Sunday, February 15, 2009

An Existential Valentine

I was afraid I might disappear like dandelion seeds in the breeze since this was the first Valentines' Day that I didn't have a boyfriend in 34 years.

I know, intellectually, that Valentines' Day is a Hallmark Holiday. Years ago, when I was working in public relations, one of my accounts was the Chocolate Manufacturers of America. I learned exactly how much candy was purchased per cubic inch of shelf space in America's grocery, variety and convenience stores during this annual sales bonanza.

I also know, intellectually, that I don't need other people to prove I exist. Validation is too small of a word for the phenomenon because in order for something to have value, it must first exist. I'm pretty sure this trouble can be traced back to my emotional gestalt being fucked up. Throw in societal conditioning and marketing trends and voila! The damage is done.

We can throw in media images of beauty if you want to really seal the coffin - but you still have to exist before you need a coffin. If I'm not mistaken, you can exist without being beautiful but it sucks. Ask Carole King.

This existential dilemma cannot be purely a feminine phenomenon given that Dean Martin sang, "You're nobody til somebody loves you," and he is certainly a man. Some man can explore that territory, however, because I'm celebrating my own existential victory here.

Recently, it's become clear that I'm single by choice. I'd still be hanging out with That Narcissist if he weren't such an unpleasant individual. Since I needed someone to authorize my existence, being a narcissistic supply source was a perfect gig except that once Narcissists know you care about them, they start treating you like shit. He may have spent a lot of time with me which he says showed how much he enjoyed my company, but his attitude was so tacky that being around him got to be a drag -- especially in Austin. That Narcissist gave advice to a comic at The Velveeta Room as if watching Seinfeld made him an expert on comedy. It was mortifying. Somehow it's more socially acceptable to be a complete asshole in New York City.

Since my identity has been defined all these years by being in one relationship or another - needing your mother's approval is another example of the external validation - and since The Universe sends us harsher teachers when we won't learn our lessons, a narcissist was necessary to my process. What set That Narcissist apart from other boyfriends is that he is such a cartoon in real life that I could finally say, "hold on a dang minute," to the entire process and break the pattern.

What good is having your existence authenticated by another person if that person is a complete asshole? I don't need some asshole to tell me I exist. In fact, I never really needed anyone to confirm my existence - none of us do. But plenty of people rely on external sources to quantify their worth.

As my fiftieth birthday approaches, I'm enjoying a bit of solitary peace and quiet for a change. With Velvet leaving the nest soon, I can finally discover what it means to exist outside of a relationship. I'll always be a daughter and a mother, a friend, a teacher and even an ex-wife. I want to exist independently too. I suppose I already do. When he's describing Sowelu in The Book of Runes, Ralph Blum says, ". . .what you are striving to become in actuality is what, by nature, you already are."

Some rune masters think Ralph Blum is full of shit, but I always liked this idea.


Kitty said...

I have other friends who value the Runes. I've never had any.

I decided to cross Valentine's Day off my radar this year. I'd say 'bah humbug' but it's the wrong expression for the wrong season.


Gail said...

Hey there-

Excellent "readers-digest-condensed-version" of your amazing process, journey to self, as of late!! I would say, "You have arrived!!""

enter stage left - drum roll, cheers, applause!!! I love how you share and tell of yourself - you are really, no,, REALLY way cool.

Love Gail

Comrade Kevin said...

You are completely right. Somewhere along the line marketing drove it into our heads that we're nobody if we're not coupled with someone.

And you are also right to point out all the ways which we seek validation of ourselves as decent people. Your point was, of course, you can't be healthy with someone else until you are healthy by yourself.

I sympathize with your past and wish you continued self-awareness. As someone with bipolar disorder, I know that working on myself is a process that never terminates. So it also is with moving forward and making good decisions for ourselves.

Be well, my friend.

Comrade Kevin said...

I've also been thinking about your post before last.

I spoke to my own biases. There are more than a few women with both brains and looks, but maybe it comes down to growing up in the south around all of those subservient southern belles.

Most of the women I date have been Yankees because I really do look for intellect over looks. Looks are good for two or three days but what do you talk about afterward? I seek an emotional bond and I simply don't find it with someone who isn't intellectual.

PENolan said...

Speaking as a southern belle, the trouble is that we are compelled to use our intellect only in ways that are supportive of men. Like most societal trends, it must be this way around the country but for some reason, the South stands out. The reason I am such a good source of narcissistic supply is that I turn my entire cognitive focus to pumping up a man's ego so that he can go forth and conquer in the competitive World of Men. I was good in the South, but you should see these Yankee men falling all over themselves to hear this shit with a drawl. The worst is knowing you're full of shit even as you appease the male. I have a feeling that's part of the reason why Marilyn Monroe killed herself. She was a Gemini too.

bruce said...

Heh Tricia,

I detect whole lot of inner strength in that post, and if not, it appears to be so. Talking about accents, it's we Brits who can BS our way the most in the world. Believe I know!

Kindest regards to all you belles.


Liberality said...

continuing on the prior point about women having to validate men all the time--YES! I agree and it happens in the entire culture, not just down south. a woman's worth is that she makes her man, and the family they have together, the center of her universe. on the one hand, it's nice to boost someone's ego and having a social support network is nice too. but on the other, it sucks that we do all the giving and rarely get any of the getting if you know what I mean.

PENolan said...

Bruce, I have always been convinced that there is a direct link between Southern Social Quirks and the British who were the original white settlers. That the British have perpetrated the idea that their accent denotes intelligence is proof of the superiority of their BS.
Liberality - I hope I start getting some soon. Establishing an independent identity is all well and good, but . . .
Happy Bah Humbug Day, Kitty! You too, Gail.

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