Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lessons Learned

Thursday, November 4th
I invited Clifford to come see me in Cape Clifford during a time that would put us in a location that wouldn’t force the questions we’d been asking or the past month. I wanted the opportunity to see for myself where he and I were headed in life. He backed out and it dawned on me that he was just as nervous about not knowing how to approach the opportunity to be more than friends. This means, for me, three more years of wondering if there really is something between us or if it’s just youthful illusions of grandeur.

Friday, November5th
I got to see Clifford today. He visited most of the day and after we got back to the hotel room from a day of working on various work-related projects I was ready to get to bed. He called the room & took a taxi to my location. Amazing. Good visit and polite conversation was held the first few hours. He helped me accept where my life is. Over two days I expected and wanted more than just a conversation. I expected there to be more, I asked fore more. Instead I came away with his help in keeping our roles in life in perspective and reminded me that our friendship was the love we have been able to maintain for 15 years.

I met Clifford when I was fourteen years old. He became a mutual friend and was a fair weather friend I respectfully kept in my life and stayed in touch with. From those friendships as the years passed and our lives matured we expressed more of our personal challenges and found common ground. Through our private struggles in our 20’s we supported each other. We kept in touch as much as possible. Through our individual experience we tried to make time for each other in life. We saw each other mainly at pow-wows and spoke only briefly. He was committed to the drum and I didn’t understand that relationship as a young girl. I saw the accolades that went with the status but I wasn’t sure how it worked.

Later in life I learned how to respect his path and found myself so proud of where and what was being accomplished. When I was seventeen I traveled to his hometown for a youth conference where I got to see Clifford as he was.

I walked into a conference room and heard drumming I didn’t pay much attention but I took a closer look and saw him. Coming from our high school there is always the chance of seeing people in the most unlikely places. Luckily for me, I’ve seen a lot of people over time and I appreciated the opportunity.
Knowing this didn’t prepare me to see him. They finished singing, we made eye contact and he got up and came over and gave me a hug. We hung out for a little bit of time and parted ways with a new understanding. I saw who he was for the first time and knew that we were even closer than I thought. From this time on we counted the years and visits around pow-wows and I found myself looking for him, scanning the crowd for him.

As I write this I have no inclination of it being a love letter, just an important part of my life that I want to share with my children. This is why.

I accept my role as your momma, but the person I was before I was chosen to be with you had struggled with the role of momma and finding my place as a woman. This is why I write this for you.

During my visit with Clifford I was frustrated and boldly asked if there was going to be more to our visit than conversation. He got upset with me during this. I was willing to give my friendship up for temporary companionship and changing our friendship. He told me I couldn’t change his mind or define what/who his wife was suppose to be an why we could stay close but not have to explain how we can stay friends without violating our relationship.

Clifford’s view on our friendship was hard for me to hear. I cried. I felt ashamed, I felt like nothing would be right when our conversation ended. But we made it work. He and I parted on great terms. No tears, no empty promises, but encouragement and support-I’ll always be here for you.

On this trip I wanted to take a break and I wanted to relax, but he showed me that controlling my emotions and my callus toward intimacy wasn’t who I use to be. I went to bed confused and emotionally worn out. My perspective on life and influence on a man didn’t influence anything. He really shocked my way of seeing men and my lack of respect for the possibility of that contribution and point of view.

At one point we disagreed over my justifications that I really didn’t want to have to offer. I didn’t have a reason to justify what was discussed. At the end of the night, it finally dawned on me that I allowed myself to give away my self respect and to cloud intimacy. I was insensitive enough to feel that my power was in giving myself to someone with no remorse.

At one point Clifford raised his voice over my point of view on sex and how petty I allowed intimacy to become. How I was a better person and knew better. Sex wasn’t something to casually do, and because of the deterioration of my relationship with your dad I allowed myself to not respect that part of me. Clifford reminded me that I was a valuable even if I was alone. My desire didn’t have to be given up on a whim. He chose our friendship over the desire to see if there were feelings we never addressed. There are but for him, at this point in life I’m a part of him, the piece he didn’t want to ruin.

He’s always come back to me. We usually speak every three years. The next time we speak he will be 36, I will be 35, Howard Lee-6, Eva June-3. Clifford relies on me to support him and I do. I hope for the best. I think highly of him and I am lucky to still have a great friend in my life.

My year in Bismarck was worrisome for him and he wanted more for me. It was shocking for me to hear. 1998 was crazy. Dangerous, and a part of me I am not proud of, but I respect that lessons learned.

He mentioned taking offense to my request for him to introduce me to his male friends. His lifestyle and where he keeps me- don’t cross paths so he couldn’t bring someone into my part of his life. I was flattered and now feel that he sees me as a woman, since I now admit to seeing him as a man, but he hasn’t allowed me to become a humble human yet.

What happens to us when we get to that point? I can’t overanalyze Clifford because he comes from a place that isn’t cut and dried.

I go from worst case scenario to best case scenario and plot scenarios I could possibly encounter so I can emotionally prepare myself for any direction my life goes toward. Clifford doesn’t, he feels and seems to recall the memories and places that influence relationships and goes from there. I have never taken myself to that place since I met him.

My gauge is in a different place and I wish I could or had the energy to keep such a pure understanding of the world and how people in my life fit into that curve. He has the ability to never write anyone off or become emotionally unavailable but accepting them and being open to finding a place for them in my emotional life that isn’t based on worst or best case scenarios.

 I don’t remember what that feels like yet. My emotional investment for the past ten years has been your dad. My loves for him and by faith in the obligation to the American dream with your dad-hindered me from growing and accepting my role as your mom and being emotionally whole.

After last night’s conversations I’ve had to step back and begin looking at myself and allow those old wounds to heal and open my heart and my mind for opportunities I’ve passed on. I chose to overlook because they didn’t fit who I thought I was becoming or where I wanted my life with your dad to go.

I came to Cape Clifford thinking that I’d get to see the city and experience this trip through bitterness and worry for the two of you but I visited this place through Clifford’s eyes and took the time to find the respect for the life he spent here.