Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Too Opinionated Maybe ( or The Last Man Standing )

I was born and raised in Brandon, Manitoba. I left when I was 19. Bad things always happen to me when I go back there. But, I go back because I adore my cousins and I love seeing them get married. This time it truly dawned on me...

I'M THE LAST MAN STANDING. ( So to speak. )

My single status doesn't cross my mind too often, at least not as something to be worried about, or to even seriously think about. ( It does however cross my mind when I've got my leg propped up on pillows with an ice pack on my ankle, a process which takes a while to set up, and I realize I forgot to bring my bottle of water with me!!! )

But, it always crosses my mind when I attend weddings, And at the wedding last week ( which was incredible, really. It included fire works that put the Canada Day ones in most cities to shame ) I realized that I was was the only unattached person left of my generation. Not all were married, but of the ones who are not, my older cousin  has two kids with his girlfriend and they have lived together for years, my brother and his girlfriend I suspect are going that direction, and my youngest cousin is talking about moving in with her boyfriend ( and my cousins don't tend to move in with people they don't intend to marry. ) All the others, my three other younger cousins, are married, as are my two oldest cousins ( half-cousins if you want to get technical. Although my two oldest (half)cousins are closer in age to my parents than they are to me. I'll explain it to you someday. ). This is not to mention the majority of the other guests and family members were also attached, and if not, were a fair bit younger than me. We're talking six or seven years younger at minimum.

And no one asks me anymore when I'm going to find someone. I think they've all given up.

This of course starts me thinking.... Why? Why am I the last one? What is it about me that has brought me to this point, the point of being the last single one left, with no real potential relationship in my life?

I some times as people about this. Guys I've become close to but which things haven't panned out with. Men I have been close friends with over the years. Female friends, family members. I've asked them all. And the response I get is always the same....

" It's not you, it's them. "
" It wasn't you, it was me, "

Even when I have point blank asked them why they didn't want to take our friendship a step further, I get the I just wasn't ready answer. Which is bullshit because three weeks later they end up in relationships with other people.  Does three weeks make that much of a difference? Really? I don't believe you! ( The not telling the truth here bothers me, but that's a rant for another day. )

The only one who gave me even an inkling of an answer was my father.

" Too opinionated maybe, " 

And this is where I become incredibly confused.

I was raised during a time when  young women and girls were being told to be strong, speak out, be independent. My mom was a single mom who worked three jobs at times to make ends meet. I grew up watching her struggle, but beyond one man whom she nearly married, didn't ever rely on a man to help her. She raised the two of us virtually on her own. She dated here and there, but she was predominantly single. She encouraged me to express myself, be honest with my feelings, and to be true to who I am, and to not rely on anyone. She allowed me to colour my hair, wear weird clothing, and do all the strange things I wanted to do.

I was an odd kid, to say the least.

My father influenced me in ways I don't think he realized. He is the reason I am so interested in politics and I never saw my dad back down from a good debate. My father almost always offered his opinion on a subject or a person, whether it was wanted or not.

* Wait, didn't you say your mother was a single mom? Yes, my parents were divorced. Again, I'll tell you the story some day. *

At no point did I ever feel that I was to be quiet, meek, or hold my opinions back. My father and I may not always agree on things ( almost never, to be honest ) but I have always been encouraged to voice those opinions. And voice them I do.

And now I hear " Too opinionated maybe, "

Too opinionated? Too opinionated for who? For what?

It's not that he said " You're very opinionated and that can be tough for some people to deal with, ". He said " Too opinionated, " And the implication of that statement stunned me.

" Too opinionated maybe, "

The implication is that no one is ever going to want to deal with me the way I am.

The implication is that I'm not deferential enough.

The implication is that I need to just shut up and keep my thoughts to myself. 

Because no man is ever going to want someone with strong opinions like me.

And those three words have been on my mind every since. They keep playing over and over in my mind, along with a few words my mother said about a year ago:

" Men want to be needed."

The context was a discussion about need vs want. I firmly believe that wanting someone to be a part of your life, yet not needing them, means far more than needing them. A need is something you must have, you get no choice in. A want is a choice, through and through.

I NEED to drink water. I WANT to drink cold water.

I NEED to eat. I WANT to eat tasty food.

I don't get a choice in what I need, but I do get to choose what I want. I can't choose to get rid of what I need, but I can choose to get rid of what I want when I don't want it anymore. In my thinking, continuing to want something or someone means so much more because I have the choice.

Those words from my mother have been rolling around in my head since she said them. The implications just as stunning as the implications from the words of my father.

The implication is that I shouldn't be as independent as I am.

The implication is that the only way a man is going to want to be with me is if I need them to look after me in some way.

And the implications of both of these things are worrisome and incredibly confusing for me.

How do I reconcile then things I was taught growing up, with the reality I am experiencing? How do I reconcile what my parents told and showed me as a kid with what they are saying now? How do I scale back my opinions, my personality, my independence and the life I had built so a man can feel comfortable in it?

Is that what I have to do to be able to share life with someone? To have someone hug me when I cry? To have someone to make breakfast for? Is that what the requirement is for a life of loving, traveling, laughing, crying, arguing, making out, eating, hugging, smiling, and all the other things one does in life, with?


Because I don't know if can measure up to that requirement.

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