When I met my ex-husband in my 20s I was at the top of my game. I was secure in my career, had a full and happy social life, and was in possession of a body that rocked the midriff baring tops and tight jeans Coyote Ugly claimed were de rigor for bar dancing.
I settled comfortably into marriage and motherhood with the stretch marks and soft, rounded curves to prove it. When my marriage came to an end, I was not the marathon running mom or the yoga-tight 30-something that my friends and acquaintances were. I entered a narrower dating field where men seemed more interested in the perky breasts of recent college grads than the almost stereotypically housewife me.
I was all too conscious that the men sitting across the table from me could be dating a woman without stretch marks and the stomach pooch courtesy of my two pregnancies and subsequent C-Sections. I could feel the crow’s feet at the corners of my eyes when I smiled and knew even my chin had softened in the last 10 years. Doubt, and lack of self-confidence made me constantly ask, “Am I good enough for him?”
I should have been asking if he was good enough for me.
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a year and a half and as comfort grows, so do disagreements. During one rather deep discussion, he finally confessed “I’m not good enough for you.”
My initial response was to deny it. To tell him he was, but to be honest, I’d spent the last 18 months trying to be better, to be more. I’d studied his wants and needs and, in my typical organized way created a plan of action to meet them, losing a part of me in the process. I’d spent the last 18 months asking him how I could improve myself without ever considering that perhaps we both should be improving and, if we couldn’t, then perhaps we shouldn’t be in a relationship. It was, in a word, exhausting. Enough so that I finally had to reply, “No. You’re not.”
“But I’m going to try to be,” he responded.
I nodded my head and held his hand. “I hope so.”
There is a part of me that fears years of emptiness without a partner by my side. I’ve always been a romantic, someone who loves being in love and feels most comfortable when she is in a relationship. My life is a series of long-term relationships interspersed with years of singlehood. Still, it recently occurred to me that fear of being alone in my golden years is not doing me any favors now.
I’m not sure what the future holds for my boyfriend and me. What I do know is that trying to be “good enough” isn’t going to help either one of us. Instead we should focus on being enough. Enough for ourselves and enough for each other.