Monday, February 14, 2011

Sometimes we need to spell it out.

It's Valentine's Day, and I'm overdue on posting to my blog. I don't think I've talked much in the past about my 'Sweetheart,' the person I fell in love with, head over heels. This beautiful woman was smart, independent, and she even turned me on. It's true, the first and only woman I ever really kissed, and someone I genuinely felt attracted to. Maybe I could actually do this marriage thing after all. Yes, I "struggled with SSA," but she proved to me that I wasn't gay, and maybe I could leave all those feelings of gender insecurity behind me. I was 24, tired of being alone, and naivete was the name of the game, actually, it was the only game I knew.

Oh my sweet Susie-Q was clever, spoke with a British accent, and made me feel like a million bucks. We could talk about anything, she made me laugh, we played games, went to movies, and I was happy to be her friend. But she didn't want to be just my friend. She told me she had plenty of friends, so what was I going to do? It was refreshing, a woman who called me out of my comfort zone, who demanded I make my intentions clear. "Okay," I said and then gulped a big breath for courage, "I only want to date you, I want to see if we can make it work." Not sure what "it" was, but I had made a commitment she was hoping for. Only, I didn't really get the dating game, the romance game, because such courting rituals didn't come naturally. Case in point, Valentine's Day 1981 and two weeks before our wedding, I didn't get around to buying a Valentine card... I put it off, got distracted, and didn't think it really mattered. Boy, was I wrong! Perhaps that oversight should have been a big flashing red light for her, but she forgave me and we still got married. (I don't think I've missed a Valentine Card yet, in 30 years, so the grief she gave me for that indescretion must have made a lasting impression.) Unfortunately, what I didn't learn from that experience, and one that I'm still trying to do better on, was her basic need to be cherished. Living through the disconnects of a mixed orientation marriage means this is a BIG problem. How can she possibly feel cherished, revered as the only one true love, my eternal Queen, when I feel emptiness and long for connection with other men? It breaks her heart. And it breaks my heart that I hurt her so. There are no easy answers to this one.

Flash forward thirty years, and now we're empty nesters. We can walk around the house again without any clothes, if we feel like it. We have great kids who are getting on with their lives and their own families, beautiful grandchildren, and we hope for many good years to come. And I still love her. My heart is committed to her, to us and our family. Perhaps not with the same naive love of my young adulthood, since a lot of floodwater has gone under the bridge, but I've weighed our options, and I want to grow old with her. I love her caring, her sense of humor, her gentle smiles when she first sees me come through the door, and the simple things that bring her joy. I am comfortable with her, even if all the lines don't always match up. I can tell her my frustrations and she still listens. My Sweetie is one of the most kind and loyal persons I know...the proof is that she hasn't given up on me yet.

So can I spell it out any better than L-O-V-E? Only that it happens one day at a time, one opportunity at a time to hold, to cherish, to forgive and be forgiven.