The Fight to Stay Certain This Relationship Will Work Where Others Haven’t
In any relationship, or any new endeavor, one of the greatest challenges is to not let yourself be haunted by past failures.
A lot of us have “tapes” that play incessantly in our heads. When it comes to love, mine mixes grandiosity with despair in equal measure. The tape that plays in my head tells me two things:
1. I always “get” the girl I want.
2. Sooner or later, usually sooner, I will drive that girl away.
This hasn’t always been true, of course. There have been a few times where I didn’t get the girl, and there may have been one or two times where her departure didn’t have a damn thing to do with me. But after 35 years, the exceptions tend to reinforce the rule.
Even in this run-down stage of midlife, I am unnervingly confident to the point of arrogance that I can always get the one I like to like me back. And I have to fight every day against the fear that having gotten her, her inevitable, disgusted departure draws closer.
Years ago, I told my friend Jenia that I was always “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
“Consider the possibility that there is no other shoe,” she replied.
As my remarkable girlfriend Victoria and I move past the three-month mark and fall more deeply in love, my daily task is to consider the possibility that there is no other shoe.
I can’t silence the tape that warns of incipient doom. (I tried to mute it for years with drugs and alcohol, and that only ended up accelerating the arrival of my worst fears.) My task is to play another tape, reminding myself that while I still am Hugo, the sum of all this living, I am also different each day, capable of breaking patterns, capable of staying connected, capable of doing what was undoable before.
Love of any kind — romantic, spiritual, familial — is on some level a constant battle between hope and fear. Choosing hope, staying in the present, and deciding to believe, hour by hour, that there is no other shoe to drop — that’s a battle worth fighting.