These words are dear to me, and took me a long time to find. They took a year and a half to fully discover, and weeks of thought to find in truth. You can say I was tasked recently to find the words to give what my heart and soul feel. That is not a hard thing to do for me, and while many things come easy to write down; this was not. It was not that it is a hard task for me to think about my feelings, but it is a hard task for me to find the perfect words to express them. Even with all of that, I feel the work I have produced is flawed and to written without perfection.
My girlfriend Michelle is a proud Native American from the Lakota people. Her blood roamed the lands of the North American Great Plains long before that name put to these lands. While my blood is a calico reminder of mostly Western Europe. My father’s side immigrated from Ireland (grandfather) and Germany (grandmother) two generations ago. My mother’s side is a mix of French, Irish, Romani, and even a little Native American; the Wampanoag people of Southern New England (I believe there is more as well, be we take pride in these bloodlines the most). But while my family has Americanized, hers still holds fast to their tribal traditions.
It is my understanding that the Lakota people gain names somewhere after birth, and those relate to animals that their souls are linked with (I apologize if my wording of these things are incorrect, and will change them once I verify this with my girlfriend). But Michelle also names people in her life with Lakota words or with their meaning as well. So following this tradition I thought I should name her something, a word that suited what I thought about her. The first thing to come to my mind was Hope. Why this was what entered my mind, I can only surmise:
to see a bright future
filled with laughter and love.
to find inspiration
a guiding light to drive passions wild.
to taste desire
with a thirst to learn all its mysteries.
to believe in someone
have a trust that will never shake or shatter.
to have my faults bare
without expectation that they will disappear.
to simply love
freely and openly, without denial or shame.
The Lakota word for Hope, is Wakta; she is my Wakta.
Quite simply, Michelle has given me something that I thought lost. Something that I have not had for many years. To my best recollection, I have not had a true relationship for at least a decade. Sad is it not? I have had safe relationships, with women only online whom I had no chance to meet. I would lie to myself and I was very convincing, telling myself that becoming emotionally involved with these women was the first step to moving to something real. But somewhere inside I could not open up fully, and I could not let anyone into my world. I was ashamed of what I looked like, the years of depression dug me a physical hole in which I still today have to climb out from. I felt worthless, not succeeding in life and the constant failures weighs heavy on a person’s soul. Perhaps it was fear of rejection, or fear of acceptance, and if so I have been afraid of women for years now.
At some point before our friendship found a new level, I had hit rock bottom. Being alone is something that shatters a person, and scourges the very soul. It is a pain that cannot be pushed aside, and eventually shouts for change. So at the bottom of that pile I resolved to take a chance. I told myself that the next time that a relationship was possible, I would open my life to that person and wait for acceptance or laughter. I admit that this mainly has to do with physical stature. I have learned over the years that out of all the qualities of a person, physical appearance is the most admired by most. I would say, and I would say that through my own trial and error that an extremely high percent of people care mainly what someone looks like, and not who they are or their other qualities when considering possible partners in life.
Michelle has never seen the flaws that I myself see. With her I laid my cards on the table, as a way to challenge her and find yet another woman unworthy of any short of trust. But she took those cards, and placed them securely in her pocket as if they were nothing to her. She even laughs at them, as being nothing truly worthy of the title of a flaw. I shook and I thrashed under those restraints for a long time, I remember one day sending her picture after picture of me as I am; fat and completely unappealing in my mind. Then she complimented me, and thought I was cute, handsome, pretty eyes… How I asked myself? This is not logical! It defied all of the trials I have had to endure over the years and quickly all of the doubts I had were shattered into dust beneath her will. She walked through the walls I had built up, and made a home within my heart, one that she builds upon daily.
Today I would say that she has brought light to this humble life of mine. A light that has cut through the darkness, and the fog. One that inspires me to grow, while ever drawing me ever closer. I have found it impossible to remain dispirited with her presences close to mine. It matters little that that presence is absence in body, for it is truly the mind and the spirit that shines so brightly. It burns strong enough from afar to evoke profound feelings deep within. Feelings once lost, and found again; but found to be completely alien to this heart, reaching into it in ways that is uniquely hers. Ways that I have no protection from, nor desire to counter at this point; and I believe I be the wiser for it, for we cannot live truly unless we allow ourselves that luxury.
There are many things that we can grow so used to, or ignore and begin to take for granted. Financially successful people can take for granted that they can buy the best things, quality food, go on vacations, and live lives that others could only dream about. Many relationships also reach this level. When you always have someone there to support you, to love you, to put you above all other concerns, they forget that not all people have such a gift in life. That can be a relationship with a family member, a friend, or a lover. Other things can be taken for granted also, such as health, looks, and more.
I think it is easier to take things for granted when you have never experienced something else. I have experienced many lows in all these categories. But I know that others have found lower places, extreme ones, and in many places in the world there are lows I can barely fathom. I have also found small successes in some of these areas, for a time, perhaps even higher when it comes to successful relationships with family and friends. Their support of me has been consistent and everlasting, even when I had forced a distance between us.
For me, I believe that growing used to something is lazy, is a way for us to not be aware of what we have in comparison to what others have. Should we dwell on these points? No, but we should be thankful at the least and not take them for granted. Have I been lazy in this fashion in the past? Yes I have, to my disappointment. But I am aware of it and of my other flaws. I think that awareness will guide me in the future. I have planned to never take for granted my successes. I plan to never take for granted what Michelle does for me, or what she means to me. I plan to forge a relationship with Sarah that is equally important and unique. Michelle and I have hopes, that Sarah and I can find these within each other. I plan to never take for granted the relationship that we are building, to stand solid behind the honor, loyalty, trust, and love that has grown between us. Such qualities that we have learned in life from our families, and through our own seeks of ourselves. And last, I know that the little things are as important as or even more important than the big ones. Michelle, if I ever falter in these tasks, you need only let me know to correct my failing.
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou