A much older friend of mine has been calling me this week for love advice.
Especially shrill (and extremely fragile), she ignores all of my best advice and tells me that I am too much of "The Rules Girl". She says this because I maintain a certain protocol when it comes to matters of the heart. Over the summer, she marveled at my ability to move through man dates "like water". She guffawed and nearly spit her drink when I told her that I had permanently excised not 1 but 3 potential love partners from my extremely marginal summer dating queue...
She gasped in amazement while bearing witness to a final text message exchange with a now long forgotten out-of-town guy who broke plans with me 1 hour before he was supposed to arrive for a weekend wine tour (that he specifically asked me to plan). It was soon apparent that he was too hung over from partying the evening before. Instead of a phonecall to remedy the crisis, all he could muster was a text message which said that he was "really hurtin" and "needed to be better planned ahead". Extremely poor grammar aside, I gave the 33-year-old lad an entire 24 hours to sober up and call with a proper apology. When this did not transpire, I was done. The connection made was permanently disbanded, and he was complete dispenced: no phone number in the cell, no email in the records, no access to me (or my images) on facebook. (Go directly to jail, Bubba and do not pass Go.)
Meanwhile, my friend (mentioned above) marveled at this exchange. She asked what I would do if the guy contacted me in the near future? Calmly and resolutely, I assured her that I would not be very tolerant of his alcoholism or his neglect. I reminded her that if he feels the need to place me at the bottom of his list of priorities after many months of plastering on the moves to get me to agree to go out with him in the first place, then what will he be like as a potential boyfriend or partner? She seemed to think that I should leave myself more open to his foolishness. I smiled while sipping sangria, and assured her that it would be very unwise of me to do so. If there is anything I have learned, it is that I do not suffer fools... Period.
It is one of my personal mantras that when someone shows you who they are, you must believe them the first time. Of course, no one is perfect, everyone arrives with a tic or two and a couple of emotional dead zones. It happens. We get hurt. And, sure, sometimes we compensate by overcompensating. But there is no excuse for overlooking glaring flaws of character. None. For example, I would rather die alone than waste a single moment of my life trying to be with a man person who has no respect for me. I have not come this far to lose respect for myself...
Paulo Coelho writes in The Alchemist:
"When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too."
It makes me wonder if the art of getting to this liberating point through love (as Coelho describes) is actually being love? If there is anything that I have learned from putting my little mantra into practice, it is that it is fundamentally necessary to trust myself to know the difference between good love and faux love. It is essential to be honest with myself so that I can really learn from previous mistakes and not commit the same errors of judgment again and again. In essence, I have learned that loving myself has made it easier for me to love, but to also let go when potentially harmful situations appear on the horizon. I'm not perfect, but at least I am honest about recognizing my abilities as well as my limitations. Perhaps it goes without saying that the work of being honest with oneself is the most challenging of all. It takes a lot to come to grips with your own fragility, let alone your own humility. Yet, let me assure you that it is so liberating when you finally find it. In my case at least I find that situations like the one my friend is currently experiencing seem to happen with far less frequency.
But what do I know? I guess if I do manage to die alone in the very end, at least I can say that I did the best I could to get there. At least I tried...
I tried to be love.