As my 30th birthday approaches, and the invite list for the party approaches 250, I can't help but wonder if holding on to everyone leaves any room for anybody new. Possibly a man that might treat me with more reciprocity then the ones who have walked with me before? I mean this in the sense of all relationships, but of course it's magnified in the romantic ones.
When Phoebe visited last week she said something that's been sitting with me ever since. She said, "You're totally ready to be with a man that's ready to be with you. We're all ready. You've have this past of dating men who are just devastatingly afraid of commitment." Devastatingly. That was the word that stuck. It's true. They have been so horribly mauled by their past that by the time they get to me they are just tortured souls looking for a soft place to land and a little free therapy. All it took was one man to set the course for the men I would choose. Until now. She's right, I'm totally ready.
I'm ready for a partnership not a pity party. I'm ready for someone to take me on. I'm ready to be loved out loud. I've loved them all though, even at their most pitiful. I hold gentle spots for each and every man I've ever been with. The one exception is the one who started it all. He created a toxic river far wider, far deeper and far stronger than I ever could imagine. Letting go of him five years ago was the flu. Laying on the bathroom floor knowing l'd feel better if I purged it, but not wanting to. Holding on to the idea, even though I could see joy ahead and I could see the steps I had to take to get out from under him. Rapid breathing and a chest so heavy I could have sworn he himself was still smothering me with the weight of his heat and flesh. And like the flu, I could feel the sweat beading and clinging to the curve of my lower back. I let my head drop back, swearing to the skies that if I got through this, if I made it, I would be better.
I did get better. I let him go. I reached that calm that comes after anger and regret: peace. But here's the deal: It took a monumental event for me to get it. These flags weren't red, they were flaming. It took a river so wide I couldn't cross it, for me to see the light. That scared me. I was so scared until now that I didn't have the skills to know whether someone was going to shatter me again. That's why I chose the "devastatingly unavailable" men. Knowing that they were never going to love me the way I deserved to be loved, in a weird way, put me in control. I didn't have to sit there wondering if, I got to instead wonder when, they were going to let me down.
Have I learned? I hope so. Has it made me hang on to my lifelong tribe because God forbid I let another man in that will do the same thing? Maybe. But as I sit here in the middle of this spring cleaning mess, I have a thought: could the clutter being cleared away make just enough room for not something, but someone, new? Only time will tell...