Stevie Wonder’s song Stay Gold always makes me happy. In the song, he sings about reflecting on a place and time when we were young, and life was care free — while remembering that nothing lasts forever. But more importantly, he reminds us that we must always stay gold. Staying gold; or, being optimistic — staying encouraged — being buoyant — is tough.
Especially with a heart that’s been battered and abused more than once. And you’re left with the scars.
That said, I read a thought provoking article the other day, suggesting that we only fall in love with three people in our lifetimes — each for a specific reason. As you know (if you read my blog), love (and even things love-like) have been kind of disastrous for me. But suspending my belief, for a few moments, about love’s curse on me, I challenged myself to be open. The article paints an eerily accurate description of my love experiences, but leaves me hopeful.
More specifically, though, coming across this piece was ironic — considering I just spent the past week waxing poetic down memory lane about the two major loves that I’ve had in my life. So, according to this article, I’m due for the real thing this time. The love that will make the previous two disasters look like child’s play. And will be easy. The one that will make it apparent why the other ones didn’t work out. Will the third time be the charm?
Before I start pining away and waiting patiently for the love that, according to Kate Rose, will come “so easy it doesn’t seem possible”, I should really reflect on what my other two loves have taught me, and how they prepared me for what I only hope will be real.
My first love. According to Rose, “This is the love that appeals to what we should be doing for society’s sake…We enter into it with the belief that this will be our only love and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel quite right, or if we find ourselves having to swallow down our personal truths to make it work because deep down we believe that this is what love is supposed to be.”
Damn. She hit the nail on the head with this characterization. My first love was a guy who I was with for nearly 10 years — just because. There were major problems in our relationship (which began when I was only 17), which really should’ve ended it long before it blew up. But we were together for “so long” and our families liked each other and he bought be cute presents and, and, and…
Nevermind the fact that he body-shamed the hell out of me (I gained some weight, he dumped me for a while, and I starved myself to lose it), cheated on me, and did other creepy things that are just too weird to discuss in this post. But yeah, it ran its course.
If I have to reflect on what it taught me, and why this love entered into my life, I’d argue that it showed me what I didn’t want. I don’t want to discount all of the wonderful times I had with this man (he was my first…yeah, that first), and we experienced a lot together. But, even the sum of our experiences leaves me in an icky place, and when I made peace with how that relationship ended, I vowed that I deserved better.
I made peace with my body (despite his judgment), I learned how to live with a man, and did the domestic thing for a bit. Actually, as I think about it, I made an entire Thanksgiving dinner for our families the year that we lived together. So yeah. Love number one lessons = self-acceptance, the qualities not to accept in a man, men who spend their lives in the gym probably won’t appreciate a chubby girl, and time doesn’t mean much once the love has run its course.
Love number two. Damn, that still hurts. According to Rose, “The second is supposed to be our hard love—the one that teaches us lessons about who we are and how we often want or need to be loved. This is the kind of love that hurts, whether through lies, pain or manipulation.”
Man. As much as I am still hurt by how that relationship ended, I learned so much about myself from him. He motivated me to be my best. He challenged me in many ways (which made me a better partner and woman to live with). He accepted my flaws. He knew the kind of love that I needed — an attentive, protective, and fierce love. And it was lovely. But, oh the eventual lies and hurt.
Rose describes the second love as one filled with highs, lows, dramas, etc.; this roller coaster analogy sums up a lot of what I experienced with this person — both good and bad. Mainly good (until it got bad).
Rose cautions, “With this kind of love, trying to make it work becomes more important than whether it actually should. It’s the love that we wished was right.” This sentiment speaks to my need and want to maintain a friendship with this person who hurt me so very deeply. Damn, I wish it didn’t have to end like it did. I digress.
But oh, this elusive third love. Rose beautifully posits:
“This is the love where we come together with someone and it just fits—there aren’t any ideal expectations about how each person should be acting, nor is there pressure to become someone other than we are…It isn’t what we envisioned our love would look like, nor does it abide by the rules that we had hoped to play it safe by. But still it shatters our preconceived notions and shows us that love doesn’t have to be how we thought in order to be true.”
This description completely challenges my ideas and expectations about a future partner. Primarily because there probably shouldn’t be expectations. The idea of not playing it safe is particularly intriguing to me in that as a Taurus, stability and safety are innate to me. That said, I may need to consider stretching my idea of what I believe my love will look like — act like — be like.
But being honest, I am still not ready to love again. I resist it, in fact. My musical chairs of questionable situations with men since my last love has shown me that I am not ready for anything real yet. For a long time, I shunned the idea of loving again — I was that hurt. But like Stevie says, I’ve got to stay gold.
Rose writes something about those who’ve loved and lost that leaves me very hopeful, “But I kinda think that those who make it to their third love are really the lucky ones…They are the ones who are tired of having to try and whose broken hearts lay beating in front of them wondering if there is just something inherently wrong with how they love…Just because it has never worked out before doesn’t mean that it won’t work out now.”
I’m not looking for love. I’m recovering. But, despite what my experiences have shown me, I am able to be loved, minus all of the drama, lying, nastiness & shame.
Though I’m broken now, I need to stay gold. The third time will be the charm.