Back in March, I was reading through some old emails I had written to Stone.
In one particular email, I was pining for him. It was more prose than a letter.
I found my eyes tracking slowly
with a saddened surprise …
as I read my own words.
Stone and I were reunited as friends last summer at the first of June.
We camped together once or twice a month until September
when we decided to date …. long distance – Augusta to Atlanta.
We talked on the phone once or twice a week when he found time to call.
He is always busy.
We continued to visit as often as our “pre-dating” months …
about once or twice a month (truly not enough to “build” a strong relationship of any sort).
By November, our friendship was a solid five months old.
I didn’t realize that even as far back as November,
I wanted something that wasn’t available to me …
or in other words …
I needed something that Stone couldn’t offer.
In the email from November that I found myself re-reading back in March,
I read these words.
I sunk into a telling slump as reality was revealed in my heart.
My thoughts when we first met last June …
were the same as in November …
and hadn’t changed as late as March, almost nine months later.
“I want you to trust me, too.
I want to understand the things that are difficult for you
so that I will be tender.
I want us to be able to talk through the tough stuff
without you having to change the subject.
*scratches head and wonders “Why do guys do that?”*
I want you to show me … explain to me … so I can listen
and edify you and lift you up … build you up.
I want to be your helper.
I already love you.
I long for the day that we have enough history and depth
that I know that I am your best friend, preferred over any other companion.
Time is good for that.“
When the conversation became deep or difficult, Stone would change the subject.
“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?,” he would ask … until Joy or I would give in
and let him change the subject to his topic of choice.
This is the way he is built. It is who he is. And that’s fine.
I prefer to work THROUGH the difficult, not skip around it and ignore it.
This is who I am. I’m different from him. And that’s fine.
Back in March, I found myself in bed late at night when Glory came flitting into the house. I heard the door slam and she yelled for me until she found me. She was getting ready to move out. She found a new room-mate and was ready to try it again on her own. She was excited. I had heard all about Elaine, but I don’t believe I had yet met her. The two came into my room and sat to chat for a bit. Quickly, the topic of Elaine breaking up with her boyfriend came up. I was interested. “Oh, I’m sorry,” I said. “Oh, no … don’t be sorry. It’s okay,” she replied. “What happened?” … was naturally my next question. Glory had to flutter away to gather some important things – probably laundry – before they flew back off again. Glory left Elaine sitting at the foot of my bed to tell the story.
Elaine’s calming voice told the story in a rich voice with an unusual inflection that I can’t describe, much less mimic. She said, as time went along, she found she would call one friend to join her for a movie. If she was sad, she would call a different friend for support. If she had great news, there was yet another who came to mind to be the first to share in her celebration.
And it began to occur to her …
she called her boyfriend
less … and … less often
to share in the day to day ups and downs,
trials, tribulations and celebrations
of her life.
And she knew.
Her “boyfriend” … was not her “best friend.”
I sat there dumbfounded.
This child …
this young girl of one score …
had nailed on the head
my relationship with Stone …
without even telling her story with that intention.
She had boyfriend wisdom that I did not.
It was no accident that she sat at the foot of my bed telling me this story …
this complete stranger … but friend to my daughter …
beautiful and wise, young and knowing.
I spent several months confused, perplexed, conundrumed. The more I was drawn to Stone (from September to April), the more I found him an impenetrable, well fortified fortress. He protected himself superbly from injury, not letting me in … at least, not in the way that I need in a relationship. And that is no insult to him … it is how he is built. I am built differently. He has been injured and there places he was unwilling to go, there were topics he was unwilling to put on the table. We all have these injuries. There were places he would not give. We all have these places. When I would share, “This is how a woman feels about ….. ,” he would reply that the idea was ridiculous or insinuate that it was silly. He simply did not understand me … understand how women are built. And that’s fine. He would say, “I just want to be Stone,” letting me know that it was just too much work to be pliable and flexible. I do not want to change him. I wanted to share with him … but not make him someone he was not.
He was always telling me, “Let it go.”
I realized that I did, in fact, need to let it go.
I needed to step back and leave him alone … let him be himself.
He is a wonderful man with incredible attributes.
But, the longer we were together
the more I realized that I was just
The harder I tried to be who he needed to be
(non-analytic … more reserved …. less emotionally revealing ),
the more I felt MYSELF becoming lost.
I was building my own walls and fortress.
I even found that I had formed an almost invisible grimace and flinch
that showed itself very quietly
when I was afraid that I wouldn’t please him …
when I would wear something, do something or say something
that I thought Stone wouldn’t like.
I doubt Stone ever saw it.
But, it was there. More than one friend saw it and pointed it out to me.
I didn’t even know it was there.
I was again in a relationship with a man that I was trying to please
by being what he needed
rather than by being myself
and in being myself
being the person he needed.
Stone was not my best friend …
and I realized
as I listened to Elaine talk …
that he never would be …
because I was trying so hard to change to be what he needed
that I was losing myself … again.
How can we have a best friend
or be a best friend
if we are not ourselves?
Just a few days before my conversation with Elaine,
I saw a quote somewhere in cyberspace
that hit me right.between.the.eyes.
God is good that way … to speak to me about a topic time and time again
and help me work it through. I’m always looking for Him.
I thought about it. I shared it with friends. And then,
I made it into a magnet and placed it on my refrigerator as a reminder …
and to give me courage
to do the right thing
and set Stone free.
Soon I would travel to Atlanta to spend spring break at Stone’s house. Joy and I went over during the Masters Tournament. It was wonderful to be there and spend our evenings with him. During the day, Joy and I traveled about sight-seeing and visiting. We rode the Marta Monorail downtown for a day. We went to Stone Mountain. We spent a few days at Lake Lanier.
But I knew that I would soon need to step away
and stop trying so hard.
Stone and I needed to just be friends
and no more.
And on a bike ride event weekend on the third weekend in April,
I handed Stone a beautiful handmade card
that declared my love and affection,
and let him know that he was right …
I needed to let him be himself
and I needed to be myself.
He began to read the card aloud. I told him he probably didn’t want to do that
as his son was within earshot.
He asked if I was breaking up with him. I told him yes.
He then refused the card … in true form … refusing to look at anything difficult.
I looked down and said, “That’s just it, the reality remains the same
whether you acknowledge it or not.”
I had to share what I was doing and why.
He would rather say, “It’s a beautiful day!”
We are built different … he and I.
And that’s a fine.
I love that God will use
a plethora of situations like
His grand, marvelous creation,
accidents like spilled cereal
or a young girl with gorgeous, brown doe-eyes,
covered in ink, beautiful and quiet,
to speak into my life.
I said from the start that I believed that my friendship with Stone was orchestrated by God. I said over and over and that I would remain with him until God showed me differently. We have a great deal in common. Stone and I both love to ride bikes, swim, camp and hike. We worship the same amazing, grand God who created this beautiful world of trees, rocks, water, earth and fire. It was hard to come to grips with the idea that he and I were not meant to be a couple. Stone used to tell me we were getting older and didn’t have time to waste. Like the forty-year old, childless woman who believes her biological clock is ticking and knows she needs to have children sooner than later, he is right. Stone and I are nearing fifty and we have no time to waste.
But, I see it differently. I do not have time to waste being in an unrealistic relationship.
And I certainly do not want to be married and alone. I have done that before.
I’d rather be single than squander my time painfully trying to be someone I am not.
I do not expect him to sacrifice in that way either.
He has too much to offer and is too grand in spirit
to squander his days
with a woman who has needs that he is not built to fill.
The blessing here is that I figured this out
before it was too late.