Twenty-five years ago today i went on a blind date. We weren’t set up, we found each other. Back in those days, we didn’t have internet dating, but you could find someone by dialing various phone numbers that hosted dating “profiles”, done by recording your voice.
Yes, i’ve told this story dozens of times, and i’m telling it again. It’s one of the best things about getting old.
Although i’d had a number of relationships of a sort, and even been engaged, i’d never been in love. Obsessed? Yeah, once. Regular bedmate that i found tolerable to hang out with for dinners and such? A couple of times. Infatuated? One time – the last guy before the blind date guy. He was a bad boy type, and my first and only experience with such. He was handsome and charming and funny, with a predilection for older women who’d pay for his addictions and tolerate his constant cheating. He’d done jail and prison time. I was the first relationship he had with someone his own age. I met his family and they were obviously surprised. I had a little money, and when that was gone, it wasn’t a month before he was, too.
I cried and felt heartsick for a day or 2, but it didn’t hurt that much – i knew who i’d been messin’ around with. I put down the ice cream and called up a local telephone personals number and got back to dating. I recorded my own little advert, but i quickly discovered a problem. Guys were mostly looking for hookups, and i didn’t work that way. Yes, i had relationships that were primarily sexual, but i had to like you as a person first. Not too much like, because i didn’t want anyone to cohabitate with me. Try to tell me how to live my life or raise my kids, and i’ll yank your tongue out through your nostril. (Not really, i just thought it sounded funny. Also, my church could tell me how to raise my kids and i never questioned them. So i guess, if i was sleeping with you, you had to STFU? Weird because, according to my religion i was fornicating, and that conveniently never occurred to me. Anyway, sorry, sidetracked – back to my story.)
The other problem is my voice. As a multiple, it can shift around and sound all sorts of different ways. Due to some of what i went through that caused me to split off into my Bits N’ Pieces, i tended to have a high, very girlish voice around strangers generally, and men particularly. So, i was attracting lots of pervy types. We’d go out for coffee, or a walk in the park, and they’d say it went great but they’d never call back. It only took a few before i knew it was because they were looking for sex, and i hadn’t put out. I decided to yank my ad, and choose for myself instead of waiting to be chosen. It suited me better anyway. (Okay, brief aside again: it’s interesting/peculiar that i was taught to be so subservient to others, and yet, once i ditched my first relationship, which was sick and abusive, i, albeit unconsciously, always assumed the power position. I know now that it doesn’t have to be that way, but back then i didn’t.)
To navigate, all you need to know is, you pressed 3 on the phone to advance to the next ad. None of them were appealing, and every one of them started with, “Hello, ladies… ”
3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3… Ugh. So much ugh. And then i heard this guy’s voice, and he didn’t say Hello ladies. He said he’d been focusing on his work for a number of years, and decided he was ready to make some room in his life for someone special. He said he thought he had a heart of gold, and said, If you think you do too, leave me a message. I listened to it half a dozen times, not just for what he said, but because he had the kind of deep, deep voice that makes me weak in the knees.
I left a message.
I have no idea what i said.
I didn’t think i had a heart of gold either, but i wanted someone who did.
He called me and we talked. And talked. He didn’t try to arrange a meeting immediately. He seemed to be genuinely trying to get to know me. It was around 2wks before we met, and i agreed to dinner and a movie. He picked me up in his work truck, wearing a silk shirt and a skinny tie. Big, horn-rimmed glasses and long hair in a ponytail. For someone as dissociated as i can get around strangers and potential boyfriends, i remember quite a few things about it. I remember thinking Uh-oh, because he was my type. I didn’t date my type, because i wanted the power position. I didn’t want my feelings hurt, so i chose to date men that could leave me the next day and i wouldn’t care much. I also remember not being nervous around him, which was most unusual. I was constantly picking at myself and scrutinising every word i spoke and everything i did around others. But i wasn’t like that around him from the beginning. We ate, saw a movie, and then went out for a drink and a snack.
We saw each other frequently after that. He’d take me out for a drive, take me to the park, take me out to eat. I didn’t think much about sex, i was making a friend. I found him so interesting and i was comfortable around him.
I wasn’t comfortable around anyone –even my closest friends– and i had a couple of them at that time. I was hypervigilant. But with him, i didn’t fret or freak out. I could just BE.
And Yes, i’ve said this 100+X, but it bears repeating because it was and still is, the sweetest and most lovely thing…
We were 6 dates in before he even held my hand.
I had been used as a sexual thing since before i could speak, and when i finally got out on my own, i saw potential partners from a mostly sexual POV. I wanted sex, but i didn’t want attachment. I didn’t know what attachment was – i had no experience with it. I wanted what i thought of as a “boyfriend”. A title and a function that had nothing to do with emotions or bonding.
But then he went and treated me like a person and not a thing to be used. He spoke to me like i was interesting and he treated me like an equal. He didn’t try to get me into bed – he tried to get to know me. He showed me kindness, generosity, and RESPECT.
And then one day, after he had taken me for a drive, to see the view from a part of our city that i’d never seen, he held out his hand, and lay it down, open, on the seat between us. He said, Put your hand here.
I said, Huh?
He said, Give me your hand.
I put my left hand down on his open, up-ended right one.
He knitted his fingers through mine and squeezed, and then he asked me, How does that feel?
I could feel my face flaming hot red, and i stuttered out, G-good.
He said, Yeah.
When he dropped me back home that night, he escorted me to my door and hugged me for the first time. I wished he would kiss me, but he didn’t. He took his time with everything, like i was worth it. By the time he had me over to cook me dinner, i was hooked. When he answered the door fresh out of the shower, and his hair was down for the first time, i was done in.
This is all sweet and romantic, it really is, but let me tell you, it’s more than that. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I could tell so many more stories, but today is about our first date. The kindness and gentleness and respect for me as a person, that utterly disarmed every protection i had. They were all unconscious and based in dissociation; i didn’t know i had them. All i knew was that i felt good, i felt safe, when i was with him. I felt like i was pretty and smart and funny – i felt like all the things i’d ever wanted to be when he looked at me, when he listened to me. I felt like i was enough.
He’s been nothing short of a superhero.
He couldn’t save me. No one can but me.
But he gave me the first safe place i’d ever been in, and gave me the time to figure out how to save myself. And as you can probably imagine, someone with a history like mine, with diagnoses like mine, requires heroism. Sacrifice, patience, commitment, gentleness, and unbelievable inner strength.
He is the best human i’ve ever known, and 25yrs later my estimation of him has only grown. I hope we get at least 25 more.
It might take me that long to get my poop in a pile.
My little fairy tale that became real life.
Peace and Love,