On Loyalty, Family, and Love

I’ve been thinking about romantic relationships.

A lot of them suck. They may have started out great: marriage, kids, the house and picket fence, but then they sucked. The dream of love and happily ever after crumbled into dissatisfaction and disappointment.

Most people in America want to be in a relationship. Some of us want it so badly that we’ll stay with abusive partners. Or partners that don’t care. Or partners who are selfish. Or partners who haven’t grown up. I’m sure there are move variations on the theme, but I’ve had a relationship with all of them.

Movies and books tell us that we should be in a relationship. There’s something wrong with you if you aren’t paired up with “somebody.” It’s as unsettling as explaining why you don’t want kids at family gatherings. “Why is such a pretty woman like you single?”

Because it’s preferable to being with another person who can’t keep up with me. Because I’m tired of being put on a pedestal by men who want a Mommy-replacement. Because I hated hook-up culture when I could hook up, and I still hate it as I watch my children navigate Tinder and the bar scene.

I expected my marriage to last until death. But the expectations weren’t met. I had an expectation that we could tell each other anything. No matter what someone says, they don’t want complete honesty.

I thought we would always have those moments late at night when all we did was talk about deep, crazy stuff. I thought we would take joy in our family and do anything to protect our slice of happiness. I thought we would have each other’s backs even when shit got real.

Every expectation I’ve had revolves around loyalty. This is a major theme in my life. It’s important to me. I expect people to fuck up. I fuck up. But I don’t expect people to lose sight of what’s important.

And herein lies the reason why I would prefer to be single. Few people understand the concept of loyalty. I’ve had my heart crushed a hundred times in the smallest of ways over the course of my life. Family, friends, co-workers, colleagues, ad nauseum infinitum. Disappointment is a constant companion when you expect.

Until I can find a partner who behaves consistently from a place of loyalty, to me and to the us we are, I’m not going to bother. Because I have so much inside of me to give to a person. It’s fragile, like a dragon fly’s wings, and just as beautiful. It’s overwhelming, like the Grand Canyon, because life has carved this wonder within me. There aren’t many I’ve found out there who could appreciate this and those that do I call my friends.

I want to make sure the right partner is granted such gifts, because I will already have seen his gifts, what he could be, who he is, and I will do everything in my power to nurture and protect the gift of him.

This man will be imperfect, will have regrets, will hoard his darkest secrets like a dragon hoards gold. He will think himself unworthy. He will hurt my feelings. He will disappoint me at the same time he disappoints himself. And often with the best of intentions.

He will also have a passionate heart, the will to improve, the desire to love deeply. He will have expectations that mirror mine. He will guard my fragility with every fiber of his being.

Even if he fails, and I hurt, he will have tried his best. I will love him for trying. I will love him for picking up the pieces with me. Helping me put things back together, in a better configuration, and soldered with gold.

And I will hurt him with my passionate heart. I will disappoint him with the best of intentions. I will solder the cracks in his heart with the gold of my love.

That’s loyalty. It isn’t about never hurting or disappointing your love. It’s about expecting the best and preparing for the worst. It’s about navigating storms and sunny meadows, cold winds and warm grass, and the will and desire to create the best life and to include each other in that creation. It’s to hold each other and to let each other go.

I want a man who takes responsibility for his reality, who exercises his free will to be the best person he knows how to be. It’s not perfection I’m seeking.

I want to see the realness of us, the beautiful imperfection of us, in every line of his face. I want to hold his hand when we’re 64. I want to wear matching tee-shirts that say, “If lost, please return to I.O.” while the other one says, “I’m I.O.” I want to argue and laugh and live with this one person and every relative of his inner and outer worlds. I want all of him, to peel every layer away, slowly, lovingly until I earn his dragon’s hoard.

©2022 I.O. Kirkwood. All rights reserved.

Published by I.O. Kirkwood

Vibrational Alchemist ~ Medium ~ Writer

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