She asked me, “So you never got married or had kids, was that by choice or by chance?”
I said, “Probably a bit of both.”
She asked why, and I said, “Well I wouldn’t be mad if I had kids but I guess I just never found the right person to settle down with.”
The conversation was in the back of my mind for a few days. I couldn’t seem to shake it. As I rode my bike down Clark street yesterday I thought about how every one of my relationships has failed. Some were a mutual separation, some out-evolved each other, some ended ugly, but regardless - they all ended. I started thinking about regret. About the time that I have wasted over the years - both theirs and mine. I wondered what my life would have looked like if I never had spent five years I with Andrea. But she was a rational voice. She was compassionate and was the first woman to sit me down and teach me the importance of listening to people you love. I wondered what would have happened if I wasn’t with Kate for 3 years and I realized that she kept me reeled in at a time where I could and would have gotten seriously out of control in the worst ways possible. And I thought about the three years with Lindsie. Easily the most volatile relationship I have ever had. But she taught me empathy. She showed me a different side of life and the struggles I never could have seen for myself. She allowed me understand how addiction works, the overwhelming strength it takes to be a single mother and the intelligence and tenacity it takes to be a good hustler.
I locked up my bike at the grocery store and walked in. As I looked through the vegetable isle and squeezed avocados I realized that absolutely none of my relationships were failures. Simply because I didn’t make a lifetime commitment with an over-priced ring and a ridiculous ceremony shouldn’t discount the amount of care, knowledge, and intensity that we shared. And just because we didn’t bend to the pressure of our family’s attempts to force a marriage doesn’t mean that what we shared wasn’t necessary and vital or any less important than those walking around with rings around their finger.
We stayed a course for what we needed.
All relationships, platonic or romantic, serve a purpose to everyone involved. Whether it is to learn how to demonstrate love and care for another person, or to help us more clearly define what is unhealthy behavior, what we’re willing to tolerate, and what we feel we earn and deserve - none of it is wasted time, regardless of the guilt and pressure our friends and family make us feel.
I have recently realized that this isn’t a race to meet the goals and expectations of others but a long journey to designed to give us the time to learn what it is that truly makes us happy so we can share that happiness with someone we love.
And that is the definition of a healthy relationship.
Because while every last one of my past relationships have failed - none were ever failures.