One of the shows I’m currently watching from start to finish via Netflix is Ally McBeal. I used to watch this show with my mom as a youngster and I was interested in watching it again as an adult. If you’ve never seen it, it’s hysterical. It is about a woman, Ally, in her late twenties who comes to work at the same law firm as her now married, but once long time love, Billy. As the seasons go on, the drama ensues as we watch Ally date different men, Billy’s wife comes to work at the firm with them, and we see how her cases force her to reflect on her life. We see her therapy sessions and the therapy sessions of her co-workers who are all in some way certifiably crazy. In the unisex bathroom at the office, choreographed dances to Barry White songs, acrobatics, and girl fights are the norm. Despite the hysterics and the quirkiness of the characters, the over-arching theme of each episode is Ally’s quest for love. I’m always curious to see how I feel when I decide to turn off the TV and go to sleep after watching several episodes. Since I usually watch the show when the man is at work or I’m just sleeping at home by myself that night, it makes me miss him. It makes me thankful that I have him, even if he isn’t there that minute, but knowing he’s out there comforts me. I feel relieved in knowing that I’m not “out there” looking, searching, and hoping like Ally.
It made me think about how I used to feel years ago after watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. I would let the DVR at home in New Jersey record all of the episodes so I could watch eight in a row on my breaks from school. I thought about this one particular time sophomore year when I was dating this guy. He had already moved away and our long distance relationship was really hard. These days I don’t usually go more than 24 hours without seeing the man, I don’t know how I went weeks back then. Anyway, I can remember sitting in the basement, turning off the TV, and feeling like I don’t express to him enough how I feel about him. Grey’s Anatomy is intense and it was during the crazy MerDer times of back and forth, up and down, and just woah (“Pick me, choose me, LOVE ME”). I would turn off the TV feeling the same intense feelings as the characters but I rarely acted upon them. However this one time I called him. I told him that sometimes I don’t feel like I adequately tell him all of the lovey dovey feelings that I have for him. He really didn’t understand because he said that he felt very loved but he appreciated hearing it nonetheless.
Fast-foward to now, I realized that perhaps I really didn’t feel those things for him, which is why I had a hard time saying them. I also think that I’m just easily caught up in the moment and the emotions of a great show, kudos to Grey’s for inspiring such intense reactions from me. I know I loved him, he was my first BIG love and I don’t want to take away from that but perhaps it’s possible that the overly expressive words didn’t come out of my mouth because he was not the love of my life. Maybe you’re only supposed to show, feel, and express love the way they do on TV and in movies one time. I couldn’t be sure what the answer was but I went home this weekend and was coincidentally faced with the relationship in another way…
My parents are painting all of the walls in our house over again and so my mom is cleaning out and packing everything with the assumption that the house will finally sell this spring. She asked me to go through my “boyfriend boxes” and pack them away. I only have two old boyfriend boxes and they get easier and even a little bit more ridiculous to go through with each year that passes. I was able to get rid of a lot of memorabilia that I was never able to before but I still read through most of the emails I saved, letters and cards we wrote to each other, and pictures. I stopped and asked my mom, “How did I manage to find two guys that were so overly expressive in their feelings for me and our relationship? What’s that about?” We speculated that it was mainly the age at which I dated these guys, “when they’re young, they fall hard and fast,” she said. I was equally as shocked to read what I had written to them and about them. I had no reason to feel like I didn’t express my feelings because I really did, more than I do now. I think in my current relationship, we express it differently and dare I say, more maturely. We are not a couple who is afraid to say those three words multiple times a day but there’s an older, wiser, more cautious approach we take.
As we get older, as in the general population, it gets harder to so freely express our emotions as it was when we were younger because we know now that things don’t always work out. New relationships that were once all exciting and thrilling are now part excitement but also part fear and expectation. I have this strange notion in my head that I have to be somewhat more fully formed before I can choose a mate for life and I was reminded by my parents this weekend that that is quite ridiculous. I think of my age as a factor in how I couldn’t possibly choose a mate now but after going through those boyfriend boxes from high school and college, I realize how much older and wiser I really am now. I knew what I was doing then and I have to trust that I know what I’m doing now.
It felt right to be with those guys and when it wasn’t right anymore, I made little hesitation in ending the relationships. The break-up was usually ignited by an incident that forced me to re-evaluate and ultimately decide to end things but what happens when those incidents stop happening? Or what happens when incidents occur that we successfully work through and termination isn’t even on the radar screen? I think for some time I was waiting for that incident to happen with this current relationship, feeling like it can’t just be that good, I couldn’t possibly have met the right one right now….
As Sassarella’s dad says, “All you need to know is…do you want this person in your life and is this person someone you can’t imagine being without.” I’ve answered those questions and I think I confused sleeping next to each other every night, spending time with our families, and considering each other in the life plans as really putting my all into the relationship but it’s not. I never understood this before and maybe some of you reading this haven’t yet either, but to really put my all into this I have to do away with the fear, the uncertainty, and the excuses for why it’s not possible that I may have met my match. If I have fear, then how can I be fully and freely in this? If it’s meant to stick then it can only be made better by my full attention and intentions. If it’s not, then…well, let’s not even go there.
This won’t happen overnight. I’m way too analytical to completely disregard my over-analyzing brain but now that I’m aware of it, I can actively pay attention to situations where I might shy away from or be cautious and choose not to be. I believe the only factors holding me back are my fear in every aspect of my life of making a mistake and the fact that I haven’t quite let go of how my life was supposed to go. I’m a type-A perfectionist who doesn’t make mistakes, that’s just the way it goes but I gotta take risks and trust that the risks are the right risks to take…ya know, since I don’t make mistakes and all. And well, I don’t think anyone can say that life is turning out just as they planned, (even though I had it written down, broken down by year, and such), I guess I have to start accepting that it’s just not how it goes.