My eyes moved from the box to catch his gaze. His hair was graying on the sides and he really did look the twelve years older than me that he was. His eyes were a grayish blue. Very kind-looking. I felt like I was sitting across from my father. And I started to cry. Tears of confusion, tears of appreciation, I’m not sure which. I had never had anyone other than my father tell me I deserved anything. God knows I had never heard those words from my ex-husband, or any other boyfriend. They all seemed to feel that they as men were the ones entitled to things.
“Jennie, if I were twenty years younger, I’d be chasing you all over town. But I’m too old for that and just want to have the joy of giving you a very special summer,” he told me. “You have gotten the short end of the stick in lots of ways, but you get up every morning and work every day to improve the lives of not only your kids, but all the kids you teach. You are a beautiful person and have the opportunity to get back a little of what you have given.”
It’s like they expect Samantha from Sex in the City but I’m far from it. If a guy tells me he’s married and just wants to be friends, I believe him. I don’t look to seduce him and don’t assume he is trying to seduce me. But tell this to most people and they’ll shake their heads and tell me “tsk, tsk,” as if I am in the wrong for not reading between the lines.
I think I’ve been haunted by When Harry Met Sally. It’s not the scary early 1990s fashion that has bothered me over the years, nor has it been the the famous orgasm scene. What has been underneath my skin since seeing that movie was the theory put forth by Billy Crystal stating that men and women couldn’t just be friends, because the sex thing was always there. I really didn’t want to believe that. But then wondered if it was true. And I still find myself questioning.
I finally started to doze off when I heard the owl. I woke back up not with a startle, but with a happiness for having heard it. I listened to it for the next ten minutes or so. Thoughts bounced back and forth- from the owl to what had transpired that day with my bosses. That symbol of wisdom was right outside my bedroom somewhere, seeing in the dark, looking down on everything around it. It was confirmation that I was on the right path, even though I have no idea what path that is.
I’ve done tons of reflection on this. Tons of therapy. I’ve done energy work and meditation. I notice the thoughts. I feel the emotions. I detach. And here I am ten years later, still triggered. I live in fear of being the Wal-Mart greeter one day and my ex wants me to congratulate him on his new Lexus?
I know that the various authors didn’t write the books on it to shame anyone, and they do have helpful guidance in how to establish a better relationship than the anxious-avoidant one I had been trapped in- but it really did make feel like a dented can in the discount section. I was damaged, and only could make the most of my situation.
I feel like the side of velcro that just picks up negative particles of cruelty and they are really hard to pull off.
I was so ready to build a future, to move on and away from trauma, to be free and to be a grown-up that I allowed myself to ignore all kinds of warnings, and to consciously convince myself that this person would bring stability to my life. I threw all my eggs into that unstable basket.
Give me a guy ballsy enough to tell me in person what he’d like to do to me and not one who casts a wide net of selfies to see what he can drag in. And as someone who has been painfully sensitized to a partner’s ability to be unfaithful, I don’t think I could ever trust that the guy who is unable to start a conversation with an attractive woman in real life would be able to be truthful with me about the really important stuff.