I’ve been thinking a lot about bloodlines again. I go through these stages all of the time. Back in 2008 I wrote about it, swearing to only date Native men ever again. But then something happened. I dated a white guy. Yup. It happened (and I wrote about it here). He was sweet, and kind but in the end we didn’t want the same things out of life so we decided it was time to part ways.
Then I met a Native guy. He was kind of a dreamboat actually. I tried not to fall in love, but I did. I fell hard. Yet after months and months we realized that it would just never be. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. It was just too hard and things weren’t falling into place easily. There was another guy on the horizon that was easy, too easy. I didn’t have to work on it one bit and I kind of loved that.
He is sweet, kind, generous, and would do just about anything for me that I asked. I was his princess. I always wanted to be someone’s princess, and it felt pretty great. So great. I wanted it to stay great. But here’s the problem – he was non-Native. I tried to tell myself that it didn’t matter because I cared for him deeply, and he was head over heels madly in love with me. I could see the kind of life we would have together – he stimulated me intellectually, we had wonderful conversations, a great friendship, similar life goals, and I knew that our life together (if we so chose it) would be comfortable and pretty awesome. I also knew he’d make a wonderful husband and a great father. The white picket fence was slowly being constructed.
I was feeling pretty satisfied. Or was I? I kept having to compromise. I kept having to explain. Because my life is my work, and my work is my life, I don’t really have a life outside of the Native community. Our lives became segregated and it became increasingly clear that this perfect life that I had somehow convinced myself to be, just wouldn’t be. My life was moving in one direction, and his was staying in the same place.
It’s a hard decision to let someone go that I deeply cared for and who treated me the best that I’ve ever known in this life. There was such a comfort there and an ease in our relationship. As a girl without family and who’s been on her own since 17, that felt nice. Really nice. I liked the stability that I felt like I was finally gaining in my life. I thought I might have been growing up and maybe, just maybe, putting down some roots.
All the while though, I was still with one foot out the door. I wasn’t able to completely reconcile what my future would look like with my work and my life progressing with a non-Native partner, and with having children. I don’t want my children to grow up without having a Native family. How would they know cultural traditions? I wasn’t raised with them, and don’t have that knowledge (yet) to pass that on to them. Sure, I can learn and pass that on, but I’d much prefer to be with a Native man who has family that’s close so they could be raised amongst love, culture, tradition, and pride. All of the things I didn’t have.
And so while I was dating this guy who filled pretty much every ideal that I’ve ever had for a life partner, and then some, he was missing that one thing. I thought if I ignored it and pushed on that eventually it would be okay and I would just “get over it” and our relationship would prevail. It did not. I always had that nagging feeling in the back of my brain that told me that this wasn’t the right relationship for me, and I kept daydreaming about a fictional future with that Native guy of yesteryear. Now *that* seemed like the perfect life.
Finally I had to let the non-Native guy know, that despite the great time that we spent together and how much I cared for him, that I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to get married to him and have a family. It broke his heart. It wasn’t the first time he heard that sentiment from me, but we were both hopeful that I’d have a change of heart. And so, we broke up and learned to both get on with our lives without each other.
And it’s not been easy for me. I’m back to being alone, without my best friend who I had such great conversations with, and who was the stable rock in my life. The only stable rock I’d ever known. It’s really hard to be all alone once I’ve had a taste of what that could feel like to have someone there beside you that would stick by your side through thick and through thin. All my life I’ve been alone, just me against the world so to have someone who supported me in everything that I did and continued to love me no matter what might happen was pretty magical.
But for me, it just wasn’t enough. Yeah, I know. Some might think I’m crazy to let that go. But I just couldn’t settle. I want to be with a Native man and have a strong Native family. To me, that just feels right. If I had gone on down that marriage path with my ex, I would have always had that doubt in my head that I wasn’t making the right decision. And now, even though I’m learning to be alone all over again, I know that I have the strength and the resiliency to say no to even the sweetest offer and hold out for something that simply feels right.