By Marianne McClary
I’m the only person I know who actually looked forward to turning 40. I threw a huge bash and made everyone dress as if it were 1961 (my birth year). To me, turning 40 wasn’t the start of the slide towards old age; it felt like the beginning of something else -- the beginning of an era of freedom and self-realization.
But that new 40-something confidence didn’t come easily. I had a tendency to please, to accommodate, to make things easier for other people, and to put myself second. It was a pattern I’d followed my whole life. But not long after that birthday, I made a discovery that hit me like a lightning bolt.
Still single, I reconnected with a guy I knew in college who’d dated one of my friends. He lived out of state, but we hit it off and struck up something resembling long-distance dating. Fate! I thought. We met up a few times and chatted by phone and email. Though it wasn’t perfect, I thought we could make something of it. I was wrong.
Our “romance” sputtered along for more than a year, with me making it very easy for him (did I really give him all those frequent flier miles??). The final straw came after yet another romantic liaison – with no talk of anything more serious. When I initiated talks, he brushed me off.
I was furious -- stunned that there wouldn’t even be a discussion. And then suddenly, it all became so clear. I thought, What am I doing? This is not what I want.
What did I want? A guy who wants to be with me. In a relationship with me. Someone who lives in my city. Someone who wants to build a future with me, or at least explore the possibility. Someone smart and funny, who thinks what I want is important stuff.
Was he that guy? No. And so I ended it, tearlessly. I would not be burdened by accommodating a life that was not what I wanted. As I write it now, it sounds almost ridiculously simple. And yet, it’s such an important detail in gaining clarity when we, as women, decide whether we’re going to build a relationship. We bend, we set ourselves aside; but I’ve come out stronger and more confident from having learned that what I want is the most important thing – to me.
They say if you put out to the universe what you want, it will come to you. About a year after this incident, I met the man who’s now my husband, and I was floored that day when I spelled out the qualities I was looking for in someone. He said, “It sounds like me!”
And sure enough, it was.
Marianne McClary anchors “Good Day Sacramento” on CW affiliate KMAX-TV in Sacramento, CA. She and her husband, Scott, live in Carmichael with their two child-cats, Mushi and Suki.