My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Thursday, March 31, 2011

finding your common denominator

Social media has given us the opportunity to observe our friends more carefully... at least through their status updates and relationship changes and photos. A quick scan of my news feed has replaced phone calls... just as phone calls replaced the coffee klatch...There was a time as a young mommy that I would start my day with a coffee klatch every day. There were a group of about five of us who were stay at home moms with kids in elementary school and middle school... who also had preschoolers at home... we would drop the big kids off and then stop off at our friend Laura's house for a cup of coffee before going on with our day. We would catch up on all the local gossip over a cup of coffee every morning. That was fifteen years ago... and I can't imagine the same thing happening today.

Now, because we get our updates in a general, random sense, we don't always ask questions and learn all the details about situations and circumstances... I always say that in the absence of information, I tend to make stuff up... I try to prevent myself from making assumptions but... sometimes you just can't help yourself, you know?

In the past month there have been a couple of my friends whose lives seem to be on fast forward... where they meet someone and then get super serious in lightning speed. And... because I don't have all the details, I may be making some unfair assumptions. I do believe in love... I know sometimes I come across as a bit jaded on the whole happily ever after thing because it hasn't really been MY experience... but I still believe in what Carrie Bradshaw called, "real love... ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't live without each other love". I know it happens. I also know that you can't know everything about somebody in a split second. You don't "fall" in love. You grow in love.

For me... the hard, cold, stark truth of the matter is that in all of my failed relationships there has been only one common denominator: me. And while I can certainly make the case that there were extenuating circumstances that the other people brought to the table that made continuing a relationship with them impossible... you can't escape the fact that I picked these people. I bought what they were selling... and for that matter... I sold what they were buying.

It's not that I haven't forgiven myself - I have. But I pray that I never forget MY lack of caution and MY haste in moving forward in a way that was ill-advised. Everybody presents themselves in their best light at the beginning of a relationship. You can maintain that facade for a time but eventually, the glossy exterior is peeled away. It takes time to get to the heart of a person.

For instance... Red Flag Guy... went from picnicking with me at the beginning of November to being married at the beginning of March. There's just no way you know someone well enough in four months to commit to them for the rest of your life. Maybe you take those kind of risks when you're young... youthful indiscretions... but when you're a parent of two kids whose lives have already been turned upside down by the loss of their just have to go slower. I pray for their family daily and I am believing the best for them but...from what I can see, it was too fast.

Although, I've gotta tell you, it was a huge validation for me of how God is protecting me from myself these days. Had we ignored those big red flags - and trust me, I tried to - I would have been on that kind of fast track because apparently, that's what he was looking for, instant family. I'm not able to do that. I have to be cautious. Even if everything had clicked, I would have still had doubts because of my history. I would have been denying my true feelings and inner fears had I gotten on that bullet train.

Barry used to always tell me that you don't heal from a bad relationship with a new relationship. You have to take time to process things. Look at it this way: if you had just gotten back from a three month tour of Europe, you wouldn't come home and just stuff more clothes on top of all the dirty clothes in your suitcases and leave right back out on another three month vacation, would you? You'd want time to empty your suitcase... go through your souvenirs, wash and repack carefully. It's the same way in relationships. You have to get rid of the old baggage before you pick up new baggage. You have to recognize what your common denominator is in all of your failed relationships. Where did YOU go wrong?

I'll be completely honest with you and tell you that I believe that it's not God's will for me to be in a relationship at this time in my life, if ever. I know that I lose myself in relationships. I know that I very quickly adapt to what the other person is looking for instead of presenting who I truly am. In my effort to be a "people pleaser" I cease to please God. It's deceptive. It's bait and switch. And while my fairy tale, "happily ever after" side wants to believe that he's gonna love me so much that he's gonna love every incarnation of me... it's not fair to either of us for me to be anyone other than who I really am. Maybe I have a right to expect unconditional love... because we do evolve and change over the course of our lives... but the common denominator in my life is that I haven't chosen the kind of people who are that accepting and gracious.

And I guess that's what I would say to any of my friends who are leaning on the fast forward button: be true to yourself, be true to your partner... make sure you've taken time to unpack before you head out on another trip.

This week is speeding by. It hasn't been an easy week for me, largely because I didn't have time to decompress over the weekend. There's no avoiding the reality that for me to work a forty hour work week, I have to have time to take the pressure off my spine in the evenings and on the weekend. It's narrowing my world down to just my nest and my office ... for now... but hopefully that will change soon. This past weekend was a reality check for me. I can't spend that kind of time behind the wheel, sitting at restaurants, sitting on hard metal benches, etc... and expect to have any quality of life during the next week. And it's not the surface as much as it is the angle... where the vertebrae slip and compress the bulging discs and pinch off the nerves, if I'm at a 90 degree angle to sit for too much of the time, the pain is just unbearable. Likewise... standing up straight is painful. Walking is painful. Etc. So this weekend I will be a nest dwelling hermit again in the hopes of getting some relief.

This thankful Thursday I'm grateful for the ability to gain some clarity on my own life by observing the lives of others... I'm grateful that I'm learning from my past... I'm thankful to be able to take a step back and evaluate... I'm glad that I don't have to learn those painful lessons again, for the rest of my life I can benefit from what I have already learned by trial and error. As long as I keep my wits about me... and as long as I depend on the Lord for guidance... I WILL have a happily ever after... even if it doesn't include a Prince Charming!

Have a great day, y'all!


Myra said...

Wow...very insightful! As we grow older, the realities of life hit us square in the face! You are growing into yourself, knowing who you are. I can certainly see myself in your words. Thank you!

Adirondackcountrygal said...

i can really identify with you here. I have always been color blind when it comes to Red flags. I even had some with my current husband but I rushed into things and now I'm stuck.