Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I think a lot about relationships; especially these days. I think about my instincts, and about my senses; I think about my reactions and my capacity to look at someone and to give the benefit of the doubt. I’m sort of proud of that… even if it exposes me to the risk of heartbreak. The truth is, I have learned; by way of some very simple, but probably the most profound advice I’ve ever gotten; to go with what my heart tells me. My aunt told me this; to trust my instincts; to go with what feels right. Even the tiniest shade of a doubt should always be a respected as a sign. It has been true every time. When I’ve chosen to go against what my instincts are telling me, I’ve always found out the hard way that I should have listened to my instincts. Intuition is everything.
I know. I’ve always known that my husband is as close to perfect a match for me as he could possibly be. I know this, because we have something that is amazing; we have the ability to be who we are when we are together. No faking, no pretending, no tiptoeing—flaws, idiosyncrasies, quirks, failures, mistakes, blunders… all those things are okay. It doesn’t mean it’s a fairy tale, relationships never are. If you go into a relationship thinking that you’ll never once be disappointed by your partner; you are completely deluded. Don’t think your instincts can account for the anomalies and the crises that can make or break a relationship; they do not make you immune. You will resonate to one another one day, and grump at one another the next. You will still misunderstand and stumble with the best of them. The difference is; that your friendship remains strong… your ability to look into their face and to see the person you love behind the mistakes and the anger… that you can stop, set aside all the expectations and just see that person as they are, and realize that is what is most important.
Through it, you are yourselves. You are comfortable enough to be who you are. That’s the most important thing. With my husband, it’s been like that since day one. No kidding. I had the most humiliating thing happen to me on our first evening date (and pretty much the only real ‘date’ we ever had) together and his reaction to it was all I needed to know to realize he suited me. The little signs… the little sense of rightness… I will not share this hideously embarrassing event, but suffice it to say, it makes my ears and cheeks burn even thinking about it today. I thank my stars that it was with him because of how easygoing and accepting he is as a person; because anyone else would have probably bailed—and had I not felt comfortable enough with him from the start, and I was trying to hide my flaws, I probably would have been too embarrassed to stick around too. Instead we laughed it off, and felt like old friends immediately.
The truth is; the whole act of dating is kind of a sham. You spend each date hiding your flaws from the person you’re interested in; and then once you’re through that stage and are committed; then you end up spending all your time excusing them, or defending yourself against them, or justifying them; or being miserable for having to always hide them; being upset because this person is surprised by them. It’s a dance of disillusionment. I never ‘dated’ much in my life, to be truthful. I’ve always met guys, and sort of scoped them out then and there, and if I felt the vibe, it was smoocheroos, and if I didn’t, I simply didn’t. No dinner, no planned activities, no long romantic walks on the beach (or off short piers). Just people connecting… or not.
What I have realized is that being who you are is the biggest test of a relationship. Honesty; admissions, openness… If it doesn’t send your partner packing, then you’re off to a good start. If it does, then it wasn’t meant to be. Nobody is worth staying with if they cannot respect the essential things that make you who you really are.
Your past, your habits, your family, your less-than-proud moments, those are the tests. If you feel like you have to make yourself love what they love, or you have to squeeze yourself into the mold that they seem to desire in a partner, and you have to bite your tongue, or hide your past or your family, to pretend anything to earn their affection, then maybe you’re not on the right track. The truth is, love is an act of pure acceptance. It’s accepting a person despite their flaws and their mistakes, and being able to rise above the mistakes and acts of humanity. We all do stupid things; we all act out in different ways when we don’t think we’re being understood. We all handle our ire and our disappointment in different ways… it’s a matter of trying to change your perspective to see it… of stepping back and being a friend before being a lover, and to be there no matter what. Even if it fails, and being there doesn’t work, at least you can know you reached out when you needed to and you were the friend you promised you would be.
It’s hard to be who you are if you’re not sure. A lot of people allow their relationships to define their identity—they allow their relationship to become who they are. They let the “I” become “We”. You are allowed to have your own identity, your own choices, your own ideas, and your own dreams and still be in a relationship---you *should* have all those things that are just for you. It’s not a crime. To exist only for the ‘we’ is not a healthy way to live. You cannot truly be with someone unless you are whole yourself. So it’s important to figure out what you like, what you don’t like, what stirs your heart, what inspires your passions… and even if it deviates from your partner’s preferences—and to be secure in those things! You need to figure out who you are. You need to stick to that, and you need to refuse to sacrifice any shred of it for the sake of a relationship; because you are creating the inevitable; and you are insuring failure. How can someone love you for you; if you don’t know who ‘you’ is?
I know who ‘me’ is. I know that I am capable of great joy and of great sorrow. I also know I’m capable of forgiveness; and that whatever I’m risking, I’m comfortable with that, because if I have faith in anything, I have faith in my instincts, and more importantly in my friendship with my husband. Both tell me what I am doing is right. Maybe some people think I’m insane; but I don’t care. I have the courage to try. He has the courage to try—and there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of there.
Of course the three-dozen roses didn’t hurt either. ::smirk::