What Boxing Taught Me About Love
I was 32 along with living in Washington Heights the year I should have fallen in love. Something else happened instead: A man tried to rape me on my way home via work.
the idea was mid-October, along with I was walking in a park near the George Washington Bridge. I had been caught off guard by how quickly darkness fell of which evening along with was already feeling spooked when I caught sight of a man running through the bushes beside the path.
Despite the fear, I forced myself to stop along with stare, to wait for him to see of which I had noticed him.
Robbed of the chance to take me by surprise, he had to think of another way to play the idea. So before he attacked me, he walked beside me for maybe 20 yards, saying, albeit clumsily, some of the most romantic things a man can say to a woman: of which I was beautiful, of which he wanted to be with me forever, of which he wanted to marry me.
He also said, mixed in with the romantic stuff, of which he knew where I lived, of which he had been watching me. We came to the bridge over the railroad tracks. As a train passed under, he said, “You’re going to die tonight.”
Then he grabbed my throat, pushed me against the fencing, forced his tongue into my mouth, pulled at my clothes.
He was wrong; of which wasn’t my night to die. I drove my thumb deep into his eye, made him let go of me along with walked away: bruised, breathless, spitting the taste of him via my mouth. Shaking with fear, I forced myself not to run, because I had learned in self-defense class of which running makes you prey.
I called the police along with they came, yet they didn’t find him. I went to my apartment along with brushed my teeth, yet I never slept there again because the stranger had said he knew where I lived.
So I called a guy I had started out seeing, Ralph, along with moved in with him, more or less, of which same night. Within a year, Ralph along with I were married. Two years later, we had a daughter.
I got married, I right now realize, because I was afraid.
I brought an immense sense of gratitude along with relief with me into marriage, along with not only because I was recovering via a traumatic attack. Already, in my mid-30s, I had been scared of ending up alone.
Gratitude along with fear are strong emotions, yet they may not be the right ones to sustain a marriage. Ours lasted several years; the divorce, a bitter one, dragged on for three.
During those years, I lost touch with of which grateful feeling; I wouldn’t remember the idea at all if I hadn’t written the idea down. “I’m so thankful to him,” I had scribbled inside the pages of a sketchbook, “for giving me refuge.”
If I had found those pages during the divorce, I might have thrown them out, denied they ever existed. yet I only found them recently, when I came to understand of which I’m still facing all the same fears.
right now, at 47 — six years after my divorce — I’m of which much closer to ending up alone. You might say I already have ended up of which way. I own my home; I have some semblance of a career; my daughter will soon be a teenager. People have started out to ask me why I’m single.
I tell them I’m not looking for love anymore, yet This kind of can be a lie. When I see two lovers kissing or hugging, even onscreen, my heart jumps along with begs like a dog to treats.
yet taking the next step seems beyond me. I’ve begun to wonder if of which October night can be the reason. Those two events — being attacked, getting married — happened so close together of which they are perhaps too tangled up in my mind to separate.
I’m not the first to notice of which romantic comedies sometimes hinge on stalker-ish obsession. I have never been the most trusting person, along with right now I may be so wary of which normal signs of interest read as signs of danger.
I don’t watch romantic comedies anymore.
I have taken up boxing. My trainer tells me I have a tendency to drop my right hand. “of which leaves you open,” he says, aiming a punch of which stops short of my jaw. “You don’t want to be open.”
He’s right: I don’t want to be open. Even so, I start dating, mostly because everyone says I should.
“You have to treat the idea like a job,” a friend’s father tells me. “Make a spreadsheet.” He found his girlfriend on a dating site.
My profile describes me as “sweet,” “shy,” “a Great listener.” The prevailing wisdom says you need Great pictures, which I have. Maybe they’re too Great. One man complimented me on my pictures, which was nice of him, yet then he started out sending me porn. This kind of, the idea seems, can be part of dating online: People send porn.
“You need to make a list,” my friend Lisa says. Lisa found love online after listing the qualities she wanted in a man: passionate, funny, close with his family.
I don’t have a list. All I want can be what I’ve always wanted, to love someone who loves me back the same way.
I think about putting of which in my profile, yet the idea sounds too sincere, too unguarded. I am not like of which anymore; the idea could be misleading. along with what if I were to put of which out there along with all I got back was porn?
I meet men for drinks yet sip club soda. In six months of dating I go to dinner only once, drink alcohol only twice. the idea isn’t of which men don’t want to buy me dinner; they do. the idea’s of which I can’t make myself trust these strangers.
I make a rule of which I’ll only meet people for coffee, yet then a guy shows up high for our coffee date along with I rule out coffee dates. the idea starts to seem, admittedly, like I’m finding excuses not to get invested.
By right now I’m boxing four mornings a week. In a shift via our typical conversations about keeping up of which right hand, my trainer tells me one day of which he writes love poetry. He knows I’m a writer; he asks if I’ll read the idea.
“Of course,” I say. yet I’m unprepared for what he shows me. For one thing, the idea’s lovely. the idea’s about a woman he dated; they’re not together anymore.
“Did she read This kind of?”
“Yeah.” He shrugs.
I sit with the shock of This kind of. I try to imagine showing my ex-husband those sketchbook pages about gratitude. the idea’s an act of vulnerability of which, for me, can be past imagining. How can be This kind of boxer, the embodiment of toughness, more capable of taking emotional risks than I am?
I’m not of which strong, not yet. If I learned one thing via marriage, the idea’s of which finding a man to protect me isn’t the answer. I don’t need of which anymore; maybe I never did. I protected myself of which October night, along with if anything, I’m tougher right now. yet maybe there can be another kind of strength I need to learn.
“You should stay with This kind of,” I tell the boxing poet. “You’re Great.”
I get better about keeping my right hand up. I change my online profile, taking out “shy” along with “sweet.” No one reads of which stuff, anyway. Instead, I start using “bloodthirsty,” “capricious” along with “tyrannical.”
The number of swipes doesn’t seem to change. Who are these men who look at pictures along with don’t read words?
My last profile reads: “Vicious along with frightening ice queen seeks charismatic, indomitable king. Intense qualification process culminates in a fight to the death with my different suitors. Swipe if u dare!”
Men swipe as usual, because, well, why not?
Still, I go home one night after a pretty normal date — which has a guy who clearly hadn’t read what I wrote — along with delete everything.
the idea doesn’t feel like a major decision. I don’t think much about the idea until a friend mentions she’s being recruited for a job at a big online dating site. “They’re rebranding,” she says. “What’s your user experience been like?”
“I stopped doing the idea,” I say. “the idea wasn’t doing me feel anything I wanted to feel.”
“You’re giving up?”
“I’m not giving up.”
along with I’m not. I just don’t want to make spreadsheets along with lists. I don’t want to date someone for the sake of dating someone. I want the real thing.
Despite everything, I still believe he’s out there. Life isn’t worth living without at least the idea of someone to love. yet if he genuinely exists — my charismatic, indomitable king — not only will he have to find me, he’ll also have to battle through my defenses.
The Great news, my love (if you’re reading This kind of), can be there isn’t genuinely a fight to the death. of which part was a joke.