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The Power of Love: Our Story of Love
LOOKING FOR LOVE IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES
“'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Alfred Lord Tennyson
I read those words for the first time in high school, and quite frankly I thought they were a load of crap! At the time I was being ignored by a young lady who held my heart captive and there was seemingly no hope for me.
And so it goes! The years marched by, and one failed relationship led to another, and with each lost love another piece of stone was added to the wall around my heart. There were times it felt like this might be the real thing, like there was nothing that could hold us back, that love would finally be mine.
Only to find myself alone once more.
An interesting thing happened after awhile. I found myself entering relationships convinced that they would not last, and by so doing I was actually sabotaging the relationship before it had a chance to grow. I began looking for problems where they did not exist, and I began finding fault where there was none to find.
Looking back now, I realize it was all a product of fear. I was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was so convinced that love did not exist that I made sure my walls were high and the drawbridge was in the upright position, all to protect me from the pain that surely would follow. I began to withdraw inside my castle, and I began to keep a part of myself protected to lessen the pain.
I am told that coyotes, when caught in a trap, will gnaw off their trapped legs in order to free themselves and survive. I understood that all too well.
To the outside world I was a perfectly functioning machine. I was fun to be around, laughing freely, giving of myself when needed, a good friend and entertaining date…..and highly dysfunctional! I craved love and yet prevented myself from receiving it.
Looking For Love
A GLIMMER OF HOPE
A crack in my defense system occurred five years ago this month. While working retail one day, a woman walked into my store and awoke me from my emotional lethargy. Yes, I was attracted to her! Yes, I wanted to know her better! Yes, I was terrified!
Five separate times she came into the store and five separate times I did nothing about it. After she would leave I would kick myself, rant at myself, gnash my teeth and swear that the next time I saw her I would take one more chance at that thing called love.
Love is not logical; nor is fear! We humans are adept at protecting that part of us which is most vulnerable. Knowing I was being illogical did no good. Knowing I was afraid did no good. All the rational self-talk in the world could not weaken my defense system, and I began to believe I was destined to never grab the brass ring. I would be the perpetual fifth-wheel at all parties, the guy everyone felt sorry for, the aging sack of excrement who couldn’t get out of his own way in life.
To this day I have no idea where I found the courage to speak to that woman in February of 2008. Somehow I found the proverbial “20 seconds of courage,” and I asked her out for lunch…and she said yes!
Her name was Bev; her name is still Bev and we have been together ever since. It by no means has been a walk in the park; we both carried some mighty heavy personal baggage into our relationship, and we both had ghosts to deal with, ghosts that kept rearing their heads when least expected.
Seven billion people on this planet and in a small retail store in Olympia, Washington, two strangers who were oh so alike finally met. What is more remarkable is that they both were willing to tear down their walls and risk it all for love.
DAMN THAT’S HARD WORK!
To our credit we both knew we had work to do on a personal level. We both were fully aware that we were wounded, but we both vowed to work through it all. We would go along smashingly well and then run head first into our own walls. We would break up, lick our wounds, and go right back to each other, as if sensing that we could either get it right or give up all hope.
So we have worked at it, and worked at it hard. It has required looking in the mirror and seeing ourselves for who we are, warts and all. It has required making changes so that the old mistakes were not done again. It has required tears and cussing, adjusting and re-adjusting, but the bottom line is that five years later we are still together and we are in love.
So what are the keys to our success? Please note I did not write the keys to success for all couples because quite frankly that would be the ultimate in hubris. I have no idea if what we have done is good for everyone else. I suspect it is but I’m not about to make blanket statements that I believe apply to everyone. I can only tell you what has worked for us….our experience, strength, and hope.
Tips from a friend of mine
- How to Address Money-Related Relationship Problems
Finances are something all couples discuss (or argue) about at some point in the relationship. This article describes some tips on how to deal with your significant other, and ways to alleviate some of the strain money-related issues can cause on a r
KICK EGO TO THE CURB
We do not believe a relationship has any room in it for ego. A relationship/marriage is a partnership of equals, and must be treated as such. My needs are no more or no less important than Bev’s needs. This is not a relationship of one-upmanship, nor is it a relationship where only the strongest survive.
Bev’s needs are my needs, and my needs are hers, for the simple reason that two partners who are satisfied and happy have no reason to look elsewhere.
I have read before that the definition of humility is “perpetual quietness of heart,” and that humility is the opposite of ego. I believe that to be true, and for proof I need look no further than our marriage. When I am with Bev my heart is quiet, and she would say the same thing if asked.
Learn to talk to each other....and listen
- Communication: It Takes Willingness
Learning the inner obstacles to communication is half the battle; next comes a willingness to change.
The love of my life
- The Greatest Asset That I Have
I am incomplete without the love of my partner in life. It is a beautiful thing indeed!
TALK, TALK, AND THEN TALK SOME MORE
This was the single most difficult thing for me to learn. I needed to trust Bev enough to be willing to communicate openly and honestly. I needed to knock down those walls and risk it all. I needed to know that if I shared my feelings I would not be laughed at. I needed to know that if I shared my thoughts and my hopes and dreams I would not be shunned. And she needed to know the same things, for her previous relationships were certainly not built on communication.
Bev and I talk about everything. We talk about our future; we talk about finances. We talk about our feelings and we talk about our problems. Oftentimes, because we still have work to do in this area, we will misunderstand what is being said, and then, if that happens, we come back for clarification.
There is incredible safety and freedom in finding that one person who will stand by you no matter what you say or think. Bev is my best friend, my lover, and, as corny as it sounds, my completion.
Do you and your partner still act like kids with each other?
HAVE FUN TOGETHER
Life is hectic at times, even for the two of us, devout in our philosophy of slowing up and smelling the roses. Bev works full-time as a merchandiser in stores, and I work full-time as a writer, so we don’t see much of each other during the day. However, we consider it imperative that we spend quality time together in the evening. That might only consist of a game of cribbage and a review of each other’s day, but we make sure we do it each evening.
Why? Simply because couples must set aside time to groom the relationship and keep it on the path of togetherness. It is too easy to let life steamroll us; there are always demands on our time, but how could any of those demands be more important than our togetherness? Logically, that makes great sense, but it is amazing to me how many couples forget this simple fact.
As I said, Bev is my best friend, and I am hers. Who else would I rather spend time with? Nobody! We have great fun together, and we are a safe harbor for each other, and we both need that time together so we can continue to feed our hearts and souls. After all, we have both been searching for each other for over fifty years; it only makes sense to reap the rewards of that search.
On weekends we simply have fun together. We go for drives, we go for walks; we go for hikes and we go for ice cream. It makes no difference what we are doing, but we are doing it together. Of course, if either of us needs alone time it is available, but those times don’t happen very often. We just like being with each other.
“FEELINGS, NOTHING MORE THAN FEELINGS.”
Bev and I are emotional. Bev loves to laugh, as do I. We both will cry at a moment’s notice while watching a movie, or when we see something poignant during the day. Neither of us has much in the way of a temper, but we can be sad and we can exhibit all sorts of emotions at any given time, and the joy of it is, we allow each other the freedom to have those emotions.
Feelings are valid for every human being. The feelings do not need to be understood by others to give them validity. If Bev is crying, my only job is to be understanding and accepting of those tears. If I am cranky or nervous, Bev’s job as my partner is to allow me to be cranky or nervous, and give me a place where I can talk about those feelings.
This is a biggie for both of us. We were both in marriages where our feelings were discounted and oftentimes ignored. I can guaran-damn-tee that in this relationship our feelings will never be discounted or ignored. Bev is free to feel what she needs to feel, and she is safe in doing so. The same is true for me. How cool is that?
Share those feelings openly and honestly
TO TELL THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
This was a tough one for both of us! Why do people lie? Simply to avoid the consequences of telling the truth. However, if there are no ramifications, but only understanding and acceptance, then there is no reason to lie.
It took me a lifetime to find someone who makes me feel safe in being honest, and that is as liberating a gift as I have ever been given.
I have heard it said that we are only as sick as our secrets, and I believe that to be true. There is no sickness in our relationship; we have faced our demons and ghosts from the past; we have aired our dirty laundry and we have declared that our relationship is a fresh start for both of us. There is great peace of mind in knowing you can be honest and you face no retribution or judgment for being honest.
SO MUCH MORE
Yes, there are other reasons why our marriage works, but the ones mentioned are the top five for sure.
However, I feel compelled to add one more: we don’t try to change each other. We fell in love with each other because of who we were, and we both consider it silly and counter-productive to try and change that which we fell in love with. So many times I have heard a spouse complain about something their spouse has done. Instead of doing that, Bev and I focus our attention on the reasons why we love each other.
I cannot speak for Bev on this topic, but I can tell you without a doubt that I am the luckiest man alive. I have been given a final chance to get it right. I have been given an incredible human being to walk side by side with, and I’m not going to blow this chance. It takes hard work, and willingness, and determination, and constant vigil, but the rewards are unbelievable.
I am no longer looking for love in all the wrong places. I have found love, and her name is Bev!
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)