This is the second in a series of imaginary conversations with my next girlfriend.
I know you’re having a hard time understanding why I asked my ex-girlfriend to accompany me and be my support person the day of my carpal tunnel release surgery. As you remember, I originally asked my sister who said she’d be with me that day. When her family was trying to find a time to take their annual vacation before school started, it turned out that the week of my outpatient surgery worked best with everyone’s schedule. She talked to me about it and I told her to have a great time and that I’d find someone else.
As you know, I have a lot of friends who are willing to support me, and have done so during my recovery and are standing by to help in any way: to cook, run errands, check in on me, take me to a movie, for a cup of coffee, or simply get me out of the house. I’m lucky and grateful to have an abundance of loving and caring friends.
The rest of my family doesn’t live close by and my siblings and spouses have been busy helping my parents and hosting extended family that are in Wisconsin for annual visits. I wanted someone to be with me the day of my surgery who was like family.
You and I are new, and we’re in that first blush of a new romance. I want you to see me in the best light. There will be plenty of time as our relationship unfolds for you to see all the blemishes and imperfections, both physical and emotional. Like the title of the memoir I’m writing, I’m “Perfectly Flawed.”
I asked my ex to be with me the day of the surgery because we’ve worked hard to redefine our relationship. I was with her longer than any other intimate, romantic partner. Because we’re lesbians who were in a committed relationship before the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was repealed, and domestic partner and civil marriage laws were enacted, we were not married in the eyes of the state, but we were in our hearts. Since we couldn’t marry, we weren’t able to divorce legally, so we had to separate and untangle our lives on our own.
It’s taken a long time for me, to let go, to forgive and to rebuild my life as a single person in a predominantly coupled world. I nurtured friendships I neglected when partnered and made new ones as I ventured back out in the world, reengaging with my passions and avocations. I dipped my toes a few times in the dating pool, while I still maintained some contact with my ex. It was a slow process but we have become more than friends, we’re chosen family with a shared history and memories that cycle with the seasons and the calendar of annual holidays.
I’m grateful that my ex is someone I can call in the middle of the night, during a dark night of the soul, and share how I’m feeling, express what I’m fearing, ask for a reality check and trust the advice or answer I’m given. She knows me like few others do and I hope one day you will know me even better. To be crystal clear, I don’t want to get back with my ex and I want her to always be in my corner and me in hers.
As LGBTQ people we have learned that we share more than our beds and our hearts with each other, we share the best in us, and sadly, sometimes the worst. Most of us, at the end of the day, look at our exes as not only part of our history, but part of our community, our affinity group, who will, more often than not, stand by us in times of need.
My ex was there for me by my side when I needed her the day of my surgery. I didn’t need to tell her what I was thinking or feeling anxious about. She knew, or at least could form an educated guess, because she knows me intimately. We were able to converse easily, and be quiet when needed, without feeling any pressure to fill the silences. I trusted her to make any decisions that I might not be able to make on my own behalf.
Sweet woman, please know that I enjoy the degree of mystery that remains between us as we get to know each other, as our stories and histories, our dreams and aspirations unfold and are revealed. I don’t want to rush this stage of discovery. We have plenty of time ahead to explore the wilderness of intimacy we are entering together. Please don’t be threatened by the people who love me and those I love. I have an abundance of love and affection to share. During those five-and-a-half-years since my last partnership, I took time to fill the well of my heart. I learned to love myself in a way I never did before, and with a full heart I can love you, myself, friends and both my family of origin and chosen family.
Okay, any more questions? I have one, what do you want to do today, sweetheart?