Recently, I discovered that the thing that made Dave and me incompatible had returned and would never be off our back. There weren’t any secrets or lies, but I came to understand without any hesitation or doubt that we would NEVER  be okay because there was this THING and we weren’t ready or able to tackle it. (I changed the “he” to a “we” in the interest of magnanimity, but he was not ready or able to tackle this thing and it was unworkable and that is the truth)

I was very happy with Dave. I discovered that going to sleep holding someone’s hand is  as sweet as it comes; I had forgotten. I remembered that having a person to carry stuff in from the car at the end of the day is huge. Right now my car is stuffed to the gills with various items because it’s flu season and when I get home I just can’t. But Saturday. Saturday I will unload. If Dave were here the car would be emptied already. He was a fantastic unloader of car items, and I rewarded him with special meals, back-rubs, a thoughtful gift here or there…. I appreciated all the schlepping, I really did. And he was funny, sweet, smart and cute. It was all good, except the bloody thing that wasn’t.

I found that planning and dreaming and feeling tucked-in works better with two, at least for me. Two feels less wobbly. Until it feels scary and not right and then you end up tripping and looking back and going, Wha?….oh right, THAT THING.

When you start dating someone you know right away what the thing will be. There is usually one specific thing that will get you in the end.

I know this is hard to believe but there is a certain ex that I can’t name right now but let’s just say he was the last person to completely devastate me a few years ago and unbelievably, his wife and I have become FB friends. People, listen to this:  my theory about the thing even crosses relationships. You can’t run from the thing. The thing that in the end was our downfall has reared it’s head with them and is giving them a run for their money, too. Imagine that! It’s the same damn thing, the thing I saw a few dates in with Peter (whoops!) that I told myself wasn’t as bad as other things might be. THAT thing!!

First I want to tell you all that I am super happy to have once again dodged a bullet. People are great. All my exes are great but their things, not so much.

And then I want to say this, and it’s the best relationship advice I have ever come up with, IMO. If you are in a relationship, you most certainly at the back of your mind know what the thing is…the thing that could bring you two crashing down. Here’s the advice: Don’t play with fire, fix it. Fix it with humor, fix it with love.. fix it when you two are falling in love or getting along fabuloso-ly. Don’t wait til you are shooting daggers at each other. And I don’t mean just fix your partner, I mean fix yourself too while you’re at it. Ask your partner what the thing is according to them and bloody change it. Because mark my word, it will catch up to you in some way, eventually.

And if you aren’t in a relationship, but you find someone…don’t ignore the thing. Love hard and strong and always be kind but state up front: “This THING is intolerable for me” Don’t just say it but get all basic german shepherd on your partner if ze does that thing. Go “EH! no stop that now.”  Do NOT be tolerant. Do not accept what you can not. The thing doesn’t have to go completely away, but there needs to be sincere effort and measurable progress. No lip service….work on the thing!

Don’t lie to yourself. My favorite lie I’ve told myself over and over is that this thing isn’t as bad as other things might be. True, but not good enough. Things are things and they will get you in the end.

If you want to stay with someone and you have a thing and you think that people should just be accepted for who they are I am going to tell you that we are all quite flawed and our job is to evolve and treat people better and better every day so get your head out of your thing and work it. Throw off your things that are deal-breakers because chances are you don’t even like that thing about yourself anyway. And you can be any person you want to be, within reason.

I went through that phase of knowing myself so well that I would say tearfully, “I have a (thing) fear of abandonment” or “I really hate talking to people first thing in the morning so you will just have to back off and accept it.” Or my best thing: “I am fiercely independent and just want to do what I want”  Wow, precious little me.

I am pretty happy alone right now because I am free of Dave’s thing. Being alone looks just fine, thanks. But things are things and there is a lesson here.

If I meet someone I might want to take a trip around the sun with, I am a) not ignoring his thing, the thing we shove down because he’s just so great we don’t want to see it and I am b) paying attention to my own thing – because people, we can do better and casting off things that don’t serve us is the ticket, not ignoring them or hugging them to our chests.

I am probably not immune to the drug that comes with finding a person to hold hands and rub noses with. It’s so powerful that we think we can maybe get past anyTHING. This time around I was wise enough to know better, but I tried it anyway. And, at least knowing that the chances were slim, because there was a huge thing, it was easy to quickly admit defeat and move on.

That’s progress.

Now I gotta go fix a few things.goat