Valentines day has never been my favorite holiday…well, at least not for the past 28 years! On February 14th 1984, after a lovely romantic dinner, I had a fight that spelled the beginning of the end of my relationship with the first great love of my life…to be honest, though, the relationship was doomed from the start, because I met this dear man two weeks after a terrifying, tragic and traumatic event happened in my life. Kudos to the guy for taking on the task of loving a girl who was so badly damaged, so broken, hurt and scared, it took a kind soul to be able to see beyond the shocked shell to the glorious girl still hidden inside. But, again, I was damaged, and eight or nine months after we met, on Valentines night, a girl picked a fight with us on the bus ride home, and I, angry, hotheaded and more than a little off balance, emotionally decimated this chick! That was it for the sweet guy, he couldn’t take anymore…to be sure, I had been spiraling down for months… (I don’t think the term “post-traumatic stress disorder” had been coined yet, but that is surely what I was going through!) Without knowing there was a psychological basis for it, Andrew just thought I was crazy! And who could blame him? I went through a period where I had to hide every knife in the kitchen, because I was afraid of what I would do, I was afraid I would stab someone! (when you consider that a knife was involved in my “incident”, this makes perfect sense! Knives, scissors, other sharp objects were triggers for me.) Had PTSD been common knowledge in those days, I would’ve been given appropriate counseling and support, even medication, but, at that time there was next to nothing, so, I turned to my friends and my boyfriend for help with my fragile self…my friends had known me long enough to understand that this scary and scared chick was not the real me, but my boyfriend? Like I said, he only met me AFTER the bad shit happened, so to him I was…crazy!
Now, an aside here to tell you about MY perception of my mental status during this difficult time: I have always felt as though I stood on the precipice between sanity and insanity, ready to leap off into the deep well of crazy, but I…stepped…back! I chose to stay in the real world, work through my problems and terrors to the best of my ability, and, eventually, to get my balance and my soul back!
So, fast forward to this Valentines day: I had an amazing day! Actually, I had an amazing weekend! I was in a new city, seeing the sights, getting a “foodies’ tour of a foodie town” hanging out with a dear sweet man who I think will end up being a dear sweet friend for the rest of my life! There was a bit of romance, but not in the typical Valentines day way: more of the romance of exploring a strange place with someone you care about who you’re really just getting to know! (double exploring, I guess!) The Valentines day-type romance came from the sweet bride to be, surrounded by her soon to be bridesmaids, who were going shopping the next day for their soon to wear bridesmaid dresses. The B.2.B. told us all about her fiance, how she had known him for so many years and how much she loved and adored him, and how he loved and adored her…and all of her friends backed her up in saying that he was an absolute keeper and a great guy and the right guy for her!
Then there was the couple from California we met on Saturday night at an all night hot dog stand: He had woken her up at 5am on friday with the surprise that they were going away for the weekend…and the sweet little fact that it was on this trip that he first told her that he loved her!
There was also the couple sitting behind us at a restaurant on Valentines Day itself who got engaged while we were sitting there: she stood up and said in a proud clear voice “We’re getting married!” The restaurant broke out in applause!
These three exchanges, and a few others, with couples who were really truly DEEPLY in love left me all tingly inside, happy and hopeful, continously saying “Awwwww!” It was so delightful to hear these lovely stories, the validation that love is real, that true love happens!
The man I was with this weekend? What a gem he is! One day, when he’s ready, he’s going to make some lucky woman very, very happy! Probably not going to be me though…not through lack of desire, I could certainly see myself falling in love with him, but…the timing’s not right! The relationship he thought would last the rest of his life ended far too recently for him to even consider falling in love, and I’m ready for the next great love of my life…well, maybe I should say I’m on the cusp of being ready, because in the few months that I’ve known this man, I’ve been rapid cycling through and clearing out all the old baggage and hurts and fears left over from all the old great loves. The mistakes I made, the mistakes they made. The disappointments from the end of relationships I thought were going to last longer, if not “forever”! The hurts and fears caused by those disappointments… It’s amazing, in these few months, this man has reminded me at one time or another of each of the men I’ve been in love with…it is amazing, and also kinda strange! I mean, I’ve never even had a guy that reminded me of ONE of my other lost loves, and this guy has reminded me of ALL of them! I can only surmise that one of the big reasons he’s here in my life is to get me ready to love truly and deeply. This man woke me up from the deep, years long sleep of alone-ness, and separation and “stay the fuck away from me.”!!! Honestly, I wasn’t even sure I had the ability to love anymore…the last several times I tried to “date”, prior to pulling the covers up over my heart and going to sleep, I was so racked with ambivalence that it just wasn’t worth getting close to anyone! And, as I “slept” I was afraid, you see, that ambivalence was the new and permanent default position for my heart…
Then this man woke me up! And I found that my newly awakened heart is open wide and able to love truly and clearly, and on so many different levels…and what’s more, I’m finding that my heart is able to love in the moment, without the spectre of “now and always” clouding up the picture…shocking!!! Seriously, shocking! I never knew I could love so freely, without demanding a certain outcome! Oh, I knew others could, but me? Nope! I always thought that if the feelings were deep, things must be “fated” and permanent.
(what a crock of….!!!! Fated and permanent my ass!)(lol!)
So this man will always have a soft and tender spot in my heart reserved just for him, and he deserves it! I only hope I can help heal his heart like he’s been helping to heal mine, or at least witness his heart being healed…I would like to see that, ’cause he’s a good and sweet man that deserves to be happy! He deserves all the delight and love and trust this world can offer, he deserves to know he’s loved and he deserves to be healed enough to be able to accept the love that is offered to him! I hope one day, if he ever gets married again, that I get to dance at his wedding…(provided of course, that he doesn’t get married on my birthday! But that’s another story for another day: the story of my first great unrequited love! *sigh* I have had an interesting life!)
So, here’s what I think we should all do on this day, February 15th. We should take one of those big old red, lacy, leftover hearts that say “Be Mine!” , and we should give it to ourselves. Let it be a reminder to be our’ own “great love of our’ life”, our’ promise that we will be loving and tender and, hell, even a little bit romantic to ourselves…and, a promise,as well, that we will be true to ourselves! Then I think we should take the rest of those big old red, lacy, leftover hearts, scratch out the word “Mine” and replace it with “Yours” and give them to those we love in this life…whether friends, parents, children, or, yes, even lovers!…so that THEY can remember to love themselves, delight in themselves, take care of themselves!
Happy February 15th! I hope the next 364 days are grand!