i treasure your words
promising to love me
but it is just a piece of paper promising
quickly disposed of
Don’t base your life on the fickle feeling of being in love. It is an illusion. I’m entertaining myself this Valentine’s Day with the chocolate I bought for myself and catching up on some reading. Which included this beautiful little gem on romantic love and patriarchy written by a feminist religion professor. The dopamine rush of feeling in love has very little to do with actually loving a real human being. Love is not an emotional state. It is an action, a choice, a lifestyle. I’m still chewing on “how we love others is how we love God.” Shouldn’t this be most applicable in the context of our most intimate relationships? Can there be real romance, real sexual intimacy out side of the context of that kind of radical love? I don’t think so.
I’ve had an excess of time to examine my history of relationship failures. Perhaps my biggest mistake is my willingness to trust words. I assume a man is honest until proven otherwise. And thus far I have always been proven wrong. Every.Single.Time. More than once I have swallowed poisoned bait and lived to regret it. So I suppose I ought to file that love letter of empty promises in the circular file along with all the others.
Over the years I have collected quite the assortment of admirers and romantic mementos. All based on that fickle feeling of being in love. It took me years to get that this is because I am my own version of Something About Mary. I move to my own beat and am genuinely kind. I use both my brain and my heart. But it inevitably falls apart when the relationship progresses and I still want to be me and not the surface ideal of me I’ve been set up to be. I don’t want to try to live up to the impossible standards of a fantasy, I want to be a fallible, messy human woman.
So, yes, that’s right, I bought chocolate for myself. I wanted it so I got it. I got exactly what I wanted with no confusion or disappointment or expectation to pay for it with sex. I suppose this might be a terribly confusing move to make. My insistence on just taking care of what I can take care of sure seemed to bother my ex-husbands. As did my simple assertive honesty in asking for exactly what I really wanted. It would be assumed there must be some game or hidden agenda. No, really, I prefer practical gifts or presents that show thoughtfulness and understanding. If I ask for a wheel barrow or garden cart I really have a use for a garden cart or a wheel barrow. I don’t want lame cards or limp flowers out of some feeling of duty. I’d much prefer a book that shows knowledge of my taste. Effort and thought mean far more to me than obligation or sentimentalism.
I respect effort. It’s part of who I am to always do the best I can. Usually my best is far from perfect but it is also good enough. I cherish the sincerity of effort and try to show my appreciation for it. This seems to really confuse people. If there’s anything I expect it is mistakes. I aim to write well and avoid any embarrassing errors, yes, perfection is the goal for this one endeavor, but it is also a goal I know to be unattainable. There’s somewhere between 3 and 4 hundred thousand words just on this blog, and hundreds of mistakes that I know of, probably thousands that I haven’t caught. Mistakes are my expectation, for both myself and other people. I still like myself when I’ve messed up, I still love my kids when they’ve made a terrible mess, I still enjoy my friends when they’ve got food on their shirt or mud in their shoes. I try to be empathetic and understanding but the don’t even try attitude is one I really don’t get. I’ve seen this in a lot of people and even tried to learn about it through books but I still can’t wrap my mind around it. It seems me to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, an assumption that if it isn’t perfect it is a failure. Perhaps someone can explain this to me.
So this year I am giving myself exactly what I want. Which really isn’t much different than any other day. Me, moving to my beat and following what my heart knows is right. And today it is right that if I am to love either my neighbors or my enemies as myself that will mean a lot more if I love myself well. Sure, my invitations go rejected and there are many human needs we all have that we can’t take care of for ourselves, but there is still a lot I can do. I can buy myself chocolate and spend a morning reading and an afternoon writing.
And, dear reader, I love you and appreciate your time to read my words. I don’t care if you’ve screwed up terribly or been beaten and broken by life (well, I do care but what I mean is I won’t judge you for it). You are beautiful and lovable and deserve a hug and a favorite treat.