I certainly qualify for membership in the Red Hat Society. Those ladies over fifty who meet for fun and friendship in purple outfits and red hats. But, I prefer to be a member of the Red Flag Bunch. We celebrate the fact that we are still alive and long ago concluded we don't have to go along to get along.
The song above " Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" could have become the anthem of the Red Flag Bunch but it erroneously waves the white flag of surrender as it ends in celebration of incompatible relationships which in most cases lead to failure, if not downright hatred. This song says, "Find someone with whom you have absolutely nothing in common and...get involved". Sage advice, Hollywood style. Who am I to argue? So, I told myself as so many others did, "I can get him to change the things I don't like and we will have many, many romantic, loving, erotic, Valentine celebrations".
Let's face it, a bathtub full of chocolate, a bedroom piled to the ceiling with roses and baby's breath or filling the sprinkler system with your favorite French perfume on February 14th isn't going to fix this mess, because on February 15th, I'm still going to like beaches and he's going to like bitches. I want to amble around the yard and he wants to gamble with the cards. There is only one way such relationships go. And how we feel when they crash. It is expressed perfectly in the following song:
The ragmop state follows the emotional pretzel phase. I twist myself into someone I do not know in order to turn another human into someone I think I want.
I resist breaking into pieces, but in the end find myself alone, drooping, forlorn, and dank with a dirty dishwater personality unfit company for even the garbage disposal. Blinded by my obsession to make another in my image of who he should be, I lose me.
This is not a one time occurrence. It becomes a life pattern. The other person leaves the relationship. Of course, they do. I have given all my control away. One of the great things about rotten relationships though, there is always another one right behind it. So, there is no need for despair.
As I began to dry out of my mopishness my fear of living on my own diminished. I hadn't known I had such a fear, but it becomes clear that I would rather have any relationship than no relationship. This time I had to go with the no relationship. This time is different. Maybe I had had enough. Valentine's Days came and went with no gifts or flowers, but the other three hundred and sixty four days of the year were being filled with a new job, new friends and interests. Hobbies long forgotten were pulled out of the attic of the past. I was pretty again. My hair and nails were done. I joined an exercise program. The ragmop was looking good. Then one Valentine's Day, there is a knock on the door and there he is, asking to come back. I think it. I consider what my life was, how it is now. That's where the next song comes in. "Without You" from the play "My Fair Lady".
The greatest benefit of being single was learning myself. Making me the focal point was a difficult lesson. It took lots of practice. Keep in mind, I had spent my life looking for flaws in someone else and developing ways to entice that person to change. Glaring at me brighter than the Florida sun was the fact that I had not the slightest notion of who I was, or should be. I had been growing stronger by the day and my life was beginning to bloom like a spring garden. My former partner was the same person who had left. No change appeared in him, nor did he promise any. I sensed he saw my growth and success as a challenge to his domination of me.
This crossroad was destined to appear. That's life. Temptation will always try to take you down when you have progressed and steal your achievements, or least minimize them. It would be a lie to ignore that my deepest desire is for a great relationship. It would be a very different me trying to fit into that outgrown relationship. Red flags waved everywhere. If my old self was not compatible with this person, how could I even entertain the idea that a freer more confident person would put up with the predictable friction that would ensue. Well, he might send me a Valentine. But the other three hundred and sixty four days could be hell on earth.
Let's not do this.
Here's a great support song for making this decision.
To all potential members of the Red Flag Bunch, do not brush those flags aside. Pay attention when they poke out from under a snide remark, or judgemental attitude. Differences should be deal breakers if you think the person you're considering long term needs to change. Seriously, if you love dogs and he is an animal hater, he probably won't change his mind once he meets cute little Mitzi. I find I'm better off without the bouquet if I prefer a salad, but he wants to shoot a squirrel for dinner. I can live without the fancy cards if I have to sit through sports events I hate, or attend plays alone.
And yes, there is room for compromise. Compromise works both ways. The red flags fly when compromise is a one way street, or differences are so glaring or so many, or so opposing there is no overcoming them. But the main point is to develop ourselves. Get to know who we are and what we want. What kind of person we want in our lives and hope to find them. Valentine Gifts can be lovely, but if the cost is loss of self to obtain them. Let's Call the Whole Thing Off.