I consider myself pretty lucky.
The man whom I have taken to marry and commit myself to on a daily basis is pretty incredible.
He is in touch with his feelings, will look a person in the eye while having a conversation, is an active listener, tells the truth (almost to a fault) and is loyal. He is faithful, genuine and has a quirky sense of humor—offering witty banter in much of his conversations. He is the guy that all the relationship books write about. He is the guy that the ladies whisper about as though even mentioning these qualities might jinx them into not finding this gentleman for themselves.
I warn you now, however, that our love story is the exception—not the rule.
He is the exception—not the rule.
As I tell this story I want to implore that love, like a sculpture, is a labor of time and commitment; a mastery between both parties as they move through life and evolve individually. It is a union wherein both people must accept that each and every day is a choice (a choice!) to remain, and that with the odds against them this choice can easily be swayed in either direction—so tread mindfully.
This love story I share with you because it highlights the most important rule of any lasting love relationship: “Lasting love does not keep score”.
Love is not a dweller on indiscretions. It is noble in its ability to forgive mistakes, move through them, note what has been learned and let them go. Lasting love knows that no one is perfect and our imperfections can always be worked with if willing and able. It knows that there are always two parties with needs and while the navigations can be cunning and sly, ultimately, the two parties can conquer all if truths be told.
The year was 2002. I was 24 years old and had just gotten out of an engagement wherein I realized that I needed to be free to be me in a relationship, and that the guy I would spend the rest of my life with, would need to understand my version of crazy, just as I would try and understand his (yes, we are all crazy—even you).
I hightailed it to Boulder, Colorado for the second time in my life and was determined to finish college and find myself as one can only do in Boulder (yoga, meditation, therapy, friends, Hapa Sushi and the like).
In the first week at Naropa University we had orientation (I was a non traditional student which is why I was so old when I started my final two years of school) and in walked the man I immediately deemed to be “the end of me”.
Black hair, blue eyes, stunner smile—that was it—I was finished. No matter that I had yet to have a conversation with him, I knew in that moment, this guy was the guy for me.
Little did I know, this guy was not the commitment type.
I should remark here by saying this Mr. Right was a terrible boyfriend but is an amazing husband.
The days and weeks passed and we settled into an annoying on again off again type relationship. From there it evolved into more of a commitment but Mr. Right had one foot out the door at all times—he was just simply not ready and I was simply not ok with that.
It became my mission in life to get this guy to love me back—wholly and completely without question. A mission I would soon realize was futile due to the improbability to affect change on another human being.
Over time he committed, became my boyfriend and we moved in together. But even then, as we moved through all of the commitment steps, I knew he loved me, but he wasn’t ready for the whole kit and kaboodle.
The relationship was one of mixed signals. It strengthened as time went on but only so much. Deep down I knew we were not really headed in the same direction. I understood it was all a facade. It was a “good enough for now love”. We both had self work to do and we both had growth that had to happen—major growth that confronts the demons from the past in order to propel us into our future.
To put it mildly—we were headed downhill and fast. We were hurting inside and we were hurting each other…just not enough to fully let go yet.
Graduation came and went. We were 26 respectively and I moved out of our house, refusing to live with someone who had no intention of moving forward towards marriage. Easily agreeing with this notion—he and I both moved into separate post-college dwellings—he with some dudes and me with a gal pal.
We continued on. Scratching and grasping to what was left of our semi solid relationship and, as any girl in my situation would do, I kept hoping that time would repair us.
And then came December.
The 2004 Shambhala Dathun—Mr. Right was headed off to meditate.
A dathun in the Buddhist tradition is a month long meditation retreat wherein the participants spend 30 days meditating and listening to teachings from a respectable and honorable teacher. It breaks the heart wide open and people are changed. That which most participants have avoided facing in their hearts and minds generally comes to the surface and in this instance, at that surface, for Mr. Right, there was a girl.
That girl was not me.
For the conclusion of this tale be on the look out for Lasting Love Does Not Keep Score: Part Two.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: elephant archives