Every year around this time, I get sad. It was ten years ago on Valentines day that my dad died. I had a very strong relationship with him. There are times that I feel like I could really be myself with him. Like he was the one person who really understood me, really accepted me. But that is not entirely the truth.
The truth is that my dad was always leaving, and when I could catch him, I had to bend myself into different shapes in order to fit into his life. I would accept bad treatment from his wife, a strange kind of hands-off behavior from him, all so I could be around him. All so that I could feel like I was loved. Well, some sort of love, anyway.
In essence, this was my room. You know what I mean if you saw the movie. If you didn't, I am sorry, but this is the metaphor I am going with this year. Next year I will write about this again and I will use some other metaphor to which you might relate.
The truth is that I worked hard to make him love me. I chased him. I worked along side him. I outwardly agreed with him when inside, I might have been screaming, "NOOOOOOO!"
After that first and foundational relationship, I kinda believed that was what love was, twisting myself into whatever shape I had to in order to be loved. I would endure the pain and the sadness of not really feeling like I was good enough just as I was, all the while working to be different to earn that love. I would do this until I had enough, then I would leave.
I have known for some time that I no longer want this type of love. I want the type of love that meets me where I am. I want the type of love that accepts my freakish behavior, my passionate beliefs, my irreverence. I want the type of love that I do not have to earn. But I keep picking the kind I have to work for. Or working for the love I already have. I find myself bending and twisting, maybe less than I used to, but still, the love I choose is not meeting me where I am.
It feels like if I do demand the type I want, the safety net that I have so carefully constructed over the last forty years will evaporate, and I will be swinging on a love trapeze without anything below to catch me when I fall.
It is scary to want to be seen. It is frightening to have to say, after so much time bending, that I would rather stand up straight, shoulders back.
It has been said that people change when the pain of not changing becomes too great. That change will happen when that pain becomes unbearable. But I think in my situation, it is not that it is unbearable. I can bear it. I just feel like the burden has worn out its welcome. That my bones, muscles and sinew ache from the shapes into which I twist myself. Over and over.
Every year at this time, I am reminded. I don't have to do this anymore. I didn't have to do it then.
I just have to choose differently.
I have to choose to let love meet me.