by Lauryn Smith
After reading my last blog, my dad emailed me and noted two short words: Red flag. Sometimes red flags inspire the need to raise a white one.
It’s no secret I was hurt in September. I allowed some time for healing, later attempting to trust again. Looking back, I still feel I was ready. My error rests in investing emotion in yet another, unattainable man. I became the “sorta” girlfriend. Insecurity and uncertainty are ingredients for a poisonous brew, magnifying the worst in a person. I became needy, suspicious, and worst of all, angry. I began dating a man who excluded me from his life, distancing me from his friends and family. As a “girlfriend,” I requested we change our Facebook status to reflect “in a relationship.” I felt it was an admittance, a public display of affection. Problem was, he did too. He said, “Anyone can see we’re together when they view our pictures.” Still, six letters, S-I-N-G-L-E insulted me. Sure, it sounds trivial. Anyone who gauges their friendships, relationships, etc. by a social site is living in a 7th grade world. There was a bigger picture. He was unwilling to claim me. There was a reason he didn’t want the “world” to know. His hesitance initiated mine.
I dated this man previously. He gave 100% and I gave 50%. He was affectionate, available, present, involved, interested…and I hurt him. I dissected (and dissected) the reason he was different the second time around. Sure, there was bound to be some natural resistance in allowing me in, but how long would I have to continually prove myself? Was it even possible? Maybe he was not sure of his feelings for me but wanted the opportunity to figure it out. Maybe he was punishing me for the hurt I caused. Maybe he was flirting with women on Facebook and the status update would’ve challenged his game. Or, maybe he really was different. See, I was regarded and introduced as a girlfriend in person, so why the refusal to admit it virtually? I know jealousy and accusatory behavior often times spawn from one’s own guilt and actions. While I was now at 100%, perhaps there was residual guilt from past actions. I didn’t “cheat” on him but the situation wasn’t good. Now, I was all in but the unsureness remained. My good friend Jeff said, “ It’s always present. You look at yourself and think gee, if I am capable of infidelity, even if I haven’t committed the act, surely this person is capable.” When the insecurity goes without nurture, the monster gets bigger. Nagging ensues which touches the next domino, avoidance of the nagger, which creates more nagging, which yeah, you get the point. I recognized this vicious cycle while submerged in it. As a result, I tried harder. I bit my tongue. I became softer. Rather than meeting me in the middle, he took advantage of it.
I spoke with a few male friends, all validating my concern. Wes said, “When you want to be with someone, you avoid hurting them. You want to be with them. You want to include them. That person is the detox to your stressful day. When I began dating Kristie, I wanted to be near her constantly. I still do. Sure, I value my alone time too, but it’s never a chore to be with her. It’s about compromise and bending on issues, like Facebook, issues that really aren’t significant. You certainly don’t mind changing your Facebook, unless…” My friend Chris M. delivered the best advice, “I like I liked But I have to say, you need a grown up love. I can tell you, as a man, what’s going on here but I think you already know. I love my wife. Being with her is easy.” As the words escaped his mouth, I noticed he had been holding her hand the entire time. Profound clarity in a few short moments. I realized the reason for his hesitation was irrelevant. In fact, it couldn’t matter less.
I want someone who doesn’t have a problem claiming me.
I want someone who includes me in their outside world.
I want someone who respects my time, my heart.
I want someone who holds my hand.
I want someone who wants to.
In the midst of it all, I met up with Jeff for drinks. In disclosing my concerns I said, “Sometimes I feel like there is not enough thread to piece my heart back together. Love should create joy versus mascara stained pillow cases.” Might sound a bit trite, dramatic but it is my truth. Jeff recited one of my all time favorite quotes: “Sometimes there’s just not enough rocks.” Forrest Gump says this to Jenny as she is hurling rocks at her childhood home. I’m tired of throwing rocks. It was a beautiful conversation only interrupted when the waitress said, “I saw your boyfriend Tuesday night.” A bit taken aback, I said, “Oh yeah? Where?” Keep in mind, he was working and had sent me a text (shocker) Tuesday evening which read, “Having a drink. Then headed to bed.” This was in response for him to join me and my friend Kelly for a drink. The waitress (hate referring to her in this manner but I don’t want to use her name) mentioned seeing him at the place he works and as my heart sighed in relief and just as that feeling in the pit of my stomach dissipated she added, “And then I saw him at another bar. Ha! I even made a joke asking if he was following me.” Déjà vu, the return of that, ugh, that feeling. PS- this was a common occurrence.
Reading this, one may ask, “Why were you even with this man?” as I’ve defined the negatives, the deal breaker, if you will. Remember, I asked him to change his status in the first place (would’ve been my first time.) Where we click, we click. He’s hilarious and clever, never in a cutting way, which is the most magnificent quality rarely found . We never ran out of stuff to say, another plus. He’s humble and that’s sexy. He’s charismatic and has the ability to make most people feel special, including (at one time) me. When asking about my day, I always knew he was asking because he really wanted to know. I always wanted to share good news with him. He was compassionate. He would chose the right thing, even if it wasn’t the popular choice. He defended me, built me up versus tearing me down. He never solicited a laugh at my expense. The poetry of it? He felt the same way about me.
This has been the kind of separating that bugs friends. “NO!! You two are meant to be together!” Or, “He’s crazy about you and you’re crazy about him. This isn’t right!” Or, as a family member relayed to another family member who shared with me (my cousin’s friends second grade teachers mother- ha,) “This is the man she’s going to marry. I know it. I’ve never felt this way about any other boyfriend. He’s strong, like her. He’s fun and funny. They make an excellent team.” It’s been an eye roller. Maybe I should’ve trusted more, had a little patience. I’ve just come to realize, if HE isn’t willing to claim me, I have to claim myself. That recognition is divine.
I'd be a liar if I said I didn't wish he would've fought for me. He didn't, by the way. We never could get our stars to align at the same time. Maybe he surrendered long ago. I'm tired of the "maybes." To quote Fiona Apple, "I'm tired of whys, choking on whys. I just need a little because, because."