sometimes overreact to stuff – the suggestion that maybe we should stop having separate Netflix accounts may have caused me to blurt out “Jesus! What’s next? Do you want me to be barefoot and pregnant?!”
So, cut to now and the discussion as to whether or not to make our relationship “facebook official” I was, perhaps obviously, vehemently opposed (and, I figured that everyone to whom it mattered already knew we were together) but then some stuff happened to get me thinking. I realized that, practically speaking, it could be helpful to spell out our situation. I realized that my stance of “I don’t owe them answers” was really just delaying the questions until they could get to me personally, which is annoying. I realized that doing this could make our lives a bit easier¹. So we did it.
Oh, right, then I cried.
If you read regularly you’re probably thinking “whatever, when don’t you cry?” but this was different, this wasn’t my typical getting-choked-up-over-anything-remotely-emotional stuff. This was sudden and this hurt. The boyfriend asked what was up and I said (as it was becoming clear to me) “I built this new me and she was strong and independent and a badass and I feel like we just killed her off”. I was feeling like step by step I had been (reluctantly) letting go of the defenses I had put up when I started living on my own and as I had used those defenses to define myself -and, frankly, liked who I had defined myself as- letting go of them meant letting go of that version of me. Giving this some thought I debated whether the defenses were what had made me into the person I am today. I’ve talked before about thinking that the walls I keep up around me are maybe problematic and how badass I feel when I stop being terrified and in control of everything. I realized that there is a huge difference between having a relationship that I’m comfortable with and allowing my relationship to define me. There’s a difference between living as someone I’m proud of and creating a character who I have to present the image of (but come on- you know you want to hang out with cocktails-cowboy-boots-random-non-committal-sex me!).
There’s a difference between changing my status and changing myself.
So, here goes, deep breath- I’m the Redhead Bedhead, I’m a fiercely independent badass and I’m in an open relationship.
I’m still not combining Netflix accounts though….
¹Seriously, can someone create some kind of non-monogamy signal- perhaps a pin or something that lets us figure out who’s who quickly and easily?© Copyright 2013 The Bedhead, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Redhead Bedhead