Last week I decided to sort through a box labeled “Special Cards.” I’m trying to whittle down my belongings to what I need, things that matter. For years I’ve thrown every greeting card in that box and it’s unlikely I need them all.
I brought the box up from the basement and started reading through the cards. Some were special, from Ivy, Ryan, or relatives. There were also a whole bunch from exes. If the current Me received those cards, I would have walked away. Reading between the lines were commitment issues and fear of intimacy.
There was a Valentine’s Day card from one particular guy. On the outside it said, “I lo-, I lo-” and on the inside, “I like you a lot.” I read it and wondered why he even put the love idea out there. Why not just buy me a card that said, “You’re special.” It reminded me of the time we later went engagement ring shopping. We drove there together and he picked one out that was much larger that I had expected. I was thrilled of course because it was a lovely ring and this proposal was a long time coming. I’d told people we were going out that night, for that very reason. Ivy’s daycare lady kept her a couple of extra hours for the occasion. But at the store he told the man he wasn’t ready to buy one after all. I found out later he’d snuck out and bought it to put away for when HE was ready. In those months that lapsed until he gave it to me though I was hurt, unnecessarily, kind of like with the card. “I lo-, I lo-…I like you.” The whole relationship followed that pattern, of dangling the love carrot only to withdraw it.
There were cards from two serious boyfriends I had after him, and I laughed (in a sad way) when I read them. Every card, somewhere in the body, had “sorry” printed in apologetic cursive. Another thing I noticed was for the holiday cards, from both men, they read, “I hope next (Valentine’s Day, Christmas, etc) year we’re still together.” Okay fine, we weren’t still together, but looking back, the fact that all the cards had apologies and foreshadowed a potential break up should have been big red flags. I know people make mistakes and hurt each other, but shouldn’t apologies be a rarity and not the norm? There were no, “Just because I love you,” cards in the box. What was I thinking?
I remember being in relationships over the years and standing in the card section, struggling to find a card that said what I needed it to. “I don’t want to be here,” “Trying to extricate myself from…” “Can we start over? Alone?” Buying cards is a lot easier now. I actually pick them up quite often to send to Ryan because I love that I can go in the romance section and pick up any one and the mushy sentiments ring true.
By the way, I threw away all the cards except the ones from Ivy, Ryan and family. Like my new life, this box contains nothing but happiness and hope.