It has been a long time since I have sat and written. Well to be honest it has been a long time since I have actually published what I have written. I second guess myself a lot and am not sure what I am trying to say. What story am I telling? What angle do I want to analyze my life from? Does any of this really matter? So tonight I am thinking about LOVE. Those four letters that mean so much. I can honestly say that I have been in love with four men in my life. That seems like a lot, but each one holds a part of my life that had they not been there, I don’t know who I would be today. I am a serious type of girl when it comes to relationships. I was never the one to flit from guy to guy. At a very young age I jumped into commitment, always loving the one I was with…even if they didn’t deserve it.
Summer after 6th grade: Enter Gilbert. He was a friend of a friend of mine. He didn’t go to my school and we didn’t know each other. I was friends with a boy named Richard and we talked on the phone a lot. One day he called me on three way with Gilbert and then quickly got off the line, leaving Gilbert and I to talk. Ok… well about 3 hours later sparks had flown. We were in deep and this would last until the middle of 9th grade year. I loved him with all of me, as much as an adolescent girl can possibly love a boy. He wasn’t always the nicest and yes he did cheat on me, plus his parents didn’t like me (we were too young to be serious and I was not the catholic girl they wanted for him.) Oh the tears I cried over him. First love was hard. From him I learned that I was capable of love and that I was something special.
9th grade year: Enter Micheal. Oh this was one of those tumultuous dramatic relationships that lasted through the first weeks of Senior year. While Gilbert was steady and at times sweet, Michael was the guy who put you down and laughed at your flaws but then built you up enough to make you believe his opinion was all that mattered. We broke up and got back together more times than I can count. He even stranded me at a park one time after an argument I forget about what. During the whole of the relationship I would say there was one really great summer of long nights and strong feelings. The type of summer that you cling to when he went back to being mean. Of course then I found out that the whole time he was with me that summer, he also had another girl friend. Talk about punch in the gut. From him I learned that on and off should stay off.
12th grade: Enter Daniel. After Micheal I swore off guys and decided to focus on my school and college. I skipped school one day with my sister who was in from out of town. I had never skipped school before and needed a break. We went to the movies and there he was. Before we left we exchanged number and within months we would not only be living together buy married. Next came a baby and life went sideways. He wanted to be young and carefree and I wanted to go back to school and have a better life. He started staying out later and later and eventually not coming home. He ended it and moved out and in with another girl. I fell deeply into a whole but had my daughter so I fought out. From him I learned that I didn’t need to be in a relationship to be happy.
27 years old: Enter Jose. After being single for three years and finding my feet, I had managed to put myself through school, find an apartment and provide for my daughter and me. I decided that I wanted to try dating again. I went online and found a profile of a man that I read over about three times and decided I needed to message. I did and we began talking instantly. We met shortly after and that was it, I was hooked. We had many adventures and moved in together. He was great with my daughter and challenged me to be better. I graduated college with him and began teaching. He encouraged me and supported me through everything. I supported him through everything. I forgave him for a lot as well. He hid things and talked to other girls. Took me for granted in a lot of ways. But I alway forgave him because we were so good together. I was completely in love with him. He has a lot of issues and we never lost our friendship. He wanted more for me so he said goodbye. From him I learned that I am capable of anything and sometimes love can fade into friendship.
In all of these cases I always chose love. I chose to love the one I was with. I didn’t look elsewhere when things were hard. I was there for each of them, when most of the time they were not there for me. I let myself be cheated on and talked down to, and I responded with love. What good is it to love the one you’re with, if you don’t love yourself? Now that I have these four behind me, what have I learned that will make this relationship better?
31 years old: Enter Keenan. He is overly optimistic and loves me more than I love him. I slow him down and make him earn it. I am scared of repeating my mistakes. I am not willing to love the one I’m with. I make excuses to not see, talk, or text him. I make plans with other people and not him. He understands. He knows that I have friends and family and that we are just getting started. He understands that I have been hurt before and is willing to go slow. He understands that my daughter, mother, brother, sister, best friends, work, students, colleagues all come before him. I don’t know if he understands that I am putting them all there on purpose. I let him hold me when I want to be held. We see each other when I want to see him. We talk when I want to talk to him. Am I being fair? Should I choose to love him, allow myself to feel what I am fighting back? Should I accept him with all his flaws and faults that I remind myself of daily to keep him at a distance? He knows mine and is willing to accept me as I am.
Here is what I do know: I am afraid of him and yet afraid of letting him go. He loves me. He is understanding, optimistic, passionate, and silly. I do not want to give him up. I have never been given love so freely. He would shout it from the rooftop if I allowed him. (Am I holding him back?)
In the end should we love the one we’re with or is it better to not love at all?