That Thing Called Love

I want to apologize to everyone that has chased after love. In my post, “Dating Take Cover,” I said that I did not come to NYC for love or fashion. I called both trivial pursuits. I marginalized and belittled those of you who believe in the possibility of love because Ronda the cynic does not. I wrote “When You Get a Curve Ball” last week and didn’t post until this week. It was in reference to two events: (1) developing a marketing and financial analysis for a hybrid for profit venture; and (2) the beginning of a new relationship – yes I started dating. The cynic Ronda calls love trivial because when it comes to the possibility of love, I am a coward. The dating was a curve ball out of left field. It was totally unexpected and far from anticipated. When I moved to NYC I made the decision not to date while pursuing my dream so that I would not be distracted by the messiness of relationships. Relationships require work and care and I wanted to be single mindedly focused on achieving my dreams. Love can wait or never happen so long as my dreams did, I could be happy. Or so I told myself and until recently I believed it.

True to form, when I felt the walls, moats, archers, and fireballs around my heart coming down with this new relationship, I did what cowards do. I ran like Smalls from Sandlot the first time he had enough courage to play with the guys. Like a boxer afraid of getting knocked out, I preemptively threw in the towel on this relationship. I didn’t just throw in the towel, I set fire to it to make sure he had good reason not to renew his affections towards me. I don’t know if this was a forever love thing, but I do know that in the time we were together my heart begin to open.

You’ve probably figured out that my dating issues go deeper than Carol Burnett, Auntie Mame, and a poem. As a kid, I watched grown-ups in love and married do hurtful things to each other. Most of these people did not have what I considered real relationships and should have never been married to each other, but did so for various reasons. The few that I thought truly loved each other, nonetheless succeeded in hurting the very people they loved. I knew I wanted to be a career woman, but I also decided that I never wanted to be hurt like those I saw.

After college I met someone that I thought was too good to be true. He was. He was charming, intelligent, good looking – your regular George Wickham of a guy. What most people experience over a several relationships, I went through in one with him. He was the consummate con artist. He lied when there was no reason to lie. He led so many different lives, he’d give Frank Abagnale a run for his money. It wasn’t physically abusive, but it was a roller coaster of emotions as I tried to unravel what was wrong with this relationship. After three years, I saw the light and removed myself from that entanglement of lies and alibis. My heart was critically wounded in the process. It took two years to forgive myself for being a fool. I should have followed my advice of no relationships, no marriage. To ensure that I’d never experience that pain again, I vowed never to let a man get close enough to my heart – save family and friends – no man would ever get close enough to my heart to hurt me and if any dared try, it was considered an act of aggression. My friends and family knew never to mention that guy by name. Like Voldemort, it was forbidden to speak his name. To this day, I simply refer to him as Mr. Man – a forever reminder of when I was young, vulnerable, and a fool in love.

In my mind, I had recovered from the pain and scars of that relationship. I casually dated, but always with lock, key, and swat team guarding my heart. The guys I dated were never serious enough to come close to my heart nor did they strike any real interest for me. However, my dad persisted after I graduated law school to get me to date/married. When I asked him why he said, “what’s the point of achieving your dreams if you don’t have someone to share it with. I want you to have someone to share it with.” Me being Ronda, replied that I had family and friends to share with.

So this is the back drop of my love/marriage/dating phobia – a young girl vowing to be a career woman and felt love was a hurtful venture. As a young woman, I had the unfortunate pleasure of meeting a con artist George Wickham type who tore my heart to pieces. To make sure that never happened again, I simply avoided having my heart exposed. It’s like I took a living thing in a glass box, locked it up in a tower guarded by mercenaries and said “now you’re safe.” In my mind there was no problem. Oh what tangled web we weave when we plan to deceive, especially ourselves. I was over Mr. Man and the carnage from that. However, I never went to triage for my heart. I simply used avoidance as a band-aid and continued on my merry way until a couple of months ago.

A couple of months ago, someone entered my life that was funny, kind, smart, nice, driven, with a melting smile, yet patient with my dating issues. Although I initially spurned his dating offering, it wasn’t long before I realized that I was dating. I’m not saying it was love, but he was the first man to get close to my heart since Mr. Man so that in and of itself was an accomplishment. Unfortunately for him, my wounded heart never healed. The more walls around my heart started to crumble, the more afraid I became. Would he would hurt me like Mr. Man? The band-aid was coming off and that hurts. Not because this guy was hurting me but in tending to wounds the ointment although healing seems to hurt and the wounded respond to the ointment the same as the person that inflicted the wound. Imagine a child falls and hurt himself. As the parent applies the peroxide and antibacterial ointment, the child cringes and cries, “you’re hurting me.” The parent isn’t hurting the child, but applying medicine needed to heal the wound so that it heals properly without infection. I never allowed my wound to heal. I applied a band-aid sans peroxide or ointment and most likely there was an infection around my heart. So when I met this man that was nothing like Mr. Man and my heart begin to open to the possibility of whatever, it begin to heal my heart. Like a child, I saw that crumbling walls around my heart and attacked the person that was actually helping me heal.

Trust me when I say that I said enough to make him walk away for good. I wouldn’t forgive me if the shoes were reversed. After I threw the Molotov cocktail on our newborn relationship, I realized what I had done. I knew I was commitment phobic, but I didn’t realize how deep that well went. I sacrificed the possibility of love for fear love would hurt me. Worst of all, I hurt a good man who didn’t deserve to be treated that way. I doubt that he’ll forgive me. I can be vicious with words. I went from 0-60 out of nowhere and it even shocked and scared me. What had I done?! Why couldn’t I just enjoy the moment instead of looking for reasons why this couldn’t work?! Well, I only have myself to blame.

Moving to NY to chase a dream didn’t scare me. Opening my heart to the possibility of love frightened me beyond reason and when the door of opportunity opened, I ran and threw a grenade in the doorway. No exaggeration that is how I handled the situation. My friends used to say that I am strong and brave. In the end, I am not. I don’t have fear of success or failure, but I do have a fear of that thing called love. I am a coward and until now I didn’t realize it. I was willing to put all on the line, except my heart. But what we hold too dear can become our unending. As the apostle Paul said, “the thing that I greatly feared came upon me.” For me, when it came, I laid waste to it and everything in it’s path.

I have been pretty self-righteous about following dreams and being fearless, while belittling those whose dream is love. I am humbled and embarrassed by my actions. I vowed never to hurt someone the way Mr. Man hurt me and I did that very thing. So much for leaning into the curve ball.

In the words of Atlantic Starr, “when love calls you’d better answer cause it might be a big mistake if you decide to hesitate..don’t let it slip away too many times because love may not ever come again.”

Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.