Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Adventure Day 22 – #18 Ask someone out for coffee that I’m not too sure I like

A couple of weeks ago I did just that – I ASKED someone that I wasn’t too sure I’d like out for coffee. Once that e-mail went out I was relieved. Did you notice there was a great big loop hole? Yes well, I was very grateful for it once I clicked send and I didn’t here from this person for a few days. I will fully admit that I secretly hoped I wouldn’t hear anything back – just so that my suspicions would be confirmed and I could feel justified in my judgments of this person. However, that didn’t happen. In fact the reply I got was a seemingly heartfelt thank you for my ‘thoughtfulness’ for the invite and ‘when was it good for me?’ Oh dear. I was already realizing where this was going…

So, last Monday night I met my questionable ‘friend’ at a nearby coffee shop and settled in for an evening chat.

Before I get too far, here’s a little background. My chosen coffee date is one of the girls (or ladies) that leads my home church group. She’s a 26 year old single gal whom I’ve never found easy conversation with. This is usually an immediate ‘red flag’ to me, as I feel as though I am a fairly ‘down to earth person’ who is ready to dive deep into any conversation that will tell me who someone is. I’ve known her now for 7 months and though we’ve shared a little bit within our home church together there has always seemed to be a veil over her that she keeps out at all times. She’s one of those people that I initially meet and hate (being a tad sarcastic here) because she’s got the perfect body, perfect hair, perfect style, perfect smile, she seems to always have the perfect heart in a situation, and never really bearing her true self. Remember how I said perfect people leave me suspicious? Well this is my prime example.

When I first met Lady I jealous of her perfect everything, then she just began to annoy me as I waited to find out her true self. I never really felt I saw it – she just always seemed so guarded. One day I thought to myself ‘Maybe there’s a reason she’s that way?’ (Novel concept eh?) Not too long after she described her mother and how she was raised and I realized – DING! DING! DING! We have a reason. However I couldn’t help but think there was more to the story. It was then that #18 was born.

As I was leaving the apartment that evening to meet my ‘suspicious’ friend I said my good byes to Wally and he asked when I thought I’d be back. I chuckled and said in an hour. (If you don’t know me that well here’s a news flash: coffee dates with me last far beyond an hour – try between 2 -3 hours). That night though, I was certainly expecting less than my norm, so I guestimated a time and whisked out the door.

We sat down with our teas and exchanged a compliment or two over clothing and such, before we knew it were amidst some regular conversation. We began asking eachother stuff about our families and then I commented at one point about being married to the oldest and only male of a small family, and the mother-in-law conflict that once arose because of it. Immediately her eye balls rolled in a way that told me she knew what I was talking about. ‘That’s weird’ I thought ‘She’s not married and is only barely in a relationship – she couldn’t have any idea what I’m talking about…’ So I inquired about her new boyfriend and asked if his mother was like that. She replied ‘No but my ex husband’s mother was.’ I’m so glad I don’t have video of my reaction, and hopefully I was putting on a stellar performance, because I think the earth paused at it. I quickly did some math in my head and tried so hard to figure out how this information could have possibly gotten by me for so long. She quickly went on to explain that she had been married once for 2 ½ years to a guy that ended up leaving her – just leaving … like just left.

She went on to tell me that 6 months into their marriage he informed her that he was no longer a Christian and didn’t want anything to do with any of it any more. I don’t think you have to be a Christian to understand the magnitude of this on her. If you don’t, let me explain. We all have things that we look for in a potential mate, some of these things are ‘deal breakers’. For many people religion, life style choices, parenting opinions, even attire, are ‘deal breakers’. Perhaps you could be of one religion and you meet someone of another religion and it is not a deal breaker when you meet and so you marry and go about life the way it is and you all get along, respect each other’s opinions and choices (even if you don’t completely agree) and you grow together in other areas of your life. I’m going to guess though, in this case the Christianity part was a key factor in keeping together as it was a key factor in bringing this couple together (she said it was his most attractive quality to her). It’s kind of like if 2 really fat, inactive gluttons get together and one decides one day they aren’t going to live like that anymore and they can’t stand living with the other person anymore, so they leave.

At any rate he couldn’t stand her Christian part and told her so, she informed him that as was the decision before the marriage, divorce was not an option for her. They went to counseling and after two years of vacations, some good times and no doubts some struggles, he left for good. As she told her story I continually had to remind myself to process what she was saying and try (to some degree) to understand what she went through. The truth is though I can’t. I have no idea what it’s like to wake up and have my husband totally renege on his profession of who he is and the promises he’s made. In all honesty, I only know what it’s like to be on the other end – the one who does the changing.

As Lady told her story I had a wave of realization that struck me. Lately I have been struggling a bit with wondering if mine and Wally’s marriage is ‘good enough’ and this has mostly been done by comparing our marriage to other people’s marriages. I look at Smiles and Bro who have been married 6 years and don’t’ have kids, they got married young (Smiles was only 18) and they are sweet on each other. I mean truly sweet, like ‘bunnycakes’, ‘sweetie pie’ and ‘pumpkin’ kind of sweet. I know I’ve talked to Bro about this and he’s clarified that things aren’t always perfect and all that, but really, if Wally ever (and I mean EVER) called me any of those names I’d deck him. In fact he knows that if he wants to irritate me, all he has to do is call me one of those names and I’m at an irrational 8 immediately. We’re just not like that.

Therefore my mind gets going making me think ‘I don’t love Wally enough, maybe I don’t love him at all, it’s not fair to him for me to be like that, I should make myself into a sweet adorable softy wife’. You see Wally is the one who constantly tells me he loves me, that I’m the best thing in his life, and that he couldn’t ask for a better wife. And I’m the one who doesn’t’ always say ‘I love you’ back (because I do it in other ways why do I have to say it every ten minutes), who isn’t into touchy feely all the time, who gets annoyed when his good byes take ten minutes because we’ve said good bye already why must we make it a production. I mean I do love Wally, and I am truly thankful that he is in my life, but I don’t use words and touch to speak ‘I love you’ (all of the time) and in this world that generally means ‘I’m not really that into you, so I’m headed to the next person – good bye!’

I am going somewhere with this. As Lady spoke of her experience I realized: Wally and I have indeed faced a similar dilemma regarding the changing of our faith and believe system. After my aunt died and I lost other family and some friends I did A LOT of changing. My core believe system changed incredibly, the way I wanted to live it out changed insanely and even how I spoke and wanted to live my life changed drastically. When we married we planned for me to stay at home with our kids and never work, we planned never to move, we knew who we liked in life and who we didn’t, and we definitely knew how we would raise our non existent children. Over the years I have developed so differently from who I was when I made a stack full of promises to my groom. But through it all instead of growing apart and becoming different, we grew together and sometimes I cannot believe how incredible that is.

After hearing Lady’s past and how hard she tried to make things work, yet not compromise who she was, and in the end she lost the person who she’d promised so much to and who had promised so much to her. I became aware of how amazing it was that Wally and I have been able to stick it out and get better through it. I don’t know why it works out for some and not others, and I feel sad that Lady had to go through such a heart breaking experience, leaving her so slow to trust, but I am so grateful for Wally and his commitment to our life together because without it I’m not sure where we’d be right now. I think it’s a reminder too that no matter who you marry or how you think something will turn out you can never be sure but rather you need to be aware of how fleeting life is (along with the relationships in it), you never know how something can change someone – or even yourself.

Though #18 was one of the items on my list that at the time of writing it I would have loved to have avoided - I am so glad I didn’t. My eyes were opened (as I suspected they would be), but even more so my heart was opened up to another person and their experiences. I feel as though lately my life has just been one great big ball of relating and learning. I really have felt more alive in the past 23 days than I did previously (and I felt pretty lively before that). Though my list entails so much more than coffee dates with people I have found that those have really affected my the most.

And I still have 18 more days to go!


Zoe said...

Wow! So, do you like her any more now? I mean, do you think that you'll be friends, or even though you know more about her, you still didn't really "click"?

Eva said...

I think I would say that I understand her better and by understanding her better I do like her more - I know this doesn't always happen, but in this case it has helped. I don't know if we'll have many one on one dates but I think in time I can get to know her now and yes, call her friend.

Anonymous said...

Whoa.... Great post, Eva.
About the whole "people change- relationships change, & are fleeting" - A HUGE amen to that!! :):)