Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Love I Deserve

At nearly 38, which is of course nearly 40, I'm not too old to appreciate a good teen novel-turned-movie.

I recently fell in love with The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a movie I watched on a whim, and then voraciously read the book to get the whole story.

It is incessantly quotable and relatable, a period piece that hearkens back to the time I myself was in high school.

One of its nuggets of wisdom is: "We accept the love we think we deserve."

I have accepted a lot of shitty love in my life, which, by and large, has meant no love at all, or verbalized love never enacted, or love as a threat, manipulation, punishment, or prize never rewarded.

I have accepted it all. Because I didn't think I could do better.

I have loved without the expectation of being loved back. And therefore, no one ever has.

I've tried dating some people, tried falling in love with them, despite not being very interested in them, despite not liking them very much, because I thought I should. Because I think I need a real relationship on my dating resume. Because I think my standards of love and romance might be too high, and to settle down, I might just have to settle.

In reality, no one I've ever loved has ever been a suitable partner for me. And while I was dating them, while I was pining for them after we stopped dating, I ignored that fact. I was willing to put my needs aside, to put myself aside, for them. I wanted to prove that I was a suitable partner, despite the fact that they probably didn't deserve me.

At least, they didn't earn me. They never tried very hard. It makes me wonder why I fell so hard.

If I'd never dated at all, if I'd never loved at all, I don't think I'd have any sense of what's actually out there, what's possible within the species of humans. I'd still be fantasizing about Johnny Castle. My only knowledge of the real world would be what I see posted by my friends on Facebook, which feels as fictional as any movie to me - I, the audience, viewing it from afar, aspiring to it, but remembering my father's voice telling me, "It's just a movie."

I need some real experiences of my own.

In the past, I've put so much of myself into other people, I've often forgotten myself. But it's taken me nearly 20 years of dating to realize that starting a relationship isn't like applying for college or interviewing for a job or even playing the lottery. It's not about luck, it's not about being chosen, or winning, it's about two separate equals deciding to do this thing together, for a while, maybe forever.

Finally, now that my life is half over, and perhaps half wasted, now that I have faced my past and gotten closure and am no longer pining, I have finally learned: I deserve to be loved.

I deserve to be with someone...
...who calls me and doesn't make me feel weird about calling them.
...who asks me as well as tells me.
...who is proud to be with me.

...who's attracted to me regardless of how much I weigh
whether or not I waxed
am clothed or naked.

...who doesn't have to be drunk to show me affection.
...who wants to hold me and be held by me.
...who doesn't ever want to stop kissing me.

...who doesn't think settling down with me is settling.

The tragedy of my life is that I don't know how I'm ever going to find what I deserve.

But at least I finally realize that I deserve it, and that I don't have to settle for less.

Now accepting applications.

Qualified candidates only, please.

Related Posts:
The One Who Loves Alone
A Suitable Partner
My Time Has Passed