By the time most of us hit at least mid thirties it’s pretty safe to say we’re no longer virgins. I’ve had my fair share of longer term relationships and despite body and gender shaming rules that belong in the 1950s I can tell you that I slept with each of these on our first date and guess what, it still worked out.
I’m not a fan of the rules, games, power plays or mixed messages. I am a fan of transparency, touch, vulnerability and lots and lots of laughter. Of course it hasn’t always been that way, I had to play the games, try the rules and play with power before realising I didn’t want them.
Life and love shouldn’t come with a bucket sized side order of angst but too often it does. Simply because we do not trust. Trust in ourselves, trust in another, trust in the process, trust in the moment. Instead we try to control and too often put the other person’s thoughts, needs and life values ahead of our own (or our own ahead of the relationship we say is a priority), remaining silent in fear of losing the other if we speak up as if keeping someone who doesn’t honour our truth is preferable to living our truth. Trust me (there’s that word again), it isn’t.
But ‘our truth’ is often just a story we tell ourselves to ensure the world plays to our subconscious agendas, agendas that were set up in childhood and may no longer serve our world as adults. Those agendas are often played out in our intimate relationships where our wounds are exposed. Hence, the games, the victim, the perpetrator, the rescuer and all the other roles that humans like to play until they realise life without a ‘story’ is life without blame and shame.
I used to think that real love was when I walked into a party and every cell in my body was charged in that way that hits the stomach and lifts it into the air in a cacophony of fireworks as my eyes fell upon a particular male. Little did I know that that charge could so often (but not always) be every screwed up cell of mine clapping their hands together to say ‘yay, that one, that one there, he will know how to keep us alive and acting out, oh thank you Rachael, go for him, go for him.’
To be honest I have slept with all manner of crazy in both shorter and longer term relationships and each of them in turn slept with all manner of crazy-at-the-time, me, too. There’s the alcoholic who would disappear for days with no communication, none, not even answering the front door when his car was parked in the garage. The marijuana addict who drove a swanky car to his swanky job but couldn’t get out of bed in the morning without reaching for a bong first.
Then there was the boyfriend who I thought was having an affair, turned out he was, just not with a woman, with heroin. I was strangely relieved while still shocked on the floor.
I’ve been in relationship with men who struggled with severe anxiety and/or depression, others with intimacy avoidance disorder, and one narcissist (oops). Their backgrounds were all different, son of divorced parents, son of parents still in love, son of no parents, son of rich parents, poor parents, crazy fucked up parents, the world’s best parents.
And while they were numbing themselves with booze, weed, heroin, impossible work schedules, gym obsession and the like, the other cray in the cray cray relationship was numbing herself with food, drugs, shopping, booze, gym addiction and navigating her own way at the time through a corridor of eating disorders and depression.
But here’s the point. We’re all crazy in our own little way and when we expose that crazy in a relationship we’re really saying love me, please, when we should really be saying help me love me, but love yourself first so you can.
I have a special spot in my heart for each of these men because they dared to show their vulnerability to me and that alone takes courage and is a gift in itself and I cherish the connections I have had whether I still speak with them or not. Sharing intimate moments with someone is to really see someone and that is a privilege not a shame.
Besides, regardless of their own issues I like to think they still accepted me despite or maybe even for mine. Though I am now fully aware for some, but not all, we were simply the yin to each other’s dysfunctional yang.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like a little cray cray in a good way in my lovers. Life and love are meant to be fun after all and bland is just, well, distasteful. I just like their cray to be served up with a side order of compassion, understanding, patience and trust and my cray to offer the same. I think I’m getting there.
Like for like, right?