Mr. BB texted me last night after his blind date. "Friendzone for her" he wrote. We shared funny date stories and laughed.
I went to see him and while we are not "back together," something feels healed from previous weeks of barbed starts & stops. Not resolved; healed. That thing that happens when you realize the bond is more important than being right or having your way.
At one point, he got up to get himself a glass of water and came back with two and this gesture startled me. He went to the kitchen to meet one of his needs -- thirst -- and thought of me.
He doesn't know this, I didn't tell him, but that was a point of contention in my past. I was the one who would return with extra food or water for my partner and yet it was rarely reciprocated. After a while, this began to sting. "It makes me feel cared for when you ask," I would say, hoping to gently encourage this behavior I wanted so badly. "If you're already getting something for yourself, just see if I'd like it too." But my ex kept forgetting and then one day I cried about it. He was hurt that I was upset over something he wasn't even doing on purpose but it made me feel like an afterthought in my own home.
Is this what companionship with a giver is like? They think of others? I didn't know how to tell him how much that tiny gesture meant but it sent waves of warmth through the cold, forgotten parts of me.
I drove home with music blaring, thinking about the subject of give and take. I'm a giver too. I love to see people happy, showering affection and attention on them. I also like to give understanding and forgiveness, but when I look back over the previous few weeks, that wasn't me. That was someone hurting. Every defense mechanism was activated. I tried to burn bridges. "Please don't text me anymore" I'd even written, in an attempt to curtail hot bursts from a severed emotional artery. I didn't know how else to cope. Amputate, I thought harshly; desiring to cut off my own pain, not our ties.
Be careful what you ask for.
So, I drove home thinking about this and the song playing just then monotoned gently:
"It's too late to change your mind... you let loss be your guide."And I thought good god, that's it.
Love for me is loss.
Loss: to have less than; to be without. To have lost.
That's how the past feels, and I slip into despair when it feels like it's happening again.
What if I could shift? What if I could give love even as I was losing it? What if I saw it from the other person's eyes: imagine that, for whatever reason, our time together has come to an end -- could I see them off on the rest of their journey with affection? I mean, we do this when we drop someone we love off at the airport, right? Feeling pain is not the issue, necessarily. It's the interpretation.
If someone needed $1,000 from me and I couldn't give it, no hard feelings. So why are there hard feelings when the resources are emotional? It's because they're less tangible, I think. So it seems like, when we're not getting what we need, it's because the other person is withholding it on purpose. But you can't give what you don't have, no matter what form it takes.
Instead of reacting with hurt over perceived diminution, why not respond with compassion? The other person probably feels badly that they cannot give what's so desired. A sense of loss can be so encompassing that it's nearly impossible to respond with magnanimity but this fact makes it doubly important to try.
"Try to see relationships as having added to you," someone wise once advised me. "Not as taking away from you." They knew what I had trouble recognizing.
Today, Independence Day, is the celebration of freedom. We understand what this means societally, but individually, isn't it beautiful to wish for each of us this freedom to pursue happiness whether or not it includes us? Happy Independence Day. And happy New Perception for me. I shall practice this. Indeed, I'll likely get many opportunities. Lucky me. :)
“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” Thomas Merton