I read Eat, Love, Pray the week after I returned from my honeymoon… you know before Eat, Love, Pray was a phenomenon, or a movie, or even a book that many people had heard of, let alone read. (Sound pretty hipster, eh?) Anyway, that book opened up many things for me, and seriously got me thinking (again) about my spirituality, what I really craved in this life, and where I wanted to be… eventually… if I would stop letting everything get in the way of my dreams that is. And by “everything” I mean my inability to stop the cycle I have been in since I first became a teenager.
It seems that I have based all of my major decisions on what man was in my life at the time. Easily influenced by someone else’s wants and desires, I have put my own wants on hold, sometimes for years, sometimes only for a few weeks. Examples of this can be found throughout my life. I did not get braces when I was a teen because I thought the guy I liked at the time would not like me anymore (even though the “relationship” lasted about two weeks, my teeth are still jacked up). I did not move away to college, hell I did not even apply to college when I graduated high school, because of the promises of a man-child, one that was in no position to offer anything (i.e. prison). In other words, I fall in love and give completely, even when I should not, even when it hurts me, hell let us be honest, especially if it hurts me. Which brings me back to Eat, Love, Pray, as I have been reading it off and on again for the 17th time (not an exaggeration). I stumbled on this today, and I identify with it on way too many levels:
“I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
I have fallen in love so many times, with the same man (in different forms) that my heart does not know which relationship I am mourning. The one from when I was thirteen? The one from when I was 17? How about the one last year? Or the year before that? Or last week? All blending together… One man leaves and all the feelings from the men before him coming rushing up, suffocating me, deafening me, always leaving me with the question “Why and how the hell did this happen again?”.
What lesson am I missing? Why do I attract the addicts, the un-honest, the un-available? What is it about me that says “I am completely open for you to destroy, if you so wish” or is it them that attract me?
Brooding? It could not mean the guy is moody or dumb, or a fucking child… no it has to mean that he needs a woman of my strength and endurance to withstand whatever weight he is carrying.
Half truths? Lies? Shady behavior? I will only assume that you love me so much that you do not want to say or do anything to hurt me. It could not be that you are a coward, or selfish, or just uncaring. No, none of that.
An addiction? I will love you so much, and so completely that you will never want to shoot junk into your veins again… and to prove it, I will go to every meeting, every counseling session, and every court appearance, every what-ever-the-fuck- you have going on… see? I am here for you. HERE FOR YOU.
And they are never there for me. Not that they do not try, not that people have not put forth great effort (I was married once). You see the problem with me dating all of the damaged men is that when they realize how damaged I am they do not know what to do… and that leaves me more alone then when I even started…All I have ever truly wanted was a man strong enough to hold me. All of me. Someone that could handle all of my gigantic personality, the passion that flows out of me, the thoughts and desires that I keep hidden inside, the plans I secretly have for my future. The problem with dating weak men is that they do not know how to handle a strong woman.
Even as I write this I am aware of the parallels in my life, these two sides of me coming close to merging a time or two, but never actually connecting. I have the side of me that wants nothing more than to be in a partnership, a true and secure love affair that can withstand time, torture, tests, boredom, and other distractions and priorities. The other half of me wants to work with children again, to finish school, to own a home again, to travel, to explore, to have the greatest adventures and to leave this world having made an impact like no one else could. It is as if I do not believe that these ideas can coexist, that I could have the relationship and the life, because quite honestly I have not been able to. An all or nothing girl I have given myself too freely in hopes that whatever lover I have at the time will eventually want for me what I want for myself.
And these are the thoughts that plague me constantly. Mainly the why questions. The “Why Does He Matter” question, the “Why am I not Lovable” question, the “Who the Hell is HE to not want to Love Me” question, the “How in the Fuck did this Happen Again” question… and so on…
These thoughts are on a constant loop in my mind, never ceasing to amaze me with their negativity, their doubt, and their complete and utter disregard for what is true and good for ME. And now that I am more aware (everyday) of the poor choices I have made in relationships, I find myself swearing to not ever try again, even though I know I will, even though I’m constantly looking for an equal. Even though I have no idea how to keep myself out of shitty relationships.
Yet I have so many other things, more important things to worry about, to fix, to work on than a damn relationship.
I need a place to live.
I need a car to drive.
I need employment.
I need to finish my degree and get into the masters program I want.
I need to accomplish some of the goals I have had for so very, very long.
I need to grieve the past few years of my life without adding to the list.
I envy the women that are able to work towards their goals without the distraction of a relationship, or even when in a relationship. You know the women, the strong ones, the ones that will not let anything or anyone stand in the way of what they desire. How do I become one of those women? It is not as if it is not in me. I am such a survivor, so devoted to loving and relationships and healing of others that I have no doubt that these principles could be applied to myself… so the real question is what am I so afraid of that I keep finding excuses and people to distract me from moving forward with my life?
And what can I do to make sure this pattern stops today?
And to sum up everything in my heart, Toni Morrison:
“You think because he doesn’t love you that you are worthless. You think that because he doesn’t want you anymore that he is right — that his judgment and opinion of you are correct. If he throws you out, then you are garbage. You think he belongs to you because you want to belong to him. Don’t. It’s a bad word, ‘belong.’ Especially when you put it with somebody you love. Love shouldn’t be like that. Did you ever see the way the clouds love a mountain? They circle all around it; sometimes you can’t even see the mountain for the clouds. But you know what? You go up top and what do you see? His head. The clouds never cover the head. His head pokes through, because the clouds let him; they don’t wrap him up. They let him keep his head up high, free, with nothing to hide him or bind him. You can’t own a human being. You can’t lose what you don’t own. Suppose you did own him. Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? You really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don’t, do you? And neither does he. You’re turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can’t value you more than you value yourself.” – Toni Morrison
So… for today I am going to love and value myself like I have so many others. I am going to be devoted beyond all comprehension to my dreams and desires. I am going to give myself, if only for today, the love that I would be giving someone else. In addition, I am going to try to do all of that without stumbling into another disastrous tango with a damaged man. In other words I am going to take a deep breath and let go of everything I have known, or wanted to be true until this moment.
If only for today (and even if I have to fake it).