Walk Away

This is a personal story. It’s something I don’t really talk about much and something I don’t think even my family is fully aware happened to me. Conversations have brought the relationship to mind several times over the past week, so I’m taking that as a signal to talk about it. Here it goes.

I entered into a serious relationship with a man from work when I was in my early twenties. We didn’t really date or get to know each other first. I worked with him, so I thought I knew him. I felt broke and desperate, feeling like I was getting old and I should already be married. We moved into an apartment together only weeks after we had started “dating.”

A few months into the relationship I started to see how different we really were and the more I learned about him, the more uncomfortable I became with where we were going. I won’t get into details because it doesn’t really matter. The point is that I began to know that this person was not meant for me. He wasn’t what I wanted in a partner for life. He couldn’t be. I wanted to leave and felt by then that I couldn’t.

Why? Because he was a kind person. He meant well. He thought he loved me. He wanted me. He liked who I was. He was not a bad person and his likes/dislikes, preferences, and personality were not wrong or evil. It just wasn’t for me. We didn’t match. I felt like I was the one that was wrong. I wasn’t a good person, a good partner, because I couldn’t stay in love with him. I steeled myself and decided that I was going to work harder at being a good person and love him anyway. I couldn’t break his heart or make him sad. That was the worst choice I ever made.

The relationship spiraled into an ugly place for both of us. It made us both miserable. We ended up hurting each other in ways that are unforgivable to this day. At one point, one of us could have left and let the other deal with the rejection in healthy ways. Instead, we clung to each other and, like panicked survivors of a shipwreck, drowned each other trying to stay afloat.

I stayed with someone I was not in love with out of a sense of duty. I didn’t love him. I felt it wasn’t fair that I didn’t want him and tried to make it work. He deserved to be loved by me, he wanted to be loved by me, but I didn’t love him. I couldn’t. He wasn’t what I wanted. Love isn’t always fair.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that healthy relationships are only had by healthy individuals and honesty. Honesty can sometimes hurt, but not nearly as much as dishonestly attempting to keep a mismatch going.

For those left behind, the rejected ones, when a partner walks away from the relationship, for any reason, let them. It probably wasn’t meant to be. I say probably because that person walking away will probably learn more and become a better person by you letting go. If it’s right, they may come back, or not. Don’t trap yourself with someone you think you want. You only block off the possibility of finding the person you need.

If you really loved that person, you’d want them to be happy. They aren’t happy with you. Let them go. Let them be happy. Your happiness is out there somewhere.

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Mile Markers

The past few days have been weird for me. I feel a little lost, a little worried about the future. Talking to my son this morning, who’s having the same feelings thousands of miles away, I told him it’s just a transition time. He has a set date for something to happen and beyond that is the unknown, like graduation. Strangely enough, it seems to be that time of year as well. The summer is slowly shifting into fall. That’s when I realized that my son and I are sitting in the same boat with lines on the other side.

Transitions come often in life and only end when we’re dead. I believe that’s the ultimate transition! We’re all gradually changing in small ways every day. Our lives transform from child to teen to young adult, suddenly we’re married, a parent, and then a grandparent. It’ll happen that fast if you don’t take the time and space to be aware of it.

It’s one thing to sit with your current life and think, yes, this is nice, or no, things need to change. But there are times in our lives when we’re hyper-award of the coming changes and that’s where we get stuck in anxiety and fear of the future. The first time I remember that happening to me was around my high school graduation. Up until that point, every day was planned for me. I had little choice but to go to school each day but soon that would all change. I’d be in control of my own life from then on. I’d have to choose whether to find work and an apartment of my own or remain with my parents, to choose college classes or work more hours at my job. It all was set to begin on that last day of high school.

That day loomed ahead of me like a mile marker in time. It seemed to cause my life to slow down to a crawl. That day would never come! I was bored and exhausted with my current high school life. I wanted to start my something new now, to jump headlong into my future! And then suddenly that mile marker would rush forward and be just within reach. I would panic, and a flood of worries would wash over me. Would I make the right choices? Would I find work? Would I screw it all up irreversibly and ruin my life? Isn’t there some way to extend childhood, to have the security of parents and still have the freedom of being an adult? I’d spend every moment that I wasn’t at work or school in my bed, sleeping the stress off.

The transition came in time. I don’t know how it happened. It just did. Time has a funny way of marching on, nothing seems to be able to stop it. Some days I was on top of the world and some I felt like the world was rolling over me.

I tried college and work. I tried new relationships, friends and lovers. I got fired. I found a new job. I left college. I moved in with my grandparents. I found my own place. I considered big moves and changed my mind. I tried new careers. I got hungry. I got my heart broken. I broke people’s hearts.

And then…a new transition. I met my husband. And the whole thing started over again. Twenty years later, I’m looking at the mile marker ahead again. It’s like looking out the window of your car and seeing a billboard up ahead. It’s too far away to read it, the print is too small. You wait and watch for it to get closer and then just as the words come into focus it zooms past and it behind you. Damn. What’s that one up ahead?

Abstinence vs Safe Sex

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we tell girls at the pregnancy clinic when they come in for a pregnancy test. It’s something that weighs heavy on my mind.

I started volunteering there to help stop abortion. Killing people seems to be wrong in just about every religion. You can even argue that killing babies before they are born is wrong from a secular, humanist standpoint. I watch these women do their best every day to warn others about abortion and what it does to the baby they are carrying and themselves. It may seem like raising a child or having one and giving him or her to another family to raise is difficult, but it’s nothing compared to the emotional trauma you will go through if you decide to kill that child before it is born at any stage of development. We can justify it to the ends of the earth, dress it up in flowery and medical language, but our human minds know by instinct what we’ve done, and the dissonance runs through the rest of our lives whether we face it or not. What we do at the clinic is try to show women that they are capable of doing great things, so that aborting that child is the furthest thing from their mind not the first and easiest option to an unexpected pregnancy.

But that’s not what’s got me thinking this time. Recently, I’ve learned more and more about what we tell girls about sex and their bodies. We promote abstinence from sex before marriage as the one and only option, whether or not they are Christians. And we do it by attempting to scare them into abstinence by telling them they will get horrible incurable diseases that they will unknowingly spread to others and possibly die from. Not only do I believe this is not true, I just don’t think it is effective.

What would I do? What do I tell my son or daughter? I have told them that sex is a beautiful, awesome and, yes, a super fun thing to do. But like Peter Parker’s uncle said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” As Christians, we believe that sex between a husband and wife is the only place you can do it and be safe. If we stay faithful to our spouse and take the vows we made seriously, we satisfy that need to be physically close to another human while protecting that person from harm both physically and emotionally.

But what if you are not a Christian? What if you don’t have a religion at all? Does telling them that sex outside of marriage is forbidden by God effective? Does attempting to scare them into not having sex work for anyone? I don’t think so. But there does seem to be an alternative.

What if we used secular, humanistic methods instead when talking to people that aren’t of our own faith? What if we gave them the medical facts about sex instead? We could counsel them on monogamy, sex with one stable partner at a time. We could counsel them about how to avoid bringing a child into the world before they are ready to provide a stable two-parent home for them, other than killing it after it is conceived. We could counsel them on the importance of staying medically clean, that there are ways to protect themselves from disease and that they should be seeing a doctor often to be sure they are still clean and if they aren’t, to be treated before they spread that disease on to their next partner. Personally, I would have liked to hear more about other kinds of birth control when I was younger.

A doctor tends to be busy and one-sided. As volunteer counselors, we have the time and the sensitivity to help people explore what’s out there. We could be helping them to better understand their bodies, their needs, and pointing them to places to get more information. These things would be far more effective in preventing the spread of disease, future child abuse and neglect, and killing the unborn.

But as a Christian, shouldn’t I be promoting what God has commanded for us? Of course! But I say treat the symptoms first, so no worse harm is done, and then start looking at the cause. When we are sick, we take the medicine to bring down the fever before we find out what is causing it. We should be living happy, content, and fulfilling lives, so much so that when people see us they wonder what it is that gives us that peace. I’d rather start by telling a lost young person about the love I find in Jesus and how my relationship with the Father has given me a new sense of pride and responsibility in this world. When that young person begins to have that same relationship, they begin to feel the love that compels them to behave in different ways. That’s when we start to talk about what a real earthly relationship is supposed to be like. That’s when the drug use, the alcohol, and the promiscuous sex can stop. I want them to know God loves them even on drugs, even if they are angry, and even if they are prostituting themselves. Once we begin to really feel that love, we begin to love ourselves.

When we love ourselves, we act in better, more loving and responsible ways. Until these children hear and feel the love of God in their lives, can’t we try to mitigate the damage they can do to themselves and others?

Love Is

People change as they get older. Don’t be ridiculous, of course they do! The thing is, I think we believe that but we don’t really take notice of it. When you meet a person at ten years old and then again at twenty years old, you acknowledge the different person they’ve become. We think to ourselves, and sometimes say out loud, “Wow! I never thought he’d be into this kind of thing or look like that now, knowing who he was when he was ten.” A lot has happened over the last ten years, physically, emotionally, with life experience. But when we meet someone when they are twenty years old or thirty, we don’t really take notice of who they have become ten or twenty years later. It’s as if we never expect the person we met as an adult to grow or change anymore because they are an adult.

I think that’s why so many marriages end over time. We don’t expect or notice that the person we fell in love with and married when we were in our twenties has changed over the last ten or twenty years. We may be completely different people after all that time. We’ve experienced a myriad of responsibilities. We’ve seen movies, read books, taken classes, raised children, changed jobs, moved to new towns, met new people. We’ve found insight and self-knowledge over the years. We are completely different people. We live side by side through many of these experiences and, hopefully, we are growing together, sharing and supporting each other, but no wonder so many people divorce after their children have grown. The person we become after twenty years of “adulting” can be totally different than the person we were after twenty years of being a child.

I think the trick is to continue to connect with your partner over the years, to not lose touch even though you are living in the same house, raising the same kids. Years ago I had a realization. It’s going to seem very strange but it was one of those things that just hit me all of the sudden. My partner is just as eager to raise children, live a happy life, and get things done as I am. He just goes about it in different ways, maybe even has different ways of seeing things or different priorities. His love for life, me, his children, his home, just manifests itself in a different way. I need to respect him as his own person, not just MY partner in MY life. His way of doing things, his needs are just as good as mine and just as important.

It’s been 19 years since I married this man. It’s been 20 years since we started seriously dating. It’s been 27 years since we met! Life has changed us a lot over those years. It isn’t always a positive change on either end. We’ve gotten older, slower, and sometimes grumpier. But I realized something this week. I’ve actually fallen in love with this new man I’ve found working on the windows and tinkering in the garage with our youngest son. I find myself watching him while he works or putting myself in his way so I can get his attention for a moment, just like when we were kids. We’ve learned a lot about each other and I still find him fascinating. And I know I still have his attention. He still makes me feel like a lottery prize!

I don’t know how it happened and I don’t know how to share it with the world so they can have it too, but I desperately want to. That’s why I’m writing this. I have a feeling that there needs to be more of this kind of love out there in the world. All I can say is that it does exist and you can make it happen.

Could We?

What if we all just did something nice for the people we come into contact with, whether they deserve it or not, without expectation of a return, or whether or not it is “good” for them? I can say yes to baking cookies this afternoon. I can watch the TV show my husband loves. I can give a few dollars to that guy that asks for change. I can call my family member or write a letter because they aren’t interested in social media. I can just be nice for the sake of being nice. I can even do it for people I’m not happy with. I can do it and not even because it makes me feel good to be nice. It could even make me a bit angry to do the dishes while everyone else in the house watches TV, but it doesn’t have to. I can think of it as a gift for them and myself, as a bit of alone time with my thoughts. It’s just perspective, something I can change at will. It may just make the world a happier place in time.

Insecurity

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I’m a little more than halfway finished with this book, but I HAVE to tell you about it right now. It can’t wait a week until I finish! Every woman should read this book, whether you feel “insecure” or not. I wouldn’t consider myself an insecure woman, but there are times (and every woman – and man for that matter – has them) that I feel like a child cowering in the dark. This book has given me some serious insight into why that may be. Not only that, but it has further helped me to see what other women might be going through, and to have a little compassion when we are most vulnerable. It even throws a little light on the men in our lives, not belittling or berating them for “having it easy” in this life (since the Lord knows they don’t) but giving us women a chance to love them for the humans they are, just like us.

I love this book so much. It came across my path in God’s perfect time, as per usual, and has already brought me peace and set me on a path to promote my own personal security and to better help those wonderful people around me!

Family

From “The Closing of the American Mind” by Allan Bloom

“In family questions, inasmuch as men were understood to be so strongly motivated by property, an older wisdom tried to attach concern for the family to that motive: the man was allowed and encouraged to regard his family as his property, so he would care for the former as he would instinctively care for the latter. This was effective, although it obviously had disadvantages from the point of view of justice. When wives and children come to the husband and father and say, “We are not your property; we are ends in ourselves and demand to be treated as such,” the anonymous observer cannot help being impressed. But the difficulty comes when wives and children further demand that the man continue to care for them as before, just when they are giving an example of caring for themselves. They object to the father’s flawed motive and ask that it be miraculously replaced by a pure one, of which they wish to make use for their own ends. The father will almost inevitably constrict his quest for property, cease being a father and become a mere man again, rather than turning into a providential God, as others ask him to be.”

He’s also not saying we should go back to the idea of women and children as property, but he has a point. They system worked in its way. It satisfied one natural need and we can’t just discard it like rubbish and expect to have the same outcomes of secure families. I guess what people think is that secure family attachments aren’t necessary. Mother’s aren’t exactly necessary to children to grow up in the world and become functioning citizens. Father’s aren’t necessary. It all seems so bizarre to me really because I’m a Mother and Wife. I don’t feel owned by my husband as property. I feel protected and respected for my role in our family. I don’t think my husband feels used as a provider of income. I feel like we work as a team. Hmm…Something is wrong in this world, though. Families aren’t the strength they used to be. We keep the older generation out of the current and the younger generation away from the home. Husbands and wives act as independent machines. It all seems to be going nowhere and no one is happy anymore.

This chapter has been very good to read. There is a lot about the equality of men and women, how things have changed (up until the late 80’s when this was written), and the political/social forces behind the change. Reading it I wonder if things are different now in the colleges and universities. Are entering students worse or better off? From what I see around me, I think it’s worse or at least things have run the natural course they were taking 30 years ago.

What will happen to humanity if we keep insisting that biology doesn’t exist and that we must all be independent citizens of a state instead of interdependent members of a family? It brings to mind the other book I’m reading at the moment, “Kallocain” by Karin Boye. The family situation in that dystopian novel is frightening.