Let me tell you a secret: The people who have experienced the most pain and lived through hell are the people who have the most compassion, understanding and wisdom. That’s why the people who make an impact on you, the people who inspire you the most, are real people who have lived through real problems. That’s why you appreciate a couple who makes it 50+ years. You appreciate that advice and believe it, because there’s something tangible to prove its existence.
You can tell by one glance, if two gray-haired love birds mean the bullshit that so many have written about, or face-booked or said in a moment of self-proclamation. You can tell without words if they really have “LOVED” and remain in that love. Let me tell you secret #2: Love takes time, it takes failures and triumphs, good moments and not-so-good moments. No story is complete without the bad shit. No story is complete without angst, anger, fear, sadness, loss and trauma. No love story that is.
Want secret #3? There are good stories and bad stories. There are stories that will rip you to shreds and make you fall to your knees in sadness. There are also the ones that you make you want to grab a hose and squirt the two idiots engaging in the grotesque public display of affection like two feral cats. But just because something went awry somewhere down the line or it seems so glittering picture perfect doesn’t mean that it’s destined for dooms-ville or that those two people will last forever. And maybe that’s the secret to the secret. There’s no guarantee when it comes to love. You either risk going balls deep into that unknown world or you don’t. Just know that what you put into it: Thoughts, emotions, projection of past fears, reliance on that person to fulfill all your needs because you’re too stupid to even know what yours are…well, that’s exactly what you’re going to get.
Secret #4: You sure as hell shouldn’t believe that if you follow the 3 step process you read in that Cosmo article that you will keep your lover around. If they want to stay, they will stay. If they don’t, they don’t. Sub-secret to the secret of secret #3? Who knows, but I just mildly confused myself.
I may not be 80 years old with a family and I may not know what it feels like to spend 50+ years with the same person, but I do know about love. I do know that I’ve made many “mistakes”. I do know that with the hurt I’ve experienced I’ve also ripped someone’s heart out and selfishly stomped all over it. I do know that more than once I was immature and caught up in a fairy-tale notion that lead to co-dependent behavior. I do know when my heart really wasn’t into it, but my ego had a nice way of mind-fucking me into believing that maybe, sorta I could see myself continuing the charade. I do know that I have some good stories and some bad stories.
And I do know that the story I’m co-creating with a tall, sarcastic, and borderline hilarious ginger dude is tangible, real and has the potential to spark many more blog posts.
For reals, though. One thing that I’ve learned from him thus far is the same shit I tell all of you. (Funny how the people who give advice sometimes have problems taking their own, huh? ) Honesty and vulnerability are what’s going to help you navigate through your relationships. Example: My super-emotional temper tantrums, leaving wet towels on the floor, and lights in the on position while no one is home are things that he can deal with. He will bitch about it and I will rebel but we’ve come to a mutual understanding that those are not deal-breakers. However, my lack of awareness when I’m grouping him in with anyone who has ever hurt me and just leaving the room or building structure when we are in the middle of a disagreement are things he’s NOT OK with.
Oh yes, I had a very difficult time with A) A man actually using his words and telling me he’s angry and B) My validation for taking my emotions back to the past being ripped away from me. Button pusher much? In the best and worse ways possible. You see, he was honest. I wasn’t happy about it and tried to fly my justification flag like a member of the relationship color guard but at the end of the day, he was right. I may not have liked what I heard, maybe even got a little defensive about it, but I had to put myself in his shoes and understand that he was risking an uncomfortable situation by being vulnerable. So with honesty and vulnerability there must be an element of understanding.
Honesty and vulnerability are gifts a person gives to you in a relationship. Your gift back is the understanding to see them, hear them and not treat them like an asshole. And now, “dick in a box” is blaring through my head. That leads us to secret #5: Relationships are where you go to give something, not take something. See? It’s not all about you. And if you share this post for the sole hope that your significant other or person you want to passive aggressively attack for being selfish will see this…you need to get something off your chest sweetheart?
Would you like to see what that honesty and vulnerability looks like in a marriage? I received this text from a husband asking me for advice:
“When you get a chance, would you tell me about the (insert name here) you know? What she likes, what she doesn’t, hopes, dreams….The (insert name here) I know isn’t the (insert name here) you know…It’s hard to admit, since we’ve been married 3.5 years :(…and I can’t really love her the way she needs if I don’t know her.”
Honesty. Vulnerability. The desire to understand. He’s in it to give, not take. Do you know the amount of courage and vulnerability that takes for someone to admit…much less the male species. Baby Jesus, thank you for all the growed up boys.
And when I got that text, I balled like a baby. His wife is more loved than she will probably ever know and it’s a lesson to me and all the rest of you, to be loved and really seen for who you are, you must first love and really show who you are.