Today is St Valentine’s Day so the subject matter is rather obvious. However, my experiences of love, particularly of the romantic kind, are rather less than optimistic. I wrote the following for a Valentine’s day competition several years ago – needless to say it didn’t get anywhere.
You’re walking away
my heart attached to your sole
like toilet paper
I haven’t been good at choosing lifetime partners, probably because I’m not lifetime partner material myself. I don’t seem to have the staying power when the first flush of romance and lust settles down and have too-high expectations of the people I have chosen—like loyalty, faithfulness, honesty. What made the men attractive in the first place was probably the challenge of trying to keep them, when I should have been concentrating on looking for men who would stay because they were trustworthy. Yet even after all the heartache I wouldn’t change a thing.
These men have become my greatest friends, were completely reliable when it came to maintenance payments, emotional support, help with the children and encouraging me to pursue a change of career. For 32 years after we separated, until his death, my ex-husband sent me a huge bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day and never missed a birthday or Xmas present. My ex-partner of sixteen years was always available to help fix the car, put up shelves and other DIY stuff, is still involved with all my children (he’s not their biological father) and babysits the grandchildren to enable my daughter to go to work because I can’t help out. And a recent ex calls round when I’m ill, collects prescriptions and shopping, and has even slept at the bottom of my bed to ensure I didn’t have a crisis in the middle of the night.
I may not be successful at romantic love, perhaps because I’ve believed the fairy tales of happy-ever-after, perhaps because of other reasons, but I do know what enduring love is all about, once all the preconceptions are stripped away, and I count myself extremely lucky.