Monday, June 04, 2007

I'd rather be shattered than know forever without you...

How many times can one person break your heart?

And what does it say about me that I have asked myself this same question about more than one person?

Sometimes it feels like all I have ever been looking for was love, and all I have ever gotten for the trouble was heartache. I have tried to make my parents love me the way I wanted them to love me. I have tried to make my lovers love me, too...I have tried to make my husbands love me...and they all did, or do, in their own way...and I couldn't see it, because it wasn't the way I expected or wanted them to love me.

My parents, perhaps incapable of the so-called normal kind of parental affection, have tried in their own way to love me, even if that way is often incomprehensible and irritating. I try over and over again to make lasting contact with my father, we have wonderful conversations, both in person and over the phone for a couple of years, and then, he vanishes yet again. I try over and over with my mother to keep her in my life, regardless of her erratic behavior, even when it wrecks every holiday and special occasion. My friends sometimes question why I keep trying. So do I.

And yet, if a parent's love for a child should be unconditional, shouldn't it also be the other way around? I think that it should, and yet, when my mother acts out for the umpteenth time, or my father goes months, or a year now, with no contact, I feel the parental-child bond stretched to its breaking point, and I just want to cry out, "I give up! You win! I quit!" But I don't- because I am the one who wants this relationship, and I will continue to work at it, to try to love, to try to get them to love me, no matter what they do.

Besides my husbands, and I laugh to myself when I put that 's' out there, the lover that mattered the most, the only other person that shares that kind of romantic real estate in my heart, he did love me. I know that now. He just didn't love me best. Does that matter? It did at the time, when I was young, newly single, in love, and very lonely...but now, after having a child, I understand better than I ever could have back then. And I wish I could have understood better, but I don't regret having loved him, and now, I don't regret having had to live without him. He loved me as best he could, and if he had done the things I wanted him to do, I would never have been in a position to fully understand why he did what he felt was right. And no matter what other regrets I have, having a child has not ever been one of them. And no matter what else happens, not matter how hurt I might still feel, I understand that nothing else matters quite as much as your child. And now, any love or hurt I still feel is also infused with deep understanding.
My heart breaks not just for myself, but for those people I disappointed. I feel, on some level, that I disappointed my parents, or else they would love me more. I feel like I disappointed my lover, by not being able to understand him more. But I know that these disappointments, whether real or imagined, are not anything I had much control over at the time, and I don't regret the circumstances.

If I have any regrets, it's that I wasn't a better wife to my first husband. Yes, we both had our issues, but as much as we loved each other, perhaps we should have been able to overcome those. Maybe we didn't have good role models, maybe we were too young, too immature, too different at the core. Maybe we had too many problems to fix for our own selves before we could ever fix our relationship issues with each other. But as many problems as we had, I don't think not loving each other enough was ever one of those problems. I wish love was just enough.

It all adds up, over the years, and I guess that's what they call 'experience'. You get hurt, you hurt others, you try to figure out how to stop that crazy cycle whenever possible. For my part, I try to be a more open, outspoken person, more ready to flare up, more ready to get it all out on the table to discuss and argue and make up, and now, I'm nowhere near as combustible and crazy and out of control as I used to be on occasion. I try to be more accepting of what people are able to give me, as opposed to what I expect them to provide, no matter their role in my life. I try to be more patient with my family, all around, and I appreciate their patience with me.

We all do the best we can. I try to remember that now. I wish I had known that back then. And I hope that they can forgive me for not.

*The title is a line from "Please Break My Heart," by Caitlin Cary, from her album I'm Stayin' Out.


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