I am a wilderness park ranger, early 40s, independent, brave, creative and nature-loving. I’ve always held down a job, have no debt and no addictions except chocolate. I have many friends. I’ve hiked mountain ranges on foot, yet struggle finding a man who is both reliable and attractive. I get attracted to wild, unpredictable guys who don’t show up.
I had physical and verbal abuse from both parents as a child, so trusting is hard. I used to imagine running off into a forest with my backpack, canteen and tent. I even learned to camp out by myself at the age of seven.
I haven’t had a serious long-term relationship in years, since a hurtful, damaging person. Recently I dated some men for a few months and one was amazing, yet he didn’t want to have children. Others have been ex-addicts, needy or “wimpy” men.
I often feel like the strong one, where I have to make the decisions or be the brave one. I am not a lesbian. I am definitely attracted to men! I often feel I have been to the school of hard knocks and many others have had a more sheltered life, so I get resentful over how hard my life has been.
I see women all around me who are younger, happily married with kids. It is all very painful. I see a common theme. It feels like there is some impossible gap between me and guys, whether it is distance (they live too far away) or interests in life (he is a city guy and I am a nature girl).
I have been in therapy many years and maybe I get a little better, but I am tired of going through life alone!
Desiree, it’s sometimes said that the worst thing you can do to a person is put them in solitary confinement. For mistreated children that isn’t true. They are not searching for people, they are searching to get away from people. They dream of the tiny cabin in the woods away from others.
Who is attracted to the wilderness? People who can’t conform to society or to rules. People running away from something. Mavericks. Thrill-seekers. People like you.
You can’t change how hard your life has been. If you resent someone for not having as hard a life, then all you are left with is people like yourself.
We can’t help but speak to the facts. You’re in the same box you were in at seven. Reading your letter is like listening to a 14-year-old girl talk about her fantasy future. You want to satisfy an improbable bucket list.
Most men in their 40s don’t want to start a family, and there is not even a sentence in your letter about how hard it would be to have a child at your age. You are looking at the Hallmark card and want to jump into it, but you have no experience inside the Hallmark card. You have set the bar so high no one can jump it, which keeps you exactly where you are.
The goal of therapy is to get out of therapy. If you’ve been in therapy for years and are barely better, you need to try something different. If you continue in treatment, a specialist in adult victims of child abuse is most likely to help.
You can’t put on someone else’s life like a coat. What you seek is love and connection. Everything else will flow from that. Most women in their 40s would be thrilled to find an “amazing” man, unless they wanted to use children as a way to push him away.
Smokey the Bear said, only you can prevent forest fires. For you he might say, only you can be open to a loving, trusting relationship. Get therapy targeted at who you are. Look hard at your fantasy. Consider what you want in men.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of April 28, 2014
Send letters to: [email protected], or Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield MO 65801.