Here's my background check. I'm 42, single mom, divorced for 10 years. I have had my fill of dating, let's just say it like it is, who wants to be seen naked for the first time in middle age? Thank God for dimmers and failing eyesight after 40, just saying.
After my last serious relationship drove over a landmine and blew up, I decided to seek professional counsel. It's always humbling to sit there on the proverbial couch, knowing how many uncomfortable people have sat before you. I decided that my therapist was going to be my emotional customs agent, and after many years of toting heavy baggage I was finally going to declare everything, which is what I've been doing. It's been exhausting.
Recently, towards the end of one of my sessions (and you can always tell it's the end because your therapist makes the not-very-subtle glance at the clock, and cuts you off just as you are finally opening up) my therapist said something very unsettling. "I'd like to venture into an area of interest. I'd like to explore why you always seem to be attracted to men who are emotionally unavailable."
Oh dear God. I wanted to rationalize, hide, deflect, argue, dismiss or stand up and go home, but I sat my ground. I love how she so casually connects the dots of my life, while I am still looking for a pencil. Gee, okay, let's see. I was married to an emotionally unavailable man. Ok, maybe so. I have apparently made sure to repeat that for a decade, check. The last guy I dated was a fraud of Dateline episode proportion, clearly unavailable. (Or perhaps unavailable to many at once? I'm still not entirely sure.) And now I am doing it again.
We discussed this phenomenon until it was time to call it a day.
It was unearthed that I somehow have an affinity for men who are complicated, busy, unreliable, hard to reach or impossible to get to know. I mistakenly think that they are more interesting, worth waiting for or working on. That cracking their shell might somehow render me "special." How have I been so oblivious to the fact that the people who keep you at arms length may project an aura of mystery, but mystery does not necessarily mean depth? Sometimes mystery just means that the pool is closed. And the pool is often closed because the lifeguard does not want you to learn that it only has a shallow end. Or perhaps the lifeguard does not actually know how to swim. If you aren't permitted too close to the edge, you won't ever find out. No diving allowed. Well, you can dive, but at your own peril.
My brother Jon is finishing his counseling degree and I am his number one guinea pig. He has been my unofficial therapist since childhood and knows pretty much every single thing about me. Recently we were discussing my love life over wine, and the lack of openness, respect, courage and initiative on the part of a lukewarm semi suitor. He quipped in a very astute, typical Jon fashion, "He doesn't need a therapist; he needs a gynecologist."
You can't pay for wisdom like that.
I don't argue that a little mystery can be good, that it has its place. I think a little mystery works when it comes to attire, that sexy can be sexier when things are left to the imagination. Mystery can be a good novel, movie, or crime show. It can mean closing the bathroom door. It can be an element of intrigue in an otherwise open person, always wondering what they will come up with next, the delectable mystery of wondering who is smarter, or who loves the other more. People who surprise you by their perspective, humor, or wisdom -- just when you thought you knew them completely another layer reveals... another exquisite layer. Mystery can mean not getting the reaction you anticipated -- compassion instead of condemnation, affection when you feel least lovable. It can be an unexpected gesture of kindness on an ordinary day. These are beautiful mysteries, available in available people, relating in real relationships.
Mystery does not mean being (with)held at arm's length. Mystery is not wondering why someone doesn't call when they say they'll call or do what they say they are going to do. Mystery is not a person who disappears into the mist whenever it suits them. Mystery is not a locked door, a closed book, a holding pattern, a sealed vault, a busy signal, or a detour sign. Mystery does not mean a cliffhanger, where you are the one left hanging. Mystery is not wondering where you stand, if you matter, if you are worth fighting for.
The mystery of real love is the way it makes love real.
And for that, I'd like to be available.