Monday, May 5, 2008
Lucky in Love
Okay, I'm back. I was away for the weekend doing a couple of book events and had a chance to get my head back on straight. Whew...thank God for the love of friends.
Before I begin this reflective set of blogs, let me explain why I decided to do this list. First, I think writing down the things that you are grateful for every now and again helps you realize how much you actually have versus how much you think you lack. Secondly, as I travel around the country talking about my book and the issues of sensuality and sexuality people ask me all the time, "How did you get like this?" I decided that this was a perfect time to look into the things that have shape and molded me and my thoughts and actions.
So this brings me to the first (well technically second if you count the whining) item my Countdown to Fifty list that has shaped and molded me into the woman (dare I say fabulous without sounding like an egotistical diva) I am today.
I have been so lucky in love my entire life. It began with my amazing family, particularly my parents who love me unconditionally and raised me with a strong sense of self. They gave me the confidence and permission to think for myself, make my own decisions and then loved me through the results--regardless of whether those decisions turned out to be achievements or mistakes.
I've been lucky in romantic love beginning with the first love of my life and lover, RJ. I hope my daughter is as blessed with such a first love. We were juniors in high school when we first got together and stayed together through our sophomore year in college. He was a funny, endearing, nurturing, smart and loving boyfriend. He was a considerate, tender, romantic, patient, adventurous first lover. He set the tone for my views on committed relationships and sex. And he broke my heart, simply by growing up and moving on, but he'd left his imprint on my life.
RJ continued the lessons that my parents had begun. He taught me that I was lovable just being myself and that I didn't have to lose myself or deny myself, my needs, or disrespect myself in order for someone to love me. He also taught me that the quality of I love received was a direct response to the quality of love I gave. And lastly, he taught me that loving someone hard can sometimes lead to hurt, but it's so worth the pain. And ever since then, I have loved without fear and learned about myself with every giggle and each tear.
*NOTE TO DAUGHTER: RJ and I were a couple for a year before we had sex. I was 18. There was no coercing or pressure to have sex. I knew that this is who and what I wanted. Our first time together was safe and we were able to spend the night together. It was worth the wait and not only do I have no regrets, I have amazing memories. And like 99.99% of all first times, physical pleasure was not the whole of this sweet encounter. Love was. And that's the memory I get to take into my old age. Let that be your memory too.
Between college and marriage, I loved and left as well as loved and lost a variety of men of various ages, sizes, colors and jobs. Not a regret among the bunch as I learned a lot about myself and life--both romantic and real life. And I remember each one with a smile, even the ones who lied or cheated. They taught me that their issues weren't mine and that I only could only control my actions and reactions, not theirs, but always had the power to decide what was ultimately best for me. I took those lessons into my my ultimate relationship.
I've been lucky in marital love. I met my husband and after a very romantic whirlwind, six days later we were engaged (try breaking that to your boyfriend of a year who just happened to go away for a week and comes back to hear that news!). Because love and I were no strangers by this point, I knew he was Mr. Right. And guess what, on paper he should have been all wrong. He was a graduating senior, I'd been out of school four years (and dating a VP at a brokerage firm). He had no money, no job and we hadn't even had sex. But my heart knew and I went for it. May 31 is our 23 wedding anniversary. We have two fantastic kids and have had a great life together. He's been a partner on Wall Street during his twenty plus year stint in the financial business. We have a great house and have traveled the world together. We've had our ups and downs and have laughed a lot together and cried a lot too. CW taught me that the best lovers are friends and that love morphs into a variety of shapes as the decades go by but ultimately, remains love.
Okay, so here are the lessons I've learned and the reasons why LOVE is number one on my gratitude list. Love is the one thing we all desire and say we want but it's also the thing that we seem to understand the least and fear the most. I learned that unless that you love yourself first and understand your worth, you'll always be looking for love in other people and that's a recipe for disaster. I've learned that love is God and God lives in each one of us. I've learned that if you fear love you'll never grow as a person and that loving full out is better than protecting your heart. I've learned that love isn't always meant to be forever but its lessons and memories are, and that the only way you can get good at love is to DO it, FEEL it, SHARE it. I've learned that if love goes unattended it will die. I learned that the more love you give the more love you get and that sex without love can be good but sex with love is FRICKIN'GREAT. I've learned that loving yourself makes you FEEL sexy and loving someone else makes you ACT sexy.
Love...Pass it on!