I had a silly banter with a close male friend recently. We enjoy hanging out with each other and we both agreed early on not to let a relationship or sexual intimacy meddle with our friendship, so we keep it out of our friendship. Occasionally, my friend would call me up, after having had few drinks and would blubber about how he does not know if he will ever want to be with me, in a love relationship, that is, but how he does not want to lose me as a friend, or hurt me blah, blah… I feel almost nauseous trying to explain to him that I don’t want or expect anything more than a friendship, and that I enjoy hanging out and laughing, so he should just chill. It felt really annoying to hear repeatedly his inner trepidations about the relationship with me. I kept thinking sheesh, it’s not all about you dufus, what makes you think I would want a relationship with you anyway?!
Finally, he stopped saying that, but not before another “slightly hammered” phone-call during which he said. “I don’t know if we are ever going to be together. I love you, but I don’t think that I am in love with you… I don’t know if you can make me fall in love with you… Can you make me fall in love with you?”
This question left me thinking long and hard about my ability to “make” someone fall in love with me. When I was in my teens, getting male attention for me was just given, it happened naturally. From very early age, there was something about me that attracted looks, comments, and physical advances from younger boys, my contemporaries, men, all the way through grandpas. But because of my warped sense of self, and strangely molded self confidence that my young artist mother gifted me with from the early age of self recognition in the wall mirror, I was completely unaware of what it was in or on me, that caused such strong reaction in men and I certainly did not know how to fend it properly either. I never felt compelled to use flirtation to my benefit, and even if I wanted to, I didn’t know how. I was completely clueless about myself, yet super cute, smart, outgoing, funny, smiley, charming and passionate girl with a pair of what several men described in my native language as ‘urokljive oci’. Roughly translated it means “the evil eyes”, the kind of eyes that charm or put a spell on you.
I was feeling slightly insecure about my beauty, unaware of my attractiveness or my “evil eyes” and was bouncing around happily through my teens, unconsciously and unintentionally leaving a trail of broken hearts, shoebox full of love letters and several desperate marriage offers behind.
When I was small enough to fit in a kid wicker chair in front of the wall mirror, and started admiring myself in it, my mother took every mirror out of the apartment, permanently. We were left with only one, hard to reach bathroom wall cabinet mirror until I was in my teens. I remember years of climbing our iron footed bath tub, balancing clumsily, trying to see my face in it.
What was her rationale for such extreme, fairytailish move? Why did she feel that building self confidence trough self awareness, getting to know my physical self well, presented some kind of danger to me? My mother apparently made lots of decisions in life influenced by her fears. This was probably another one of them.
What could possibly feel so threatening about early age awareness of own face or body, of those spellbinding eyes, of own facial expressions, smiles and frowns, of constant metamorphoses, isn’t that crucial for development? By robbing me of own experience of self through aging, was she preventing me from becoming callus, cold and manipulative? Was she afraid of her inability to protect me from harm, in society where sexual abuse of all kinds is almost a norm? Did she think that making me blissfully ignorant was the solution? I can only guess.
Quite a few men did indeed fall in love with me over the years, but I never felt that I had anything to do with this. It was something I believed was out of my control, completely.
Today I am a woman in my 40s, and I am a widow. I was happily married for 15 years, so it’s been a long time since anyone has fallen in love with me. The last time that happened was back when I was 27 and I met my husband. As I am now starting life over in so many ways, the timing of my friend’s question “if I could make him fall in love with me” could not have been more appropriate. I am approaching a 2 year anniversary of my love’s death and at the same time I am opening up to letting romantic love into my life again.
When I think back at all the charming, naturally flirtatious things I used to say and do that made men feen for me, I chuckle and feel slightly embarrassed, and strangely disconnected. Even when I tried recently doing or saying some of the good old charming repartee of my youth, I was surprised to find it come out clumsy and unsuitable. How could I have been so silly, so naive, so ridiculous, I am now asking myself, and how could anyone have ever found me remotely love worthy! This rolled right into a terrifying realization that not only that I no longer resemble that “evil-eyed” girl, boys and men fell in love with, but I no longer recognize or know her. Ugh, sounds like a sure recipe for a midlife crisis meltdown and a nose dive.
How could anyone fall in love with me when I am almost completely unaware of who I am as a woman right now? I am no longer the clueless heart-breaker of my youth and could not even pretend to be, even if I tried. I keep thinking, my husband adored me, but that does not mean that someone else would find a reason to share his passionate feelings for me. Yeah, I know, you want to smack me now.
So before I decide to purposely “make” a man, or my good friend fall in love with me, like he asked, which by the way and for the record I feel is as silly of an idea as my friend can be, I need to first find a way to meet and fall in love with myself. I need to carefully handpick the pieces of my youth, and my mother’s bizarre master plan, I need to find a way towards feeling gratitude for it influencing the unique woman that I became, I need to try to see myself in the mirror again, but really see, and I must start to dig deep through mountains of confusing, unresolved feelings about self, about life, about beauty and about falling in love again.
Categories: Love and Lore