According to Wikipedia, the be all end all of the internet….
“Serial monogamy is described as a societal mating practice in which individuals engage in sequential monogamous pairings, or in terms of humans, when men or women marry another partner sequentially. However, one does not need to marry in order to be considered as practicing serial monogamy, as it can also be defined by multiple pair-bonding, or having had more than one mate.”
For me personally, serial monogamy is an emotional form of addiction, a compulsive behavior whose constructs steer the person affected by keeping them running on a hamster wheel of loneliness and needing others to feed a hunger that will never be satisfied. It’s a constantly revisited dead end road for the perpetually broken-hearted. In Buddhism terms this it would be referred to as desirous attachment. “Desirous attachment is a deluded mental factor that observes its contaminated object, regards it as a cause of happiness, and wishes for it” (source).
I’ve come a long way since I started counseling in my early 20s (I’m 38 now). But it wasn’t until my divorce in 2008 and another important/meaningful relationship of almost two years that ended late in 2012 that I realized it was time to face something I’ve avoided dealing with in full since I was a child. I believe this is why I got married so young and have struggled so hard at being single and happy since my divorce.
In the past 5-6 years I’ve been challenged by the issue of abandonment at a level that takes me to that horribly uncomfortable place where the last major fragments of my childhood fear, low self-esteem, co-dependency and an irrational state of loneliness are all hanging out together getting tanked at the bar at the Inn of Dysfunction, planning and scheming their next move on those of us afflicted by it.
Fear of abandonment is a very complex beast. It draws its energy from all of your insecurities and recharges itself like a car battery. The longer it’s running the stronger it gets. It stops you from letting go of the past. It distracts you from enjoying the present. It pounds coffin nails into the doors of personal growth and opportunity that would otherwise be your healthier, more centered and prosperous future.
To put it plainly, it sucks.
It sucks the life and times out of you and those around you. It distorts the meaningful relationships you do have and sabotages the ones you could’ve had down the road that might have been great.
Abandonment is commonplace for those who’s childhood environments were influenced by parents suffering from various addictive behavior (drugs, alcohol or other compulsions), co-dependency, and in my case, too many big changes without effective communication and nurturing during tough times. Pair all that up with my deep emotional/analytical brain and complex personality and you have a potential life of loneliness and emotional exhaustion, all of which are entirely in my own mind. The great news is that it’s effect on one’s life is completely changeable with a few tweaks and some hard work.
Reprogramming and resolve
There’s a very thin line between “living in the past” (emotional, conscious) and living by old behavioral patterns (instinctual, subconscious). Surrounded by a healthy circle of spiritual friends and a desire to be a strong centered role model for my sons, I’ve done a lot of work on myself over the last decade and a half in terms of forgiveness, letting go, converting anger and resentment into love, understanding and empathy for those that had hurt me in the past. Now it’s time to take it further.
There’s no magic bullet for stuff like this, no pill that can be swallowed where you wake up the next morning and you are a different person. It’s a process. As a friend once told me recently, it’s all about progress not perfection. With issues like this you need to take time to deprogram the patterns of the past and then reprogram who you are from the ground up, establishing a cleaner, healthier view of what it means to be in a relationship and why you should be in one in the first place (if at all). To be alone is not to be lonely……this is the TRUTH and a concept I’ve never known. At this point in my life I couldn’t be more excited to take this on, to feel what it’s like to wake up in the morning and only think about how killer my day is gonna be and not “who should I pursue for a potential relationship, friend or otherwise.”
They say the only way to cure a phobia is dive right into the problem head first and face it. I’ve realized I can’t change this stuff permanently for the better unless I’m actually in the problem environment: being single. You can’t work on an issue like this one unless force yourself to experience all of the pain and lack of comfort that comes with it. You gotta stop using the drug and get through withdrawal before you can be sober right? My first priority is to move through and reshape what it means to “just be” without a partner, to learn how to not have a partner without feeling abandoned and insecure. The process of teaching myself to not be in a relationship without it feeling like I’m about to fall off a cliff is new to me BUT I realize that state is not a real or tangible one. It’s all just in my head. Patterns from the past. Thankfully I have all the right tools, books, friends to help me be successful during this time.