Two weeks after the break up I ponder things great and small. Expectations, hopes, dreams, stewardship, character and love.
I review my conduct with her. Examine the courtship. Some may say I am crazy but I did my best to avoid wooing her. I maintained as much reality about myself as I could. After 10 months of actual dating, it has not ended ( as of yet) in the kind of long term commitment one would hope for in such a process.
So the feeling one has after the end of a relationship is summed up in this question. Did I fail?
The answer to that question depends on the goal. For some, the goal of every relationship is to end up at the altar. For others it is to end up with regular sex, or even irregular sex (in terms of frequency) or any sex for that matter. For some it is just companionship, regardless of the long term commitment. I am sure that we can come up with many examples. By most of these kinds of measures one could probably call it a failure.
I identified her as one of the most phenomenal women I have ever been with, in terms of compatibility with respect to our communication, social proclivities, spiritual connections, emotional maturity, intellectual prowess, and service. We also were able to sing together in church (She the alto, me the tenor) and engage in that community effectively together. She was truly beautiful in any regard. I was (and am) attracted to her in every way. It is easy to see that not ending up at the afore mentioned pinnacles in this relationship to her can be regarded as a failure. I was married far less sensibly before, and managed 7 years of horrible marriage. This would be far more successful in that regard, undoubtedly. She is far more affectionate, and speaks the same love languages I do, so the “I love you” of our lifestyles would be readily said and heard. She does not cook, but does not mind cleaning. I love to cook, but hate to clean up the mess. Check, Check, Check… more compatibility. I failed to land this, is that not a failure?
Now let me say that my goal with this amazing woman of depth and intelligence and clear beauty and passion, was not any of those things previously mentioned, but rather to always give her possession of her own head, in finding her own heart. That means that instead of wooing her, I endeavored to express my true self, with regards to my expectations, my natural response in giving her my time and efforts, emotional expressions being relative to my actual emotional state, with sensitivity clarity and honesty, and a careful regard for her own stewardship of her heart. I needed to facilitate her thinking! I also needed to present a climate wherein she felt safe to present her true-self so that I could make those same assessments.
Our ability to effectively engage a long term possibility could only happen with an honest assessment of our realities. If my realities are not compatible with hers, then she needs to be able to see that clearly. Emotions often clutter our grasp of many of these realities, or warp our perception of the depth of their impact. If I succeeded in wooing her, and she ignored those things, in the end, the long term hope of the relationship is compromised. When the wooing ended, and the real us took over, the previously ignored realities would cast a far reaching shadow over the relationship, and in the end damage trust. Perhaps even in one’s own ability to discern truth. Having been married and divorced, I can not accept this kind of outcome.
As someone who cares for the quality of my own life, and the quality of the life of others, I must be honest in my assessments, moderate the development of intimacy so that it parallels the growth of trust and celebrate the outcome of a realistic assessment, because it facilitates a longer term happiness, and marks the demise of all or nothing rocket ship dating, where the descent is as extreme as the climb, and a lot more destructive. As they say, it is not speed that kills, but the abruptness of the stop.
I have told many people that my opinion of the error of heavy romance in a new relationship is that it offers an intimacy based on ignorance. If someone barely knows you, then writes heart heavy diatribes of their devotion, attraction and commitment it is then a gloriously beautiful lie, based on their hopes of who you are, not a real clear vision of it. This in turn invites you the recipient to give over more heart and trust based on a fabulous presentation. Have you seen the infomercials for these new fishing lures that are sparkly and look very much like real fish? These piscine frauds lure in the hungry fish, and cause them to bite, believing that they are about to enjoy a real meal. In the end they have been lured in by a false hope that cost them quite dearly.
Romance devoid of familiarity is much the same. It lures in the hopeful intimacy seeking person who believes that they are about to partake in a real meal and in the end, the have been duped. Their hearts entangled on the line of premature commitment… If they escape at all, it is usually with damage. Their trust of future suitors who may not merit distrust is already compromised, but hunger for a satisfying taste of intimacy will cause them to repeat the error, biting out at the first tasty morsel that presents itself. This kind of scar tissue gets harder and harder to heal.
I speak from experience. Having been scarred and having done scarring, I repeated these horrible patterns and swam in a wake of anguish. When I made an honest assessment of myself, divined who I wanted to be, and then tenaciously applied this new person to my life, I started developing good boundaries, and respecting them. I found myself as a being in possession of sufficiency. I stopped needing someone else to tell me that I am fine the way I am. Believing it, I stopped putting so much weight in the response of another person.
Romance became the expressions of a knowing heart, the loving thank you of recognition of a persons real qualities, and the actual recognition of their faults and acceptance of their shortcomings as being something that I can tolerate for the bigger picture of being with them and accepting their real strengths, that may well compliment mine and diminish the destructive affect of my own shortcomings. It celebrates their realization of the same thing.
With regards to this recently ended dating relationship, I set out to be a good man, to love her unselfishly, to hold her with open hands, to raise her expectations, to share personal growth, and to be a positive step in her taking on more of the character of Christ. I set out to learn and grow in my own view of the world, to see myself more clearly through another set of eyes, and to achieve greatness, making the relationship, the best it could be, whatever it’s title. I set out to love honestly, to require nothing, to give freely, and to freely receive all that she cared to give, without complaining about what she chose to keep. I respected her right to be her, as she respected my right to be me. I did not need to see her change, but I was delighted to see her grow.
In everything I set out to do, I did. In all I set out to be, I was. In all I could truly hope to see, I saw.
That is not failure. That is success. I am truly proud of who I have been, and the person that I shared my person with. I can only look back in joy.
Make no mistake. The loss of her companionship is a far greater pain than this blog elucidates. Self-clarity produces not only a clearer mirror, but clearer windows looking out. In that mirror I saw the unaltered image of magnificence in a simple human package. I am aware that I lack that wonderful view with the regularity that I had once had. It hurts to lose that, and in no small measure.
That is the grand misery of the good guy.
In the end, I must quote myself on the true view of love, and the way I hope to have it.
Love is not a wage to be earned, or a prize to be won. It is a gift to be cherished.