The Rocky and Revealing Road to True Love
If you’ve ever read my work, it’s no secret that I didn’t make the best choices when it came to romantic partners. I went from a violent marriage where being screamed at was the norm to a marriage where I was hardly spoken to. Both marriages had one thing in common: I did not matter. In any given situation, the person that was expendable was always me. The worst part is, I believed that about myself, so it made it easy to allow that behavior to continue. I spent most of my adult life trying desperately to be enough, changing everything about myself to fit the idea of what another person thought I should be. The saddest part is, it wasn’tme that needed fixing, at least not from a “giving” standpoint. I was simply giving to people who would take every single thing I had – mind, body and soul – and still demand more. To say it was soul-sucking and exhausting is an understatement of mammoth proportions.
Growing up, all I ever heard was “relationships take work”. Work was roughly translated into “sadness, anger, despair, breaking up and getting back together, occasional violence and frequent divorce”. It’s no wonder that I ended up where I did; I had no idea what being in a loving relationship even meant. I saw glimmers of possibility in other people, like my Uncle Bob and Aunt Lin, and my sister Kim and her husband, Curtis, but it felt like the exception, not the rule. To me, love equaled pain and the more pain, the deeper the love. It took me a long, long time to come to terms with the fact that I deserved better. Not from a point of arrogance, but from a need to simply save myself because I could not save others, no matter how much I wanted to.
So I left and started a new life, not having any idea who I was as an individual. I didn’t even know what kind of art I liked and delayed hanging anything on my walls because I had no idea what my tastes were. It was exciting and scary and painful to really get to know myself. Part of that knowing included dating, which brought up its own trials and tribulations. I have often said that the whole purpose of dating in my late 40’s was to get me really, really comfortable with the ability to say “fuck off”. (Sorry Aunt Lin, I know you’re cringing). Dating had its purpose, though. I fell in love with yet another man who was horrible for me and walked through that mess and confusion for another couple of years. Deep down, though, an awakening had begun. It was like a small flame that eventually began to burn brighter and brighter; it reminded me constantly that there was more to life than this and that being lonely was not nearly as hard as being alone in the wrong relationship.
By the time I met Wyatt, I had honestly come to the conclusion that I was okay with being alone. I was comfortable with myself at last and in no hurry to disturb the peace I had spent a lifetime searching for. I understood that, yes, relationships take work, but it shouldn’t be that much work, that much of the time. If it didn’t come easy, then I was okay with it not coming at all. Before we went out on first date, we spent weeks talking on the phone, agreeing to full disclosure on everything and anything. We talked about everything that mattered to us – love, friendship, sex, money, children – you name it, we covered it. We did a lot of laughing and a lot of soul-searching, as we laid out our must-haves, deal-breakers and deepest desires. He was the first man I was completely transparent with and it was refreshing in a way that words can’t express.
Fast forward to four years later and I can honestly say it is the best relationship I have ever been in. I often tell him he is the love of my life and my last love, because no one else could ever compare. He set the bar too high. We treat each other with care because we both remember what it was like to be discarded without a second thought. Maybe he came to me this late in life because I wouldn’t have appreciated him when I was younger. I often lay awake at night, replaying the day’s events in my mind. Did I remember to say “thank you” for cooking me breakfast? Did I speak too harshly or forget to say how much I love him? Does he know that I appreciate him? I think so. I hope so.
I have finally learned that relationships do take work, but it doesn’t have to come from trauma. True love isn’t the grand gestures, it’s the hundred little things that make up the whole. It’s the carefully chosen gifts that tell me he is listening to me; the random acts of kindness that range from unexpected flowers to cleaning the cat box, even though it’s my turn; it’s standing beside me in the lowest moment of my life with quiet strength, never judging or making fun of me; it’s all the laughter we share and the tears I am able to shed in front of him; it’s the ability to fully be myself with someone who loves me, truly and deeply. My only fear is that we won’t get enough time together, but deep down I know, there will never be “enough time” with this man. I will always want more, in this life and the next.
I never thought I would say that. If you are out there waiting for your person, let me encourage you by saying that you should spend the time it takes to figure out what it is you truly want in a partner. Examine your own heart first and take ownership of all your past successes and failures. Then, write out all the qualities you would like in the person that’s perfect for you. (Notice I said “perfect for you”…there is not a human being on the planet that is “perfect”. It’s important to know the difference.) Then lay your requests before the Creator that loves you and prepare yourself to be amazed! You think it’s not possible, but trust me when I say, I am about to marry my “impossible” and it was worth every single disappointment I had to experience first.
True love does exist, beloved. It will find you as surely as it found me, but you have to be willing to accept it. You have to believe that you are worth the love you deserve and that you are capable of giving that love in return. Be patient and fall in love with yourself, imperfections and all. Know that you are loved and worth loving. Know that true love is absolutely worth waiting for, even in the darkest moments. Open yourself up to new possibilities and sweet surprises and let the words “good things are going to happen” become your new mantra. If it can happen for me, it can happen for anyone. I promise.