Archive for relationships

One Severed Heart

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2009 by 1writegirl

I may need to leave here
He tells her
It’s not about you

Okay, she says.

What else can she possibly say?

For three months they have been inseparable
Like conjoined twins
Or one severed heart
Beating together that both may survive

He has been her champion
Her secret-sharer
Her one true friend
Her hope

It is her tendency to take the blame
Yet she knows in a moment of truth
That what he needs does not seem to be
Within her power to give

Her intellect tells her not to fret
But her heart knows better:
What am I lacking
What didn’t I do
What could I change

So you would want to stay.

Love Cookies

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , on December 23, 2008 by 1writegirl

I baked sugar cookies with my son today. The only time he likes to help me bake is this time of year, when I get out the cookie cutters and we make tree and reindeer and snowflake shapes. The rest of the time I’m on my own, at least until it comes time to eat them, and then his willingness to oblige knows no bounds.

My mind wandered while sifting flour and measuring sugar to some little girls who, in seasons past, have been in my kitchen with me, ready and eager to cook, bake, clean up, anything. These little girls, offspring of a man I was in a relationship with for several years, are the collateral damage of break-up; the bigger part’s smaller parts that we hurt, lose, and miss by virtue of their connection to ‘the other.’ I couldn’t help but think of these little girls today with more than a twinge of sadness and wonder if they ever think of me anymore, and if they do, what remains of me in those thoughts. Or have they all but forgotten me in the six months – which is, after all, like years to an adult – that have elapsed since I departed from their lives, unwillingly and without advance notice to either them or me? Who told them they wouldn’t see me anymore, and what reason was given?

I glanced with tenderness at my own son, standing next to me blithely ignorant of my internal roilings, pouring vanilla into a measuring spoon. I would give and do anything to protect him from the dangers that lurk behind life’s hidden doorways, though I’m painfully aware that I’m helpless to protect him from almost all of them, especially as he gets older. I can’t shield my own child from harm, how can I shield someone else’s? He smiled at me and I was reminded of how much more resilient children are than their parents.

Later, my ‘new’ boyfriend called, to say one thing: I love you. I know as much as the next person that the novelty of a young relationship lends itself to extremes. I know the heights of passion, spontaneity and in some cases, even blindness, rarely last beyond a few months. But it isn’t just his newness that is different for me this time; it is the newness of his behavior. In my previous relationship, the one with the girls I became so attached to, not only did I almost never hear words of affection, I got to the point where I became afraid to utter them; it made my boyfriend uncomfortable, he said, to hear me speak of love: the implication of forever being too much an undercurrent he didn’t want to contemplate, let alone get used to.

So today my heart leapt when I heard “I love you.” It is no longer the equivalent of a bad word; it isn’t a weapon or a carrot or a source of embarrassment. It isn’t a stash to be hoarded, nor can it be used up. It is what it is: an expression of affection, affection that, for the time being, is powerful and honest and curative. I revel in the knowledge of its existence, in the momentary gift of its charm and the rebound of its echo hours later. Maybe I will be one of the lucky ones, for whom love doesn’t fade away as time passes and familiarity deepens. Whether I am or not, I think of those little girls, and hope the affection we shared together was sweeter than its loss was painful; I am grateful for the times I hugged them and kissed them and we said I love you back and forth; and I hope they, too, will be the recipient someday of a phone call to say I love you.

My Fur Coat

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2008 by 1writegirl

I love you so differently than I have ever loved before, I confess to him. I am thinking, I want to give and give and give to you. It’s because this is the first time you are really loved back, he says.

I think of the other relationships I’ve been in, of Ken and Jake and Tom and Ben, and I wonder about each man in turn, and his level of devotion. Joe loved me, I am sure of it, however briefly, in a desperate, all or nothing kind of way, that went, not surprisingly, from all to nothing almost overnight. Ken probably didn’t, but that was my doing; I never gave him the chance, sabotaging any possibility of real intimacy from the beginning, in the way a very young and fearful girl will do in the face of doubt she could stay with any one person, when life is secretly beckoning her to run like the wind and not look back. Tom never loved me and frankly I didn’t care anymore at some point; I gave up wanting his affection and in doing so gave up the act of loving him as well. By that time I had a child to care for, a son to exchange love with in a forever, unconditional sort of way that prior to his birth was the stuff of fairy tales; now, understood without reservation or fear.

And Ben? I loved Ben a great deal, and in spite of the fact that he withheld his love from me in the steely way a miser will guard his stash of gold, I convinced myself that he really did love me. I could feel it, in spite of his desire to keep it confined, invisible, and unspoken. Whether it was his, or my own feelings reflected back onto me with the force of sunlight in a rearview mirror at sunset, I can’t say. I allowed it to blind me for four years until he told me he didn’t want me anymore and then the question of love or don’t love became a moot point.

Now, this new man – this wonder who has swept into my life with the force of a tornado and shaken my very foundations – is offering me the chance to love and be loved with all the redemptive powers of a presidential pardon or a Catholic confession: freedom to be accepted in all my torn humanness with everything showing that has come before, yet none of it mattering.

He is not an optimist, a glass half-full kind of man. On the contrary, he finds very little in life to wonder at, marvel over, or worship. The dark side of human nature is the bane of his existence, the weight of it great enough to usurp what is beautiful and eclipse what is light. It is not a resistance to joy that he sports, though it may seem that way at times, but a continual struggle to keep his head above the ugliness. What remains at the end of the day is not so much acceptance as it is tolerance. Once in a great while something moves him and he lets go, he gives everything while expecting nothing, yet wanting just enough to stave off what torments him a while longer.

How I chanced to wander into his path is a mystery, and how I could possibly be enough, I may never know. He wears his passion for me like a favorite old t-shirt, as if it’s the most natural and comfortable fit he has ever found. I wear it like a silk lined sable coat, reveling in its protective warmth, amazed by its softness, determined to keep it clean, supple and free of stain. Bewildered by the fact that something so beautiful is touching me, each time, as if for the very first time, and suffused with the desire to remain enough.