“One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise,
yet I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all
graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in
my grace. Rich she shall be, that's certain; wise,
or I'll none; virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her;
fair, or I'll never look on her; mild, or come not near me;
noble, or not I for an angel; of good
discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall
be, of what colour it please God.”
-Benedick, Much Ado About Nothing, Act II, Scene 3.
If you’ve never sought a lover with any specific criteria in mind, this passage holds no connection for you… unless of course you have, once, fallen in love with no criteria, experienced passion, and been badly burned. Hindsight. So very clear.
I was walking to my back gate one day, after terminating yet another relationship gone awry, and imagining the one for me, who might possess all graces, and truly capture my heart. Some find that person in their youth, or even, in the course of adulthood, without much time spent on the others. Perhaps they already knew themselves when they began dating. Or, perhaps they, as my father says, “Grew up together.” A process of coming to the same adult conclusions as one moves through their 20’s. I, however, glean so much from my mistakes that I call them learning experiences. Not, as it were, about the type of man to avoid (although that was, it seems, part of the curriculum), but, rather, about myself, who I am, what builds me up, holds my attention, allows me connection. This last go around made the search a bit more complex because I am also a mother, and she needs such specific things.
Back to the gate. I had a list longer than the side walk, strangely, few of his qualities were specific, except that he had to value me. Not just women, but me. I wanted to be safe to be open. Unthreatening in my natural form. I love growing, learning, healing, expressing. I do small talk like a donkey on a tightrope. It always feels awkward and asinine. Why? Because I read people too well and I know that’s not what’s on their mind. I also have opinions. And I’m awful at holding them in. Might actually be physically painful. I trust my intuition, and I don’t like it over-ridden in the decision making process. Careless use of resources drives me nuts. I cook. Well. I hate eating out. I can’t stop assessing my meal and wondering if they’d just added… it might be more enjoyable. I love the little things, contentment isn’t really an issue, beauty deserves to be given a breath or two. People are the big things, the mattery things. Clocks are the things that let you know why the punctual ones are miffed when you’re late. I love the woods, but I go there for peace and inspiration; I’ll hike, but for the journey, not the destination. I revel in my empty house, the solitude, the quiet I get to interrupt with the scratch of a pen, the tap of the keyboard, or the less subtle sound contributions of the piano. When I cook, it’s a creative outlet. I’m good at cleaning, but I don’t always get to it. My garden is medicinal. And my houseplants flower. I don’t care if they drop blossoms. It’s part of their process. I don’t care if a guest sees the dead blossoms. I don’t even hate the pop-in. I also have been known to do a little music in public, strange men have flirted with me. I am specifically me. I was also around 40 when I made this list… things are rather ingrained at that juncture.
Dang, I can’t stay on point this morning. The GATE! What did I ask the Maker for in the morning? The person who would hold all graces, for Love is patient, and kind, not rude, without envy, gentle… Capable of being present. Returning the honour of open honesty, value growth and healing, embracing their identity as a spirit being, willing to share on that level. Healthy. Secure. And as distracted by me as I am by them. In short, I was asking for someone to be utterly besotted with me, enthralled, captivated. I wanted to be seen and loved on purpose because the person I had come to love in the process of life’s revealing was stunning to me, and I could not shut her away again. She deserves to be present and honoured. I needed someone who would call her to the surface when I was tempted to bury her because she made someone else a bit uncomfortable, or the lies in my head not yet banished would belittle her importance.
I needed someone to look at me, and notice that ALL the graces were in ONE WOMAN, and they specifically matched the needs of his being. We need each other. We found each other too. Marvel at the exactness of our points of connection. All of the things others who could not see us found to be weaknesses are the very strength of our togetherness. We are, to each other, Home. I am more myself with him than I ever was without him.
The graces I needed, all in one man… Kindness, love, motivation, imagination, word play humour, the ability to help me play - even when there is a work list, contentment, encouragement, commitment, vision, excellent listener, brave, passionate, fond of food (specifically mine), supportive of the artist, musician and writer that I am, spiritually grounded and open. I don’t think this list is exhaustive. My Darling is phenomenal at Loving. Specifically me. I am cherished and seen. He also had more tools than me, and knew how to use them… but isn’t threatened by that fact that I can fix the dryer on my own.
If you are looking, don’t settle. If you are loved, but you don’t feel known by your lover, bare your soul. Take the risk to be known. If you aren’t sure enough of who you are to know what to look for, ask yourself where your deepest relationship wounds have been. Be brave, begin to heal from the wounds so that they no longer have more of your attention than the people around you. I wasn’t ready for Love until this Love. Not because I didn’t deserve it, but because I wasn’t ready to be a vessel filled, I thought I only deserved to be one poured out. Not so. And most of all, do not express to the Maker, on repeat, that which you do not want, or hate. We tend to see what we look for. Look for the One in Whom all graces have surfaced. Everything you need for balance and harmony. Look for True Love.