There are two kinds of people: those who watch TMZ and those who don’t. I don’t, but my family does. But, I won’t be writing about those who watch TMZ and those who don’t. Instead I will be writing about what I heard on TMZ as my family watched.
Jennifer Love Hewitt is walking arm and arm with an actor no one has heard of. In the room where they all gossip, a young girl says, “There are reachers and there are settlers.” According to her, Jennifer is a settler.
So, there are two kinds of people, those who settle and those who reach. No one wants to be a settler, right? But I think I am, at least with men (Honey, before you think I settled with you, keep reading. It will get better).
In high school, I really liked a wrestler named Joel. Perfect body. Nice smile. Smart. Seemed kind. But he was definitely out of my reach. He would never like me. I didn’t like me. So, I hid from boys like him, and settled for the boys who could smell my low self-worth from the shadows. These boys pulled me out with their words that made me feel special.
One such boy, Michael, who was not really a boy, but 19 (I was 15), spotted me in a teen dance club. I, smoking my skinny cigarettes while dancing the wop (the 80’s version) could feel him looking at me. I wanted him to pull me from the shadows. He was so cute, but I knew he was bad. After I wopped my way off the dance floor, he left the girl he was with and pulled me to him with these words: “You are so fine. You have such beautiful green eyes.” Hooked, and settled.
You can guess where that relationships went. I continued to dream of reaching the kind and confident boys like Joel, but always ended up settling for the smooth-talking boys like Michael. That is until, I met Chucky. At first, I kept running into him, but we never talked. Then one night we were at a rolling skating rink. It was dance night. I was sitting on a chair, wearing a green skirt, holding a place for a friend, with my leg propped on another chair. I felt someone looking at me. It was a young boy, with a baby face staring directly between my legs. I suppose he thought I was trying to give him a peep show, but my exposure was completely innocent, and I closed my legs.
Chucky pursued me for the rest of the night. He wasn’t smooth talking, but he knew what he wanted (hopefully it was more than what was between my legs). I tried to avoid him, knowing I was “bad” in relationships. But he kept calling, and then one night, while I was taking a bus downtown, he got on the bus with a big smile on his face, and I was sold. No one had ever gone out of their way to be with me like he had.
Twenty-three years later, we are still together. Married. Two children. Life. Through the course of our relationship, I have thought I’d settled. He wasn’t the man of my dreams. Nothing like Joel. He doesn’t look like Joel. He doesn’t act like Joel. He doesn’t even smooth talk me like Michael. Instead, he is himself. It has taken a long time for me to accept who he is rather than try and change him. And why would I do this? Because I feared I settled.
Recently I read a blog post from someone who is wondering if she should stay married. She isn’t happy, and thinks she might be happier with someone else. I imagine she feels she has settled. When I hear stories like this, I understand the dilemma. But I also hear the warning signal going off. Don’t leave. Don’t go. The grass won’t be greener at another man’s house.
We are a culture afraid of settling. We fear the present moment, as if somehow it is a mistake. But, truly how can it be? Every moment in our lives is perfectly orchestrated to the tune of our own beliefs, to the magnificence and possibility of our own souls. And within this soul, is a rhythm. We are beings who evolve and change. How then, can we ever settle?
At 15, knowing how I felt about myself, and the messages I believed about who I was, I could not receive Joel, or anyone like him. Of course, for all I know Joel is a big beef head, not worth my time. But the truth is what is true in our minds. I believed he was better than me. I didn’t deserve him. He could never like me. To reach for him, would cause immediate failure. I didn’t know then, what I know now- if we dream it, we can reach for it. Or as Sarah Ban Brethnach says, “Trust that the same power that gifted you with your dreams knows how to make it come true.”
What I reach for, as a wife, is to be the best woman I know I can be within a container I feared would shrink my being, instead of expand it. In my reaching, I have arrived in heinous places, which made me believe my deepest fear had come true: I am settling for less than what I dream and desire. This is the challenge- and where sometimes what we fear the most does come upon us. But, to understand these dark moments only arrive to clear us of all that isn’t truly of us, we can remain in trust of the process.
To answer my own question, there is no such thing as settling. We are always reaching. Striving. Processing. Growing. I must then change my two kinds of people to this: There are two kinds of people, those who trust the process of their evolution and those who dwell in the illusory fear of settling for less.
I’m growing into a woman who feels better about herself. Who allows the man she feared she settled for, love her and show her his loyalty. In seeing his loyalty and love, I find my own for him, and together within our matrimonial container we deepen and expand. To my women, and men friends out there- if you feel you have settled, but have space and safety within your relationship- stay. Allow the relationship to slough off your weak spots and your illusions. Let yourself stay in process, and grow. The grass is alive and green right where you are. Be the kind of person who allows that possibility.