Tag Archives: trust

Once a Fortress, Always a Fortress

3 May

Certainty and security are never a commodity in a single mother’s life. Love and fatigue are our main resources. We live for our ability to love our children and the people who love them (and us, if possible), we love them endlessly. We strive, thanks to daily schedules that bring us to the end of the day breathless, and with an empty mind and weary heart. It is easy to receive our kindness, for we are full of empathy and compassion for anyone who has endured hardship. It is even possible to win our love. We’re used to caring for others. But it is nearly impossible to love us, fully. And even more difficult to gain our trust.

This is why, the single mother, is forever single. This sounds tragic, and maybe it is in a sense. But I don’t necessarily mean for it to be. We aren’t alone. We are surrounded by friends, family, and lovers, who care for us, help us out, listen to us, pick our little ones up from school if we’re tied up, or make love to us quietly, in the dark, after bed time. We have each other – other moms like us, who share the impossible bond of lonely togetherness, that I think only we can truly comprehend. And still, we are single. Even with boyfriends, or live-in partners. Even if we marry again.

The single mother’s heart is a fortress. It’s been penetrated and broken before, and it shall never be broken again. We will never again allow heartbreak to take us by surprise. We are prepared for any scenario, and we anticipate the worst. (We know that He is going to leave us, and we leave Him first.)

So in order to love us, to stick by us, it takes more than romance, more than companionship, more than terrific sex, more than love, more than trust. It takes endurance. It takes stubbornness. It takes a man who can bear never being given the benefit of the doubt. It takes a man who can tolerate the constant measuring and sizing up, the fear, the doubts, the half-truths, the “I love you – but”s. It takes a man who loves our hearts, along with the brick walls that surround them, walls made strong by the powerful forces of abandonment and betrayal.

It takes a man who has the patience to take apart that wall, slowly, carefully, not tearing it down, but cautiously dismantling it, one brick at a time, knowing that there is a chance that it will grow back in, like like a lizard’s tail, but wanting enough to try, hoping enough to succeed.

I am lucky to have found such a man.

And though, from time to time, I make an honest attempt to push him away, he surprises me with his acceptance of me and my story, and his willingness to take part in it.

 

 

 

Three Men and a Wedding

2 Nov

Three handsome men with me on the dance floor: My son, in his tiny collared shirt and necktie. My partner, D, slightly intoxicated, ignoring the watchful eye of parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts who’d just met him for the first time, and Y, whom I introduce to people as my brother,  though there is no blood connection between us.

My sister got married last night. White gown, hair and makeup, 300 guests, candles and  fancy tablecloths and everything. She was gorgeous, the groom was handsome. The ceremony was lovely. The food was delicious. My son, walking before her in his fancy little outfit, and a basket of rose petals, it was all perfectly out-of-a-magazine, predictably beautiful. I was happy to be there with her. Happy that she was happy.

I can’t get emotional over weddings anymore. I just can’t. Even if it is my own sister. Something in me stopped believing long ago that this thing we do, this expensive social obligation – that it means anything more than what it is to me, a costly party. I know I had one. I know I wanted one. So there’s no judgement here. It’s hard to not want something you’ve been told you wanted throughout your entire life.

We’re structured so that we are always thinking about our next step. After all, life is the journey from one climatic event to the other, with a bunch of boring shit in between. I think my sister and her husband have a good shot at “making it”. They’re a good couple. They’re going to have children, they’ll be a family. My best wish for them is to have what I didn’t. I know it’s what they want. She’ll get pregnant, she’ll have a husband who won’t leave her side, who frets about how she’s feeling and meets her every craving. She’ll have a healthy baby in a painful messy birth, she’ll become blind to the world and only see her baby’s needs and have her marriage take a blow. But her marriage will be strong enough to make it, she and her husband will bounce back and remember one another. They’ll have sex at least once a week. They’ll raise well behaved children that can be left with their grandparents so they can take some time off. The kids will grow older, they’ll grow closer again.

I wish for my sister all of that. I wish for her to trust her man, I wish for her to not be let down, to not be disappointed, to not have her heart shattered and her trust in men broken.

But, if somewhere down the road her heart is broken – then I wish for her exactly what I have. An amazing son, the best friends you could wish for, and, well, love – in all its forms.

We were dancing last night, my son and I, with my awesome girlfriends, whom I can always count on to stand (or dance) beside me when I need them. At one point I found myself suddenly surrounded by my three favorite men, my son was really going nuts on the dance floor, jumping and laughing and man, let me tell you, he’s one hell of a dancer for being only three and a half! Then there was Y, goofing off with us, making my boy laugh, and D, on his day-view, having just met my parents and 300 of their closest acquaintances. The music was loud and not to my taste, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I thought, how special it is to be surrounded by the three people in my life who’ve helped me restore my faith in men.

So I ended up getting a little emotional after all. I guess, it doesn’t matter what ceremonies you choose to ornament your life with. It’s who’s there beside you at those moments. I felt beautiful last night, with my hair and my makeup, and my awesome dress. I danced, with all my favorite people. But most of all I felt loved last night. And I guess that’s what I really wish for my sister.

Navigating under the Influence

28 Sep

Picture this: I’m on a highway, my left hand on the steering wheel, my right holding a beer, my left foot on the gas, my right up on the dashboard (I’m a righty, just in case you were wondering). Loud music is playing – and I’m on the highway. Driving.

Suddenly, I spot a cop, and I freak out. I try to put my right foot back down, to toss my beer somewhere, but everything is happening so quickly, I’m driving so fast, I feel like I’m losing control of my car. How could I have been so reckless? Suddenly, I feel something cold and wet on my foot, soft, velvety, it’s a tongue. It’s licking my foot excessively. Charlie, our dog, has woken me up, and thank god for that.

My son and I collapsed together on my bed after lunch today. That hasn’t happened to us in a really long time. It was a big day for us, well, for me mostly, because honestly I’m not sure how much of it he’s really taken in – despite being the brightest, most insightful 3 year old I’ve ever met (and we all know that as his mother I’m completely objective).

Today, I met D’s twin girls for the first time, and he met my son, and they met me, and my son, and my son met them. All of that happened in one quick hour over ice cream.

We’ve been dating for about ten months now, and I guess it just felt like it was time. I had been kind of pushing the agenda of meeting the kids for a couple of months now, and when he finally said yes, I totally freaked out. This was a serious step. What would I tell my son about D? How would I introduce him? True, his father has a girlfriend that spends every moment of their visits with them. They’re pretty serious – they go abroad together, they take our son on so called family vacations. I hate her guts, but I also think it’s a good thing, in principle. Our boy likes her. She seems to have a head on her shoulders and her heart is in the right place.

But this is different. I the past 3 months, custody has shifted a bit. I have gladly allowed our son to sleep over at his dad’s twice a week, instead of once. It’s been very good for the two of them. Still, I’m the one in charge of raising him. I’m the one who makes the big decisions, the one who gives him stability, who sets boundaries and stands behind her word. I’m pretty freaked out about letting a man into my life – well, about letting a man into OUR life. Because, actually I’ve already let one into mine.

The meeting went well. The ice cream was sweet and cold and the children licked it vigorously under the blazing midday sun. We walked by the water, and I had brought some bread to feed the fish with. The kids loved watching the little fish pounce one over the other, fighting over each bread crumb.

I looked at my man. He was as handsome and sweet as I always feel he is. But there was a softness about him, the way he handled his girls, the way young dads do, fumbling through early parenthood, with a charming clumsiness, a complete contrast to those power moms that blindly push through everything and have answers to all questions and a datebook full of plans for every minute of the week. I’m in love with him, and his girls, and his problems, and his shortcomings. I wasn’t sure for a while, but now I know, I’ll accept the whole package, if he only offers it to me.

Still, I got back home and crashed – well, we both did. Though I had made a huge effort to make our little outing as little a deal as could be made, my son, being a constant reflection of my emotional state, must have felt the tension. I told him: we’re going to meet two sweet girls, new friends. Their dad is mommy’s friend. We’re going to all go have ice cream together at the marina, feed the fish and look at the boats. Won’t that be nice? He said: Are they 3? And I said: Almost. And he said: If I’m older than them I can teach them things. Like, if they don’t know Anna and Elsa I can tell them about the story, and how Hans was bad in the end and how Christof was good, and about Sven and Olof the snowman. He was excited. When we left he said: Can we meet them again soon?

After lunch I felt so exhausted I told my son mommy needed a nap, and he could play if you didn’t feel tired. He crawled into my bed and snuggled by me, and at once we both fell asleep. I don’t know what he was dreaming about, but I hope it wasn’t about his mother’s extreme and untypically reckless driving.

Am I being reckless in my life? Maybe I am. I love D, but I don’t know where this is going. I didn’t wait for certainty before making introductions. Maybe because there could be no certainty before introductions. Maybe because there will never be certainty. There will just be a togetherness for a while, for as long as we both shall enjoy it.

I don’t know.

I guess for now, the DUI is on me, and all I can do is pray there will be no great repercussions. Let this go by smoothly, please! For once, let something be easy.

“Damaged Goods”

24 May

I told D I was ready for our children to meet. So far, we’ve been having a secretive affair, mostly meeting at night, sneaking out and leaving by dark. I haven’t met his friends. He’s met mine once, at my birthday party, where we were all crazy drunk.

He said he wasn’t ready. And I couldn’t let it go.

So I wrote him a letter, about the separation we’ve created between our relationship and our lives, how we’re conducting an affair within this bubble of nightly encounters, in which we love each other and have great sex, and offer one another a brief moment of peace before going back to our hectic schedules. I presented it as if it were a bad thing. I said I was ready to take our relationship to the next level, the one where it is integrated with the rest of our existence. Where we meet during the day as our kids play, or have Friday evening dinners together.

He answered kindly. He said he loved me, but he wasn’t ready. He said he’d only recently been given back his life, after eight years in which he felt like he wasn’t allowed to be himself. And now, he’s healing, and it’ll take time. This is why he can’t move any further with me.

The first thing I sensed from his letter was love. It was tenderly written. Then I saw the immense pain, the scabs and wounds, and I was thankful he shared them with me. Then I realized, I’m still following my pattern. Falling for men that aren’t there yet, that like me, are damaged, that like me, are in the midst of a healing process. And it made me really sad. Because until recently, D was exactly what I’d been craving. A solid relationship, where there was love and understanding and warmth and comfort and great sex, but that was completely separated from the rest of my life. When I met him, I still said things like, “I don’t see myself living with anyone again.”

But now that’s changed. I’m craving such closeness, to have the man I love become a true part of my life. But more than that, I want more than anything for him to choose me – to really choose me. Not just to be with me. I spent 13 years of my life loving someone who loved me a little less, who stopped loving me at one point, who thought about leaving me for six months without my knowledge, through the end of my pregnancy with our child, who left me with a four month old infant. So I’m constantly looking for proof – that I’m not just wasting my time, my energy, my emotions on a man who might never be ready for the next step. My insecurity is really getting in the way of my patience.

What’s odd, is that actually, our little arrangement meets my needs perfectly. I do love my life, and it is FULL, I mean, it’s hard to squeeze a pin in. My job, my son, my close friends, who are like family to me, my grief, my growth. It almost feels like the only reason I want to move forward with D, is to know that I can, like I’m still seeking proof that he wants me, that we’re not just passing time.

I’m damaged. He’s damaged. I guess that’s what relationships in your thirties are like. It’s more complicated than it was when in our first time around, falling in love, testing out the waters of closeness. There’s a knowledge that you can’t un-know now, that things end, even when you think they’ll last forever. That people may betray you, even if you think they’re trustworthy.

I do love D. He is the perfect prescription for my loneliness, my grief, my need to be held, enveloped, complimented, loved. Why can’t I just embrace the gift that he is and not constantly worry about what’ll happen when it expires?

3 am Insecurity

2 Jan

I point out that he says ‘fun’ a lot. Like, that I’m fun. That the date was fun. That its was fun spending the night together.

He laughs and said, “because it is”.

And I say, “OK. I’m not going to push it.”

But then it’s dark, and we’re spooning, and it feels possible to say more.

“I’m asking because, a while ago, I asked you what you wanted out of life. And you said: a good relationship with my girls. To be happy. To have fun. And it made me think.”

“You have a good memory.”

“I remember because I was surprised that you didn’t say a relationship, or love.”

“Well…” Pause. “You know, my breakup is still recent. I feel like I just got out of a relationship, and it wasn’t a good one. I’m still celebrating being out. It’s way too soon for me to think about a new relationship.” Pause. “I mean, this is a relationship, you and I. That came out wrong. I mean getting married again, or living together. I’m not sure I want that.”

“I’m not sure I want that either.” I say. “But when I stroll in the park with my boy, and I see a couple having a picnic or playing with their children, it makes me wish to have someone to share family moments with. It makes me wish that someday, my family will not just be my boy and I.”

“I get that. I think some day I will want that too.”

“There are different models today. It’s hard for me to think about living with someone again. Maybe it’ll happen some day, maybe not. Maybe having pancakes for breakfast on a Saturday morning, and drinking coffee as the kids play, is the type of family I’ll have in the future.”

“That sounds nice, actually. That sounds really nice.”

Quiet. I close my eyes and begin drifting away.

“Come here.” He kisses me, running his hand through my hair. “This is really good.”

“I think so too.”

Quiet.

“Am I freaking you out with this talk?”

“No.”

Quiet.

“I just got out of a very painful breakup. There are scars, you know? I need to let them heal before I can think about letting someone new so deeply into my life.”

“I get that. I talk about things sometimes, because I have a vision of the things that I want. But I will be very, very careful before my son meets anyone I’m seeing. It’s not something I will take lightly or want to do any time soon.”

“Of course.”

“But listen, regardless of marriage, or living together, or saturday morning pancakes, or whatever… I am developing feelings for you. That’s just the way it is with me. It’s how I work.”

Quiet.

“Now hold me, I’m feeling exposed and vulnerable.” We laugh. He holds me.

“This really is good, zayka.” He says, and kisses me. “You don’t have to worry or be nervous about it. It’s good.”

“You were talking before about scars. You have yours. Well, I have mine.”

“What are yours?”

“To be into someone, and not know that all along he’s not into me. To be blissfully ignorant. That’s my scar.”

Now he is holdning my shoulders, and looking straight into my eyes. “Listen, I think you’re amazing. I’m so happy with you. I like your personality. I like talking to you. I’m attracted to you. I want to get to know you more. I want to spend time with you.”

“Thank you.” I say. It feels like all I can ask for.

“Now you hold me. I’m feeling exposed and vulnerable.” We laugh, holding one another in the darkness. And for a moment everything seems to be in its right place.

Never Again

30 Mar

Burn

Over ten years ago I was sitting in a dark theater with my then boyfriend, to be husband, to be father of my child, watching a movie that got under my skin and into my nightmares. The movie was Requiem for a Dream. I sat there paralyzed  glued to my seat, feeling trapped, feeling violated. It was only during one of the the last scenes, a smack-you-in-your-face horrible sex scene, that it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t have to watch it. I abruptly got up and left the theater, muttering “I don’t have to sit here and watch this”.

Later, standing outside the theater, I thought to myself, why on earth did I just sit there, why didn’t I just get up and leave? And I told myself, I’m never sitting through something that makes me feel so icky again. But I did. I have sat through many things that made me feel icky since then. Sat, stood, lay down.

Ten days ago was out first counselling session. BD has asked me to go to couple’s counseling with him, and I said yes, because it was the right thing to do. But during the entire session I was overwhelmed with a feeling that I didn’t belong there. Nothing went the way I wanted or expected it to go. He was five minutes late. I know, it’s just five minutes, but I’m sensitive about that. Then at the meeting he just sat there, as he’s done throughout our entire life together and let me do the talking. When I said I needed to know why he had left us, he said he was depressed. The therapist pointed out that I would need a better answer than that. Why was he depressed? What happened to him? He couldn’t answer. Or he wouldn’t. I don’t know. The therapist then asked if I was willing to commit myself to the process of working on our relationship, and I said that I was willing to come to one more session at this point.

That evening I broke up with SG, because I couldn’t give BD a fair chance if I was in a relationship with another man. Then I spent the week deeply depressed, feeling robbed, like someone had come into my world, which had already fallen apart once this year, which I had put so much effort into reconstructing, and tore it down, again. I was angry at BD for wanting me back. How dare he come back into my life, almost six months after walking away, after leaving me alone with our son? And I was heart broken. I missed SG terribly.

Then, on Tuesday, I took Baby to his grandparents and decided to use the time to clean the apartment, I mean really clean. Throw stuff out, reorganize drawers and so on. It was then that I ran into The Letter. The Letter that I had not yet decided what I wanted to do with. And at that moment, without thinking it over for a single second, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. I took it to the sink in the bathroom. I lit a match and I burned it. It didn’t burn easily. It resisted, even after four or five matches had been lit, but eventually it went into flames, and it was gone forever, and with it was gone the anger I had felt for so many years, not at Y for abusing my trust, not at BD for, well, abusing my trust… But at myself – for having let everything that had happened happen, for not getting up and leaving when I should have, for not shouting when I wasn’t heard, for feeling obliged in some perverted way to do things that I didn’t want to do. And I made myself a promise: I will never again do anything against my will. I’m not talking about going to the gym when I don’t feel like it, I’m talking about doing something that deeply contradicts my wants and needs, I mean listening to everyone except for myself, disregarding my emotions, putting myself on hold.

And as I watched that letter burn I knew that I could not go to couple’s counselling with BD anymore.

And I also knew that I was wrong about SG. I shouldn’t have let him go. I should have let me love me and I should have let myself love him back.