I listened to Benjamin as he spoke softly to his Grandmother. His lulling tones calmed her as she lay in the hospital bed pleading with God to take her from this life.
He spoke with such gentle authority that I felt myself being wrapped in an embrace of safety and love.
The now withering body of his once virile elder began to soften. Her watery blue eyes began to shine with trust and recognition as she too fell under the whispered spell of her grandson turned Sage.
He wove words into a melodic story of a life lived fully that was now blooming into the fresh perspective of being reborn into a new reality.
I saw him as if for the first time and was, once again, captivated by this magnificent man.
I wonder how it is that until now, regardless of a sixteen-year marriage and encounters galore with the opposite sex, I’ve never really trusted a man.
You see my past is filled to overflowing with love gone wrong.
There is an Arabic saying that says, “If you step in shit, step well”.
While I have considered the myriad of ways to interpret this piece of advice, it would seem that when it came to attracting men of a certain type, I was the Empress of stepping well.
I’d cue the violin music as dramatic accompaniment to my woeful tales of betrayal, deceit, and, empty promises but my past relationships sound track is more like a rock opera than, “Fiddler on the Roof”.
Like any grand theatrical performance my, “pre-Benjamin days” had an intense cast of characters with an epic script.
There was the lover I refer to as, “Two Wolf Man”. He was a treat. Thanks to him I can add the title of Mistress to my dating resume. It was particularly interesting to me that I was unaware of being the other woman until I received a letter of introduction from his fiancé. Upon receipt of her generous and well-mannered correspondence, I left that overworked and underappreciated position and moved on to other manure filled pastures.
With fond memories of wild sex, a date to meet his son and planned vacations to foreign lands, I said good-bye to the male I call, “Panty Man”.
Before I left his high-end townhouse and unusual lifestyle, I did ask him to whom the stiff crotched Victoria Secret panties, that I found stuffed between the couch cushions, belonged. I am, after all is said and done, a curious woman. His answer was perhaps the only honest thing he said to me during our eight-month liaison. He said, “You weren’t supposed to find those”.
These two encounters are a small but colourful sample of some of the experiences that contributed to my intense suspicion and mistrust of any penis bearing human.
I believed, with the entirety of my being, that all men were liars and cheaters.
I knew, with impeccable accuracy, that testosterone units were unable to openly communicate, that they lacked the ability or desire to be intimate and were cowards in their own lives and I double-dared life to prove me wrong.
During that time in my life I was spinning wildly as I fought an inner battle of, “he loves me, he loves me not”.
I craved a conscious union yet wore a cage of male bashing and love defying beliefs around my heart. In my own special sprinkled-with-sugary-goodness and lots-of-valid-experiences-to-justify-it kind of way, I became the estrogen-based version of what I’d felt so exploited by – funny how that goes, isn’t it?
My communication skills centered on teaching the man in my life to be an open and honest partner while I sat atop my cushion of conscious and spiritual relational know it all.
I was emotionally unavailable and couldn’t feign intimacy if I tried. I was preoccupied by suspicion and constantly on guard for any scent of deceit that my lover may be sporting.
I also had trust issues. My specific brand of Eau du Trust-Not included dusting my men for fingerprints, watching if their eyes traversed another woman for a moment too long, seeking praise and continual validation of their commitment and fidelity and, on occasion, looking over their shoulders as they texted. I had also developed a habit of sliding my hands between the couch cushions and looking under their beds, just in case…
My communication skills centered on teaching the man in my life to be an open and honest partner while I sat atop my cushion of conscious and spiritual relational know it all. This was an effective distraction until it wasn’t. My unwillingness to be intimate and reveal my soft underbelly of fear, self-doubt, and abandonment rang in my ears with every enlightened lesson I so gleefully rammed down the throats of my consorts.
And then I met Benjamin and I let him meet me – all of me.
I revealed the scared, hurt, vulnerable, innocent and jaded me, and you know what? He loved me through every moment. He stood beside me as I ran away, came back, apologized, blamed, forgave, threw up and grew up.
This man showed me that he had a heart and that he wasn’t afraid to use it.
Through loving Ben for whom he is and in turn, being loved for who and how I am, I have realized that my past was simply a reflection of my own demons. The men that I thought punished me through their behaviors did not, in any way, represent the male population as a whole. In fact, I have found that as with most things, I got what I was looking for and what I too was giving.
I’d love to say that I suddenly changed into the version of myself that I am today – A woman who, four days ago, sat in a hospital room listening to her beloved apply a verbal panacea to his Grandmother’s broken spirit and aching heart. But that would be dishonest.
I have learned through my partnership with Benjamin that it is honesty, above all else, that floats the boat of love. It is a trust in speaking the truth of ones soul, no matter how weak our knees become, which allows the canoe of a relationship to evolve into a vast ocean faring vessel that can sail through any storm. Even one as tender and as heart rendering as saying Goodbye.
originally published in: The Good Men Project