I have been trying to write this post since the beginning of August, it is now nearing the end of the year! This post has been difficult to write for two reasons, the first reason is that this will be the last post of this series. After this post I will have come full circle and I am now ready to step out and write about other aspects of humanity, life, and just anything that strikes my fancy. I had to write this first my soul would not let me write anything until I did; and believe me I tried. I have so many stories and ideas swirling about in my brain, but none could make it to the page. I had to go on this journey to find me, to learn myself, and connect with my own person in ways I never knew I needed to. I am filled with mixed emotions, happy for this part of the journey but a wave of sorrow hits my shore during high tide that makes me want to stay in this place. I know that I cannot, that I must continue forward. I have drawn it out as long as I possibly could trying hold on to the tide of my past life when I know that to be an impossibility. Each wave composed of water slips threw my fingers and is no more. I am resigned to merely gazing from a far as the sun dips below the surf and to anxiously await the arrival of its inevitable rise over the new horizon.
The second reason this was difficult to write is because its about love. Yes, I know that in one way, or another this entire series has been about love. To me life is love and love is the current that runs through our entire life. I didn’t realize this until the past couple of years writing this blog. Recently I was listening to a podcast and Esther Perel said something that struck me. She said we were designed for connection and the quality of our relationships greatly influences the quality of our life. Our work relationships, friendships, family, and romantic relationships all have impact in our lives. Love is in everything we do. If you have read much of this blog, you know that I have struggled with connection and love from the start and it’s no surprise that love continues to be a dynamic puzzle with changing pieces to me. I have come to realize and accept that this is the nature of love, love is fluid. Just as with the waves of my past, that I had attempted to grasp love too, but it is impossible to hold or contain. It must be free to ebb and flow, to crash against the rocks, or to gently lull our souls. We long for things we don’t want, we want consistency, a systematic, controlled, and scheduled love. One that fits the mold of the stories, poems, and movies of how love SHOULD be. What we often fail to realize is that love contained and controlled dies. Its waves no longer great the shore with joy and anticipation but instead with dread and resentment. I am not much different; I too have longed to control love. To hold it close and watch over it to make sure it stayed the same. To prevent it from leaving me. To make it be what I thought it should be. None of it ever worked and it couldn’t possibly because love needs room to grow, room to breathe, and the time to evolve. But fuck that shit is Scary!
We have all sat contemplating love at some point. We wonder, is love real? What is love? How do we get it? How do we keep it? Love is impossible to define but the best attempt that I have seen comes from Brené Brown. Brené states that love is allowing our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and to honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection. That is beautifully stated yet what does it really look like in practice? I find that we often want the easy rout the “organic” or “natural” love that just magically happens like in the movies and stories of happily ever after. No effort required because it was love at first sight and we danced to the end of love smiling in the sunshine the entire way. No, we may not articulate it in that way, but that dream resides in many of us. Sadly, when things fail to line up in that particular format, we can sometimes become disconnected and cynical. I had found myself someplace in the middle of wanting a sincere love, a fantasy love, a consistent love, that would happen naturally, be easy that I could dance to the end of. Yet, I doubted that love was real, I thought it was just an illusion. I felt that people are prone to making the lightning strike the rule. What I mean is when I took an objective look around at the world and the people closest to me, I found that true love was extremely rare. By true love I mean one that fits into Brené’s definition at least fifty percent of the time. What I saw was people wanting to be connected even if that connection wasn’t feeding their soul. People trading the possibility of true love in for sex, money, or just the title of married. I grew cynicalish, I say ish because I accepted that I would most likely end up alone (with a cat of course) but deep in the recesses of my heart there was still a thread of hope. I had decided that I would NEVER stay in a relationship just for the sake of having someone or a title. I would be honest with myself and if I did not feel my soul was being fed, I would move on. I did just that, I moved, I would not stay, and such was life. Tossing the unfit aside felt harsh and I questioned myself deeply, analyzed my reasoning, and even surveyed my friends to make sure I wasn’t just being a jerk. I was definitely being a jerk, but I needed to be. I had spent so many years being the good, nice, and accommodating (aka enabling) person and that simply created a space in my life that was occupied by people who did not appreciate my efforts and who shouldn’t have been allowed in.
I proceeded in this way for a while, spending a little time getting to know someone but basically waiting for the end. Until I realized that I had no real direction, nor had I really thought much about what I wanted. I had spent so much time thinking about what I didn’t want that I was basically on a NOPE tour. Do I like him? NOPE, What about him? NOPE, And on an on. One day I sat down and made the most ridiculous list of things you could possibly want in a person. Yup I listed it all! Two full pages that detailed every possible trait that I could ever possibly want. I had a good laugh and then tried to group the things I wanted so that I could find connections or a theme that would help me thin the two-page list down to just three things. You see I had read this book The Science of Happily Ever After (the science part was the hook for me!). In the book the author Ty Tashiro says you only get three things max in a partner! if your list is longer it becomes a mathematical impossibility to find a mate. My three were simple; integrity, joy, and attractiveness. Yes, I know, I’m shallow. I get it, shush this is MY list you can choose any noble attributes that you like but for me these were what mattered. The things I wanted were kind of broad and leave room for interpretation. These three things were a neat way for me to navigate the dating world. With my cheat sheet in tow dating was a breeze and no longer did I question my motives. If you didn’t meet these three basic requirements it didn’t mean that you were a horrible person. It just meant that you weren’t what I wanted. Some may say this approach is too technical or pragmatic, but I’m a technical and pragmatic kinda gal.
My philosophy was that I was perfectly happy alone so if I was going to date, I may as well do it in a way that I enjoyed. I dated and kept it moving until I met, let’s just call him, Mr. Anderson. Yes, I am the Trinity to his Neo, I am literally laughing at myself. I have found the one. Yeah, I can’t stop laughing. We are in the very early stages of our romance but some how our puzzle pieces fit! There is no such thing as perfection, but the shifting pieces of our puzzle are synchronized, and they create a beautiful and dynamic picture. Our fledgling love is terrifyingly exciting in the simplest of ways. We have encountered only minor turbulence at this stage and have managed to navigate it well. Yet, I must confess that the desire to grab the wave and keep close watch, to ensure its safety, its longevity, and that beauty of its crest is maintained still stirs within me. So occasionally one or the other of us will attempt to catch the waves as they come ashore. What makes this different is that we both understand that the idea of holding the wave is ridiculous and we also understand the drive that compels us to attempt it anyway. We are able to be completely vulnerable and know that in one another we have found a safe place to land. Seeing the humanity and imperfections that lie in us both provides room for grace and understanding. Neither of us gets offended easily and we know we are on the same team, so small discrepancies remain small. Nothing is taken personally or out of context and if there is any uncertainty we ask and explain. Together we have allowed ourselves to be seen and known, we honor this spiritual connection that has grown with trust, respect, kindness, and affection. There is so much joy in this journey.
The way life works is sometimes a mystery. Just when one journey has begun another comes to an end. I began this blog with many of my earliest childhood memories. The central charter in my story has always been my mother. Our relationship had always been challenging and it informed much of my early ideals about self-worth and love. We had settled into a space of mutual respect and love. No, our relationship did not look like the typical mother daughter relationship, but I accepted that she loved me the best she knew how, and I loved her in return. I wasn’t prepared for the mix and rush of emotions I experienced when I sat beside her as she took her very last breath. She alone had been there when I took my first breaths. A part of me kept thinking that she would be fine, she had close calls before. She was the comeback kid! It was not until that very last breath that it became real for me. She was gone! But how? She was the strongest, toughest, and meanest woman I have ever known. It just seemed like death could never catch her wave. She was beyond regulations and rules, living and doing as she saw fit. I understand that and the pull to wash up at whatever shore suits the mood. The freedom to just be unapologetically yourself. For a part of my life I clawed at her waves and attempted to force her to be the mom that I wanted her to be and it was impossible for my young heart to allow her the freedom to just be. It hurt, it was frightening, and difficult. The lessons learned at her shore were sometimes difficult to master. Each lesson was a struggle and sometimes a heartbreak, but each has empowered me and has directly or indirectly propelled me on this journey. Learning to love our parents and family when we are children has a major impact on our ability to trust and form strong romantic bonds. Difficult lessons make the journey to understanding and finding love problematic. In the face of these challenges we usually scramble to find alternative sources and usually make do with what we see; the fledgling relationships of friends, stories, and movies. Most of which provide a skewed idea of what love is.
Prior to writing this post I began watching romantic movies and reached out to friends to see what movies set their hearts a blaze. I wanted to look at love through their eyes, to understand what movies about love they most identified with. I ended up watching quite a few over the past few days. The one that I found to be the most accurate and touching was oddly the movie Her. The movie stared Joaquin Phoenix as a reclusive soon to be divorcee who falls in love with his operating system, an artificial intelligence program voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Its an odd choice I know, but it demonstrates perfectly the undulations and wave patterns of love and loss. The hard moments of vulnerability, self-realizations, reflections and growth that generate the variations in the tides of love. The experiences throughout the relationship demonstrated in the movie can easily be laid over the framework for a wide range of relationships. I experienced moments throughout the film that connected one form of love to another. The romantic love we long for, the self-love that we must all learn, how to be a friend, to listen, how to recognize your own faults, and to allow people to be who they are so that we can in turn be who we are.
“The clear bead at the center changes everything. There are no edges to my loving now. I’ve heard it said there’s a window that opens from one mind to another. But if there’s no wall, there’s no need for fitting the window, or the latch.” Rumi