Eye of the Beholder – Love is not always blind, seeking understanding.
May 7, 2017
At first this blog topic was going to be about the different men who have filtered in and out of my life. I was sitting there writing about them when my thoughts turned to the fact that I’m supposed to be letting go of the negative and embracing the positive. So I started over and instead, I am going to write about what happened and what I learned from the relationship we had. So this writing focuses on the 6 people who had the greatest impact.
I was always that odd girl, the tomboy who liked sports and didn’t get into the whole having a boyfriend & dating thing until I was about 18. In the circle of friends I was growing up with I was the late bloomer.
The 1st boy who was interested in me was quiet and gentle-mannered. He was soft-spoken, kind and funny. We became fast friends when he transferred to our school mid-semester our senior year, we were in drafting class together. I thought he was nice.
Then one day he asked if he could call me and I said ok. So this went on for a few weeks, a nightly phone call and trivial conversation. Then one night, a friend convinced me to go to the homecoming dance, which was really unusual for me because I felt awkward and uncomfortable in social situations.
While I was sitting on the gym bleachers watching everyone dance, I saw him walking across the floor toward me. I wasn’t sure how he saw me since the gymnasium was rather dark and the only lights were coming from the DJ & his set up around the dance floor.
We sat there and talked, then he asked if he could kiss me. It wasn’t exactly that magical moment one hopes for from their first kiss but we were both nervous so it was understandable. We sat there for a little while holding hands and talking then his friend came up and said they had to go. He left and that actually was the last time I talked to him.
The following week he didn’t show up to class until that following Wednesday. When he came in, he took a seat at the front of the room and wouldn’t look at me. I wasn’t sure what was going on and I didn’t ask.
Later that morning, I was walking to the cafeteria with a friend when we rounded the corner and saw this big crowd of people in the middle of the hall. I could hear some girl yelling and what sounded like someone being shoved into the lockers. As we got closer that’s when I saw him and this girl I knew to be a junior cheerleader for the basketball team, she was laying into him. He looked panicked and kept apologizing to her.
As we were passing by, I asked a girl from my English class what was going on. She said that someone had told her they saw him kissing some girl at the homecoming dance. There was mumbling among the girls standing there that she had wasted 3 years on him.
I just looked at him and walked away unable to believe what just happened. He transferred the following week back to his previous high school. I heard later on that they got married, had three kids then got divorced when she left him for someone else. I sometimes think about that moment. If you are afraid to confront the issues, talk openly & honestly about them then it will leave you trapped to your circumstances. You cannot resolve issues without confronting them. I was never mad at him just disappointed and wished he had told me. We could have still been friends.
The 2nd person that came into my life was the summer after I graduated later the following year. I was 18 and started spending more time with my cousin who was in college. One particular weekend we went to one of her friend’s house for a party. I was still trying to come out of my shell and be less awkward around others.
While we were there a group of guys came in they were all cousins from Alabama. Two were there to play college basketball and the other two just came along to go to school. Everything was going okay then my cousin and a couple of girls disappeared on a beer run and to get more cigarettes. Three of the cousins went to pick up some people who needed a ride and so I was left alone with the one guy.
He was really nice but at least 4 to 5 years older than me and extremely attractive. We had been talking about random things and were hitting it off quite well when he said he needed to go back to his house and asked me if I wanted to go. So I said sure knowing that things were moving way too quickly between us but was unsure as to how to respond.
I had never had a boyfriend before and also had not had sex either but didn’t tell him that until afterward. He kept apologizing to me and I kept telling him I was okay. In my thinking I just wanted to get that life experience over with so I maybe I wouldn’t feel so awkward and unsure about myself, it didn’t really help though.
We got back to the party and he left with one his cousins. My cousin kept asking me where we went but I wouldn’t tell her. Later that evening she had gotten too drunk and got into a fight with someone so we had to leave. It was a long walk back to her dormitory because I didn’t have a license or know how to drive.
The next morning we walked back to retrieve her car and ran into a group of girls she knew. We discussed going to this basketball tournament that the guys we met the night before were going to be in. So we all piled into the cars and left.
While on the way to the tournament I found out that the girl I was sitting next to was “the one guy’s” fiancée. They were supposed to be getting married after she graduated that fall and were going to move to where her new job was somewhere in California.
I felt so bad and I guess by the look on my face my cousin now knew what happened. On the way into the tournament, she pulled me aside and told me not to say anything. I wasn’t going to say anything because it wasn’t my place and this girl was such a nice person I couldn’t do that to her. I had made such a serious error in judgement.
We went to sit down on the bleachers and she had me sit right next to her and just kept chatting with me about a lot of different things. She even bought me something to drink and was sharing popcorn with me. She really was a lovely person.
When the tournament started, the group of guys we went to see came out and the look on this poor guys face as she sat there waving to him while I was sitting right next to her is something seared into my brain forever.
They lost their first round and it started a huge argument between his team. They kept yelling at “the one guy” who was screwing everything up with mistakes. After the tournament was over, she left with him and I never saw them again. My cousin told me later that they went their separate ways after she graduated and he went back to Alabama with his cousins.
I would wonder about it later and thought if he wasn’t ready to settle down then he really should have been honest with her and also stood up to his cousins who seemed to influence his thinking about the relationship. The one thing I learned from that experience was, you have to decide what’s best for yourself because no one else can live your life for you.
The 3rd relationship occurred over a year later, I was now in the military at my first training base when I had my first ever boyfriend. He was extremely smart, athletic, kind, funny, driven, purposeful and loved to dance. My friends hated him. They thought he was a boring nerd because he didn’t drink and didn’t like to go out to party with everyone. I didn’t care because I adored him.
Things were going well between us and we spent all our free time together. My friends started complaining because I wasn’t hanging out with them so I started splitting up time between them and him which was a mistake. I started failing the training modules we were going through and ended up failing out of my school which meant they were going to send me to another base for training.
He thought it would be best that we just break up with each other but after much talk we decided to spend all the time we could with each other until it was time for me to go. At that point we didn’t know how long it would be until they transferred me. 3 weeks later I got orders to leave for my new duty station. We said we would write every day and we did. Then 6 months later he asked me to marry him.
By this time he was at his first duty station in Japan and I was at mine in Delaware. So for the next 6 months we planned when we were going to get married and how to request a duty station together. I thought everything was going to be fine. He came back to the states and we were going to get married. I was so happy to be with him again but something had changed with him.
We spent the next 4 days together before getting married. We got the marriage license and had an appointment with the Justice of the Peace. We were going to spend a week with his family in Minnesota and then a week with my family in Oklahoma before he went back to his base in Japan.
During those 4 days issues about our roles in the marriage started becoming evident. He expected me to get out of the military after my enlistment was up and start a family. He would be in charge of everything financially and would start attending college to become an engineer. He then told me he didn’t like the people I was hanging out with, the music I listened to, the fact that I started smoking again and the way I was dressing. He also decided that I didn’t know “God” enough and handed me this Bible to help me. It was a children’s bible with pictures because he thought it would be easier for me to understand. This was not the person I knew before and being me of course I had to say something.
We argued out everything when it came out that he had been seeing someone the whole time he was in Japan. She was the mom of one the kids he taught in his gymnastics group and wife of one the Marine’s on the base where he worked.
I felt so betrayed. I handed him is ring back, packed his bag and called him a cab. He tried to apologize. He tried to sound reasonable. I just wanted him to go away. It was two days before our appointment with Justice of the Peace when he got into that cab that early Sunday morning and it ended temporarily.
I cancelled my plane ticket and bought a bus ticket home. A little over a year went by before I saw him again. I was now in Korea and pregnant with my son. He had found out where I was and wanted to see me. He thought we could work things out between us and still get married.
I didn’t tell him about the pregnancy until he got there. I knew that he would never be able to accept my child as his own. He only stayed for two days and then I never saw him again. That experience taught me the importance of trust. A relationship should be built on trust, integrity and honesty. A marriage should have defined roles that complement each other, play on the strengths of the individual and not be one where someone is in “charge”. You cannot change or expect to change another. If you rely on the other person too much for your own happiness how are supposed to grow as your own person? Growth in relationships and in life is important.
The 4th relationship ties into the 3rd. The guy I was involved with when I first got to Korea was another nerdy, smart, athletic guy but he had a dark and moody side. We were similar except I enjoyed going out, drinking, and dancing. Just having fun. He would reluctantly go along with us but only because he thought he had to watch over me. As we went along he was slowly coming out of his shell then I found out I was pregnant and he shut down again. He stopped talking to me and wouldn’t go out with our group anymore.
I found out through a mutual friend that he was in the middle of a child support issue and would have to go to court back in the states to resolve it. His last girlfriend had given birth to a baby and said it was his. Her parents were suing him for child support. He had been in Korea for a little over a year so the timelines were in question about his paternity. He told me he had a family issue and was going on emergency leave. I never told him that I knew what was going on. We hadn’t even discussed our own issue with each other yet. He came back two weeks later and his mood was not improved. It indeed was his baby. We sat down and talked.
I told him that I was capable of taking care of the baby on my own and didn’t need his help. He seemed relieved. We broke up as a couple and decided to be friends. I started seeing someone else during my remaining time there and he was interested in one the girls from our group.
During this transition is when my former fiancée showed up. This caused a physical confrontation between them after I told the former fiancée that this person was the father of the baby. I asked the father of my baby why he had showed up that night knowing full well that my former fiancée was there and there would be a confrontation.
He said “the best way to solve a problem or issue is meet it head on and not back down from it”. That’s just how he was about most things blunt and to the point with no concern about others feelings or thoughts. He always thought those emotional traits should be ignored or pushed aside and the truth should be sought first then worry about how people feel.
These are the things I learned the most from him. To not be afraid to face the issues. To not be afraid of the truth. That things get messy in life and you have to decide what’s important to you. He stayed there with me all the way until the day I left Korea. I have a picture somewhere of me, him and the guy I was dating at the time standing there the day I left. It was the last time I saw or spoke to him. We never had any contact with him after that. His son will turn 24 this year. My son is a lot like him which is kind of weird sometimes but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The 5th person I met when my oldest son was a little over 3 years old. I had gotten out of the military came home and started working after my son was born. So it had been 3 years since I was in any relationship.
My mother and his mother worked together and set us up. He was nice, hard-working but unsure of himself. We had been dating about 3 to 4 weeks when I found out that he was actually in the middle of a divorce and had been separated for over a year.
His family thought it was time for him start dating again. By this point we really liked each other and so I continued seeing him. It had its moments and went on for almost a year. By the time we hit the year point his divorce was now settled and he felt that he wasn’t ready to get into another serious relationship. I was also in the middle of changing my career path and going back to pursuing a military career which caused issues.
We stopped seeing each other but then a month later I found out I was pregnant. I wasn’t really sure how he would take it when I told him and it went badly. He felt like he was being trapped into a marriage and was not happy about it.
Once again I told another man I was perfectly capable of taking care of my children and myself. I told him that we didn’t need him to be there. I just wanted to let him know because it was the right thing to do.
We never saw him again either. This relationship started out with obstacles already in place that had to be overcome. He wasn’t over his marriage yet and this made him unsure about himself. If we had met a few years after his divorce then it may have been different. The one thing I learned from this relationship was the importance of knowing yourself. You have to be confident in who you are in order to be comfortable with someone else. Every relationship comes with its own challenges and each person brings something different to the table. You have to be willing to accept the person with all their flaws because no one is perfect.
The 6th and final relationship was the one that lasted for 17 years. My marriage had ups and downs throughout but in the beginning there was so many dreams of what he wanted in life.
He became my two children’s father when he adopted them and gave them his name. Our family grew when we had two more children later. Whether we got along well or not he was a good father and cared greatly about his children.
He worked hard to provide for his family. He was quirky about certain things but those were the things most remember about him.
During the course of the marriage he began letting go of some the dreams he had. He kept the reasons to himself. As he got older some of the things he thought were important were pushed to the aside. He would joke that he had been domesticated, that marriage had made him that way.
I would encourage him to keep pursuing the things that he wanted but as time went on the communication stopped. He quit believing in himself and no one could change his way of thinking.
When we finally decided to end the relationship he continued to struggle with the way he felt and was just looking for happiness.
It wasn’t until after he passed away that I realized the importance of caring about yourself. To find happiness through discovering who you are and not letting go of your dreams. To keep working toward your goals. To know that no goal is set in stone and being flexible is important. To love yourself is important to being able to love another. To be willing to keep the communication lines open and not be afraid of what you are feeling. To be accepting of each other and willing to overlook the flaws. To lift one another up and support each other. To bring out the best in each other.
Through the years these 6 people influenced how I viewed relationships and myself. I learned:
- To not be afraid to confront the issues.
- To talk openly & honestly about issues.
- To realize if you can’t resolve issues you will be trapped to your circumstances.
- To realize that no one else can live your life for you.
- To know that relationships should be built on trust, integrity and honesty.
- To realize that defined roles in a relationship should complement each other.
- To remember relationship roles should play on the strengths of the individual.
- To remember that there should be equanimity in the relationship.
- To remember balance is important to the relationship.
- To know that you cannot change or expect to change another.
- To know that you can’t rely on the other person for your own happiness.
- To know that growth in relationships and in life is important.
- To not be afraid to face the issues.
- To not be afraid of the truth.
- To remember that life gets messy, you have to decide what’s important to you.
- To know yourself is important.
- To be confident in yourself allows you to be comfortable with someone else.
- To know that all relationship comes with its own challenges.
- To know that each person brings something different to the table.
- To accept the person and no one is perfect.
- To find happiness through self discovery and not letting go of your dreams.
- To keep working toward your goals.
- To know that no goal is set in stone and being flexible is important.
- To love yourself is important to being able to love another.
- To be willing to communicate and not be afraid of what you are feeling.
- To be accepting of each other and willing to overlook the flaws.
- To lift one another up and support each other.
- To bring out the best in each other.
These are the same ideals that I carry into every relationship that I encounter whether romantically or just friendships. It took a long time, a lot of counseling and lot of introspection to see this. I can only hope that future relationships will benefit from the knowledge I gain every day. This is only the beginning of learning about who I am and where I want to be.
Thank you for stopping by.
Have a great Sunday!