Surprise by Ashley Ambirge (Trust 30 Prompt 3)
I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Think of a time when you didn’t think you were capable of doing something, but then surprised yourself. How will you surprise yourself this week?
When I first read this prompt, the things that came to mind felt like ancient memories - my trip to Ireland in 2008. Rock climbing in 2009. Both of those activities were inconceivable to the me I was before they happened, and then there I was kissing the Blarney Stone. Ringing the bell at the top of a climbing run. They were surprising, in a way. But not exactly deep and holy.
And then today I remembered. Something much more recent. Much more scary. And much more firmly in the realm of something I didn't think I was capable of - I risked love.
Anybody who's been around a while will undoubtedly think 'but she's in and out of relationships more frequently than most of us buy shoes' (buy more shoes, dammit, what are you doing!). But the truth is, it's been more than a decade since I actually risked anything. For ten years I've 'let men date me' - yes, my ego has been hurt when things eventually go awry - c'mon, how could dating an arrogant princess possibly lead to things going awry? And more than once I've said/thought/written 'if I can't make it work with someone like that, what chance have I got.' I've dated some wonderful men - and some total cretins - but always only if they were risk free. Only if I was the one with the power and they were the ones making the effort. Only if I was going to be the one to walk away. I was lazy. Scared and scarred too, but mostly lazy. It's a horrible thing to do to another person, but it was the only way I knew to be safe.
But then this past winter I took myself to task. I wrote and wrote and wrote and cried and cursed and drank wine. I wrote letters to every man I've held back saying something to - the good and the bad. Most of them I burned. A couple of them I mailed. I wrote a letter to the man I hoped I'd meet. I started to focus on what would have me be ready to be someone's one and only. I admitted that no, I didn't want to die a reknowned spinster with a lifetime of adventures and achievements and no one to mourn her. I decided I wanted to be delightedly in love. I didn't talk about it much, I just set out to do it - to give myself heart & soul, not just body, to someone.
And so I did. The truth is, that from our first conversation I knew he was different. That he'd challenge me. That he would stand for me and stand up to me and somehow keep me safe from myself. I sometimes wanted to run away - not from him - but from the risk of it.
Like any adventure, there have been risks. I haven't always remembered to be a soul mate and not a princess. I haven't given as good as I've gotten. And for that I'm profoundly sorry.
But the holiest truth is that yes, for once, I have loved. Truly and deeply and with my soft belly exposed. And I'm delighted - not just by the adventure, but to know that I'm capable of it.
As for what I'll do this week to surprise myself ... I can't rightly say right now. My heart is otherwise engaged, and my head is occupied. But come what may, I'm somehow both stronger and softer for having risked my heart. And I know that if I follow that heart, I will be 'safe at last.'