Surviving is not Living

On relationships and love

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People have told me I have a way with words. I’m honored by that, and thankful for that gift. But sometimes it’s so difficult to find words. If there is an emotion that few people have felt, an event that not many understand, it’s hard to put into words something so big in a way to make others understand the immensity of the feeling.  That’s how I felt when my son died. That’s how I feel now with this new interest in my life. I’m lost for words, and it seems I could say a lot of things that wouldn’t really come close to capturing the depth of what this experience has taught me.

 But I’m gonna try anyway.

 I’ve not dated a lot. I’ve met guys, we’ve hung out here and there for a couple weeks and then decided it didn’t work and we’d separate. The last “relationship” I had was 2 years ago. We met at a club at a vulnerable time in my life, and we proceeded to spend every moment together for 3 weeks. If I wasn’t at work, I was with him. He didn’t work, so we were only apart when I was at work. I’m thankful it only lasted 3 weeks because he was not a good guy; alcoholic, controlling, and degrading. The timing was right for him to leave the state, believing I’d come get him and I never did. I never looked back.  The other guys in my life haven’t been that bad, some have actually been pretty cool, but we just weren’t for each other. I don’t see the point in being in relationships if you know you won’t work out. I’m not saying I have to know day 1 if this is going anywhere, I just don’t want to stay in a relationship knowing for a fact one day it will end. Why set yourself up for that heartache? In nearly 28 years of life, the longest relationship I’ve found myself in lasted about 3 months. That’s crazy for someone my age I think. I know people my age who’ve spent 3, 5, 10 years with the same person. That seems like a lifetime.

 I’m not the kind of girl that ever needed a relationship. I never had a boyfriend in high school. I was kind of one of the guys. I wanted to date. I don’t really know a girl who is more boy crazy than I am, but I wasn’t girly, I was overweight, and I just wasn’t the girl that guys wanted to be romantic with. However, this time taught me a lot about guys. When they see you as one of the guys, they’ll be themselves around you. I was able to observe my guy friends and try to figure out how guys tick, what made them who they were, how they processed things, and what motivated their actions. It was very valuable. I also got to observe relationships and figure out everything people did wrong, and the things I wanted and things I didn’t.

 As I got older I sort of lost interest altogether. I’ve always known what a strong, independent woman I am, and I never wanted to lose that. I saw many girls give up their friends, their ambitions, and their sense of self to make a guy happy. Although I absolutely believe in compromise, I don’t believe in giving up yourself to fit in a relationship. I never wanted a man who would make me give up me. I saw so many unhappy women in relationships where they had lost themselves. But I also didn’t want the opposite, to be the one in control of the relationship. I wanted the balance of a man who was strong and independent, who knew how to handle his business, intelligent, but also kind and compassionate and respected my strength and passion. It seems all I ever saw was one or the other, not a balance.

 While watching girls lament over being single, and wait for men to “make them whole”, I was more concerned with developing myself, starting to believe that a relationship was just not going to happen for me. My standards were high, and being raised every day, it seemed all I ever saw around me was dysfunction; cheating, lying, faking who you were, abuse, etc.  I didn’t want to be in a toxic relationship. I would talk about not wanting any of that and people would respond as if I just doubted myself and my love-worthiness. But just the opposite was true; I was beginning to discover just how truly beautiful I was, and that I was worth so much more than the status quo. I was happy being in love with me. I wasn’t closed to the possibility of love and happily ever after, I just wasn’t going to wait for it to happen or settle for less than extraordinary.

 People say that when you aren’t looking, it happens. I really hate to admit that a cliché is partly true, but it is. I say partly because there’s been plenty of times I haven’t been looking and it still hasn’t happened, and I’ve seen times when people are looking and they do find something, but perhaps just not something great. My theory is this, when you aren’t looking, somebody great comes around that can provide a healthy relationship. Two people meet who don’t need each other, who are at home with themselves and working on life, who aren’t caught up in bitterness and anger, who are open to the possibility but aren’t waiting for a hero to swoop in and complete them. They’re complete already and simply working on rounding out the rough edges. They meet, and it clicks. It’s like you have all the pieces to the puzzle with you, but this person helps put them together to make sense.

 I like who I was when I met this person. But I like the person I have become even more. I am challenged, encouraged, cared for, and watched after. I have had to learn to adjust to certain things, such as letting him open my door for me and taking help. It’s challenged me. I’ve always believed I wanted to be the woman who made dinner, and did things to care for the man in my life, not because I had to or it was expected, but because I wanted to. But that desire was mixed with the fact that I haven’t had anybody in my life I needed to do anything for except for myself, and sometimes I get a momentary selfish attitude and I rebel against my desire. Sometimes I forget that he wants to open doors for me and I barge ahead.  I’m so used to my independence that when he offers help or a suggestion I take the road of disrespect and shoot him down. Relationships are about compromise, and sometimes I need to remember to let him open the pickle jar, even if I can do it myself.

 I believe we all have reasons to doubt love. Entertainment tells us there’s always got to be conflict and fights, and 66% of the way through any artistic piece is when that drama occurs, so in romantic comedies that’s when the big fight happens. But what if there is no big fight? What if disagreements are settled with respect and fighting fair? What if disagreements get settle amicably instead of with hurt feelings, broken vases, and bitterness? People wouldn’t watch that movie. We crave drama and that filters over into our real lives as well. We have been programmed to believe love is what we see portrayed, but I’m telling you that Hollywood has no idea what love is. We have been fed a lie, and it’s destroying our relationships.

 I don’t know what the future holds for this relationship, but I do know that it has healed things that can only be healed when you’re ready, and within a healthy relationship. If I get to see happy ever after with him, I would be very thankful. If I don’t, I’m still thankful for the lessons I’ve learned. I would still be satisfied if I were to be single, but I also now know I can be in a healthy relationship and not fear the future.

 It’s a beautiful thing, and I wish it for every person. I wish for you to let go of anger, take back control from those who hurt you and give up the hope that the past could have been any different.


Written by No More Tomorrows

May 16, 2011 at 10:09 am

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