I always wanted someone with a backbone.
Man, woman, black or white—it didn’t matter that much to me; just a backbone.
I wanted someone with a backbone that held together the foundation of their spirit, that they not only wouldn’t, but couldn’t waiver from. I wanted a person who is authentic. A person who knows the sound of the voice of their truth and listens to it. A person with a backbone who bends to experience life but does not break from it. A person who comes out of circumstances more of who they already are, not less.
This is the only thing I was willing to accept. I am someone with my own backbone who will not carry the weight of a partner who tries to break me from their insecurities.
I also know how easy it is for someone with a backbone to break someone without one.
I have been in a partnership with someone who wasn’t authentic to their own truth, so they relied on me to show them what was true for them. It is exhausting, confusing, and creates resentment. Eventually, I viewed them as weak. I invalidated all of the changes they made within themselves to accommodate the truth they believed I wanted them to be. I didn’t want to wear these shoes again. Ever.
I wanted someone who would fight the entire world to defend their authentic being; someone who would rather die for what they believe in than live for what they don’t.
I wanted someone who knew themselves before me, and would know themselves the same with me and after me.
This is what I wanted. And, this is exactly what I got.
Some days, I have to remind myself that this is exactly what I wanted.
He woke me up from my afternoon nap with our newborn, with a happy-go-lucky excitement as he handed me water and raw garlic (which I take as a health measure daily). He told me he vacuumed the downstairs with the diligence of a ninja.
Having a newborn is exhausting in and of itself, so when I walked downstairs to see a pile of dirty dishes and a disorganized back porch that he was actually supposed to be conquering as we slept, exhaustion hit me harder.
He vacuumed because it was important to him. The back porch and the dishes were important to me.
As the warm dish water ran over my hands, he walked by and I mustered up the words to tell him I was proud of myself for not getting angry. I was taking this lesson as a lesson in self-responsibility. “What I want done, I must do myself,” I said.
Without skipping a beat, he said, “This isn’t a lesson in self responsibility Stacy. It’s a lesson in patience.”
Part of me wanted to do everything he said he would in an attempt to weaken his backbone; to show him who was stronger. But, the open-to-a-greater-lesson part of me chose to sit on his words, “This is a lesson in patience.” He did not tell me to do it myself. He did not scold me for my impatience. He simply alluded to the fact that he’d do everything he said he would, in his own time.
The next day when the back porch was clean and our dishes were done, we sat down together and I realized for the first time in a few days, I was seeing him. I didn’t see the things he didn’t do, the words we shared, or his body eating his meal. I saw him the way I want to see him every day. I saw the truth of his being.
When we first connected, sharing time and space with him was an honor. It was a gift. I was so grateful to know that he was a “whole” person who wouldn’t be broken by any earthly thing. The fact that he wanted to make me happy at all felt like my biggest blessing.
Somewhere in relationships, between kids, society, fulfilling individual and conjoined dreams, it becomes easy to miss the person you love the most.
Not miss them in a way that your heart strings long for them in their absence, but miss them in a way that though you’ve spent all day with them, they may as well have been a piece of furniture you sat on and didn’t even notice the pattern of.
Somewhere, we begin to miss the spirit behind the person and only see what roles they are or aren’t fulfilling to meet our own needs.
This man is my best friend. I shared days with him and didn’t see him once. It’s moments like this, where he says, “This is a lesson in patience,” that I am humbled by his unbreakable backbone. Had he not had a sturdy backbone, he may have done all I asked him to, felt resentful and argued with me later about it in some passive distress call for not honoring his own boundaries.
It is moments when he has done everything he said he would, in his own time, that I am reminded: he’s been there the whole time, I just wasn’t looking at the right angle. I was noticing what I wanted impatiently, rather than being grateful for what I have.
A door to my heart was secretly closed to him in the duties of life I was focused on both of us filling.
I missed him, terribly.
Seeing my partner every day is a practice that I’m frequently encouraged to take more stock in. It requires my spirit to come to the surface of life and merge with what appears to be hidden in him but is always right in front of me.
It requires me to be grateful for getting exactly what I wanted in the first place. A partner who knows themselves, will bend for me, but never break for me. A partner who will not try to break me and honors my own authentic backbone. I wanted another backbone of Spirit to nudge toward growth and frolic through life with.
“Good morning! It’s good to see you!” I said this morning.
He smiled at me, “Do you see me?”
I decided I want him to ask me this every day.
Every day I want to see his authenticity, his spirit, his love more than I see what he needs to do or what he needs to get.
I found a partner with a backbone. Taking the time to honor him as such, is a bit like a daily chiropractic adjustment but for the soul.
Authentic love is what I wanted and I don’t want to miss the daily gift, only because I’m not opening it.
I vow to see him. Every day.
Author: Stacy Hoch
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Lemuel Cantos/Flickr