How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful!
Your eyes are doves.
How handsome you are, my lover!
Oh, how charming!
And our bed is verdant.
Song of Solomon 1:15-16
This morning I watched a movie that got me to thinking about why we, women mostly, love to watch romantic (chic flic) kind of movies. What is it about them that keeps us enthralled. The obvious answer is the “Cinderella Syndrome”, you know girl meets boy, boy sweeps girl off her feet and saves her from her life, herself or an evil foe. Yes, that is the most notable thing about these types of movies. But as I was watching the movie for maybe the 5th time (yes I watch movies more than once, and not just romance), I began to find other reasons for the draw. For me, at least, I think it might be escape. Escape to a place that seems like a better place to be than where I am at the moment. Not really some place I want to stay, just to go visit. The second reason I found, was wondering what it would be like to be the woman in the movie. To have a seemingly wonderful man pursue me the way he is pursuing her. Or to have the conversations she is having with him. Ok, I know it makes us a little more discontent with our lives and it is just crazy fantasy that takes our minds places maybe it shouldn’t but that is why the call it ‘entertainment.’
But today I found another reason that I had not seen before. Comparing my past “loves” to those somewhat fantastical men gave me a new insight into my psyche. When I first met the guys that I would go gaga over it was the same type of wonder. They each in their own way became a possibility to a wonderful new world. I was attracted to men who seem to be in charge. Seem to know what they wanted and knew all the right things to say to get to my heart. They were handsome and had some strength that I was lacking at the time. They were not perfect but of course when you are first getting to know someone it is not the first thing you look for, imperfection. They swept me off my feet.
Believe it or not I had a boyfriend in the 6th grade whom I had known since Kindergarten. We always smiled at each other. I remember moving away from the home I grew up in, to Virginia, in the 4th grade, when my parents divorced. He wrote me letters. We were 8 years old. Believe that? I still have those handwritten notes. They are the sweetest things. I moved back in the summer of my 5th grade and began 6th grade in the same elementary school. He and I were in the same class again. We went back and forth about being boyfriend and girlfriend and in the end we just remained friends. He actually became my best friends boyfriend. They made a cuter couple. lol My first foray into the realm of love. What did I learn? Well at a very young age I learned that people can change in a few years time. I was 12.
I had gone steady a couple more time before 16 but they were very short lived. I didn’t even get to know them very well. One of the boys I liked, I never seen him outside of school so our adventures together were really not adventures at all. It was a spoken thing really. He likes you, do you like him kind of thing. The other was a nice guy. Treated me kindly but I did not know him for long either. I can not remember why we broke up. I think it was a mutual thing. Then came a long a guy who was a few years older than me. We were living in Idaho at the time. He was very funny and I think that is what drew me to him. We were together longer than the guy before him but I ended up moving back to Missouri again so that was the end of that. He left me with a lasting impression. I learned things about myself that I wished I had not learned yet. Things about the world that I was not ready for but I guess that is why they call it the loss of innocence.
At 17 I met a guy that lived in the same neighborhood we were living at the time. Now he was something else. Not like any guy I had ever known before. He was very good looking. Very intense and had a great personality. But again he was a few years older than I and knew a little more about the world than I did. And after some time he realized that I was not the girl for him. I think I became to clingy at that time in my life. Many things going on at home, I was very insecure and I did not know how to be in a real relationship. I did not know what a healthy relationship looked like coming from a divorced family with many issues, like alcohol. Alcohol changes people and that is what I knew. My heart was broken over him. I felt the first true rejection that I would feel again and again throughout my life. I don’t blame him though because after all I was young and naive. Immature probably in his eyes. What was it about him that I remember today. His grin when he would look at me, kind of mischievous and playful. It would make my heart explode.
My second teenage love was at age 17. Again he was older. He was very sweet to me and was always glad to be with me. However as time went on I began to feel like I could not breath. I started to see his jealous side. He did not want me to hang with my friends without him. He was always questioning me as well as getting angry. I remember the last night we were together as a couple. The prom. We went with another couple. And it turned out to be a very crazy night. We got into a fight about something and from there it just went downhill. He got angry and it scared me so I told him we had to break up. The one thing about me is that I am a very loyal person. And I had never given him a reason to be jealous but he was that way by nature. I just could not be in a relationship where that would always be an issue. So we parted ways. What do I remember about him today, he was possessive but sweet.
I graduated from high school, moved to the city to live with my aunt. Got a full time job and started going to college. It was there that I ran into an old friend of mine. Well actually he was a neighbor of mine growing up. His family lived next door to us since I was in Kindergarten. His brother was my age and we were actually friends. I only knew him as one of the older brothers, sort of in the background. He was two years older than me and had 4 brothers and a sister, he was the middle child. They were a noisy family because there were so many boys in the house. Kind of rowdy really. Well we met at a party. And it was like meeting an old friend. He was a familiar face in the crowd which was comforting to me. I was still fresh out of high school so I was beginning to live life on my own. I had no idea really what I was doing. I just knew I had no one telling me what to do and when to do it. So I was feeling my freedom. We immediately started seeing each other. I learned new things about him but we had a connection, our childhood. We would talk about all the things we remembered when we were kids. We told our families we were a couple. They were all surprised but happy for us. We dated for about a year when my friend from high school, who was living in Florida at the time, invited me to come down. I asked him to go with me. He told me to go and he would come down later. It was later, when I was in Florida that I realized that he never had any intentions of coming. He was breaking up with me. I guess it was easier than telling me he didn’t want to be with me any longer. I missed him at first but it didn’t really seem to hurt for too long. I was already there, staying with my friend, until I could get on my own two feet. Going to Florida was a decision that would not only change my life forever but the man I would meet there would take my heart places I had never known before.
While I know that the relationship I had with this new guy was probably not one of the most healthy relationships it was the most educational in every way. For the first time in my life I saw myself through someone else’s eyes. He would look at me and my heart would melt. He was almost like a drug, addicting. He was much older than me. I was 19 and he was 26. I was very naive and he was street smart. I was a pretty young thing and he was drop dead gorgeous. He had a sense of humor and charisma. He made friends where ever we went. He could charm the socks off a snake. But that guy had some real baggage. His life was not your ordinary life. His teenage years were very traumatic and he weathered them by acting out. By the time I had met him he was still trying to stay ahead of everyone else…juggling balls so to speak. It was just a matter of time before he would pay the piper. And he did. The year we were separated is the same year I joined the Air Force. He was the reason I had the guts to go out into the world and try something new. He was the reason I became the kind of woman who could take life by the tail and live to the fullest. He was the reason I grew up. When I arrived in Florida I was a young school girl just out of high school. When I left Florida, I was a woman ready to face to world and all it had for me. He was my first true love, all the good and the bad. I miss him still to this day at times. I wonder how he is doing and where he is. I hope he is doing well.
I had joined the Air Force in Aug of 1984, under what they called Delayed Entry. You waited for up to 6 months for a slot to open up. A slot in Technical Training school. Well mine came open in May of 1985. So in March I went off to Basic Training. Little did I know that my world would be turned upside down. Everything I knew about life, love and the world would change so drastically the first day of basic training. I had signed a contract. A contract that gave my life to someone else for 6 whole years. I really had no idea what that meant until I went through the training. I became aware of the world. Aware in a way that made me see thousands of doors available to me to open. Up until that time in my life I thought so small. My little life, in the little place where I was at the time. I started to see how small I really was. But I loved it! Every minute of learning and discovering what more I capable of. What more I could be. I started to, as the Air Force saying at the time said, Aim High!
We graduated basic training and the very same day we were put on buses to go to the airport. All of us were being sent to Tech Schools all over the US to different Air Force bases, to train in different career fields, to different directions in life. I and my new best friend were off to Chanute Air Force Base, Rantoul, IL. A new place and a new adventure. It was a new way of life for sure. I never made so many friends at once in my whole life. It was kind of like being at college but alot more strict. Lots of rules and regulations. I became a student leader while there. Inspecting rooms, marching other students to school and a lot of extra duties to be sure. And I met lots of guys. I don’t recall getting serious about anyone guy…there were a few that I liked more than another but it was like the Cyndi Lauper song that was on the radio at that time, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” and we did. I met some really stand up guys. They were funny, kind and had a lot going for them. Most of them anyway. Most of the guys were like brothers really. The ones we got close to kind of looked out for us. That was nice.
About a month before we graduated I did meet a guy that I ended up dating till we left. He was very sweet to me. Country boy from Kentucky. He had gotten out of a really bad relationship before joining the Air Force so he was very gun shy so to speak. We just had fun hanging out and going on day trips around town. We did go to Chicago one weekend with a guy who was from Chicago. His wife was living up there while he was attending tech school. He invited us up to hang out with them. We had a super great time. Went to “Gino’s” on Rush Street, the worlds famous pizza place. Everyone writes their name on the wall. We walked around the city at night, which was so beautiful. Saw the Chicago Tribune Building and Lake Michigan. The next day there was an air and boat show that was featuring the F-15 Thunderbirds. We were driving an RX-7 with a sun roof so we had a great view of the show. It was an absolutely wonderful weekend. Every minute of it.
He graduated tech school before I did and we said goodbye. We became friends and parted as friends. And that was a good thing. What do I remember about him the most? His soft spoken, laid back way. He was very attentive and very considerate! I really hope he is having a great life!
Destination: Germany. The world had just opened up to me. I drove to St. Louis after tech school to spend time with my family before going overseas. I also flew down to Florida to spend some time with my sister and friends that I had not seen since leaving over a year ago. It was great to see them all. It was the last time I remember my sister being herself. Shortly after I flew to Germany she moved back home to Missouri and her life changed because of the drugs and alcohol. She would never be the same. But I did not know all that then as I was going into my new way of life. I was heading into what would be later remembered as the best time of my life.
I just recently got to have dinner with an old friend. I had not seen her in 25 years. We were stationed in Germany together and kind of ran in the same crowd. Both of us agreed that those days were best days we had ever had. We both had some great memories of places we traveled and the people we met. The parties, the laughs and the great camaraderie. No, it was not perfect but it was some great times being free to explore and find new trails to blaze. My new trail was yet to be forged. The first guy I met was a very nice guy. He was clean cut, smart and had a great wit. He was also a very good artist. He had some drawing skills. I loved that about him. Of course he was different from any one else I had met up to that point. He had a routine in his life. Very orderly. He liked to spend time with friends and explore new places. That is what we did. We went to see things. Historical things. I enjoyed that the most. He was so very attentive to me. He had a way about him that I adored. I think if I had married him he would have given me anything I had asked for. He had a great heart. I knew by the way he talked about his mother. He loved her and spoke kindly of her. That endeared him to me forever. He actually had proposed to me. It was the first time I had ever been asked. And something came over me. Fear. To this day I am not sure why I said no. But when I did, it changed our relationship. He became mistrusting of me and I began to see a side of him that at first glance seemed like jealousy. I don’t think it was as much jealousy as much of his not wanting to let go. I see now that he probably truly cared for me and did not want to break up. He got orders and I did not want to have a long distance relationship. I don’t think I felt the same way about him as he did for me. I wished I had in some ways. He was a good man. What do I remember about him? His unique perspective on life and his willingness to talk to me about everything on his mind.
After he left Germany I felt kind of lost. I remember kind of hanging on by hanging out with others that knew him best. I kind of went into a fog. I am not sure if it was loss of my best friend or guilt from saying no to the first man who wanted to marry me. I threw myself into partying. Getting outside of my circle of friends. Trying to get to know new people. I met a guy several months later who I thought was very good looking and funny. He was a very interesting kind of guy. He had this aloof kind of attitude when I first met him but then I realized he was much deeper than that. He was very smart but didn’t seem to want people to know that. I admired him. He had some close friends who I got to know very quickly. After we dated a month or so we decided mutually that we just weren’t clicking but we still remained friends. It wasn’t too long after that that I met my “husband to be”. How do I begin telling you about him? How do I describe how he won my heart?
We actually met when I was trying to introduce him to a new girl who had just come in. She and I were pretending she was my cousin in for a visit. Not sure why we did that or why we thought it was funny. We were drinking of course so that may have had more to do with it than anything else. He was very tanned, dark eyes and had this laugh that was very contagious. I remember the first time I heard him laugh, it made me laugh so hard I couldn’t stop. It wasn’t until months later that we would actually start going out. I had spent time with the group of friends that he ran with and it was during that time that we became attracted to each other. My mind is foggy about who made the first move or not but all I know is I fell head over heals for him. I had gone home on thirty days leave. I was in Missouri staying at my moms when I recieved my first box of roses from a man. They were from him!! A dozen, long stem roses with the sweetest note attached. I was done in and it was at that moment I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him!!!
I began to wonder if we could spend the rest of our lives together. He made me feel safe and warm. I felt like we were partners, like he was a gift to me. I remember thinking “I want to have his children and grow old with him.” And looking back that was the beginning of the end of our relationship. From the time we started discussing the possibility getting married he became somewhat distant. That should have been red flags but I dismissed it. I reasoned that he was nervous about the prospect. You know I don’t even remember him asking me to marry him. Maybe I talked him into it, convinced him. Maybe he just got caught up in the whole thing and it seemed like a good idea at the time. If I had any doubts at the time they were washed away when he took me home to meet his family. I was overwhelmed with how they accepted me and how he seemed to love showing me off. In June of 1987 we went to St. Louis to get married. The wedding of my dreams. I cried the whole time we were saying our vows because I was overwhelmed with it all. He was so handsome and adorable that day! I could not believe he wanted to marry me. I loved him so very much and could not wait to start my life with him. I had know idea that in three short years my dream of “happily ever after” would burst into a thousand pieces.
I had never regretted any of the relationships I had had. I came to know something more about myself each time I opened myself up to another. The ultimate opening of my heart was getting married. It meant forever to me. It meant to remain faithful and true to this man who I had finally given my heart to. For better or worse. So now 19 years later what do I remember about him? Truthfully if you asked me this question years ago I would have told you all the things he had done to hurt me in the end. The things that made me hate him for a long time. I forgave him, I had to because God commanded me to and because he gave me two beautiful children. But looking back before all the hurtful things, I remember him making me laugh, making me feel apart of something bigger than myself, making me feel excited when he was excited. I remember being so very proud of him, so very proud to have a man like him in my life. He was the first man to hold my heart in his hands.
The last man to have 100% of my devotion was the man that not only devastated my life but my children’s as well. When I met him, I had been a single parent for three years. I thought I was so ready to love again. I also thought that I needed a father for my children. One that would be there for me and for them. The one thing that I remember was how alike we were in so many ways. He had the same sensitivity to life, children and family. We both believed the same things about God and Jesus. We both loved our country. And we had the same number of children. We both were in the military. We wanted the same things for our kids. We were attracted to each other. There was so much in common I thought maybe he might be my soul mate. He was different from any man I had ever met in that he was a little hard hearted about life. I chalked it up to him being an Airborne Ranger. He was in the Army and had been for 16 years at the time I had met him. He was very disciplined and he was a great father. Very doting and very attentive to his daughters. I was enamored with him. About two years after we met as asked me to marry him. I said yes and believed that God was giving me a second chance to be a wife. He had answered my prayer. Without going into detail I will tell you that unbeknownst to me three days before we married he threw his bible in the trash and turned his back on God. So what began as a whole new wonderful life quickly became a spiritual battle that I believe was set in the heavens. For ten years I prayed for God to deliver my husband from whatever hold the devil had. He delivered him but not after almost everything in my heart was destroyed. But for the grace of God I would have been crushed under the weight of loss. And again I had to forgive, ironically for the same reasons as before.
I can not tell you that I look back with longing on any one man. Because each time I had given a piece of my heart I did not get it back. They kept it. I am not so sure I would have been able to choose to do any differently. That was just my nature and still is. I wanted to love them. I wanted to give something to them. Of course I wanted it back what girl doesn’t? I did not set out on purpose to find the wrong man for me. Who does that? None of us, going into a relationship, knows what is ahead. How could we possibly know how the other person is going to change? Without spending an inordinate amount of time with them how would you know that they really aren’t who they seem to be in the beginning. I just trusted that they wanted what I wanted. I trusted them to tell me the truth. What were they trusting me for? What did they want from me that I did not give them? I don’t know and perhaps I will never know. It would be nice to know what I need to be aware of.
I have come to learn things about love and relationships that I did not know in the past. To be in love is not just the crazy feeling you get in the pit of your stomach every time you lay eyes on your significant other. It is about giving and receiving equally. Putting the other before yourself. It is about respect. Being truthful. Working together for the good of the relationship. Sticking in there when you don’t understand. Building something together. Sharing your deepest fears and sorrows. Opening yourself up to the possibility of love is opening yourself up to the unknown, to ups and downs, to loss and gain, to fulfillment.
Watching romantic movies lets me experience some of the things I experienced before or witness something I would never have dreamed of. It reminds me that while it does not always work out like it does in the movies it is still working somewhere in the world. Men and women are meeting for the first time this very minute. They are beginning a new relationship or they are ending one. Back and forth it goes every minute of every day. And it will continue through time. As for me and my future where men are concerned, well, I just don’t know. I am not pining away nor am I cynical. I have been able to really look at who I am and how my past relationships have influenced me now. I am grateful to say that I have loved. That I took a chance. That I opened my heart up. Since God came into my life 18 years ago I have understood that the kind of love I wanted from the men I knew was only temporary. But God’s love has outlasted all the loves of my life. He has remained faithful. He has remained trustworthy. He has remained loving and kind. He has remained. And maybe, just maybe He will allow me to be loved through another man before I leave this earth. A man who is truly my soul mate.
In the mean time, the lessons I have learned from the men I have loved before are what give my heart hope. Because when you wait long enough for something God created you to desire in the first place, you will be that much more grateful to receive it. Like the man who sitting by the water on a mat. He could not walk and only wanted to be healed. He watched others come and go while he could only sit. Jesus came and told him to take up his mat and walk. He did. And don’t you know he could not contain his joy. He probably treasured that moment for the rest of his life. The gratefulness at the gift God gave him was something he would never get over. And Jesus probably smiled every time the man looked up to the heavens and said, “Thank you again father, for the use of my legs.”
Could any man be unhappy with a woman who is always praising God for the man He brought into her life? I would certainly hope not.
Grace to you
PS: The E-Harmony thing, one more month left, it has been interesting but not so fruitful. Just another learning lesson.