To Eric on his 39th Birthday
I keep choosing Eric and he keeps choosing me. That’s something new in my life. Before when relationships with men got weird or hard or boring, I’d just leave. Sayonara, I’d say. It’s over! It’s been swell. Sometimes, actually, not swell at all. For that it would be, ‘you suck, sucker’.
I’ve broken up with men on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, on their birthdays, once on New Year’s and TWICE on Valentine’s. When I’m done, I’m done. I have friends who have waited days, months, even years to find the ‘right time’ to break up with someone.
What?! I’ll gasp in my head. The right time is RIGHT NOW, sister. But hey, they gotta do them, and I had to break up with jerk faces when the mood struck.
Not with Eric.
Instead, we fought. In the beginning of our relationship we fought so hard. Eric and I both don’t give a fucking inch. And he’s incredibly intelligent, and just a little bit full of himself, and let’s be honest, I’m sort of exactly like him in this regard. We’d draw a line in the sand over something stupid that we had decided was important and we’d fight. We’d go Meta about it, or get down in the nitty gritty, usually both. It would go on for hours sometimes, neither of us wanting to concede, to admit the other was right, or that maybe we were the ones who had fucked up.
This was all new. I had never spent so much emotional energy on one man. I just knew, somewhere deep down, that he was worth it. Finally, I suggested we go to couples' therapy. We’d been together for about a year. I expected him to say no, just flat out. But he said yes immediately. And he googled around for someone and he made the appointment and all of that told me, he thinks I’m worth it too.
Sally saved us. She taught us how to fight nicer and how to fight better. She gave us the grown up tools that neither of us had received from our parents. These tools, how to respectfully disagree with someone you loved, were never modeled by our own parents, but Sally showed us how. Technically her title was therapist but really, she was the wise, loving, fair older family member that didn’t exist in either of our lives, the one who should have been showing us this stuff as we grew.
Eric and I are not perfect, neither as individuals, nor as a couple, but man, when I think about the type of home my daughters are being raised in, compared to the homes that Eric and I sprung from, I feel happy on a deep, deep inner level. I think, what will these children be able to accomplish in life growing up with humans who love them? Who respect them? And parents who love each other? Who show them that it is okay to disagree with, and be angry at each other, but who still work it out, and at the end of the day, or the end of the fight, come together in love. They are growing up watching people who say, ‘I fucked up, I’m sorry’, and, I forgive you, and I love you.’
I hope I live long enough to see the seeds of love we planted with our children and watch how they bloom.