Clark’s text messages continued past 1 a.m – full of missing and wanting and longing to be back in my arms. “I feel safe and happy with you, Kit. I’m sorry about everything. I wish I had met you at a different time… when I had more of myself to give,”
I have not seen or spoken to him since I broke up with him – and for a while, he had stopped trying to contact me after weeks without any response.
"I wish I had met you at a different time," he text again.
It was an expression he used a lot during our time together – and one I never understood. “I’m here now. What’s more perfect than now?” I would say.
Clark wanted pussy. That's why he was calling. I did not blame him for trying. Why wouldn't he? The strategy worked many times before. Should I expect him to change his behavior? Or was it up to me to change mine if I didn't want what he was offering? I had what he wanted...who was in control?
Dr. Phil said, “We teach people how to treat us…. This means you are partly responsible for the mistreatment that you get at the hands of someone else. You shape others' behavior when you teach them what they can get away with and what they cannot,”
I realized early in the relationship that being with Clark meant that I would have to step out of my world to join him in his – and he lived in a small boat adrift on a small lake with no destination in mind. I also knew that either he would have to brave getting to know me on land or I was going to have to leave him stranded.
Reading his messages got me thinking about making choices and being accountable for my actions. My reflection took me back to our last night together, and the moment I decided, as Shakespeare said, "To be or not to be: that is the question,"
It was after sex – when our bodies had given in to relaxation, one naked leg tossed carelessly across his muscled thigh. My head rested upon his broad chest, and I held his flaccid cock in my hand as if I were waiting for it to rise again. It was in one of those moments when lovers felt lost among the stars, and the early morning was so still I could dance to the rhythm of his breathing.
“Are we still going away for the weekend?” I asked, my voice soft against his heartbeats.
He kissed me on the forehead and squeezed me to him. “It doesn't look good. There are things going on with the ex wives,"
"What things?" I asked.
He didn't answer for the longest time.
"What things?" I asked again.
"Stop asking questions," he said. "I don’t like when you ask questions about my life. Something came up, that's all,”
I lifted my head from his chest and stared at him sprawled naked against me. It may not have been the best time to ask questions, but it hit me at that moment – more than it had before, that there was never going to be a good time to talk about anything with him. Whenever I tried to have a conversation with him about anything, he shut me down. And every time we had plans, he reneged, claiming that something came up with the exes. He was full of broken words, and I have learned not to trust a man whose words does not align with his actions.
What am I doing with this man? I wondered. He wanted to be in my world – but he would not risk anything to be there. That I, Kitten who speaks of empowerment would lower my standards to meet a man on a level that diminishes me was preposterous.
I got up from beside him and went to sit on my red antique couch. “You need to get dressed and leave,” I said.
“I was planning to spend the night with you,” he said.
“No. I think we've come to our end,” I said. “This is where I get off your little boat,”
“What boat? Jesus. Is this another break-up, Kitten?” he asked.
“It’s the break-up,” I said.
“What did I do?” he asked.
“I can’t be with someone who can't decide if he wants to be with me, nor can I continue in a relationship with someone whom I cannot talk to. I’m tired of you telling me to stop asking questions about things that I have every right to ask about, you are after-all, sharing my bed,” I said.
“That’s because you’re full of questions. You want to know what I think and feel about life. What are my hopes and dreams? So here goes...I do not think and I do not feel anything. I don’t have any hopes and I don’t have any dreams. I don’t even know if I have right now. I have two failed marriages, and three self-fish kids, my work sucks and I feel like a complete failure. I come here to get away from everything. That is the story, Kitten. I wish you would stop with the life questions. I don’t ask you about your life,”
“I know,” I said. That’s why I don’t see the point in spending any more of my valuable time with you. You want to share by bed, but you don't want to know anything about me. Being with you is a tiny step above masturbation. You fuck my pussy, but you do not fuck my mind. I can do what we do with a dildo,”
“This kind of talk is unnecessary,” he said.
“This talk is not only necessary, it's long overdue. You see, Clark, you live in your past, I live in the present. Your future is your past. Mine is full of stories not yet written, and adventures I’ve not yet experienced and an epic love affair with a man I’ve yet to meet. You and I live on the same planet, but not in the same world,”
“You’re not kidding about that,” he said, looking at me as if I were a strange bird.
“I have never known anyone so full of hopeless optimism – so fucking full of big dreams and future plans and ideas of epic romance. Has anyone ever ruffled your soft, pretty fur, Kitten? Has anyone ever broken your precious heart? I don’t think so – so spare me your bull-shit because you can’t begin to understand what I’m going through,” he said.
“Am I full of hopeless optimism or is your inability to get over your past and start living again the real tragedy of your life?”
“Stop talking, Kitten,” he said.
“We’re done here,” I said.
And I had meant it. I walked him to the door that night and did not watch him leave. I have not months nor years to waste waiting for a man to decide if he wants me - yet has no problem coming to my bed.
I had no doubt that we would have continued as we were for as long as I allowed it, and he may never change. Some people don't make decisions, they wait until life steps in and make decisions for them. I was never one to sit around and wait for others to make decisions for me. It's my life - I decide my value, and I'm worth knowing.
I’ve been told before that my optimistic outlook on life is of someone who does not have a solid grasp on reality. I've been looked at strangely when I say that I will not settle for a normal life, full of suffering and unhappiness for I deserve one that is extra-ordinary - nor will I settle for an ok love affair, I want one that's exceptional. I've been told that I should give up believing in true love and dreams and feeling that I'm entitled to happiness.
I, on the other hand, have always thought it tragic that anyone would accept unhappiness as a way of life and settle so easily for barely good enough.
What is a life without purpose? What does it say about us if we cannot make the decisions necessary to change the circumstances that we do not want in our lives? What chance do we have at realizing our full potential if we cannot grow beyond our past and present conditions?
Steve Maraboli said, “How would your life be different if…You didn't allow yourself to be defined by your past? Let today be the day…You stop letting your history interfere with your destiny and awaken to the opportunity to release your greatest self.”
If Clark had ever asked about my story, he would have known that I am a tapestry stitched with joy and sorrow - betrayal and forgiveness, chiseled from tragedies and triumphs to be a caterpillar turned butterfly. I am all these things – because I refused to surrender my life and my happiness no matter how far I have fallen. And I have fallen – only to find that having fallen is not the end, but an opportunity to write a new chapter - if I choose.
If he had ever cared to listen to my story, he would have learned that the peace and safety that he found in my arms did not come easy - that it is not from the viewpoint of a hopeless optimist that I view the world, but with the knowing of a fucking phoenix, risen from dust time and again. Marriage, divorce, drama with kids, lost loves, heartbreaks… I’ve been there, done it, made peace with all of it – and have taken the the lessons with me to become better for it.
I turned off my phone that night and deleted his messages come morning.
“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.” ~Anais Nin~