The Universe is an ornery wench with a cruel sense of humor. She timed it so today, the section I'm editing in the book is Valentine's Day three years ago. I'm not superstitious in the least but I do know symbolism lives all around us. Its up to us to remain open to the messages we're meant to receive. Three years ago, this day was significant. It was the night I realized I had to find a way to leave. Three years later, here I am. Healthier. Happier. A bit worn in and all the more grateful for it.
I'm dating someone. We're a month in. He's intelligent, handsome and kind. He's pretty amazing. I love men. I love human beings in all our uniqueness. I love that every man will have a different term of endearment for you. Baby. Honey. Sweetheart. Girl. Beautiful. I love that each person has his own way to take off his t-shirt. There's the Reverse Arm Slip. It starts with the arms. He slips one out of its sleeve, then the other. Then the t-shirt is pulled up, over his neck and off. There's the Bottoms Up. He pulls the front of his t-shirt from the bottom and in one quick motion, it goes up and over his head. There's the two kinds of Neck Tugs. Using the index finger and thumb, the t-shirt is pulled by the front of back of the collar, yanked up and over the head. I love that sliver of a moment when his hair is tousled from whichever way he's chosen to take off his shirt. You catch a glimpse of the little kid he used to be, before the years layered themselves onto him. Delivering him and I here, standing in front of each other, bare and exposed. Holding our clothes, memories, wounds, hopes, desire and hearts in our hands. Unsure whether we should fold them neatly or drop them on the floor. I love that every single man will promise to love you, care for you, respect you and keep you safe. He will believe and speak each consonant with the beautiful, earnest sincerity found in that childlike place within each of us. I love that each man desires so deeply to be honorable. Desire and ability are separated by an ocean of difference. It lies still, enormous, taking up the room like the bed whereon we meet skin to skin, humble, hopeful and full of promise. The one hateful thing about being a woman is that over time it becomes harder to believe a man because of the words that came before his. Broken promises litter the ocean, making it difficult to swim.
Today, I'm trying to take him for him. I remind myself to see him as an entirely new person, without the overlay of memories and fears I've collected from the past. I can't punish him for acts he didn't commit, people he doesn't know, clothing he hasn't asked for. He deserves my trust. Its daunting but necessary, to constantly remind oneself to be open, fearless and optimistic in love. Every now and then one of us will say something that reminds the other of people we've known and loved before. You see our eyes change ever so slightly, as our confidence and faith recede. There is a suspended stillness, not the good kind but the quiet, sad kind, like finding a tiny dead bird on the sidewalk. You know its life's way, but it hurts all the same. You breathe. You will yourself to return to the present. I guess this is what it means; to be present. We let the past and the hypothetical future exist where they are meant to, and we embrace the moment and person in front of us.
The past will hang on us like a phantom limb. However, we get to decide how tightly we hold on to it. Everyday I get to choose what forces I embody. Love or fear. Openness or suspicion. I can choose which truths and facts to focus on. I can say 100% of my past relationships have failed and therefore, so will the future ones. Or I can say, Yes, such is the truth for that is how the past works. 100% of the past lives behind us. None of our collected experiences are failures. There are simply that which happened yesterday, to allow us to arrive here, today, naked, worn-in, wiser and hopeful. In Reemaland, everyday has always been an opportunity to make others feel special. That hasn't changed. I have, that's all. I've decided the feelings of specialness will enfold me as well as you. That sentence will only make sense to you if you too are a recovering masochist. Believe me, it is not a noble quest. Its silly, sabotaging and gets old after a few decades. There is nothing honorable nor strong in allowing yourself to feel worthless because of the company you've chosen to keep. Like any addiction, masochism is self-directed harm. It is the fear of your own worth. You make yourself small. Let yourself be someone more, someone bigger, wonderful and special. Assign yourself new words to embody. Love. Strength. Hope. Faith in the face of fear. Let these words form around you like liquid plaster cradles a broken limb. This is your new identity. I have deemed it so. Let it hold you snug and safe.
Today, like all other days, is yours to define. Let yours be one of love.