I had an interesting conversation today with a woman who I have been getting to know. She is currently married, though not very happily, and she said that she doesn’t think she knows anyone who is truly happily married. She said that she is not even sure that true love exists or that any man is capable of truly loving her. This was not said as a self esteem problem. This was not doubting her worth. It was doubting the capability of the man.
I found this especially interesting because I have been in a few relationships over my life, though I am single now, and I know that 3 of them have loved me completely. I know that there is no doubt in my mind that their love was real. The first 2 were mostly timing and growing. We were in our 20s when we got together and though the love and relationships were nice, as we got older we just grew apart.
The last was my son’s father. We loved each other fiercely and unconditionally. There was no doubt in my mind about that. Now, that did not mean that we had to stay together. In fact we loved each other and our son so much that we eventually realized that being apart was the best option. He was an addict. He had demons that he just couldn’t get away from, and eventually they killed him. But I loved him, and he loved me completely.
We were constantly off and on depending on his sobriety. This was very confusing and disruptive to our son. Eventually I had to just put an end to it. Not because I didn’t love him, and not because he didn’t love me.. but because we both loved our son.
I think that the problem with finding “true love” is that people want the fairytale, but no one lives “happily ever after”. There are always problems, and there are always lulls, and people are always taken for granted as time goes on. None of that has to do with love.. I used to say that love is not a feeling.. it is a verb. Love is an action that we have to do everyday. I am a huge Doctor Who fan, and in an episode he states that “Love is a promise” and I feel that too.
When we were first thinking about and discussing having a family Neil and I talked about a lot of things. We were planning on getting married.. we were just saving up. I wanted a HUGE affair.. I never got it. He relapsed and my father died and after a while a wedding wasn’t all that important. But my FAMILY was. That’s what we had decided when we chose to have our son. We are now family. We will love each other forever. There was no leaving. Again.. that does not mean that we had to stay romantically linked or even live in the same house. When it became dangerous I had to tell him to leave.. but it did mean that I was always his first phone call and he was always mine.
I recently remembered a time, about 6 months after my father had passed and Neil was out of rehab and things were getting good again. I had spent most of that time in yoga pants and a messy bun. On this particular day I put on real people clothes.. just jeans, but it was something. I let my hair down AND BRUSHED IT. I even put on a little makeup. I didn’t think much of it. I was just having a day that I could breath again. I walked into the dining room not thinking about it and I heard him audibly gasp. I actually took his breath away. He was even a little embarrassed by it, but he just said, “you look beautiful”. I remember how that made me feel. After months of grieving my father and over a year of heartache over Neil’s relapse I had been in quite a depression.. and there he was. Telling me how beautiful I look.. telling me that I actually take his breath away.
This man had seen me at my worst. He saw our son being sliced out of me “Aliens” style.. and I was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. He loved me.. and I him… and nothing bad that ever happened between us ever changed that.
After he died I had some conversations with his mother and some of his friends. They told me how through all of our ups and downs that he never said a bad thing about me. That he always talked about how amazing I was. How strong I was. What a great mom I am. He loved me.. emotionally.. and in his words and actions everyday. Even on his worst days.. he kept his promise.
Love is not a cure all. Love is not how it ends.. True love.. is family.. it’s forever. It’s calling them on their shit.. and telling them when you’re proud.. it’s taking the call when they overdosed and crashed their car. It’s cleaning up their sick father’s poop… it’s knowing.. that no matter what has happened between you, and no matter where anyone lives.. that person always wants what’s best for you and always has your back.