My boyfriend teased me today about having no gratitude for him making me breakfast AND dinner yesterday. I teased him back that his breakfast made us sick so it was hard to mention. (It didn’t really; I think it was coincidence.) At any rate, I promised him that the next post was going to be his. I don’t think he took me seriously. After all, we are both more than a bit sarcastic. But I thought about it afterwards and decided that I should write about him. Sometimes it’s easiest to take the people closest to us for granted, assuming they should know how we feel. Even forgetting the niceties we reserve for strangers, like thank you and please and excuse me. I try to remember to be respectful that way, but I still find it difficult sometimes to be verbal with compliments. I often think them, but I’m reticent with sharing. Maybe it stems from my fear of sounding disingenuine. I’m sure growing up in a family of seven sarcastic people didn’t help. Or maybe it’s because getting complimented often makes me feel awkward. Whatever the reason, I really should get better at it.
So what about my guy? For starters, he’s helped redefine my expectations for relationships. In that, I’m learning to let go of how I think things should be and am much more willing to let things evolve as they will. Not a lot about us makes us an obvious match. He’s math; I’m English. He prefers to be alone; I bug him when my house is empty. He’s ok with no plan; I need to know what’s happening next. He’s never been married; I’ve been divorced. Heck, he’s even a foot taller than I am. And a lot younger. And for the longest time, I thought those differences would matter more than they do. But every time I worry, he makes me feel calmer and I think it’s because for the first time in my relationship history, I actually trust him. He doesn’t run off of ulterior motives or competition or whatever is going to make him look best. He says what he means, and I really appreciate that. Maybe not always in the moment, but I love knowing that I can take what he tells me at face value. For me, that’s a biggie. I also appreciate that he’s respectful to me; he asks my opinion, he apologizes if he needs to, he invites me to join him on things. I don’t feel taken for granted. I’m thankful for some little things too: how he kisses the top of my head, pays for dinner, rests his hand on my knee when he drives, teases me relentlessly, cooks for me, tries to scare me during tv time, and has helped me appreciate craft beer and Howard Stern. Obviously, I could add stuff, but he’s probably already mad that I’ve said this much.
As with everyone, my guy isn’t perfect. I do get annoyed sometimes. (And yet he doesn’t with me…go figure.) But I am honestly thankful for having him in my life. We broke up for a short period and I realized then that no matter how I tried to move on, I couldn’t. He’s gotten under my skin. I told him once that I’d take whatever time I had with him, long or short, because I knew it would be worth it. Of course, I hope now it will be a long time.
Since it’s the last day of April, I’m going to close national poetry month with this. I’m always thankful for lessons learned.
it’s late afternoon already
and still you haven’t come
from my window I’ve been watching
children casting lines into the river
consistently losing their bait with the
eagerness of reeling in nothing
interesting how early we can learn
life’s great truths
yet they do not realized this is homework
and so continue on
while I keep my vigil
the clouds fall into the water and a grayishness
settles over the once idyllic scene
the fog is coming in
on something heavier than little cat feet
I can hear its pouncing steps echo
in the distance
there will be a storm tonight
moonlight would cast a rosier glow
over the swirling water than
the sun’s weak attempts right now
the wind blows the lines back
and forth and I wait expectantly
for the children to run home
but they continue to cast and reel
cast and reel
hoping to get even one small bite
and I wonder why they can’t see
it’s pointless now the fish are gone
and then I do
I’ve done my homework
I’m not one of them
Happy Easter. If you’re a Christian, today is one of the major celebrations in the faith. The belief that Christ rose from the dead is the foundation of the entire faith. Without this as a central belief, nothing else really matters. If Christ wasn’t resurrected, then He was simply a pretty good guy. I happen to follow this faith; it gives me a sense of peace that I don’t find in other things. I think as humans, we all search for a connection or deeper meaning in our lives that is beyond work or achievements or money or power.
However, even if you aren’t a Christian, I think this holiday can still have importance outside of the Easter bunny and baskets and candy (all of which I also enjoy!). The idea of resurrection is the coming back to life after death. Instead of a literal death, how many of us have experienced death in other ways? Emotional deaths? Relationship deaths? I think it’s significant that Easter coincides with Spring and the renewal of life outside. I like to think of Easter in terms of my own self being renewed somehow. Instead of doing this kind of internal overhaul at New Years, I do some reflecting at Easter time. What kind of things can I let go of (bury) and resurrect into something more meaningful or positive? For me right now, it’s relationships. It would appear that breaking Valentine’s gifts, even accidentally, is a bad sign when you’re dating. And while I’m sad to have ended things with a guy I really like, in the long run, I believe it’s better for both of us. Our paths weren’t headed in the same direction so our expectations weren’t in synch. I think in adult relationships, honesty is key. And mostly honesty with yourself. It’s not always easy and a lot of times it’s painful, but it’s better to be honest about what you want and need than to spend too much time yearning for what is missing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the heart wants what it wants, but what it wants is not always the best thing for us.
So today I’m thankful I went to church, which I don’t always do. The message today was about hope. Fitting for the holiday and Springtime, but also fitting for me today. I’m holding on to hope.
Today my heart was broken. Literally. While cleaning my office at work, I knocked over the red heart piggy bank that my boyfriend gave me for Valentine’s Day. I nearly cried. I’m a sucker for sweet gestures, so I really liked that bank. It was an unexpected gift, especially since we had just started dating and he’s not an overly expressive or publicly affectionate person. I was touched that he had filled it with my favorite candy and delivered it to my office. Never mind that the candy somehow melted inside; it was the thought that counted. So seeing it in pieces on my floor today was an extreme disappointment. I’m sure it won’t be replaced, and it was beyond repair. When I told a couple of girlfriends what I had done, their first instinct was to tell me they hoped it wasn’t a bad sign. As I vacuumed up the smaller shards, I secretly hoped it wasn’t either. Of course, I guess if accidently breaking a heart-shaped gift is a marker for the end of a relationship, then pretty much anything can be. And I don’t want to start down that slippery slope. Even though I’m not usually affected by superstitions, I do tend to worry. And I really like him; we’ve been friends for a long time and I want our relationship to continue. Thankfully, there was one large piece of the heart that remained intact. The one section that had another, smaller heart drawn on it. So I kept that piece and put it on my file cabinet. You know, just in case.
I took my kids out for dinner tonight. We don’t do that very often. In fact, all three of us have crazy schedules, so we rarely sit down for a dinner together anymore–at home or elsewhere. I miss that. When they were little, I tried to have regular family dinner time. Sometimes we’d play games like “I spy” or “I’m thinking of an animal…” Sometimes we’d tell jokes or I’d ask what they learned at school that day, and when they responded with “nothing” I’d ask why I bothered to send them, which always ended the same way, them asking to stay home and me giving a list of worse things they’d have to do at home than at school. Sometimes things would get a little out of control, like the time we had a spontaneous burping contest before realizing that the Schwan’s delivery guy was standing at the open door and could hear everything. Or the time I asked them to tell me something I’d never guess about them, and they unwittingly revealed doing things they shouldn’t have done like climbing to the roof of the barn or playing with knives. Of course, in the interest of fairness, their responses generated discussions on the dangers of certain behaviors instead of punishments after the fact. Smart kids.
Now dinner conversations are different since my kids are basically adults. Tonight we talked about a certain person from our past whose name is rarely mentioned. The topic came up because they ran into an old friend while shopping with their dad over the weekend, and this friend asked about him. Wondered if they ever see him or talk to him anymore. Sadly, my kids’ reactions were the same. They both admitted to never even wanting to think of him, let alone talk about him. Said they don’t even like his name anymore. It’s heartbreaking to know that we share such a painful relationship, and even more so knowing that I was the one who let this person into our lives, never dreaming of the damage it would leave us. But it was something slow moving. In the middle of our conversation, Bree said this: a frog will immediately jump out of hot water if dropped into it, but if you start cold and turn up the heat, it will sit in hot water a long time without realizing it. A perfect analogy. We were living with a person who was internally angry and whose method of coping was breaking down the people around him. And maybe he didn’t know. It doesn’t really matter now. Thankfully, we moved on and don’t have to see him again. And tonight, we all admitted that we were ok for having endured this pain. Both kids said they learned valuable lessons. Both said they immediately forgave me. They get it. I hope they carry this maturity into their own relationships and are able to instantly know when something is not right or good for them. I’m thankful we had this conversation tonight. I learned that they may not want to talk about him, but they aren’t worrying about the past. Smart kids, still.
I’m consistently reminded of how easy it is to misread other people’s actions and assign meaning to things that maybe have nothing to do with us. It’s been an emotional week for me for some reason. Well, for reasons I know but am reluctant to admit to the world. Just know it has something to do with feeling unsettled and unsure. I know, that’s life sometimes. However, I’ve been a bit sensitive as well to words and actions that maybe didn’t require as much of a reaction from me. Isn’t it interesting how our insecurities can be magnified by what is out of our control? And how sometimes hurts we have experienced in the past can creep into the present in ways that should have no apparent meaning? In statistics its correlation is not causation. Logic likes to use the word “imply.” Correlation does not imply causation. Basically the premise is that things that may seem to be in relationship to each other, may simply be a matter of coincidence.
I’m finding that letting go of past hurts isn’t the easiest of tasks. Of course, there are some things that are long gone…and for me it’s the big stuff. For me the big items are the easiest to get rid of. Most people don’t intend to cause major hurts or disruptions to their lives or the lives of someone else. The hardest things to let go of are the seemingly small things. The ways we’ve felt slighted and made to feel insignificant. The dismissive way we were treated or the disregard we were given by people who played an important role in our lives. It’s true what they say about the power or words. Words can hurt. Deeply. And sometimes the lack of certain words can also cause holes.
I was joking with someone tonight about the many lives I’ve lived, but it’s very true. I feel like I’ve lived through so much and come a long way to be at the place I am. And where I am is a good place. I’ve overcome a lot of obstacles and hurdles and feel like I’m a much wiser person for the lives I’ve lived. But I have a few scars that needs softening. Those I’m still working on. I’m glad to be reminded today that not every word means the same thing coming out of every mouth. People are different. Every person deserves to be held accountable for their own actions and not held up to the scrutiny of the people who came before them. Our past affects our present, but it doesn’t always inform it. Because something seems familiar emotionally doesn’t mean it’s the same thing in reality. Sometimes it’s only our reaction that is the same. We need to learn the difference or risk losing what doesn’t need to be lost. I’m figuring that out, and that’s a good thing.