The Final Episode: This is the last in a series of imaginary conversations with my next girlfriend.
Dear Next Girlfriend,
It’s time. It was bound to happen sooner rather than later. I’ve been having lots of one-way conversations in my head with my ex-girlfriend and you — my next girlfriend. I’ve been living in the past, or imagining the future. As I said, it’s time. It’s time to be in the moment, in the here and now, and accept, yes, fully accept, that I’m single and I’m okay — all that TM (Transactional Analysis) self-help, self-talk from the bestselling self-help book I’m Okay, You’re Okay from 1969 that in 1972 made the New York Times Best Seller List. Next girlfriend, it’s not exactly like we’re breaking up — we never got together!
I’m single and I’m okay.
I’ve been having conversations lately with my lesbian friends too, many in their 40s, 50s and 60s who are single, some like me who’ve been single for awhile, some who are recently separated, and even a couple of friends who were married (not to each other) who are now divorcing. “First comes love, then comes marriage — and sometimes —then comes divorce.” As we become older (and wiser), dating doesn’t get easier and maintaining healthy relationships can still be a challenge.
I’m divorced and I’m okay.
I married my husband Frank in 1970, separated in 1979, and divorced a year later. My regular readers are familiar with my story, but here’s a brief recap. Frank was my first love, yet a couple of years into my marriage, I met Gloria, as in G-L-O-R-I-A (I love writing that and hearing the song play in my head). I didn’t act on my infatuation; instead I made a geographic escape to Madison to return to the university with Frank in tow.
Shortly afterwards I began attending Feminist Consciousness-Raising groups sponsored by NOW (National Organization for Women). I’m okay, you’re okay and we’re oppressed. My feelings for women intensified, and I had my first affair with a woman. Frank and I created an Open Marriage, another bestseller from the 1970s. I remained married to Frank but took a woman lover. When it became clear that I preferred women, Frank and I separated and later divorced.
I’m a lesbian and I’m okay.
Without chronicling my lesbian serial monogamy history, a trend described in a bestselling book in the lesbian community, JoAnn Loulan’s, Lesbian Passion, I experienced my lesbian adolescence in 3-D —dating, dancing, and drinking. Without sharing the sloppy details of my drunk-a-logue, I got sober, practiced recovery — yes, one has to practice recovery like drunks practiced drinking — I began seeing a therapist to work first on me, then my unresolved family issues, and lastly to learn how to have healthy relationships. It took ten years.
I’m a recovering alcoholic and I’m okay.
One day-at-a-time and 30 years later I’m sober and single. I was in fact in a healthy relationship — for the most part — for 15 of those years. It was not perfect, neither was I, but it was good for as long as it lasted, some days and some years better than others. Relationships are like people — imperfect and flawed. Now that I’m older (and wiser) I’m ready for a relationship again, though it seems like the dating pool has gotten much smaller, and many eligible older singles are more reticent to dip in their toes. What I have learned during this time as a singleton is the value of friendships, family, and the luxury of time for myself.
I’m old and I’m okay.
There was a time that I couldn’t tolerate being alone. There was a time too when I didn’t feel “whole” if I wasn’t in a relationship. This was eventually followed by a time when I couldn’t tolerate being in a relationship and to settle for less than what I had worked so hard to enjoy. Now begins the Third Act of my life and some days it seems like I’m running out of time.
I’m still single and I’m okay.
Next Girlfriend, it was inevitable, like the one-way conversations I’ve been having in my head with my ex-girlfriend, I’m going to stop having one-way conversations with you — my Next Girlfriend. It’s been good for me to sort out my thoughts and feelings with you — and I must admit you’re a good listener — but it’s time that we part ways. Like the child who has an imaginary friend, it’s time for me to say good-bye to you, my imaginary girlfriend.
I broke up with my next girlfriend and I’m okay (and she’s okay too!).
Note: This is the Final Episode of the series Conversations with My Next Girlfriend, imaginary conversations with the new girlfriend I haven’t met yet, replacing the one-sided talks I was having with my ex in my head. For Episodes 1 – 9 click on the links below: