Sunday, January 19, 2020

About a Boy

About a Boy - Stacy Snyder - StacySaysIt
Jordan Catalano of My So Called Life
I grew up in a time where whenever a young woman was crying, having a meltdown, or experiencing an upset, the first responders to the scene usually asked, “Is it about a boy?” when trying to get to the meat of the issue.

It’s usually always about a boy. But in the end the issue is never really about that’s always about you.

My “boy” was a 47-year-old man that to me looked like a fresh-faced teenage boyfriend with all the incredible, yet detrimental charms of the same.   He had the wonder of a child, the flirtatiousness of a confident, yet not too cocky guy, and big bushy eyebrows that enhanced his intent gaze; he had a slightly balding head and the tiredness factor of a middle-aged dude, a penchant toward things that interested him alone, and a beautiful full mouth that spoke only the truth. 

Society at large might say too much truth, but for me it was the golden ticket. You see my boy experienced much trauma as a child, not unlike many of us. His feelings of being unloved, a bother, not cared for as a young person....changed him….affected him.....made him who he is today.  But unlike many of us, this boy chose to address his past and change his learned behaviors in order to alter his life path so he doesn’t inflict that repeat trauma on to the rest of the world. That means being honest with himself and others, taking the time and space he needs for himself, not taking on too much responsibility that makes him feel anxious, and living his life in the moment.

I don’t know how long he’s been a man-boy. From what he’s told me he lived more like a college kid well into his adulthood and maybe just recently found his groove; logically, he’s probably still freshman in his groove at the present.  All I know is that my attraction to his magnanimity was so strong because of his vulnerability about his setbacks and the way he lives his life because of them. He holds no true convention toward wealth or status.  He reserves priority for creative outlets and self-care, and follows the beat of his own drum in regards to living a life that caters to his wants and needs. He made me feel whole, alive, and excited to be me, as many of those life views overlap with my own. He practiced no judgement, appraisal, nor pick up lines. He showed sincerity, intrigue, focused attention, and wasn’t shy about showing me all of himself.....even the parts that some would call ugly, and allowing me to follow suit. I felt like I had met the male counterpart to my feministic humanity. 

Despite my very specific approach to dating, which had served me well over the past few months, crafted from the idea that I wasn’t ready for anything too intense or difficult after the recent end to my marriage, I felt myself being drawn to this boy.  Common sense told me my time with him was limited, as I had sensed early on, and he confirmed in kind, that it was hard for him to make lasting romantic relationships.  I boldly forged ahead, though, as I had promised myself that I would allow myself to feel all the emotions involved in the vulnerability of dating, as without the lows you can’t fully realize the highs.  

The more he unapologetically spoke of his fear of culpability, his imperfections, and his perceived lack of need for human connection, the harder I fell.  His openness allowed me to feel acknowledged, appreciated, and celebrated in his presence, without ever second-guessing the authenticity of the connection.  I was starved to be seen through a 1:1 lense, as my self-image had been distorted over the course of my nearly-20-year relationship.  While I had wrestled to hold on to my identity as an individual throughout the normal wear and tear of kids, marriage, and stay-at-home momdom, my then-wife had struggled conversely with self-honestly, only looking at herself in the way she wanted to be seen, as opposed to the way she actually lived and felt.  Without a shared trust, we were unable to grow together as a couple in our marriage; I felt trapped in a life I couldn’t control.  

This boy’s truth was the exact anecdote I needed to confirm that there is another way to live!  That same truth was pin that pricked my balloon.  A few months into the relationship, the boy started to plan his annual “wintering” escape out of Chicago, which involves renting his apartment out for a few months, planning a warm destination trip to visit friends across the US, and bypassing the worst the winter has to offer here.  His trip was not a surprise;  in fact it’s what initially drew me toward him, as having the ability to pick up and go and follow one’s desires at a moment’s notice is a fantasy of mine, and I was in awe of someone who could do it!  The whammy came in the form of his straight-forward answer to the question, “so what will we do while you’re gone for the next few months?”  He looked at me like I had mis-spoken.

“What do you mean?” he asked.  “We won’t be able to really date as I’ll be gone, and our communication will be much less.”

Not what I was thinking at all.

“What were you envisioning?” he asked, as tears welled up in my eyes.

“I don’t know, talk on the phone and text and maybe I could visit one or two of those warm places and we could see each other for a weekend here and there.”

Blank stare.

“When I leave town, I tend to roll on the ‘out of sight out of mind’ mentality.  Maybe we could start back up when I get back,” he suggested mildly.

Beat down by my own wants.

Crushed I tell you!  I wasn’t in love or thinking the relationship was anything more than it was - casual - but I was so in the moment, and enamored with the stark contrast of living in the reality of every situation that I forgot about the tolls of such.  After further conversation, it because clear that we were in very different places in our prioritizing the relationship as I held an attachment to him that he did not have for me, all of which he was able to clearly state without having justification, as he’d been nothing but upfront all along.  Intellectually, I understood it all.  But it grazed on a lifelong hot button of insecurity - the idea of not being important enough to matter to someone.

I didn’t matter enough for someone I’d been dating for a few months to keep in contact with me for 5 minutes a day while he’s out of town.  I didn’t matter enough to my ex-wife to learn to be honest with herself and me in order to work out the specifics of a double-decade marriage.  I didn’t matter enough for my decade-old neighborhood friends to deal with their discomfort in order to stay in contact with me after my divorce.  I didn’t matter enough for my dad to put his wants aside in order to be a good father when I was a child.  Finally, and most importantly, I didn’t matter enough to take care of myself in the way I needed to be cared for over the years.

I’ve been grieving for the last week.  I’m sad over the sting of truth, as well as needing to cut ties with someone that I truly adore in lieu of caring for myself.  But mostly I’m aching over those wounds of insecurity in my life that are yet to be fully healed. 

Dr. Phil always says, “Winners deal with the truth.”  

While I hate the word ‘winner’ as it invokes the image of a “loser” on the other side, I do agree with the concept.  Without truth, we can’t move forward.  We are trapped.  

This boy helped me move forward.  I appreciate the growth and am thankful for the honesty, despite the nip.  It allows me to make educated decisions, armed with a fistful of knowledge.  My brief relationship with him taught me that I have to care for myself as if I’m important enough, or no one else will, as we all simply follow suit to what we’re shown and fed.  I look forward to living my life in this fashion moving forward.

It was never about a boy.  It was always about me.

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