I’d like to share a love story with you.
It’s a real-life story, and it’s still in progress, so I can’t guarantee you’ll see a storybook ending. What I can offer is a look into the lives of two people doing everything they can to be loving, kind, generous, healthy, and whole.
The Sweetheart drove south three hours to pick me up last week. He needed to go twelve hours north to look at a couple of cars, and he wanted my help with the driving. More than that, he needed to talk with me.
What he needed to talk about is not so important as how we handled the conversation, and what happened over the next few days.
He broached his subject, said his piece, and then it was my turn.
“I’m pissed,” I stated.
His response surprised me. “Do you want me to take you back to the conference or drop you off at home?” he asked.
He had gone into defensive mode. The last thing he wanted was to upset me, though he knew the conversation would.
“I want you to understand that I’m pissed and I have every right to be.”
That wasn’t the reply he was looking for. The conversation began to escalate. After a few moments, I gathered myself and called him on what I was seeing.
I was hurt. He knew that I would be hurt and instead of giving me his heart to help heal the hurt, he was defending himself and that never heals hurt.
He stopped what he was doing.
“What do you need from me?” he asked. I recognized the courage it took to ask that one question. It is no wonder I admire the man.
“I need you to hold my hand. I need you to understand. I need to know that you are sorry that I am hurting.”
He reached across the chasm of pain that had formed down the console of the car to hold my hand. “It’s not a very intuitive thing, to take a woman’s hand when she’s angry.”
“If more people reached out, there would be fewer hurt and angry people in the world. Anger is often a result of pain. Deal with the pain and the anger goes away.”
He commenced to release his defensiveness and open the compassionate part of his heart. I cried, we talked, and he might have cried a little, too.
We came away closer for the experience, and that was just the first hundred miles of a 2,000 mile weekend road trip.
As we journeyed on, we listened to the radio, chatted about all sorts of silly things, talked about our relationship, revisited details of the original conversation, and grew even closer.
It could have easily gone the other way.
There were more opportunities for misunderstandings and hurt feelings. We chose to set aside our preconceived ideas of what the other meant and ask a lot of questions. Misunderstandings melted away, replaced with deeper bonds of love.
We re-examined misconceptions that had existed since our relationship was new. Old hurts, guilts, and other destructive feelings were questioned. Unexpected answers were discovered. More than once, one of us would say to the other, “but, I told you that a long time ago,” and the reply would be, “but I didn’t believe you.” Each of us had held preconceived notions of what was possible. Over the course of two thousand miles, those notions were discarded, replaced with new awareness.
Sunday, we headed south in a new-to-us car. The fall colors of the Smoky Mountains were safely stowed on a memory card in his camera. As the miles and conversation flew by, I found a gem so beautiful and rare that I could only sit in awe for over an hour. “I love you,” I told him, “I love you so much that if there is anything better for you than me, I want you to have that.”
Tears fell as I realized that I had never held that kind of love for a lover. I had never held the kind of love that releases instead of clings, that holds the happiness of the other as the greatest good in a relationship, the kind of love that seeks openness and expansion instead of building a cage.
Without a chasm to traverse, his hand slid easily into mine. “I want the same for you. If there is anything out there better for you than me, I want you to have that.”
A sweet silence filled the car as we wondered at what we had found. How deep a love is it that allows for such things? It is a love that is beyond self, that transcends the everyday and brings the Divine into living form. It is rare, phenomenal, and sacred.
And, we are making it up as we go. We have no roadmap for this. We have no pattern to follow. We have no mentors we can look to for the model of how truly healthy love works.
It is enough to know that we are the best kind of friends; that we care deeply for each other.
This, truly, is a story to be continued…