love


During my one month relationship sabbatical, I batted around several questions: did Dexter love me? did I want to be married? was I afraid of commitment?

For the longest time, I believed I had a fear of commitment. But the thing is, when I know what I want, I commit to it. Wholeheartedly. With marriage, I’ve seen too much of what I don’t want. Too many people who settle into a routine, who focus on “stuff” and the accumulation of “stuff,” who stop making the effort, stop appreciating, stop taking risks, stop listening, stop making the other person a priority and by that I mean, become selfish and stop evolving as human beings. And this was what I realized – I don’t necessarily want the big house, with the big lifestyle, and the 2.2 kids in a nice suburban neighborhood with the same conversations with the same groups of people every third weekend of the month. I have no desire to commit to THAT. But me not embracing what I knew at the time to be of conventional relationships and marriages is not a fear of commitment. And it doesn’t mean I don’t want a relationship or marriage or a family.

The way I answered my question to marriage was by writing down what marriage meant to me and what I wanted in one – and when I looked at the list, I realized many items were absent from my relationship with Dexter and we were both to blame. The problem was, in order to have the marriage I wanted, I needed to change and Dexter needed to change and I couldn’t enter into a marriage expecting both of us to change.

Did Dexter love me? This question took me a little longer to answer than the others but I eventually realized that it didn’t matter. The question was: did I love Dexter? And my answer was yes and no. Based on what I understood love to be at the time, yes I did. But in reality no, because my understanding of love has changed.

I was selfish in my relationship. I didn’t love Dexter. I loved what Dexter provided me – emotionally and physically. I had my moments when I put aside my ego, but that wasn’t my natural state. And I’m not saying Dexter wasn’t selfish, because he was. But I can only change me.

Relationships are opportunities – to practice tolerance, sharing, and the absence of ego – which for me are the essence of god. And in my relationship with Dexter, I failed. Probably because I didn’t have god in my life. To me, god is love. For most people, myself included, just mentioning the word god causes discomfort. But replace the word god with love and all of a sudden, it’s a concept people can embrace.

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fool: a person who keeps doing the same thing and expects different results. ~Albert Einstein

After 6 months of being engaged, of trying to convince myself that the wedding was the thing I was getting stuck up on and not the act of marrying Dexter, I finally started getting honest with myself. I wrote in my journal:

“The truth speaks to us in whispers.”

My follow-up to that statement is ignore it long enough and it will hit you like a motherfucking train. So I came home one day after work, told Dexter about Billy, explained that I needed some time and space to get perspective on things and in order to do that, I needed to move out. Just for a month.

Then I gave back the ring. I told Dexter to hold onto it and we would re-evaluate the engagement after my sabbatical. Dexter was understanding. He was astute enough to know that I needed to do this, for the sake of our relationship, so he supported it.

The next step was telling my family and friends. The only problem was it was the day before one of my best friend’s wedding, which was a 3-day affair, out of town. I went to the wedding alone, but in order to avoid detracting from the event, I wore my ring and told people Dexter couldn’t make it due to work obligations.

The morning of the wedding, I called my mom and like all moms, she immediately knew something was up. So I told her Dexter and I were taking a little break.

“So you’re breaking up.”

“No, I just said we’re taking ‘a break.’ It’s not permanent.

“Okay, but let me just remind you, it can get lonely being single and you’re not getting any younger.”

In retrospect, the episode makes me laugh, mainly because I had expected unconditional support from my mother when I called her up. I should have known better. I curtly thanked her for the chat and told her I had to go. Then I hung up the phone and started bawling. After a good 5 minutes, I pulled it together and went back to my hotel room. I put on my running clothes and got “lost” on a farm road in the middle of nowhere. I kept asking myself the same thing: am I crazy? Am I doing the right thing? Or am I just being a fool?

I didn’t come to any conclusions. But I did feel better.

I was fortunate enough that my best friend from college was also at the wedding. And she was gracious enough to allow me to stay with her and her husband for that evening, without asking any questions. The last thing I wanted to do was be alone in a hotel room at friend’s wedding. If I can say anything about my friends, it’s that in such moments, they know how to circle the wagons. I went to the room, got dressed, and made my merry way to the wedding’s kickoff cocktail hour.

I’ve always had a blasé toleration of weddings. Since I’ve never dreamed of one for myself, am not a conservatively religious being, and I am too pragmatic for all the pomp and circumstance they assume, what they really offer me is the opportunity to socialize and drink. So that’s what I did.

The pendulum swung from me bawling in the business center of the hotel to me floating around this Gatsby-like affair with an incredible lightness of being. The bars had been lifted. I was in love with life.

Now technically, even though I was wearing an engagement ring, I was free to conduct myself however I saw fit. I didn’t give much thought to the fact that no one at the wedding knew of my current status with Dexter.

With my mother’s “expiring milk carton” comment fresh in my mind, I became immediately fixated on the topic of discussion amongst all the ladies (married and single alike) at the wedding. The hot orthopedic surgeon. Within five minutes of starting a conversation with him, I had him crouched down before me, examining my ankle and calf.

While I am marginally attractive, there were certainly more beautiful women at the wedding than me. I did, however, have the advantage of a significantly-sized engagement ring, which the hot doctor said he didn’t notice until much later in the evening. By the end of the evening, we were making out against his car in the parking lot of the hotel. And in my mind, I was explicitly holding up my middle finger and directing it at my mother.

Nonsense: bullshit

Love doesn’t end.

I saw Dexter. And it was still there. Whatever we had, “it” was there.

Love doesn’t end. There is no beginning and there is no end. To say “I’ve loved you before I even met you” is the truth. And if you’ve ever loved a person, you don’t stop loving them.

The phrase “to fall out of love” is bullshit. It is antithetical. It is a contradiction. It refutes the postulation of love. If you fall “out of love” you never loved the person in the first place.

I might have changed, become a little more enlightened, realized I wanted different things from my life and my relationship. But all the reasons I fell in love with Dexter still exist. And I will always love him. If he hurts, I will still hurt and if he’s happy, I’m happy. Always.

repose:

1. freedom from activity (work or strain or responsibility)

2. the absence of mental stress or anxiety

3. a disposition free from stress or emotion; calmness; tranquillity

It’s been a year now since I’ve seen Dexter. He’s moved on. I’ve moved on, and evolved. If I see him, as I should in the near future, will I have repose? I have been anticipating this moment. I already have from good sources that I am more attractive, thinner, younger and more delicate than his current someone and this alone assuages my curious mind and petulant ego. But I pray that I have repose and espouse the same grace and goodwill when I see him (as I am certain I will very soon) as I had when I was falling in love and in a relationship with him.

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fear:

  1. feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger. A state or condition marked by this feeling
  2. a feeling of disquiet or apprehension: a fear of looking foolish
  3. extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power
  4. a reason for dread or apprehension

Ask me what I am afraid of and I will say…love. Or commitment. What is my greatest fear? Falling in love? Committing to a lifetime of anything? Is love the ultimate commitment? It is the ultimate sacrifice – to place the needs and interests of another human being above your own, the true essence of love.

Where does this fear of love and commitment come from? I can break down the components, analyze them, and reconstruct the Gestault picture of my fear. My mother threatening to leave my father too many times, her warranted need for self-sufficiency and independence, and my failure to ever live up to her expectations. My father’s utter adoration and unconditional love which has served as the benchmark against which I measure most men. The number of times I have been pursued and deceived by men in relationships.

I accept full responsibility for my choices in life. We all enter this world with damage. Our parents’ damages are passed down to us, and their parents’ damages are passed on to them. It is an infinite fractured existence.

My greatest fear is my greatest desire. I seek out love and instantly run away from the possibility only to take comfort in relationships that do not pose a true threat.

I have made a commitment to take on any act that challenges me enough to evoke fear. I am starting to be challenged, if only by a glimmer of the possibility of love. Am I ready to face my fear? Will I have to divorce everything I know of myself to do this? Or is the joke on me? Is everything I fear simply an illusion?