December 29, 2021
I haven’t been writing the last several days. I’ve been watching a lot of movies.
I don’t like movies with happy endings. I don’t like romances. I like it if there’s a romance in the movie, but not if that’s what the movie is about. Even if it's a drama, there's usually a romance. (Romance is the epitome of drama!) There’s always some bittersweet thing, or some sort of misunderstanding, that breaks the lovers up or keeps them apart.
Reconciliation is rare. And that’s real life, to me. So, it fits. There is no happily ever after in romantic love. I’ve not experienced it, and that’s an understatement. And I’ve not seen it, either. There is a good fit, a good relationship fit – I see that with my friends. But it’s rare, frankly. Quite rare.
The last couple movies, the woman has said to the man, “We really had something.” The second time I heard that, I noticed. It prompted me to reach back into my life and remember if I’d ever said that to anyone. No. I’ve never said that to anyone.
My breakups have been inevitable. There was never a person I knew was the one I’d be with for a lifetime. Never. I always knew, I knew it about all of them, that they just weren’t right, that it just wouldn’t be a right fit for life.
I used to think my first love, Dale, and really my only true love, might have been my person. I was 18 when we met, only 19 when we parted. We didn’t break up, I transferred from Central to Western. When you’re so very young, you can’t sustain with distance between you. Plus, the timing was all off. I wanted a career, I wanted to be established, independent. I wanted to live on my own. I wanted to be successful on my own. I knew even then I didn’t want to marry until I was going on towards 30. The thing is, I always assumed I would marry. Odd that never happened. But good, actually. At this point, I think it was a very good thing I never married. Because I’ve never really had something with anyone.
Dale and I are friends on Facebook. I wish him happy birthday every year. I always remember. And I send him something nice on the anniversary of the day I lost my virginity. That’s a day I always celebrate. Our exchanges are a few sentences at most.
From what he posts, I see fleeting glimpses into who he is now. I can’t believe how different we are. He went right, I went left. Or maybe he was always right, and I didn’t notice because I simply had no opinions at that time. I actually had no significant interest in politics or world events until I was much older. Even history was boring to me, unlike now.
I wonder if we had been together all along, for coming up on forty years now, if we would have been of like mind. Would I have lock stepped with his intellectual progression? Or he mine? Likely a blend. We were equals in every way.
When we were together, he was a hard atheist. I remember our discussions. I was still wrapped up pretty heavily in my narrow Christian life view. But I knew a bit, from paying attention in church and from studying the Bible. I was never strong in my arguments, nor did I feel obligated to change his mind. In fact, I knew I couldn’t. I believed he’d always hold to atheism. Yet I could certainly have a high level, non-threatening debate in defense of Christianity. Looking back, I had nothing of any real substance to say, nothing that might convince someone to change their position on God. But I knew a few things.
Now, I very much enjoy conversations involving theological tenets, and how my opinions are evolving on the big stuff, but I would never feel compelled to convince anyone of anything. I’d feel very pleased if I could simply spark a desire in another to take a look at their beliefs – to perhaps embark on their own deconstruction journey. It’s been so incredibly rewarding, and freeing. Of course I want that for the people I care about. How could I not?
Since marrying in his mid-30s, Dale has become quite devout. He told me once it was witnessing his wife’s faith that caused him to change direction. At the beginning of lockdown, I asked him about the logistics of getting the vaccines into the arms of the public. He'd had a career in the National Guard, so I assumed he’d have some solid opinions on the subject.
“I wouldn't worry about things you can’t control, Coco,” he’d urged. “My time is much better spent thinking of how I might better serve God.”
I was a bit taken aback. Not because of his faith and devotion, I find that admirable in any person. But because he was always so prudent and practical and logical when I knew him. He would have laughed had I said the same to him. So now, to hear something so ethereal come out of him was a surprise.
I used to believe Dale was the right guy wrong time. Now I’m thankful things have taken the course they have. I respect him, a great deal. He has strength of his convictions. I do respect that. But it's clear being with him was not my path, and I was incredibly wise to let it go when I did.
I digressed there. I do that…
So back to telling a man, “We really had something.” I’ve just never really had something. I press on that realization and wonder if that’s OK. And right now, right this moment, it is absolutely OK. And right now, right this moment, I’m glad. It’s a blessing I never married, because I’ve never really had something with anyone.
And I did really really good not having children. I did really good on that one. I’m so very proud of myself on that one. I didn’t used to think so. I used to believe I would have been able to do it, I would have risen to the challenge, I would have been good at it. I regretted for decades not having pursued that course. Now I wholly recognize otherwise. In some ways, I’ve been so incredibly wise, even from early on. I forget to give myself credit for those times.
Many of the people on this deconstruction journey have determined there is no God, or if there is, he’s such an unloving arbitrary monster of a god, they reject him entirely. I can’t do that. I see too much of God in my life. All the times I’ve gone off track. All those bad turns she turned for good. How can I not believe in God?
I truly believe she’s helped me to see clearly the times I really needed to see clearly – for the most part that is. Actually, in every circumstance. Sometimes I just did what I wanted to do anyway. Or what I felt compelled to do. Like with Jeff. I saw that was a mistake, in big red flashing neon, before I ever walked into that ugly. But I’ve dissected that a million ways a million times. I was 53 when I took up with Jeff, well old enough to have known better. But like I tell my nieces, “There is no age limit on stupid.”
I’m not stupid. Sometimes I’m foolish, selfish, willfully ignorant, defiant, but never stupid. Most often, I trade short-term for long-term, a character flaw I’ve chipped away at my entire life. I’ve always been wise beyond, though, and I’m just getting wiser.
I’m putting together all the pieces, all the pieces from my brokenness and all the pieces of my truth. I’m creating a new course, a new identity, a new set of beliefs that serve me well and serve me best.
I have firm knowing this process will continue as I transition through and then out of this season with mom. I have great hope for my future. There is light coming.
I Persevere. And life goes on.