For the first time, I was given a topic to write about. The person that made the suggestion is close to my heart and at first I was eager, even excited to write about love, trust, commitment and patience. It should have been easy to bang this one out and call it a night.
It was a Friday night and I was home alone, enjoying the quiet with the television on (really rare) and the many app alerts from men that honestly thought I would want to meet them in a way that was clear to me was just to fulfill a sexual need.
I wasn't feeling love. At one point a man asked why I was being so mean to him. I told him he sounded like he just wanted to feel the back of my throat and I wasn't interested. He kept trying to guilt me into seeing him and he stopped when I told him I didn't know how else to explain he was making me feel like a whore. I could have blocked him, but he would never learn, and he'd just find me on another app. (It happens often enough now.)
I wasn't feeling trust. I couldn't trust the men I was talking to that wanted to spend time with me last night. There was the beautiful attorney with auburn hair and blue eyes. I could totally trust his intentions when he messaged "DTF." He got to the point of what he wanted from me. There was an offer for Netflix and wine and another for Netflix and a massage. I laughed because I have Netflix and Hulu at home and I can save the gas, and know that no one is secretly hoping to feel for my missing tonsils by the end of the night.
My commitment last night was to my New Year's resolution of taking care of myself because I wasn't in the mood to make someone else feel better than I wanted to make myself feel. It wasn't a complete bust.
Patience looked like a phone call last night. I had a conversation with a man that was all over the place and left me laughing so hard. He admitted that he wasn't putting his best foot forward and his one sided conversation did require patience. Once I settled into the idea I wasn't going out with anyone, I decided to stay in and took off my makeup and clothes, enjoying a night in my underwear on the phone and sipping tea. At one point he told me I was intimidating. He said it was my looks, and the way I wear my clothes and string along words. I told him I was determined to find someone smarter than me and he said that is why I will never find a date. I'm asking for too much. My patience paid off because that observation made my night.
But it's morning now and a good night's rest with a phone that was on vibrate all night has it's rewards and I'm feeling a rosy glow around the world right now.
2017 is greeting me with a transition from being in the moment to envisioning a romance that lives on beyond the days held carefully in routine and imagination. I'm exploring in words because the depth of such a reality hasn't hit me yet. But it will. It's been many years since I've felt romantic love that gets past infatuation and isn't bound by a commitment stronger than fickle feelings.
My obsessive observations are fun, but they always dance in the fascination of infatuation. These are moments when I will notice details about a man I'm interested in to the point that it's creepy. It's a happy place where I'm willing to look at the many things I find intriguing but it rarely means I've given him any thought beyond objectification. I have not at this point decided I would care for him any more than I would care for any other human being. But thinking of him entertains and excites me. It's not a friendly practice.
Infatuation is a phase in a new relationship where I am willing to look deeper than friendship and see what feelings can be grown. It's a place where I make that initial choice to imagine more than friendship. Everything about the person I'm into is amazing and if it isn't, those amazing parts more than make up for it.
This is where I might entertain giving another man a baby. No, I don't want more kids. If I find the one I want to keep, I may reconsider it, but I can't tell you how many men around 35 see my mothering as sexy and want to put a child in me.
There's a time when infatuation fades into the feelings of love. Loving someone is a choice. When infatuation fades and the excitement gives way to reality, his behaviors that were once okay can start to bother me. At this point, I choose. At this point, would I be happier walking away (I don't actually walk, but try to push him away)? Could I be happier making space for his shortcomings, and loving him even if he's annoying me? When I decide to be open in vulnerability, I am making a decision to allow someone in.
When infatuation fades, I'm faced with a new choice to love someone. This is when doubts and fears become a choice to believe. I put my faith in the person I'm trusting with my heart. I'm deciding that even though I see so many things I can't ignore in him . . . Even if my doubts and irritations are yelling at me, I still need him in my life. I would rather live in a world where I get to make space for him and the ways he fails my expectations than go another day without seeing or talking to him.
Love is a choice. You decide what you want to do and those feelings follow where you allow them to go. This is where I might compromise and consider bringing a new life into this world.
I overthink all of the time. It's a superpower but it's not always a gift. I rarely accept things at face value and I'm often thinking of what was said, and holding it up to what I know. I want to understand everything and my curiosity never stops. When I have even a moment of doubt, my trust takes a step back. Yes, I've been cheated on. A few times by different boys. I always offered the men I loved the benefit of the doubt. I wasn't a cheater, so maybe he could be faithful to me too. In theory. Hopefully.
In reality I offer my trust to a person and put my faith in their belief to be committed to honor their word. I'm at a place where I understand how much it means to me to be transparent and I try to offer the truth at all times. It means you see my good and bad, but I'm not going to be ashamed of that. And I recognize that even in my bad, I'm a harsh judge on myself and do what many think and can relate to.
In my marriage I lied a lot about money or how I spent my time. It was never about cheating. It never occurred to me to cheat. It was a lie to cover my shame in choices I knew wouldn't make him happy. He couldn't trust me and so he'd look at my grocery store receipts. He'd find my $25 Amazon gift card because that deception was how I partied. But he couldn't trust me.
For that week when I had a boyfriend (is it terrible that I can laugh about that now?) there was one night with hand holding and snuggling. There was laughter and I felt like I trusted him in that moment and that was a gift. I felt so much peace in his arms. In hindsight, he never trusted me. He gave me his nickname at first and it wasn't until the day before he broke up with me that he gave me his actual name. He was born in the states, but his roots are in Palestine and he didn't trust that I would accept him for who he was. At one point he started dozing off and I picked up my phone to troll Instagram and Facebook. I was off of the dating sites and I did field a text from someone wanting to flirt. I let him know I had a boyfriend and that was the end of it. He wanted to see what I was looking at and what I was doing and it wasn't until he ended things that I could see how much he distrusted me.
Sometimes you trust your heart, even when you have a hard time trusting other people. Save your energy on a pity party because this is a choice made in the excellence of your own pure heart. And Lord help me, this is where I know having another child would be the right thing to do. I trust a future with a person that I want to share my life with.
I make commitments to myself daily. I'm committed to creating space for self love. I'm committed to only putting things in my mouth that make me insanely happy (food joy is a reality). I'm committed to creating a life I get to live with excitement. Commitment to anyone outside of my kids . . .
I was committed to my marriage and while I had a boyfriend I was committed to him too. It's not just the word I give. At the end of the day, when the world fades away, all I have is my word and the strength of it is how I show up in this world and that matters to me. Commitments aren't based on a mood. They stand firm no matter what you feel.
When I committed to my marriage, it was all that mattered. I know marriage often talks about honor and obeying as part of that commitment. I felt I honored my ex, even if I didn't trust his leadership more than I trusted mine. Obeying him wasn't what I wanted to do, but committing my heart and my body to our marriage was all that mattered. I felt it was enough, and while I can admit I was wrong, I still believe a marriage is about the two people in the marriage. It's spouse and spouse, and that doesn't include siblings and parents and friends.
Commitment means I show up no matter what I feel like doing. It means I love you even when I don't like you. It means I find ways to be attracted to you when you can't find it in yourself to love who you are enough to take care of yourself. It means what I might feel in any given moment takes a back seat to how I want you to feel when you are the person I choose to love and share my world with. Commitment is about duty and it's where I find my honor.
This is a hallmark of parenting. You commit to taking care of another person. I don't know any parents that stop being a parent after 18 years. It's a lifelong thing.
When I started taking classes at Glendale Community College, I was just out of high school and I didn't have a car. My Dad was picking me up and dropping me off which meant some days a class was cancelled and I had to wait. Or I had large time gaps in my day and I would just hang out on campus until my next class. I wrote a lot of sappy poems. I wrote in my journal. I sat in the cafeteria and found comfort in hot tea and soup. I would wait on the front steps of the school in the heat or the rain, and I remember telling myself to be patient. Just wait.
When my kids were born, I had to live on their schedule. Eating, sleeping, awake and crying, awake and playing, gassy, happy, angry . . . Their world dictated my response and I was never happy about it. I loved being a surrogate because feeling like a single parent with an infant was hard on me (because I prefer being selfish).
When my marriage ended, I found peace in patience. From March 11 when I was told my marriage was over, there were ups and downs and I fought hard, and not well, but I found patience for him. I convinced myself that no matter what, when he was ready to snap out of it, I would take him back and we would work on our marriage. That lasted until February 12, almost a year later.
I learned patience and found comfort in knowing it would be over one day. That day came when I changed my mind about what I wanted, and the transformation that has taken place has required patience with myself. In dating I meet many men that have been through a divorce and when we talk, I can see the heavy burden that I felt while waiting. The day I filed for divorce was a celebration for me. But the scars of a life that was planned and celebrated together has it's own process of mourning. I'm in a great place, but it has made me question how much is too much.
If you love someone, is there ever a point when you have been patient enough? I stopped being patient with my ex. I was more committed to being a wife than being his wife and I realised it was no longer important to me to wait for him. But where do you draw the line when you're in love? Do you look for a line to draw? I don't think I could. I grew up in a home where love meant you are self sacrificing every moment of your life if that means the person you love feels it. My parents might have lost their shit from time to time, but I grew up taking their patience for granted. It is something I've tried to internalize. I want to be that person in life and in love that was modeled, to the point where I now get to decide I won't help anyone by being a martyr to someone else's happiness through my self sacrifice and patience.
Patience is waiting even when you have no idea how long you'll have to wait. Patience is enduring and finding strength within yourself when you know you can't find it in the person in front of you because they are relying on your strength, sustained by your patience.
It's not an easy road. Sometimes I imagine the rewards because they aren't always going to land in my lap. When I put my faith in a romantic relationship, I believe it won't fail me even though to this day, every single one I believed in has failed me. Would I do it again? Abso-freaking-lutely. The rewards of being in love are worth every possible risk and moment of blind faith. The ideals of commitment I hold close to me are strong enough that I can believe someone else would hold them just as closely to his heart.
I'm making space for my next romantic love. When my ex was leaving, I made an effort to put family pictures all over the house. I wanted to remind us all of who we were as a family. When he moved out they stayed for the kids. I told them I would take them down when I painted the living room. That was my commitment to them and seeing these pictures for all of this time is an exercise in patience. I brought my boyfriend home and while I felt fine hiding him away in my bedroom, I'm sure it had an effect on him, even if it was unspoken. It probably influences why I'm never home if my kids are gone.
This weekend I intend to be home for the most part. I have taken the pictures down and washed the walls. I will start taping the trim and I will begin priming and painting my living room. I will finish changing the last room in the home I shared with my ex because it's time my little house becomes my home again. It will be a meditative celebration of change and it will be a space I will be excited to be in again.