My trip to Alaska last year was an eye opener for me. Although I've been single for over thirty years and have become comfortable with and enjoy my life as a single person, that trip made me realize that life might be even better if I had a partner, as long as he was the right partner.
The Universe also seemed to be supporting that idea by bringing me into contact with a variety of couples who were willing to share their insights, experiences and thoughts about living life together. The general consensus was that, although it took a lot of work to make it work, sharing life with a partner was better than living life alone. And over and over again I heard, it had to be the right partner.
The movie, The Secret, that came out several years ago and created such a sensation, said that all we had to do was visualize what we wanted and the Universe would make it happen. The Law of Attraction says that like attracts like, and if we tell the Universe what we want, are open to receiving it, and allow God to work in the way that He knows is best for us, we'll get what we ask for. In each case, though, in order for the Universe to give us what we asked for, we have to know what we want.
When the realization hit me that life could be better if I had the right partner to share it with, and that maybe I was finally ready to open myself up to finding that partner, I began to think of what the right partner for me would look like. So one night in a hotel room in northern California, I took out my journal, opened it to the back pages, and began to write a list of all the things I wanted in a partner.
The very first thing I wrote down was: Pursuing an active, intentional spiritual path similar to my own in belief. That was a no brainer as far as I was concerned, since my last relationship had been with a man who was religious but not spiritual, and not only had not believed what I believed, but was afraid of the work that I did.
Other items on the list included: intelligent/educated, great sense of humor, accepts and loves me as I am (This one was a deal breaker. He had to accept and love all of me, including the part of me that spoke in tongues, banged on drums and talked to people who weren't physically present!) Because my last partner was afraid of my work, I tried to keep that part of me separate when we were together, and that just didn't work. In my next relationship, if there was one, it had to be all or nothing.
And the list continued: generous, kind, willing/able to live in Nashville (another deal breaker), appropriately touchy/feely (likes to hold hands, hug), goes with the flow (none or minor control issues), wants an equal partner and can be an equal partner, attractive (to me!), at least six feet tall, plus or minus five years from my own age, healthy, non-smoker (another deal breaker), willing to take a side road just because it's there and he can, or because I want to, willing to stop on the side of the road, over and over again, to take a picture of a once in a lifetime moment. The list went on and on...forty-five items in all!
When I finally put the pen down and closed the journal, I said to God, "Ok, you better get started 'cause this isn't going to be easy!" and then I turned off the light and went to sleep. Over the next couple of days I thought about the list from time to time, wondering if perhaps I'd been too picky, but deciding that if I was really serious about this, and God could give me what I wanted, then I wanted what I wanted and I was going to leave the list as is. As my trip began to come to an end, and I got closer to home, thoughts of returning to Pittsburgh eventually crowded out thoughts about the list, and in time I forgot about it entirely. And then I met Charles.
We met on one of the sunset lake cruises that Unity Church (the church I've been attending since I moved to Nashville) offered as a way for church members to get to know one another better outside of the Sunday morning services.
Charles and I spent most of that cruise sharing our stories and were pretty much oblivious to the others around us. We saw each other at church the following Sunday for a few brief moments and exchanged contact information, and via email he invited me out to lunch at Panera's the next Thursday, a lunch that ended up lasting five and a half hours!
We've spent a great deal of time together since that first lunch, doing a variety of things, and have gotten to know a lot about each other. He helped me put together a storage unit for my office so I could unpack more boxes, and in unpacking one of those boxes, I came across the journal that contained the list I had written that night in the hotel room. As I began to read down the list, I laughed so hard my belly hurt and tears rolled down my cheeks. From what I knew of him, Charles seemed to be an almost perfect match for the partner I described in that list of forty-five items! (The only two items I knew for sure he wasn't a match for were the height and age requirements I had listed. There were also a couple of others that I wasn't yet sure of, simply because the relationship hadn't yet progressed far enough for me to know, but my gut was telling me those were going to be a match also.)
My mother used to tell me: "Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it." When I was younger I really didn't understand what she meant by that. She seemed to be saying that I might not be happy getting what I wished for, and yet that didn't make sense, because I wouldn't wish for something I didn't want. But over the years I've come to understand what the saying means, and it does make sense. Often we ask/wish for things that we think we want without realizing the full impact those things might have on our lives if we actually got them. That's where I am now, with Charles and our relationship, trying to figure out how to deal with the impact.
He's darn near everything I asked for! What's not to be happy about?
I've been single over thirty years. I have certain ways of doing things, and I've learned to love my alone time, and even require it at times to help me stay balanced and energized. (Charles was married for over forty years and is accustomed to sharing his time and space.) I usually drive in silence, and almost never play the radio/stereo/TV as background noise while I'm doing things around the house. (Charles plays the radio almost constantly in the car, and frequently has the TV on at home because the house is so quiet since his wife's passing.) These aren't the only differences between us, of course, just a couple of examples. The point is, in a relationship, both of us need to get our needs met, and that takes negotiation and compromise.
My life, before Charles, had a pattern to it, a certain rhythm, even here in this new home and new city, a pattern that has helped me make my life work as this independent, single working woman I've been for all these years. If I want to share my life with someone, if I want to let someone in, really let him in, in the deepest most meaningful way possible, then I have to find a new pattern, a new rhythm, a new way of being that allows for that, allows for his needs and wants and desires as well as my own. I need to find a way to allow him in enough to help me find that new way, because if I'm going to have a partner, it can't just be my way, it has to be our way too.
Letting go of the old ways, the ways that are comfortable and safe and familiar, isn't easy. I find myself looking for reasons to say no instead of yes, resisting the closeness, resisting the partnership, the offers of help, not because I don't want what he's offering, but because I don't know how to accept it and still maintain my autonomy. I got what I asked for and I don't know what to do with it! And because sometimes it seems easier just to say no than to learn how to do things differently, even things that can make me happier, make my life fuller and more satisfying than it already is, I have to be careful that I'm not saying no just because I'm in unfamiliar
territory and feeling uncomfortable and out of control.
I asked, and the Universe provided. Since I've met Charles I've laughed harder and longer then I thought possible. I feel accepted and valued in a way I didn't think I ever would. We've had some of the most honest and intimate conversations I've ever had with another human being, opening our hearts and souls to one another without fear of rejection or reprisal. It really has been amazing.
What more could I ask for? The courage to keep saying "yes."