Everyone we now know and love was once a stranger.
There was a time when some I hold most dear were not even on my radar screen, and then by circumstance we found ourselves in the same place at the same time.
I’m certain that is true for the billions of people on the planet, and chances are they experience the same sense of bewilderment I have had when contemplating the intricacies of dating, mating and relating. I knew I couldn’t be the only one scratching my head and looking for a tried and true formula for calling you into my life.
Among my friends are many relationship specialists who earn their income by guiding and advising people who desire partners. Each of them has entered into unions; some are still together, others have loved and learned whatever they needed to and then moved on.
For so long, I wondered if you even existed or were merely a figment of my wildly vivid imagination.
I would have conversations with you as I drove in my car, walked in the park, strolled on the beach or lay in bed. I would play scenarios out in my mind about our initial encounter, and then what would happen beyond that.
Nothing could have prepared me for the “real thing” on the day you arrived.
I questioned everything about myself and you in the years between my marriage ending when I was widowed and the day after this one. I asked myself at first if I would ever be ready to love again. I wondered if I was too wounded. I doubted my ability to be a healthy partner, since I had lived for more than a dozen years in the role of co-dependent caregiver for a husband who died following a lengthy illness, in what I call my “paradoxical marriage.” All stories that needed to be re-written, which is what I am doing now.
I look back at the relationships I have had since 1998, and am grateful for each one, regardless of duration and outcome.
Each one opened my heart more. Each one permitted me access to my own inner workings and had me facing and questioning beliefs about the nature of love. Each one helped me to bare my soul and go deep.
What I have learned is that love is never wasted.
I know that we all bring our 100 percent experience to the table, and mine includes lovers whom I used to refer to as “friends with benefits.” As I think about it in this moment, it somehow diminishes the connection between us. I now call them “heart friends,” or, per a description used in the Marge Piercy book Woman on the Edge of Time, “pillow friends.” Time with them (and some are still in my life, so they are part of the package) has honed my senses and made me an even better partner for you.
I would not be the woman who gratefully stands before you if not for loving them.
This is not easy for me to write, since for such a long time I wondered what was lacking in me, or “wrong with this picture,” that after 17 years I was still single. I did all of the relationship coach-y recommended things of making the list of qualities I desired in a partner and checking it way more than twice. I wrote down all of the limiting thoughts I could come up with that would likely keep a partner at bay and then burned the paper. I played on dating websites and met some interesting people, but always felt like first dates were a combo of stressful job interview and audition.
I longed for, lusted after and then relinquished certain people.
I raised my son solo, and he is now launched and in his own wonderful relationship. I faced several health crises and made it through more vibrant and stronger than ever. I “got my house in order” literally and figuratively. I did and continue to do forgiveness work. I bought lacy, sexy underwear.
I treat myself the way I have welcomed being treated by you. I have stretched my comfort zones in ways that surprise me. I have visited amazing places and am grateful to be your traveling companion. I have become the kind of person I would want to marry. I loved my single life and now adore my life with you.
My work is all about relationships—as a therapist, interfaith minister who marries people, radio host of a show called It’s All About Relationships, speaker who teaches on the topic and journalist who pens articles on the subject. I have a friend who drew up my astrology chart, and she tells me that most of the planets for this Libra are in the house of relationships (whatever that means).
I imagine that you have walked through the fire as well and come through on the other side, a tumbled and polished gem, honed by life experience. You have laughed and cried, alone and with beloveds. You have experienced love and loss that have prepared you to transform from a “me” alone to a “we” together.
Even as we have joined forces, we maintain our individuality.
Laughing, I recall times when I asked myself if I wanted a male version of me. As that Libra, I do want balance. Another me would likely drive me bonkers. Our differences complement each other and enhance our similarities all the more. You may have even wondered if I was ever going to show up, or if you would play the waiting game forever. I welcome hearing about the meandering path that brought you here.
I think about the “almost” and “not quite” people who have come into my life. They had qualities I felt drawn to, but for whatever reason they or I were not fully available to each other. I thought of them as the Universe teasing me. Kind of like the kids’ game “you’re getting warmer,” I was led to these folks to set the stage for you to walk onto it. Still frustrated at times—learning patience is my growing edge.
I’ve stopped calling you “soul mate” in favor of “love mate.” It reminds me of the line from the Hafiz poem called The Seed Cracked Open, “What love mischief can we do today?”
I had to peel off the layers of guilt, shame and blame, of hiding behind a façade, thinking I needed to present myself in certain ways to be worthy of love. I have gotten emotionally naked and vulnerable as I have written words that invited you in.
I have surrendered and waited for you to show up. What other choice did I have?
A few weeks ago, while in meditation, these words came through:
“Every step I take brings me closer to you.”
I knew right away what that meant. Shortly after, I was at a holiday party hosted by a family for whose daughter I had officiated the wedding. A guest who had also lost her husband and met a new love three years ago said to me, “Love comes softly and when least expected.”
I look forward with great delight, to all of our tomorrows.
And now that you are here, I can greet you with open arms. “Oh, there you are. Welcome home.”
Author: Edie Weinstein
Editor: Toby Israel