Third Time Lucky

I first married at nineteen, two years after I left home, and many years before I’d developed into the woman I would later be. We separated before our second wedding anniversary.

Certain I was fatally flawed, I jumped at the next opportunity that came along – a relationship that would produce my three children and span seventeen years.

In the end, he confirmed what I secretly believed: I was not loveable.

I would prove that to myself again and again with poor choices, until finally, in my forties, I admitted I had a problem. My picker was broken. I was choosing mates based on the wrong assumption.

What, I asked myself, would a relationship look like if I was loveable? I decided that it needed to start with myself. So I started courting me. I bought myself flowers, just because I deserved them. I took myself out to eat and focused on what I liked. I visualized what it would feel like to be loved and I set five goals to achieve before I would re-enter relationship:

  • To understand my needs
  • To be able to identify my wants
  • To establish healthy boundaries
  • To believe myself worthy of love
  • To be financially independent.

When I met Ric, I wasn’t ready. The fifth goal had not been reached. So, I told him: “I’m not ready for relationship right now. I am willing to hang out for a year, and then we can reassess.”

Golf buddies

He agreed, and exactly one year later, picked me up from work and took me out to dinner, ordering a bottle of wine to celebrate.

“Celebrate what?”

“It’s been a year; we can talk about us!”

Six months later, he asked me to marry him. I made him wait another eighteen months.

The thing about Ric is that I know that he loves me. He would do anything for me. He values my wants and needs, and my boundaries. He listens to my fears. He is my best friend.

Wedding Day

Third time has been a charm (he’d say for both of us). I am truly blessed.

Relationship Wrap Up

Relationship, I realized after posting my weekly challenge, is too broad of a subject.  We need a lifetime to examine and appreciate our interconnections, and then, likely, we’d need to begin again – such is the nature of relationship.  It slips and slides, rewards and betrays, teaches and takes away.

That said, I appreciate those who dared to jump in.  Proscenium cheekily responded by noting the relationship between spires as depicted in a photograph, calling it almost “religious”.  Had to smile at this one.   Puja Mendiratta offered many insights about the complexity of relationships, both familial and chosen, categorizing them as symbiotic or parasitic.  Sgeoil rose to the challenge by sharing the importance of listening – a skill I myself would like to better.

As for me, I have spent the week examining relationships on many levels – from time spent with a dear friend, to memories of father, sparked by his birthday’s passage, to the ever-expanding joy I derive from my grandchildren, and of course, the relationship with myself (always tenuous at best).

I promise that tomorrow’s challenge will be lighter, or at the very least, not as taxing.

Cheers all!

V.J.

 

Life With Father

“Whatever it is we need to learn from each other, I say let’s do it now, so we don’t have to come back and repeat it,” I told my father once during a period in which I was exploring the concept of reincarnation.

I imagine he lowered his chin and looked over his spectacles at me with that glare that suggested I might be treading on thin ice.

For his 75th birthday, I wrote him a letter acknowledging that growing up with him had prepared me to handle much in life, and I thanked him for that.  He said he didn’t really understand my logic, but appreciated the sentiment.

Psychiatric assessments of my father concluded (on more than one occasion) that he was genius bordering on eccentric.  If anyone had asked us children – which no one did – we would have said he was impossibly tyrannical.  He certainly knew how to manipulate circumstances, and people, to meet his needs.

He could also be inspirational, and when he wasn’t in a rage, quite sentimental.  It was confusing to be his child.  I both basked and burned under the fire of his being.  So many times, I wanted to move away and forget him, and yet, I was always drawn back, seeking more approval, longing to understand.

At the end of his life, sickness and pain mellowed him and we were able to discuss our differences.  I told him how I felt alienated by him as a child, as if I was a burden he regretted, and he cried and told me that family was everything to him.

“You had a funny way of showing it,” I said.

Then we talked about what a tortured life he’d led, and how even as a child he thought God was punishing him, and that he’d never known a moment of peace.  I felt compassion then.

It wasn’t until after his death that I began to see another side to his story, and to understand my own complicity in his suffering.  The righteousness I felt about how he wronged me, wronged all of us, blinded me to the depth of my father’s pain, and in retrospect, I see that he really was a person of courage, admirable actually, in how he carried on, despite his personal challenges.

My father may have been a bastard to live with, but he was a bastard with a soul, and that soul was tortured throughout his eighty years.

Life with father taught me to doubt myself and be wary of others, and it taught me to be tough, determined, and eventually, compassionate.

He never held it against me that I could not accept his truth.  I only hope I can one day forgive myself.

(This week’s challenge is to reflect on relationships.  As one contributor pointed out, there are friendships and blood relationships, the former a choice, the latter imposed. I didn’t choose my father, but I can’t imagine who’d I’d be if he hadn’t been in my life.)

VJWCbanner

 

The Gift of Friendship

I am the one who put forth the relationship challenge this week, and I have to confess, I am struggling with how to articulate my feelings.   Fast approaching my sixtieth birthday, I find I am sentimental, or maybe, it’s that after years of isolation due to illness, I now treasure relationship more than ever.  Either way, how can I do justice to something that means so much?

Our trip this week was to the home of a very dear friends, whose acquaintance dates back to high school days.  L is the anti-thesis of me:  calm, and steady.  Just being in her presence puts me at ease: I feel safe, respected, and accepted.

There are times in my life when L has been my champion.  During an unwanted pregnancy scare, she confronted my then boyfriend as to his intentions.  When devastated by an unforeseen divorce, she hugged me and told me I didn’t deserve it, and then furnished a home for the kids and I.

Recently, she told me that people are naturally drawn to me, that I make them feel better about themselves.  Her words surprised me – are we mirrors for one another?

The gift of her friendship, knowing that I am always welcome in her home, has value beyond words.  Of course, the same welcome is extended to her and her husband, but as I always do, I wonder what I bring to the relationship?

Loyalty, for certain, but I hope something more.  I hope that I bring to her a comparable comfort, a knowing that she is loved for who she is, and a reassurance that she is never alone – that I care always, even when we are apart.

I have struggled with relationships, likely the product of a troubled childhood, and I chastise myself often for not doing enough, for not being enough.  I feel as if I’m overbearing, and a burden, and worry that I have taken more than I give.  Even as we pulled away on Saturday morning, and a warm glow lingered, I felt the doubts seep in.   It is a demon I have to overcome.

Forty-six years of friendship should teach me otherwise, and the text I received when we got home:  Love having you…anytime…any (or no) reason!

How blessed I am.

How about you?  Is there that one relationship that makes you feel better about yourself?

Love to hear from you.

(Featured image is from personal collection.)

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #4: Relationships

“The people we are in relationships with are always a mirror,
reflecting our own beliefs, and simultaneously
we are mirrors, reflecting their beliefs.”
                            – Shakti Gawain

A friend of mine used to say (and I paraphrase).

“May you experience as many relationships as you need to be whole.”  

I like the way she thinks.  It is unreasonable to expect that one person will fulfill all our needs.  Romantic relationships aside, our friends, children, siblings, parents, and co-workers all contribute to our sense of self and how we interact with the world.

This week, I am challenging myself, and any who follow along, to examine a connection and ask the questions:

  • How does this relationship inform who I am?
  • What have I learned about myself through this connection, and…
  • How, if at all, has it made me a better person?

I might also ask what it is that I bring to the relationship.

All are welcome to participate.

Just add a post to your blog on the topic of relationship, and create a link back to this page, or enter a link in the comments below.

The challenge is open all week (and ongoing), so feel free to post at any time.

You might add VJWC as a tag, and or use the challenge banner:

VJWCbanner

Looking forward to your responses – always enlightenment to be gained.

The Petty Details

“If it would help, I could get you a bacon press.”

I am poised over the hot frying pan, waiting to flip a quesadilla.   Waving the spatula at him, I give him my best stink eye.

“What?”

“I thought you said you wanted to keep up the minimalist lifestyle?”

“I do, and having a tool that makes your life simpler fits.”

We are restocking items sold last year when we gave up our house and most of our material goods, having decided to re-establish a bricks and sticks home for when we are not RVing.

“A single-purpose item does not qualify as minimalist; it qualifies as clutter!”

Our eyes lock in a contest of defiance.

“This is going in a blog post!” I retort, breaking the tension.

“Well, you better write about the electric knife, too.”

Fair enough.  Earlier in the day, while he was perusing point sites (seeing how many household items he can replace with earned rewards) he filled a cart which he asked me to peruse.

“Toaster, corning ware, one pot, electric knife”, I read out loud.

“Electric knife?”

“Right there! It says electric knife. I thought we agreed we have enough knives.”

“We did, and look again – this is an electric kettle. A good hint would have been to look at the adjacent picture.”

Damn my brain, playing tricks on me again.

See what we both have to put up with.

 

 

The Gift of Friendship

Friends.jpgPippy has driven down from Campbell River with her girlfriend, Sandy and her dog, Sam.  We decide to leave the men to bond while we women go out for lunch and some catch up time.

I take them to Gabriel’s Gourmet Cafe, where Ric and I ate on our first day here.  It is busy and there is a bit of a wait, but we are in no hurry.  The weather forecast called for 100% chance of rain, but it has actually cleared up a bit and the window seat we finally procure is a perfect little nook for a visit.

Pippy is that perfect blend of pragmatic and eccentric, her presence both reassuring and fun.  I love what she brings to our relationship, and realize how deeply I have missed the repartee that comes only in the company of women.  Sandy, I discover in the moments I stop talking (which are embarrassingly few) has much in common with me, and it is only after they leave that I realize what I missed.

Tired after the outing, we all return and lay on the bed, sharing photos and more stories.  Sandy and Pippy paint together and have joined a singing group. The picture they portray of life on the island is so alluring, but I also realize how important relationships are to my well-being.  I need to get home to family and the friends I’ve left behind.  The years of isolation have taken their toll.

somaliwomenThey leave just before dinnertime, and exhausted from all that talking, I return to the quiet of my bed, glowing from the warmth of our time together.

Friends, I realize, each hold a key to our identity.  Pippy knows a particular side of me, and has always been encouraging and supportive.   Other friends  reflect different angles; all part of who I am, and all necessary for me to understand my wholeness.

It is easy to get stuck in isolation; to decide that solitude is a comfortable and suitable place, but it can also be stagnating.  Relationships provide the mirrors that we need to see ourselves, and if they are healthy, can be catalysts to real growth and change.

Thanks for holding the mirror up for me today, Pippy!  Hope I did the same for you.