Finally Learning What Love Is

romance couple

Is it possible that after fifty years I have finally figured out what love really looks and feels like? I mean, really feels like. Deep in your heart and soul. It’s not that my life has been without love for that long but until recently I don’t think that I really understood love. How powerful it can be and how it can complete your life and bring you contentment and peace. I have been happily married for almost fourteen years but in the last couple of years I think that I have finally accepted how great love can be.

When I met my husband I had only been separated from my ex husband for 10 months. I had some trust issues you could say. I had pretty much sworn off men but my co-worker was convinced that I needed a date. She even went so far as to list all the single attractive men that worked for our company. I hate to say it but I said “no way” to her suggestion of the man who is now my husband. He was eight years younger than me and well, did I mention that I had sworn off men. As a new mom I just wanted to try to enjoy the few moments I had to myself outside of parenting and work. Yet somehow, on a company road trip to Seattle to see a basketball game, I found myself drawn to this man. And once the connection was made a couple of months later, there was no turning back. I knew right away that I would spend the rest of my life with him. So much for swearing off men.

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There was a moment very early in our relationship when I knew I could fall in love with my husband. It was just before Christmas. We had been trading emails and chatting a bit at work. I must have mentioned the fact that I had lost all of my Christmas tree ornaments in the divorce and had a tiny little Charlie Brown tree with only a couple of sad ornaments on it. I walked past his office one day and he called me in. On his desk was a gift wrapped box. Inside were four beautiful dark green glass ornaments and matching green and gold bowls. I was so touched that he not only remembered but had been so thoughtful. My divorce had left me in a fairly fragile state and this simple gesture restored my faith and put me on the road to learning about real love. Every year I take them out and tell my kids this story while we decorate the tree. My seven-year old thinks it’s romantic. My eighteen year old just rolls his eyes and sighs.

The journey from then until now has not always been an easy one. We have been separated for long periods of time due to work. We have had differences of opinions MANY times. We have co-parented with a sometimes difficult ex husband. We have made the decision to not have any more children and then changed our minds and embraced our little fireball. We have struggled through self employment and all that it entails. We have fallen down and learnt how to get back up. We (I) have given up trying to control the direction my life and the life of my family takes. We have cried and raised our voices and gone to bed angry. Yet somehow we are still married and in love.

The reality is that I love him more now than I did on the day we got married. I know him better. And he knows me better. He has taught me so many things. Because of him I am more open to love and kindness. A combination of the way I was raised and a bad first marriage left me closed up and afraid to get hurt. Did you know that you can be angry with somebody and then let it go and move on? I didn’t. I believed that if somebody did something to make you angry that you stayed angry at them. For a long time. Who knew that letting go of anger so quickly was so easy. I also didn’t know (or believe) that if I had done something to make somebody angry that they could forgive me and still love me. On the same day even. Again, I believed that forgiving and moving on took days. If it happened at all. But I now know that this is what love really looks like. The security of knowing that you can screw up and the sky won’t fall on your head. This is what my husband has taught me.

A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other. The Best Thing in Life is that over the years he refused to give up on me and I refused to give up on him. So, don’t just look for love. Look for real inconvenient, ridiculous, can’t live without you love. Because that’s the love that you deserve. And don’t give up. It may take years to fully embrace, but it is most definitely worth it.

Fear

fear tag

The recent Air Asia plane crash has done nothing for my fear of flying. It has, in fact, only cemented in my mind the possibility that any plane, at any time, could crash into a fiery mass. Most likely over a large body of water. Say, on the way to Hawaii? I know the statistics say that you have a better chance of being hit by a car but frankly, I don’t buy that. I remember my mom taking something (most likely Valium) when I was young to “take the edge off” when she needed to fly to England. I’m not there yet, but getting close. I mean really, how is it okay to be 37,000 feet in the air going God knows how fast, sitting in a tube of steel? It’s irrational you say? Maybe. But fears are fears and as irrational as they may be, they exists, if only in our minds.

My husband is afraid of snakes. Even the harmless ones. Where he grew up, snakes were not only creepy but deadly. Cotton mouths, diamond backs and rattlesnakes lurked in the backyards of many Texas homes. Somewhere in the back of his mind he associates snakes with death I guess. If I asked him to pick up a garter snake I don’t know if he could. Even watching them on TV causes him to tense up and shrink away. My husband is not a timid man either. This is his fear and despite assurances that they are harmless he is still not able to make himself hold one at the local farm. I can’t say that I enjoy snakes either but I could pick up a garter snake if needed to say…..taunt my husband with one.

fear
A number of people I’ve spoken to were afraid of being buried alive. Not something I ever think of, but again, fears are different for everyone. Actually, now that I am thinking about it, I’m kind of freaked out by it. I guess it would be similar to drowning. I’m not really comfortable with submarines either. Really? A steel tube hundreds of feet under the water? One friend took the fear of being buried alive a step further and has a fear of cement trucks. I have to say ever since she pointed this out I have driven past dump trucks just a little bit faster. Just in case. What if they dumped all of their cement on me in some freak accident? Would my last thought be of Tony Soprano ordering up some cement boots?

Tons of people are afraid of heights. For some, vertigo is a real thing and can cause dizziness and fainting. I worked in an office once downtown. The controller’s office was on the corner of the 21st floor with floor to ceiling windows. I would dread every other Friday when I would need to take the stack of cheques in to be signed by him. Took me a five or taken minutes to talk myself into it each time. A big attraction these day is towers, like the CN tower, putting in glass platforms for people, to walk out onto. Are you kidding me? How is this fun? When I was about ten my mom and dad took my sister and brother and I up The Chief. It’s a hike close to Squamish, BC that ends at the top of a popular rock climbing wall that is 600 meters high. Being the youngest I arrived last only to find the rest of my family on their stomachs looking over the edge of the cliff. Clearly I am adopted.

So, am I going to end up like my mom? Paralyzed with fear over the thought of getting on a plane? I hope not because I love to travel and look forward to adventures with my husband after the kids have moved out. (Snake free adventures of course). When are the powers that be going to invest some serious money into teleportation? How hard could it be. Get me from point A to point B in seconds is all I am asking. Until that time comes The Best Thing in Life is knowing that airlines serve wine at pretty much any time of day.

Honesty

“Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness, including straightforwardness of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, theft, etc. Furthermore, honesty means being trustworthy, loyal, fair, and sincere. Honesty is valued in many ethnic and religious cultures. “Honesty is the best policy” is a proverb of Benjamin Franklin and the quote “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom” is attributed to Thomas Jefferson.”

I value honesty above pretty much every other personal trait, so when I am faced with a loved one being dishonest I tend to get a bit crazy. I’ve been in relationships based on lies and filled with lies. No happiness can come from a relationship like that. The truth hurts. Yes, it does, but that is not an excuse for doing it. And, might I add, it is never okay to blame a lie on somebody else’s actions. As in, I lied because I knew the truth would hurt you. (Lamest excuse ever.) Lying is never the answer. Some people say that they lie to avoid confrontation, but the reality is that the truth always come out and by that time the original confrontation has been compounded by the lie. So why not just fess up? Fear? Most likely. That minuscule chance that the truth won’t come out and you can actually get away with it? Bit of a crap shoot really, but some are willing to take that chance.

Right, so now I will come down off my high horse and admit that this has become a hard post to write because, as nutty as I am about being honest, I can’t say that I have always been 100% honest with everybody in my life. So, am I a hypocrite? What have I lied about? Say I am faced with not wanting to do something, I have been known to make up an excuse why I can’t do it. “Sorry I can’t make it to your party but I have other plans”. My other plans involve a glass of wine, pajamas and a book. A white lie some would say. Is there a difference? Is there a line that separates little lies from big lies? Or are all lies just that. Lies. Is it better to be a bit dishonest in order to be politically correct? “Yes, that style of dress looks great on you.” Or are you just as guilty as the guy who lies on his tax return?

Have you ever seen the Jim Carey movie, Liar Liar. A man is cursed by a wish from his son so that he can not tell a lie. A funny premise, but could it actually work in real life? Being honest (I prefer to call it being authentic) has certainly gotten me in trouble in the past. I don’t always sugar coat things. If I don’t like you or something you have said I’m typically going to let you know. I’m also not going to pretend that everything is okay when it’s not. If something is bugging me, you will know. Do I worry about hurting people’s feelings? Sure, and I’m pretty sure I have probably done that in the past. Would it be better to not tell them what I think? Is that different from telling an outright lie?

So, having completely talked myself in a circle the question remains unanswered. Is it ever okay to be dishonest? The Best Thing in Life is being truthful in admitting that life is hard to navigate sometimes and knowing what is right and what is wrong isn’t always clear.