The thing about being married is that you forget how fun breakups are. Kind of like a long married couple can forget how much fun dating can be. But there's a crushing flip side to the "fun." A few months removed from a devastating breakup and a thousand conversations and therapy sessions later, I'm starting to realize what is truly eating me about all of this.
The broken promise.
It's not just David that has done this to me. No, I have a friend who refers to "the list of men" in my life, and while there haven't been many, they all have a common theme.
The broken promise.
Yes David made the big promises to me. "I will always love you." "I will always be here for you." "I will marry you and be your partner until the end of my days." "You have changed my life and ruined me for good. I will never be the same." "I don't want to spend another day of my life without you." "You have all of my heart, all of me, always and forever."
Sidebar, when you are engaged to someone else within 45 days of saying those words to me, I'm kinda thinking at some very fundamental level, it was bullshit.
Random thought. When David Arquette and Courtney Cox got married years ago, their wedding bands were inscribed with, "a deal's a deal." I loved that. I read an interview that basically said they both felt that no matter what they had made a deal to each other, a promise, and that needed to be kept. Of course they are divorced now. It happens. Life happens. It gets effin HARD. And sometimes the promise gets mutually broken.
That's why this breakup has been harder on me than the dissolution of my marriage. As I've mentioned before my marriage fell apart over the course of years. And it was a mutual decision that we made out of respect for each other and the desire for not only ourselves, but for each other to find happiness....even if that wasn't together.
But back to the promise. It's not just in relationships of lovers. It's not just the big promises. It's the little ones too. It's in friendships. It's in families. Promise. It's become a loose word.
When David got down on one knee and put a ring on my finger and we made that promise to each other, in my mind, we were already married. Waiting for a piece of paper meant nothing to me really. The commitment was there. I took that promise very seriously. Whether you are given a class ring, an engagement ring, a pinky promise, or a word.... it is just that... a promise.. a commitment.... and you know what?
A deal's a deal.
So here's the great rub. What happened to when words actually meant something? Not many people who know me can argue that I'm one of the most brutally honest people in the world. I will not, no, simply cannot make a promise to you that I a) don't mean or b) have no intention of keeping. It's not in my blood. My feeling is, just. don't. make. the. deal. Listen I don't care if you don't want to love me forever. You don't need to. I don't need you to. But don't make me the promise if you have no intention of keeping it. I invest 1000% into my relationships. Not just lovers, friendships too.
I have shared this quote before but it bears repeating. Of course it's Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm done apologizing for it.
“Moreover, I have boundary issues with men. Or maybe that’s not fair to say. To have issues with boundaries, one must have boundaries in the first place, right? But I disappear into
the person I love. I am the permeable membrane. If I love you, you can have everything. You can have my time, my devotion, my ass, my money, my family, my dog, my dog’s money, my
dog’s time—everything. If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family. I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else.
I do not relay these facts about myself with pride, but this is how it’s always been."
But here's the catch. I don't just give this to everyone, or even anyone. I choose the people that I dive into these relationships and friendships with very carefully. I don't strike the deal with anyone that I don't believe is worth the deal.
Relationships are WORK. Freakin' PERIOD. They are work. If it's a lunch date with a friend and you wake up feeling lazy and you push through anyway because you know your friend just needs you, it's still work. It's putting someone else first. It's making the time. It's taking the time. It's keeping the promises both large and small. It's holding up your end of the deal even when you don't want to, even when you think you can't. It's being a person of your word.
It's fucking integrity.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is -- don't make promises you have no intention of keeping. Don't make a deal you aren't even capable of being a part of. Don't say words that have no meaning to you.
It's OK to not make the promise.
There's a group of women in the world I have a completely absurd amount of respect for. They are the women who say, "I have absolutely no interest in having children." and they are proud and okay to say it out loud and live it. There are zillions of women in the world who have had children and shouldn't have. Who entered into, what is in my mind the most sacred promise you can make another human being (to be their parent, to bring them into life and see them through it) and they break it. They do it for all the wrong reasons. Peer pressure, parent pressure, "it seemed like the right thing to do," it was an accident (repeatedly)....whatever.... but the instant their child is born a lifetime of promises have already begun to be broken. And that's why I respect these woman so much. A-FREAKING-MEN for having the courage to stand up and say, "I get it. It's the single most difficult job in the world. And it's not for me."
Honesty is the best policy. Always.
A promise is a promise and a promise is only as strong as the words and the people behind it.
A deal is a deal.
Think about that for a minute. I think most people read that and immediately think about shopping.
Dig a little deeper. It's not a deal if you have no intention of making good on it. Period.
So don't buy the shoes you don't need even if they are on sale.... and don't make the promise you can't keep.... even if it feels really good at the time. Because eventually... it won't.