Starting Over and Stopping.
I’m going to apologize now for the (very uncharacteristic) serious tone of this particular post, and for the delay since my last post. This one has been in the works for a couple weeks. I promise the next one will be more like my usual comedic self. So, without further ado…
I was reminded recently by my 8 year old daughter just how simple love really is, or rather, should be. With timing that couldn’t have been more perfect, she gave me a little handmade card that said “I love you” on the front, and on the inside, it said “I love you because…” and she put the following: “you help me get through problems, you make supper, and you love me.” Nowhere in there did it say “because you buy me cool things and take me places all the time” – just the basic needs: kindness, food, and love.
Do you even remember when it was that simple? When it used to be as easy as “Do you like me? Check yes or no.” When people said “I love you” – and meant it, in every sense of the word. A time long before a rampant divorce rate. Long before social media. Long before societal pressures reached a fever pitch. I’m talking about way back when…like when your grandparents fell in love, and even though they went through some really awful times, they stayed together, no matter what, until the day they died.
Somewhere between the innocence of an 8 year old and becoming an adult, we (grown-ups, collectively) have royally screwed things up when it comes to love and relationships.
When you break it down to its simplest form, the basic needs haven’t really changed. We all need a little kindness – both to have it and show it to others, and to receive it from others. We all need “food” – as in, “to be fed” – to have every part of our being taken care of. To be fed emotionally, physically, spiritually, socially, professionally, etc. And we all need LOVE. Plain and simple.
So how did it get so damn complicated? Why is it so hard for two human beings to make it work? Do we get caught up in infatuation and idealism? Do we expect too much? Do we put too much pressure on each other? Do we get strangled by envy? By selfishness? Are we consistently fooled by the proverbial “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome? Do we just give up too easily?
I think it’s all of the above.
As a woman who’s been through a divorce with young children involved, I speak from the heart when I say there have been times in my life over the last few years when I honest-to-God thought that the heartache just might do me in. I’ve dropped to my knees in utter despair, cried until I gagged, thrown my fists up in anger as I cried and screamed through clenched teeth, re-lived every second of my failed marriage to try and find an answer for what happened, cried to my mother/sister/best friend that I just didn’t think I could survive it. It was the worst heartache I have ever been through. And mine wasn’t just an “over and done” type of pain. It was a long, drawn-out, holding on out of desperation – kind of pain. The kind that leaves scars.
I tried to limit my heartache to when my girls weren’t with me, and keep it together when they were around, but when the waves of emotion come, sometimes you just have to ride them. I recall one particular night when everything just got the best of me all day long, all week long, and culminated with a gallon of milk dropped on the floor only to splatter all over every square inch of my little apartment kitchen. I was literally crying over spilled milk…and a failed marriage, and feeling sad for my girls to have to go through all this, and feeling broken and alone and exhausted in every sense of the word. Once I got the milk cleaned up, I just collapsed in a heap of sobs and was consoled – in the very same tender, loving, motherly manner in which I do them – by my two young daughters.
That was a sort of wake-up call for me. I told myself then and there that I would never allow them to see me that upset ever again – at least not if I could help it. And certainly not when a man was the source of my hurt.
I know that pain and heartache is not unique to me. It is universal. And no matter the source of the pain and heartache, the thought of making yourself vulnerable to ever being put through the same situation again is nothing short of terrifying. Becoming serious with someone new is hard. It’s hard not to think they are going to do the same crap to you that the one before them did. It’s hard not to group them into the same categories that everyone before them has been grouped into. Starting over is hard and it sucks. But it’s a necessary part of living and growing.
I certainly have said “never again” more times than I care to discuss — I’ll never let someone in my heart like that again. I’ll never trust someone like that again. I’ll never believe another man. If this relationship fails, I’m done for good, I swear it. I will never do it again. Ever. I say that, but I know myself too well, and know that I won’t actually give up on finding the right person for me. I like the good parts of an honest, healthy relationship far too much to say “never again” and actually mean it.
Often times, when I am at my lowest of lows as far as loneliness, it’s usually in a crowded room full of people – surrounded by people, but not that ONE who just gets me. The one who knows what makes me tick, and can read my face from across that crowded room – and either shoot me a wink and a smile that speaks volumes, or know from my expression that it is time to wrap things up so we can go home. The one that looks at me across the room and just feels content in the idea of me being his girl – whatever that means. The one who would walk across that crowded room just to give me a kiss on my forehead. The one that I can trust – trust with my heart, trust with my mind, trust to let into my life – and know that, no matter what the day brings each of us, at the end of it, I can rest assured in the fact that I’m the only woman he wants to be with, and that he cares what I do and how I feel. And vice versa. I don’t want someone perfect. I want someone perfect FOR ME.
I’m not foolish enough to think that available men my age aren’t going to have some of the very same wounds I have. Most are going to be divorced, and from what I have observed in the men I’ve dated or talked to, a large number of them were cheated on. That wasn’t an issue in my marriage, but I have experienced it in my dating life. And I absolutely hate – no, I detest – that feeling. The feeling when you first find out about it. And then every time you think about it afterward (and get re-pissed, re-hurt). Even if it happens before the relationship has been clearly “defined”. It still hurts. It takes awhile to come back from that. But WANTING to come back from that is key to being successful at it. If you want to move past it, you will. But it may take time.
If you’re wondering what my point is, don’t feel bad – I’m wondering the same thing. I know what’s in my heart and my head, but sometimes, getting it all to come out of my fingertips onto this keyboard is difficult to do.
I guess what I’m getting at, is that we all just need to STOP. Stop over-complicating everything. Stop taking people and things for granted. STOP passing up something or someone really great because we think it might be just a teensy bit better on the other side. I’m not saying we need to become stagnant in life and settle or lower our standards. I’m saying that, if you find yourself sitting back in your life or your relationship and thinking “man…this is pretty damn good. I’m not sure what I did to deserve this, but I like it” – then just stop. Stop there. Stop and take it all in and just…let it be.
Don’t run when things are going good just because “that’s what you do.” Don’t walk away for a possible “what if?” Stay right where you are and just take it all in for a bit. And whatever it is – a relationship or something else – if it’s working, do everything in your power not to screw it up. And if you do, then do everything in your power to fix it and make it right. Because the person you hurt may have put everything in his/her entire being on the line in letting you in in the first place. It’s not easy, but in my heart of hearts, I have to believe that in the end, it’s going to be worth it.
I read something the other day that kind of stuck with me. I’ve already forgotten where I read it, but I can’t forget what it said:
“Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.”