On relationships, breakthroughs and happy times

Lately I’ve been working on putting smaller pieces of larger stories together. I’ve written about this weird block I’m working through, and that’s a big part of it.

I’ve spent a lot of time avoiding telling stories or processing things or dealing with things, and now that I am, I’m trying to figure out how it all fits together. First in a collection of poems, but on a larger scale, how these events have changed my life and shaped who I am in smaller ways.

The large ones are obvious, it’s the smaller shifts I like to explore.

There’s a saying I hear often (that I’m likely going to butcher) that says something along the lines of “you don’t know the important moments are important until later.” It’s rather obvious, but it’s interesting watching that idea manifest itself in really tangible ways in your own story.

I’ve been writing about Greece a lot. I always knew that going to Greece would change my life, but I never though it would have occurred this way.

That trip was really the moment (collection of moments rather) when I decided that my marriage was over. I didn’t look at it like that then because I was still trying to convince myself there was some semblance of hope that we could fix things, but there wasn’t.

My favorite moments of that trip were the ones where I was alone. Then there’s dirt house story I told here. Then there’s when I was at the most beautiful beach in the world, floating in the clearest, bluest water I’d ever seen, and I still felt empty. I knew at that moment it was as good as it was going to get. Going to Greece was always my life dream, and Chris made it happen, but I still couldn’t be happy.

I’m sure he felt as though he’d given me everything he could give, but it would be unfair to speak for him.

I knew then, though, that if I couldn’t be happy in that space, nothing about that life was for me. I left shortly after that, but the way it all unfolded just kind of came together for me recently.

Since then, though, I’ve been paying extra attention to small moments.

I went out with some friends last week, and we had a really good time. I’m really fortunate to have met some of the best people since I moved to Florida, and we had fun.

We took this picture (below) the other night, and I love it for a few reasons.

FAM.jpg

First, that lip color, though. I’m obsessed. Second, do you see how amazing the people I’m with are? They’re freaking great.

Mostly it’s the fact that I look so genuinely happy in this photo. Because I am. It isn’t just the tequila/sangria, I promise.

Let’s rewind.

Earlier this evening, I’d had a really dumb situation happen with a not-so-dumb boy. Sort of a misunderstanding, sort of a moment where I had to check myself to make sure I’m not selling myself short like I frequently do. Boundaries and expectations in relationships are freaking hard to navigate, even if things are super casual.

Anyhow, he hurt my feelings, but instead of going home and crying about it, I went out with my friends and had a seriously good time dancing all of our troubles away.

For once I didn’t make other people more important, I just took care of myself.

Judging from the three texts I received from said boy while I was in the club, he knew he upset me fairly immediately. It didn’t matter.

Funny, though, how people only want to show you that they care when they think you’re halfway out the door. I wish more people would appreciate the people they have in their lives while they’re there.

Anyhow, said boy and I worked it out. I didn’t write this to bash on him, he’s a good guy. Anyone who let’s me ramble/overthink to them in a series of novella-length text messages usually ends up good in my book. But we’ll see how this story unfolds. Who the hell really knows.

I wrote this to point out, once again, how far things have come. Brenna spent a lot of time with me last fall when the actions of one particular jerk (who will remain unnamed because evidently I’m only good enough behind closed doors) would ruin our nights out.

I’d end up a wreck. Crying in a bathroom or on a bar stool because some idiot wouldn’t pay attention to me. Because he decided that he could pop in and out of my life as he so chose, and I let him. Always waiting there at his beck and call whenever he needed an ego boost.

Ew.

I won’t do that again. I won’t be that for someone ever again. Although sometimes it’s hard to tell when you fall into that role.

Hindsight is 20/20. My regular vision…well, I should probably wear my glasses more often.

Anyways, I did not end up in a puddle of tears in some gross bar bathroom. That, my friends, is progress.

That, my friends, is me taking care of me. And that is how you get a genuine smile.

It was a small moment, one night out with those fabulous people in (hopefully) a series of them. But it did not go down as “the night Michelle ended up crying over some dumb dude.” Instead it’s “the night Saqif showed us all up on the dance floor.”

It was a small moment, but those are the ones that make all the difference.

 

Do you want to live in a dirt house with me?

A story about the time a silly question I asked to pass time on a long car ride made me question everything. 

“Do you want to live in a dirt house with me?”

I asked you this as we drove through the mountains in Greece last summer. We were going clear across the island to a beach I found on the internet that was supposed to be absolutely incredible (it was).

elafonisi
Elafonisi Beach, Crete, Greece

We got a taste of a little bit of everything the island had to offer on that trip: the beach, the mountains the incredible canyon, the cliffs, the mountain goats and the roadside stands that were someone’s livelihood.

I remember looking closely at all the people we passed: they all seemed happy and content with their lives.

I remember feeling like I could be really happy here, too. Like maybe the Greeks had it all figured out and life isn’t about money or cars or all of the things we make important. Maybe life is about the simple things like having someone you love to share it with.

I was contemplating happiness a lot that summer. Mostly because it seemed to be an elusive presence in our lives, but also because the things that make others happy has always fascinated me. We were experiencing all of these cultures, and I wanted to take pieces of what made these people happy and apply them to my own life.

My wheels started turning, and I asked the question as it floated through my mind.

“Do you want to live in a dirt house with me?”

You thought for a second before answering with words that shattered the very basis of what I thought our relationship was.

“I could be happy that way if I didn’t have you and Sophie.”

I felt like I’d just been punched in the gut and hit in the chest all at the same time. I’d never felt more like a liability, more like someone you just needed to take care of rather than someone you really wanted to share a life with.

I wasn’t suggesting we pack up and move, but the fact that you didn’t think you could be happy with me there hurt any way.

I asked you what if it was what I really wanted? What if it was my ideal life?

You still said no, that you had to do more –to do better. That it simply wouldn’t be enough.

Tears welled up in my eyes, but I just said okay.

Crete.jpg
I could’ve stayed here forever. 

You were rarely honest with me when I asked things like this so even though the answer I got wasn’t the one I wanted, I was happy you told me your truth.

I always knew we were different, that we often spoke different love languages and that we challenged each other. In this moment, though, my heart broke a little bit as I realized that we didn’t value the same things.

All I want out of a relationship is someone who will love me for me, not because of what I will offer them or what I can do for them. I want someone who will be happy with me no matter where we are or what our life circumstance is.

I want love, real, raw, true love. The kind of love that isn’t necessarily easy. I don’t want my partner to be naive to my flaws, but rather to love me so completely that they love them, too.

More than anything, I never want someone to feel like they need to take care of me. I never want them to feel like they can’t take risks because of me.

I cannot speak for you now, it would be unfair, but in that moment, it felt as though you cared more about fulfilling your role as a provider than you did about me and my hopes and dreams.

You thought I needed a fancy house and nice things and the world handed to me on a silver platter, but all I wanted was for you to want me, no matter what.

It’s been months since we had that conversation, the one where you told me you would feel like you failed if you didn’t give me the life that looks good on paper, but I still can’t shake it.

You didn’t want to live in a dirt house with me.

I wasn’t enough to be all you needed, and that hurt my heart more than any of the other things that led to our eventually downfall.

Or maybe it wasn’t that you needed more. Maybe it was that I made you feel like I did. I didn’t, though, for what it’s worth. Probably nothing, at this point, but my love for you was never based on what you could or could not give me.

Maybe I’m naive. If anything, I am certainly a hopeless romantic, but I’d like to believe a love like that exists. A love where nothing matters but two people loving each other deeply and openly regardless of what their life looks like.

I don’t need someone to give me anything but themselves. I don’t need money or a protector or a provider. I need love. We all need love.

I’ll wait for it.