All Real Numbers

My therapist and I were talking about choice and what I want again today. He sounded less sure that I should go ahead and tell H about my feelings. He mentioned the dreaded word ‘rebound’ which I admit makes me feel very defensive. Talked about how we don’t give ourselves time to develop friendships but go right to the sex.

I don’t know how this can fit the definition of a rebound. I’m not sad about my relationship ending. I wasn’t in love. It was basically a voluntarily arranged marriage. I wasn’t even looking to get into another relationship. If anything, I was looking forward to being LESS attached. I certainly wasn’t looking to replace attachment with attachment.

I lived on my own for 6 months in my late teens and loved it. 2 weeks before my husband asked me out, I’d been thinking about how it would be nice to have a relationship some day, but that if I never found someone, that would be okay. I’d be a little sad about it but there was so much more to life that I’d still enjoy myself.

I don’t thoughtlessly leap into things. I may make decisions based on bad data (which is what informed getting married in the first place), but I don’t leap into things. It took me months to decide divorce was the best bad choice. H and I had already been friends for years. I’ve sat on these feelings for over 6 months, IN SPITE of the fact that these feelings include sexual attraction for the first time in my life and I’ve basically described what’s been happening to me as going through puberty at 38. Saying something includes putting a ‘near future’ time frame on it, which is another delay.

I don’t know that I convinced my therapist that those things make a difference, though. He seemed to think it would add complications to my life. He brought up things like my relationship with my children, which makes me wonder if he sees me entering a relationship as somehow unfair to or depriving my kids. (Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to ask him about that, we ran out of time.)

He threw me for a loop by suggesting we should ask ourselves 4 questions when faced with difficulty deciding a course of action: what’s the worst that can happen if I do, what’s the best that can happen if I do, what’s the worst that can happen if I don’t, what’s the best that can happen if I don’t.

When he saw how much this was agitating me he said it was okay, I didn’t have to figure out the answer before leaving our session. I could think about it and maybe I’d have an answer in 24 hours or maybe it would take weeks.

I left thinking about the 4 questions. I’ve got that first one NAILED. Decades of practice. Pretty decent on #3, too. I’m just learning to ask #2. But #4? Oh, that one threw me for a loop because of the context.

Because the answer to what’s the best that happens if I don’t say anything to H – is “all real numbers.” That’s right, I can replace the variable with any number and the equation will still be true.

I’m fairly certain my therapist did not ask me that question with the intent of having me answer with algebra.

It did get me thinking, though, about how ‘all real numbers’ is visible behind ‘what’s the worst that could happen if I do/don’t?’ After all, in both cases, my worst case scenario is that I lose a treasured friend. If I do say something to him and it makes him so uncomfortable he lets go of the friendship, or if I don’t say something to him, and then he becomes involved with someone else that doesn’t want his two best friends to be women.

Well, if either of those scenarios happened – it doesn’t remove the possibility of good things and happiness from my future. It reverts to ‘all real numbers.’ Any scenario is possible. I could roll a 1 or I could roll a 20.

Honestly, if my therapist was worried about it being a rebound, trying to get me to reconsider, trying to get me to slow down, trying to get me to be single for a while – I don’t think it’s working out the way he hoped. I look at the little chart there and I think ‘why not?

He’s been talking about what I want and choice and shaping my reality. The way I look at it, if I say nothing, I’m just letting myself drift in the wind and wait for something to turn up due to RNG. I’m not being intentional about anything, not taking opportunity for good in the here and now, just drifting. I’ve spent a whole lot of my life drifting. I don’t want that to keep being my reality.

If I say something, that creates an opportunity for something good to happen.

If I say nothing, I’m not creating any opportunities I’m just waiting to see if the universe provides me another opportunity down the road.

And if I’m wrong and this really is the dreaded rebound, why does THAT have to be the end of the world? It’s not the end of the world when people that get to experience looking for a relationship in a normal way start a relationship and then end it because it just doesn’t work out.

If H and I try dating and it doesn’t work out, we’ve both gained some experience and some understanding of what we do or don’t want in a relationship. That doesn’t seem like a terrible outcome for either of us. That seems like an acceptable risk – that seems like perfectly normal risk.

What isn’t perfectly normal is not dating at all until you meet someone that you think is safe to have a long-term relationship with, because you don’t feel intensely drawn to them, you just feel warm and friendly and surely THAT is what healthy love feels like. Because they share your religion and your morals and fit a familiar paradigm.

I’ve been trying to learn to trust my instincts, because of how often I should have listened to them in the past. My instincts aren’t steering me away from this.

For pity’s sake, I have evidence that I’m pretty damn good at making major decisions that don’t involve religious brainwashing. I knew it would be better to wait to have kids, I knew it would be better not to buy a house. I chose to have my fertility permanently ended because I knew the harm that would happen to me if I went through another pregnancy and infancy. I chose to change how I parented my children compared to how I was parented, to treat them as individuals intrinsically worthy, and intrinsically worthy of my kindness.

I went to therapy, chose music and walking and writing to help me cope with and manage my mental health symptoms, instead of sex, drugs, alcohol or painkillers. I avoided fast, temporary relief because I knew what the potential drawbacks were.

Underneath all the childhood conditioning that shaped my choices earlier in life, I am smart, resilient, courageous and thoughtful. I have good instincts. I’m a problem-solver. If I can’t trust myself to make decisions by now, when can I trust myself to make decisions?

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