"Our species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories."
-- Mary C. Bateson
This morning two of my new photography friends and I gathered at the local tea house for brunch and shared our stories. And, like most women's stories, they circled around men and our relationships to them. Each story had its own nuances and I learned from each one, including the telling of my own.
One friend has just left a ten-year marriage and is working with a therapist who has her doing some deep introspection about her own life and what she wants for the rest of her life. One exercise required her to make a list of 100 things she likes about herself and one had her list 100 things she wants in a life partner. Her insight into this latter list was that she assumed her husband would have at least 50% of what she was looking for but when she made the list, she found he only had 2%. She, of course, wishes she had made the list before she rushed into marriage in the first place. (I plan on doing both of these exercises ... and more importantly, not to make any quick decisions ... my friends have made me promise to vett any potential life-partners with them first.)
The other friend is engaged to a man she seems to have everything in common with. They have made plans to move to Portland and are remodeling a house there ... but now he is hesitating, not sure that he's ready for marriage. Her life is in limbo as she waits for him to make a decision. How familiar that seems ... to wait for someone else to make a decision that controls the direction of my own life. I resolve to move forward, finding my own path, listening to my own spirit.
And my own story of trying to decide what's right for me and trying to follow the path the Universe seems to be offering me when it's not clearly marked and it's easy to go down side trails. I've recently realized how very blessed my life has been to be married to two wise and caring men who offered me 40 years of unconditional love. It wasn't until I spent a couple of years without that gift that I realized how toxic an unloving relationship can be. Better by far to be single than to be in that type of environment. But, the memory of shared love pulls me into wanting to try again even though I was so very wrong about the last relationship.
In the interest of gathering more information about "who's out there," I recently signed up for eHarmony, the online dating service that focuses on values and interests. The process of signing up is pretty rigorous and required a lot of thought about who I am and what I want from life and a possible life-partner. Since my current life only introduces me to the UPS guy and the fruit-and-vegetable vendor down the block, I decided I need some electronic help in meeting new people. But, the thought of "dating" sends chills down my spine. I never liked it much when I was young and was never very good at it. I'm not sure I will be now but the first round of "matches" turned up people who sound interesting and kind, so who knows? I figure this time of my life is about trying out new things, meeting new people and gaining clarity about what I want.
So, isn't life interesting! And, the adventure continues...