A few days ago my dear friend HQ sent an article to me for the Huffington Post. The articles title was something like, You’re doing it wrong, but there’s still Hope. ( actually the title was: 11 steps to prepare yourself for really awesome love). I love the Huffington post because they seem to have numerous, easily digestible, meaningful articles. They seem to get right to the crux of the matter and give you that “Aha!” moment.
One such moment was the realization that I have a list, a set of ideals that had clearly defined who I wanted to date. My list? Definitely tall (I’m 5′ 10″), thin/athletic, probably dark hair, financially successful, has hobbies like gourmet cooking, enjoys exercise, volunteers, loves dogs, has a college education-probably a masters degree or higher, likes drinking coffee and beer, enjoys watching football, loves to travel. First thing I realized-this is a list of superficial things I wish I was.
The second thing I realized ( mostly because the article says it), this list of features leaves out the most important things I want in my relationship. These new things look a lot less like the subject of 1950s pop song and a lot more like someone with whom I’d like to spend my life. My new list is: Someone who makes me feel loved and important, someone who reminds me I’m sexy even first thing in the morning, someone who supports me as a single mom, someone who makes me feel safe. Being six feet tall won’t necessarily guarantee any of these.
Since losing Chris, My relationship comfort zone has shrunk to the space just outside my own body. I’ve talked myself right out of potentially awesome love. But I miss things that never really existed with Chris.
I lament knowing that I will never have the history I had with Chris, the connection with the girls. But I miss a bunch of stuff I never even had. Life with Chris was definitely financially secure, but the emotional equivalent of a mechanical bull.
One of my favorite pictures of Chris and I was in the hospital right after Madeleine was born. I’m holding Madeleine while lying in the hospital bed. He’s reaching over to me and has grabbed a little piece of the hospital gown I am wearing. He looks like he’s terrified. He was terrified. Chris was everything on my superficial list; not just for me, but for himself as well. He could have been all the things on my new list too, but he was terrified.
I find myself being still very cautious about how I depict Chris. Im not at all sure what is the superficial truth and what is the deep meaningful truth.
I have alternately vilified Chris and worshiped him, both with varying degrees of misrepresentation. He was a good man, a flawed man, but a good man and a dear friend and husband. And he’s not anyone else. He’s none of the new people I meet now, he’s not hidden in them, he’s not influencing their behaviors, just my thoughts about their behaviors.
This is me telling me what I need to hear. Because the truth is, most people are some version of their list, some version of their Facebook profile, their match profile, the person you meet at he party is not the complicated person who stands beside you when you’re giving birth, or lays their head in your lap when they messed up.
My list is useless, because everyone’s list is useless. People can’t be quantified in a list of attributes, tall or short, terrified and accomplished, they each have to be taken one step at a time. Stay present. Dump the list.