A little more than 3 years ago, Greg and I began getting to know each other. A hectic time for me, newly relocated from the West Coast, adjusting to constant proximity to my FOO(family of origin) and my ex-husband, working full time, mid-home-buying and moving from our rental of only 3 months, caring for my mother and navigating the very dynamics I fled 25 years earlier. Getting my young sons, needy dogs, and myself acclimated to our new lives, along with the constant drain of single handedly carrying the family elephant in the room, left me mentally wiped and edgy AF.
Between our first meeting and our second, I notified Sweet Greg two times, declaring myself unfit for getting to know and care for another person. Distraught by the turmoil of frequent proximity to my FOO and my ex husband, both of whom I had elected divorce/space, I felt there was nothing left to offer but my despair. I wanted to know Greg AND was agitated by phone-talking. The phone gets hot and greasy and it is necessary to hold the device just so and to stand in the exact right spot to hear and be heard. Also, with a phone, sustained talking and listening are called for. Cuz, that is how phone-talking is. I wanted to be together and just BE, not necessarily be talking. My routine existence required too much participation(taking turns speaking) more than engagement. It was oppressive..impossible to just effing BE. Speaking my truth was not welcome and being untalkative was labelled as sullen or angry. The script makes me ill. Within the confines of the script, there is no peace, only an unconvincing performance of togetherness–no possibility of just being. No sustainable positive connection….far too much proximity and pretending-both of which were disheartening.
On New Year’s Day 2016, after weeks of no communication, I audaciously texted Greg asking if he was kid-free. He promptly responded that he was. Then I asked if he was available for a hike. He promptly responded that he was. Then, I asked if he was willing to drive to me. He promptly responded that he was. Then…I asked if he would bring earbuds or headphones for a silent hike with me, no talking, no eye contact, and def no touching. Just hiking– together: “Sure”, he said. So we trekked the greenway with earbuds and sunglasses. I was so over talking and listening and trying to be heard and trying to understand and I wanted to just be, not be alone, but also not tangled up in politeness or complexity. My requests to Greg, to this day make US laugh, because, to most, they seem unreasonable, outrageous–not only to openly feel this way, but to actually articulate it, out loud, with words!! But guess what, if you start out settling and pretending in a relationship, you get to keep on doin that in order to sustain it. I was transparent and direct AF and Greg knew from the start, what he was “dealing with”. He was able to make informed decisions, for himself, about getting to know and be with me. Anyway, we hiked, shared the occasional quick smile, sat on a bench, I think our knees may have touched. Because he was so perfectly present, open and not forcing or denying anything, I felt unready to part ways when it grew dark– but I also still needed his consent for continued NO TALKING, neither shallow nor deep. Months of the family dynamic had provided, in large supply, an unfortunate combination of overwhelming shallowness and depth(f0r me).
So, I offered: “Hey, want to come over and assemble my grill with me, and promise to speak only of the grill and as necessary?” He was happy to do so. Whu? We worked closely and well as partners in the task. Fun, focused and so very respectful, present, engaged and I could not help but feel some kind of love for and from him. His clean scent and vibe were intoxicating. And I deliberately touched him a few times, which he allowed but did not pursue. At the end of our visit, we made a plan to grill steaks on Tuesday at my home. He offered to bring steaks and I said “ok, please be sure that mine is at least the size of MY hand.” I do enjoy my steak– and my large hands are bigger than his normal hands. Together, we prepared and enjoyed dinner. And, Greg not only showed up with the correct size steaks but also a pair of tongs (meat grabbers-which made me laugh with delight) for meal prep. His shared aversion to direct contact with raw meat fortified my appreciation for him. With his normal sized hands & THE meat grabbers– and without prompting, he exercised surgical precision in removal of the
fucked-up icky parts. He gets IT. He gets me. He does not fully understand or relate(who could?) and yet he loves and accepts me. Without church or a spiritual program, this MAN is able to know, do, be, and love in ways that are not of this world.
At the end of our dinner date, I realized I might want a hug and or kiss, I panicked. Because, here is how I roll– I am all in or not at all, when it comes to relationships, friends or romance. I am intense, never causal. I do not “grab” coffee or lunch with people whom I am not deeply interested. I prefer to be alone. I also do not hold hands, hug, or kiss people, with whom I do not experience mutual closeness, except in the circumstances of my marriage and birth family(or back in the day when alcohol allowed me to more readily partake in things I did not want or like). If there is not mutual and natural connection, I do not choose to spend time or energy on or with you, in a “relationship”. You either energize me or you drain me. Small talk depletes me in under 5 minutes. That is a NO. Hard pass, every time. Wholesome connection, as I experience it, consumes as much mental and spiritual energy as it delivers. Recovery teaches me that connection is both a commitment and a choice, and cannot be forced but is often faked. Recovery also teaches me that the best relationships are expansive and not only welcome authenticity, but solicit and require it. Greg and I share this value–the principle of being unwilling to pretend to be, want, like, or feel as we do not. We are free, safe, and required to be exactly who we are. Together, in this way, we expand.
After a few more dates, we did kiss and then I launched even more unrestrained truth at him. I explained to him– if I am willing to kiss as we do, it also means I am interested in much more than just kissing. I had a planned trip back to California in the upcoming weeks, with a scheduled date with a man for whom I cared deeply. I went on to say that if Sweet Greg and I were entering into something as special as what I perceived, I would cancel those plans while in CA. In a nutshell, I expressed, that if Ima kiss you, Ima do #allofthestuff with you, and if I do #allofthestuff with you, you are my boyfriend and we belong only to each other. So, whuddayawannado? Sweet Greg thought for longer than I liked (maybe like a minute and a half) before saying “Yeh, I prefer you not see him.” And THIS– is how I tricked Greg into loving me…by telling the truth, saying what I wanted and needed, laughing freely and a lot, crying when sad, showing him all of who I am and can be.
For the record–while Greg prefers to say yes to me, he is a boss at saying NO to me. Nothing makes him more irresistible to me than when he says no. He does so promptly, directly, and kindly. He does not yell it or hint at it or enter into cold silence. Greg: “Please don’t do that. I don’t like that. Please stop it. Or just plain old No.” I am not ever left wondering what is happening with us, what have I done wrong, if he hates me, is he angry, are we in a fight, what might I do to make IT better? Not ever. He is one wholesome badass mofo, who knows with stunning clarity how, why, and when to say yes and no. I love my sweet Greg. Poor guy…I never tell him so because the words “I love you” were ruined for me in marriage and FOO. The brand of love I first knew is purely painful and scary. The acts committed by adults who have claimed to love me, even on the best days, are difficult to accept and nothing like THIS thing which I experience with my Sweet Greg.Much Love,
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