The last twelve months have been exhausting. I had so much going on (new job, new home), dating really wasn't a priority. Then a guy I already knew showed himself back into my life. I let him really get the best of me, and I reacted by making some horrible, terrible, just plain awful choices.
(I never shared much detail on those choices; some things are better left locked in a vault - know what I mean?)
That went on for about a month, culminating in a, "What the &%@# am I doing?!" moment, after which I immediately gave up on all that nonsense.
Then I met Turtle. Things started off slow...then picked up a bit....then got weird. Turtle is not ready for a relationship, but he is still in my life. We do not hang out as often as we once did, but we still talk just about everyday and we do see each other pretty regularly.
I am still trying not to set expectations. I am trying to just put a pin in my feelings, enjoy the time I spend with him, and let things evolve into whatever it is we are meant to be. I have, for the first time ever, tried to approach dating with patience and understanding and compromise; without an agenda, or pushing.
I suck at it.
(To be fair, though - I am improving.)
If nothing else, I have learned a lot about myself.
I learned that I have spent the last few years (since Trooper) with my heart closed off and a big wall built up to keep people from getting all the way in. I thought I was being laid back when it came to dating - but really, I was just not allowing those emotions to show. The trouble with walls is that while they are a great way to keep out the pain and the tears - they also block your blessings.
The truth is, while I am laid back about a lot of things in life, when I really care about someone, I can get anxious and worried and frustrated pretty easily. I can say that I'm OK with taking things slow, but the truth is, I do have a pace in mind. When things don't go at that pace, I can get insecure and freak out a little.
Why do I react that way? What has me so scared? All of the major relationships in my life (right back to my mom when I was a baby) have resulted in me being left behind. It's the one thing that completely knocks me off my game. To cope, I try to put things in a certain order - what I want, when I want - to calm my fears and convince my mind that he (whoever "he" is at the time) won't leave.
That was pretty easy to figure out. What wasn't easy was trying to figure out how to go about changing a reaction and a behavior that is forty years in the making. I mean - I know better. In a million years I never expected that X would leave - but he did. That taught me it doesn't matter what order things are in, or how much control you think you have. But knowing better and behaving better are two completely different things.
(Ironically, it was a long conversation with X that really helped me start to realize what I needed to do.)
I needed to learn that it wasn't about having better control of things - it was about learning to let go of the illusion that I have any control at all. Things happen. Life happens. It can't be predicted. We don't know where we're headed from one moment to the next. Every day, every hour, every minute we're faced with choices. There's no way to predict where those choices will lead - and that's OK. That's the way life is meant to be. If we all knew the future, there'd be no surprises, no lessons. No hope.
Life isn't meant to be controlled or predicted - it is meant to be lived. Enjoy time with people when you can; maybe they won't be here tomorrow. Learn lessons. Allow yourself to be sad. Sit in the quiet now and then and listen to your heart. If you're so inclined, listen to God and what He wants for your life. Focus on what you know you want, and keep making choices that will get you there. Keep moving until you run out of options.
I have thought many times that Turtle may have come into my life as a way to teach me how to know when it's time to let go. This thing with him is not perfect, or easy. I'm not always happy....there's a million reasons to leave, and I owe him nothing. I know I don't have to stay.
I have sat in quiet, in tears, and prayed to God on what is best for me. I have handed Him my problems and fears, and asked that He fix them, because I surely can't. I have accepted that God works at His pace, not mine, and I might be waiting a while.
I do think I am meant to let go - but not of a relationship. The God to Whom I pray loves me and wants nothing but the best for me. He would not look to punish me or make me sad. He wouldn't drag someone into my life to teach me a lesson I learned long ago. I am an expert at walking away before I give things a chance. I know all too well what it means to take charge and try to control the outcome.
My God would look to prepare me - and I do realize that while Turtle is here to bring the lessons, they may not be about him. Only time will tell for sure.
I am learning how to let go of the illusion that I control when, or how, things happen. I am learning to let go of the idea that life, or love, needs to look a certain way in order for it to be true. I am learning patience and understanding and how to accept someone, faults and all, and learn to build him up rather than look for reasons to walk away. I am learning that it isn't all about me, and that sometimes, I can't have exactly what I want, when I want - and that's OK.
It turns out I don't always know best, anyway.