The introduction of Forge can be found here and Part One can be found here. Part Two can be found here. Part Three can be found here. Part Four can be found here. Part Five can be found here. Part Six can be found here. Part Seven can be found here. Part Eight can be found here. Part Nine can be found here. Part Ten can be found here. Part Eleven can be found here. Part Twelve can be found here. This is Part Thirteen!
I couldn’t stop thinking about those three little words: I and Love and You. As much as I tried to ignore them, they happened – it’s out there. Randy loves me. I was conflicted and confused. I broke down under the pressure one evening to my Mom. “Why can’t relationships be simple? They always involved so many tears and so much thinking. It hurts. Won’t the right ‘one’ be simple? Is Randy right for me? Maybe this means he isn’t.” She hugged me tight. “Relationships have never been simple for thinkers.“
Meanwhile, my friends were excited (too excited…) about the potential between Randy and I. They couldn’t wait to meet for coffee and hear about all the details of the last few weeks of dates. My thoughts felt like a giant pile of extension cords, all tangled up. I needed patience, time, silence, concentration to figure out what I was feeling. I didn’t know how to communicate my thoughts to anyone else. Talking about Randy with friends drained me.
I told them how amazing Randy was. He opens up doors, he pays for everything, he respects me, he’s always telling me how wonderful I am, how beautiful I am, he listens to my heart, he asks good questions, he always wants to see me, he writes me notes, he leaves me little gifts… we were having fun. But I didn’t know… I didn’t “feel” what I thought I was supposed to feel.
I received a lot of blank stares. With a side of advice. “Well, even if it looks good on paper… if you don’t feel anything… maybe you should take a step back.” I know their hearts were good! Nobody wants to see their friend rush into a “loveless romance” just because. Of course, you need emotion in a relationship. But somehow, when I heard advice, nothing in my heart agreed. I was always frustrated inside. No, no, wait. I thought. I don’t want him to go. I just don’t know.
I stayed in one night, eager to sort through my feelings by writing…
“Randy is incredible. He is the most caring, thoughtful, kind, compassionate, generous, patient, humble, teachable human being. He is hard working and honourable and I respect him and I trust him. He’s smart and motivated and has a heart for the Lord. He loves family and is excited about learning mine. He works hard to understand me and has patience for anything I do want to talk about – but also understands when I want to be alone. Or sit quietly. He is everything I have ever wanted in somebody but here I am, just so unsure and terrified. He deserves someone who not only thinks he is amazing but reciprocates that. I want to be that person. What is holding me back? I don’t know if it’s fear… or if I actually don’t like him? I think it will grow. I think it could grow.”
My mom patiently listened and help talk me through my emotions; or lack of emotions. “If Randy stopped calling you for a week, would you miss him?” I thought about it. “Yeah. I might.”
I liked Randy in my life. I liked walking around Port Moody with him with his hand on my back, I liked driving with him, I liked being near him. I just didn’t know if I want to marry him and I definitely didn’t love him and figured we had months and months of learning each other to go. My brain felt confusing and complex.
For years I doubted any guy would be able to understand me.
Here Randy was, wanting to try, desperate to try and I kept shoving him away out of fear. I was afraid to date him and realize I didn’t like him. I was afraid to date him and find out quickly the whole thing was wrong. I was afraid to hurt him… afraid to leave him in love with me. I didn’t want to be someone who flippantly played with hearts. I was afraid of passing Randy up too, a guy who was everything I had ever wanted…
Why couldn’t I figure out my emotions to “get there” with him?
Randy wore his heart and emotions on his sleeve. Scratch that — he wore his emotions on his chest, a flashing neon sign of emotion, clear, transparent, fearless, what he was feeling, I always knew. He texted me multiple times a day calling me beautiful and incredible, valued.
I thought my communication was clear in Victoria when Randy said “I love you.” I told him it scared me and I didn’t want that pressure. I thought we’d forget it ever happened, we’d tuck it away for a few months, maybe six months, maybe a year. I’m sure it was an honest mistake, it slipped out, Randy wouldn’t say it again.
But no, “I love you” became a new normal from Randy to me.
My reaction to “I love you” was fear. Every time I heard those three words, I brushed them away thinking, You don’t know me well enough yet – therefore you can’t love me. It had been six weeks since he expressed any interest… and like, two weeks of going on dates. He didn’t know me, he hadn’t seen my ugly parts. It was nerve wracking to have him crazy about me, thinking about me all day when I was not thinking about him all day.
He loved communicating.
And I liked my space, my time and keeping my social energy to a minimum. When we were in an “official” relationship and I was confident of how I felt… I figured I’d work on it. I could take time out of my day to text him, as much as he wanted – but right now it didn’t feel genuine. I felt like I was faking when he’d text how much he looked forward to seeing me. All I could send back was a smiley face – because I didn’t want to lie.
I didn’t feel excited about seeing him… but I was happy when he was around.
It was confusing.
I had always struggled with feeling emotion “in the moment.” Attending big conferences always left me overwhelmed… not necessarily in a negative way but I was the one looking for a solitary corner to sort through my thoughts. Being surrounded by emotions had always made me retreat.
I enjoyed thinking about past memories more than “being excited” about future plans. I didn’t know how to answer the question, “Are you excited about ____?” Uh, sure? When it comes, it comes. But memories mean the world to me. “Do you remember that day in Australia when we were on the ferry in the Sydney harbour? I loved that day.”
Maybe all I needed was more time for my emotion to catch up…
Maybe it was coming.
The next evening, Randy and I went for dinner in Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham had always been a special city for me. Being self-employed and a lover of alone time, I spent many winter days driving an hour to the small waterfront town, writing and working in coffee shops, going for runs or walks. It was my getaway city. I loved the idea of sharing that with Randy.
We grabbed drinks from Woods Coffee at Boulevard Park and walked down the pier, our hands yet to have held each other. “Are you doing okay?” Randy asked, adding another point to his “always knows when something is wrong” tally. I shrugged, feeling the tears stinging my eyes already. “We should sit,” I said.
I crossed my legs and turned towards Randy, taking a deep breath. “I have things to say but I don’t know how to say them.”
“Okay…” Randy said, with a concerned look on his face.
“No, it’s good. They are good. I don’t know why I’m crying. I like you and I’m happy to be here. I’m just trying to figure it all out.”
I went on to talk about my personality, the time it takes to process emotion. “For most people, hearing I love you would be a good thing. But for me, my reaction is immediately logical. You don’t know me well enough to say that so therefore, it doesn’t mean anything to me. It scares me. Most people would feel safe when emotion is expressed but with too much, I feel smothered. Every new sign of affectionate causes me to step back and think, “Woah!” Okay, let’s process that. I can’t get through processing last week’s interactions without being hit with another affection grenade.”
Randy rubbed my shoulder softly, tears were streaming down my cheeks and I continued, rushing to get the words out before I lost the bravery. “I like you a lot and I know this is probably hard for you to understand. You haven’t done anything wrong. But I need you to tone down the affectionate and words and praise – because I can’t handle it. I am going to run and I don’t want to run. I want to be here.”
I hated that I was doing this again. Randy was so full of love for me.. and here I was shooting him down again. He said it was hard for him to understand… but he always wanted to do what was best for me. Randy assured me, “If you can’t say what you are feeling, we don’t have a relationship. Thank you for being honest and communicating, always. Even when it’s hard for you.”
Randy impressed me, every day, every conversation, every hurdle. He proved I deserved his respect, one kind word at a time. From “I don’t like you enough to date you” conversations to “I can’t believe you just said I love you” conversations to “I need you to stop saying I love you” conversations – he was never fazed. He always responded with more grace, more integrity, more humility, more teachability than I ever imagined possible.
Our weighty conversation resolved and my tears dried, Randy changed the topic. “I called your aunt today about the interior design quote for that job I’m working on.”
“Yeah it was funny. I called and said, ‘Hey it’s Randy. Your niece’s uh… I’m… Jamie’s… boyfriend.’ I didn’t know what to say.”
After two months of “talking” and a full month of dates, Randy and I had never referred to one another as boyfriend and girlfriend. I kept waiting for him to bring up the conversation… thinking he was stalling to give me more time. I figured Bellingham would be the perfect place for him to ask.
“That is funny,” I replied.
“I felt kind of dumb.”
I uncrossed and crossed my legs. “So… um. Are you my boyfriend?”
Randy looked surprised. “Um, sure! Yeah! Yes. Definitely. If you want. Yes! I was waiting for you. I didn’t think you were ready or comfortable with titles but yes, of course.”
I smiled. “Okay. Boyfriend. Good.”
[This is us! Our first photograph together on June 6, 2013. ]