Week 15 here at The Sandbox Writing Challenge: Risks Calen is asking the question What risks have you taken in your life?
Taking a risk on love….
Growing up, I was given a warped sense of what love was really all about. We moved from town to town while my mother chased her men, looking for love in all the wrong places. She married 6 times, with a bunch of boyfriends in-between. Not exactly role model material.
My first go at what I thought was love came at 16. Really, I know, who the hell knows anything about love at that age. His name was Louie and I thought I knew it all. When the hitting started, I thought I deserved it. He’d apologize. Tell me he loved me. Things would be ok, for a while. Until the next time. And the next. The hitting got worse, but I wanted this to work. I needed it to work. He said he loved me. Silly girl. Then the night came when he had me pinned against the car, and he started to strangle me. I saw stars and then started to black out. I was saved by a neighbor, but still to stupid and naïve to do anything, at first. I eventually got a restraining order against him. He actually ended up in prison for killing someone………as for me, I was still hoping to find love.
At 18, I met Tim. He was the opposite of Louie. He was older. He didn’t hit. He wanted to be with me, always, and he loved me. He told me so. So, he didn’t want me having friends. All we needed was each other. We got pregnant. We married. We had more children. I thought it was love. But something was missing. We’d split up. We’d get back together again. He said he loved me, and as long as I acted and looked the way he wanted me to, it/we worked. Something was missing, always missing. I’d read and re-read Bridges Of Madison County and cry, wanting a love like Francesca and Robert. I wanted someone to love me like that (only in books and movies right?!) I still believed in the whole concept of LOVE, but what I still wasn’t quite grasping at the time was I truly Believed that I needed the love of a man to validate me.
A lot of years would go by before I started to realize I needed to love myself first.
It was the beginning of the end for us. Though it would be 20 years before I found the strength and courage to end things for good. I believe now,that the one and only reason he and I were meant to be together in any way was so that we could have our children. All three of them are meant to be here and have a purpose. To be fair, this isn’t about bashing Tim. He’s a good man and father to our children and pop-pop to our grandchildren. But when we needed to be honest with each other and recognize that what we had wasn’t the kind of love we both deserved, he was willing to continue to settle for things the way they were, and I couldn’t do that anymore. It wasn’t fair to either of us.
So, at 39 we separated. He didn’t want it, but I knew it was finally over. I moved into a spare room, and continued to work as I tried to figure things out. Then I bumped into a man who I used to work with, and my life was to be forever changed. I knew Jim from work. He was a butcher at our local store, and I was a baker. (True story!) We’d say hello, that sort of thing, but that was it. I then left the store and took employment elsewhere, and didn’t see him for a long time. When we unexpectedly bumped into each other, we said hello and in conversation, we found out we both had separated from out spouses. He after 30 years, me 20. We chatted some more and decided we’d meet up for lunch one of these days. That day would come a month later. We bought sandwiches, some Rolling Rock Beer and spent that afternoon sitting on his friends boat on the lake. We talked. We talked some more. And then we sat. In complete silence, we sat and looked out at the water, and it was the most comfortable silence I’d ever felt. We became friends. He encouraged. He listened. And then something amazing happened……….
I felt my inner Spirit start to come back to life. For the first time, I was able to openly acknowledge ME. I was FINALLY finding the love I’d been looking for all this time, love for myself. I grew up thinking and believing that I needed the love of a man to be whole, when what I needed was to love myself first. How could I love anyone if I couldn’t love me?
Along this journey of mine, not only did I find love for myself, I also found the love of this amazing man. My best friend. Bottom line….Love is worth the Risk!!!