It’s Been a Long Year

R engagementThe second time I experienced that supposed “once-in-a-lifetime” love was with my ex-fiance.

On the evening we met, R welcomed me with a hug and guided me into the Italian restaurant where we would share our first meal together. Once seated, we dove into conversation, quickly moving from lighthearted get-to-know-you topics to weightier stories and back again to laughter-filled teasing.

At one point, deep in conversation about his wartime experiences in Afghanistan, R’s eyes started twinkling, and he pushed back from the table and exclaimed – pleased, surprised, musing aloud – “This is great; we’re really getting into it!” We both acknowledged the immediate chemistry and personality compatibility that allowed us to navigate all levels of conversation with ease.

Even during that first date, we began picking up on one another’s idiosyncrasies. Normally very articulate, R’s occasional lapses into over-used colloquialisms were his tell of uncharacteristic nervousness. Similarly, there were a few times I’d be talking during our dinner conversation, telling a story, and I’d see the corner of R’s mouth lift just slightly like he was amused. I’d eventually ask him what was so funny, and he’d laugh lightly and say, “Oh, I’m just picking up on mannerisms,” telling me with a grin that my quirks were endearing.

R led us in prayer before the meal, and when he reached for my hand to pray, it felt natural. He had nice rough, calloused hands – a man’s hands. Overall, my first impression was of a strong, dominant leader; a smart, driven businessman; a confident, fun-loving rogue with acerbic humor; a thoughtful, reflective, godly man.

On our next date, R arrived after me, striding confidently toward me in comfortable jeans and a soft blue graphic tee. I stood as he approached, and he enthusiastically picked me up and spun me around as I laughed. Once we were seated next to each other at a square table, he reached under my chair and scooted me a few inches closer to him with a grin. I loved his playfulness.

The playfulness continued at the arcade where we played games after dinner, followed by a ropes course challenge and, finally, our first kiss in the parking lot, where – laughing – we got busted by a cop. After being told to “move along”, R and I started to say goodnight, and the atmosphere turned serious. As we gazed into one another’s eyes, I pulled our photo booth picture from my purse to give to him, but he pressed it back into my hands, saying softly, “You keep that safe for us.”

He was a a sentimental, hopeless romantic and a roguish military man with handfuls of confidence until his sudden and repeated emotional breakdowns in the months preceding what would have been our wedding day. He oscillated between telling me, with love in his eyes, that I was more than he ever dreamed was out there… and then, the next day, telling me that I was so Type A that I’d drive him to have an affair if we got married.

After months of heartache, I finally had to let him go completely. And the song I taught myself on the piano was one of many outlets that allowed me to begin processing the hurt and emotional turmoil of that season.

It’s been a long day, and all I’ve got to say is make it strong
It’s been a long day, and all I’ve got to say is I’ve been wrong

So take a leave of absence; tell me you’ll be gone
I don’t want to see your face
It’s been a long day, and I just want to hide away

It’s been a long week, and all the lines come down heavy on me
It’s been a long week; I’m finally feeling like it’s okay to break
Into a thousand pieces no one can replace
Only I can find my way
It’s been long day, and I just want to hide away

It’s been a long year, and everyone around me has disappeared
It’s been a long year, and all this mess around me has finally cleared
So can I have a moment just to say hello?
Can you let your anger go?
It’s been a long year, and I’m finally ready to be here

Authentically Aurora

He’s the Sweetest. Period.

army-chaplainOver the weekend, I agreed to go out to dinner with an Army Chaplain who is stationed at a fort near my city. When he initially asked me out, I threw up all kind of barriers, trying to make myself sound as undesirable as possible.

I am a wounded animal, desperately trying to give myself time to heal. I thrash about any time someone gets close, seeking to keep away potential suitors, but I am bleeding out in the process.

When Steve expressed his interest in me, I immediately told him about my emotional baggage and how I think maybe I’m due for a season of singleness. I made every effort to push him away and ensure his affection for me would subside.

“If you’re interested in me,” I told him, “Be my friend. Pray about us. I will have dinner with you, but I make no promises beyond that.” So Steve drove three hours to take me out to dinner.

I quickly discovered that Steve is sweet and kind, decisive and confident, perceptive and attentive. He has a great smile and deep laugh lines around his eyes. He loves to laugh. And listen. And encourage.

I let Steve hold my hand to pray over our dinner, and by the end of the evening, he had pulled me into his lap. He has a gentle spirit, and I found him likable and easy to trust – good character qualities for an Army Chaplain. “And for a boyfriend,” I thought absently.

Near the end of the evening, I got up from his lap and, at the same instant, we saw the blood on his khaki shorts. My blood. From my period. It had overflowed, running through my shorts and onto his. And I was absolutely mortified.

Alternating between stuttering apologies and hiding my face behind my hands, I felt a flush creep into my cheeks. With a hint of sardonic humor, I thought to myself, “Well, I don’t have to worry about trying to push him away anymore!”

But Steve didn’t react the way I expected. He sat calmly, looking up at me with surprise. “Why are you so upset? It’s okay. I’ve had blood on me before.” He’s been deployed to Afghanistan and has done medical training, too. “But it’s period blood,” I thought. “Guys freak out about that.”

But Steve didn’t freak out. In fact, he soothed and calmed me as I had a meltdown, living every girl’s worst nightmare. I hadn’t just bled through my shorts. I bled onto his shorts! Is there anything more horrifying?!

Ironically, we’d talked about “most embarrassing moments” earlier in the evening. After Steve reassured me over and over that he was honestly okay and not weirded out, I quipped, “Well, I guess now I have a new ‘most embarrassing moment’!” He laughed, and I had the pleasure of seeing those deep laugh lines crinkle the corners of his eyes again.

Steve continued to sit calmly on the couch – covered in my blood – while I went to clean myself up. He insisted that I use the bathroom first. Only after I was changed did Steve put on the baggy athletic shorts I offered him so that I could wash his khakis for him to wear home.

I was stunned by Steve’s poise and astounded by his kindness. Steve has a maturity and emotional fortitude I haven’t seen in many of the men I’ve dated. I still think I should consider taking some serious time away from dating, but now I know at least one Army Chaplain who is fervently praying for me to be whole, healed and ready to date again.

Authentically Aurora