What is Love?

August 3, 2016

This speech is seriously so mind-blowing and the greatest truth I’ve heard in a long time.

Marriage some days feel like a hard, hard struggle.  And there is no where to run.  We committed to this for life.  And that’s it.

So we need to make it work somehow, in some way–whether we like it or not.  That’s how I see it.  There is no option–only learning to be done and compromises to be made.

I think the hardest part for me is this: it is so scary being with someone who holds your heart and soul in their palm…someone who knows the inner pieces of your life so intimately and whom will only continue to do so more over time.

I’m finding myself resisting being known.  I see my flaws and I don’t want him to know it any better than he already does.  I don’t trust that he will hold the vulnerable pieces of my inner being gently and lovingly.  I know in a way that this is normal, but I have always been so self protective that I have so many urges to fight in order to continue growing closer.

I feel stuck in my own inner workings.  Does that make sense?  I feel lonely and yet sometimes I want to be alone so that I can be myself without being watched, evaluated, judged.

If I keep typing, I will find some sort of peace.  That’s what I tell students.  That’s what they practice.  Just write.  Just be with the discomfort.  Watch it.  Feel it.  Maybe even embrace it.

On togetherness.

July 9, 2016

When I created this blog, I intended to close it when I became attached–like, seriously attached, in a “long term” relationship–a steady and stable long-term relationship.

Well, here I am.  Married.  To VF.  For over a month now.

I feel both afraid and hesitant to shut down this site though.  I think it’s because I don’t feel like days “on my own” are over yet…especially with his ongoing clerkship year and his upcoming fourth year of rural rotations, possibly in (very) very remote far-away places. Add to this–who knows where residency will take him.

Or perhaps “on my own” days will never come to an end.  Perhaps it never does for anyone.  I don’t mean in an existential crisis kind of way; rather, I mean, maybe states of isolation/solitude go hand-in-hand with periods of togetherness.  I think Rilke got it right:

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“I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other” – Rainer Maria Rilke

It is, in part, because of this, that I think I will always feel the need to keep a part of myself “on my own”.  I will always want to claim some Friday nights home by myself while he is out with friends; I will sometimes prefer to skip boat rides to cook at home in the kitchen uninterrupted and unaccompanied, just as I did this afternoon.  I don’t feel that I am doing life on my own all the time, and sometimes when I do I resent it; however, I do value aspects of aloneness and I reckon it is important–for both V and myself, that parts of ourselves still have freedom to come and go, fluidly, lovingly, always.

“The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvellous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

I don’t remember the last time I have felt so deeply in love and so overcome with so much sadness all at once.  These feelings have been reminding me of this video I watched back in Nov 2013, which captures the idea of both ecstasy and tragedy coexisting as they have appeared to be these last couple days.

(beautiful beautiful video, I love his passionate and animated style of speech)

“Perhaps that’s why when we’re in love we’re also kind of sad. There’s a sadness to the ecstasy. Beautiful things can sometimes make us a little sad, because what they hint at is the exception–a vision of something more, a vision of a hidden door, a rabbit hole to fall through, but a temporary one. I think ultimately that is kind of the tragedy; that is why love simultaneously fills us with melancholy. That’s why sometimes I feel nostalgic over something I haven’t lost yet because I see its transience. And so how does one respond to this? Do we love harder? Do we squeeze tighter? Or do we embrace the Buddhist creed of no attachment? Do we pretend not to care, that everything and everyone is going to be taken away from us? I don’t know if I can accept that. I think I more side with the Dylan Thomas quote that says ‘I will not go quietly into that good night but instead rage against the dying of the light’. I think that we defy entropy and impermanence with our films and our poems. I think we hold onto each other a little harder and say I will not let go. I do not accept the ephemeral nature of this moment. I’m going to extend it forever. Or at least I am going to try. “

So much internal chaos and conflicting feelings have occurred for me since he got accepted.  Almost immediately when he told me, I became so highly aware that everything we’ve built could all be rapidly fleeting, that these could possibly be some of our last days together.  In fact, the first night I found out, almost instantaneously my less-than conscious mind began to mourn the relationship, as if it was over the moment the email was received and I could do nothing about it.  But over time through conversations with people around me, both close at heart and those hardly close at all, my defense mechanisms are calming and my nervous system is slowly easing out of ‘high alert’ to, fortunately, give way to some hope and faith again.

Of course, this hope and faith still fights with my fears and anxieties. But when the former trump the latter, there are moments I feel strong and steady enough to see this through and, at  my very best, even a little excited.  I am excited when I recognize that this may be the kind of love that actually withstands the storms and comes out shining–that, possibly, this could be the kind of love that gives and believes and continues to trust.  That, through it all, this love could be extraordinary. After all, isn’t that what I’ve always wanted? A love powerful enough to change the world? It must sound naive and foolish, but beneath my defenses, I do believe it exists and maybe this is the opportunity to embrace that.

Who do you love?

May 7, 2014

“In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die, where you invest your love, you invest your life.”  – Mumford & Sons

All my life, I have chosen close friends very carefully. The way I see it, good friendships are a lot of work–whether in the form of dedicating time, affection, care, compassion, or other valuable (and reasonably limited) resource to the friendship, good friendships take a lot, just as much as they provide a lot.

When I heard Mumford & Sons perform ‘Awake my Soul’ for the first time at the Sasquatch Music Festival last summer, this lyric above struck me. Given my beliefs about friendship, I must have, on some level or another, understood the idea that we end up investing much of our lives in those we let into our lives. But what struck me most perhaps was that Mumford & Sons referred to love, not only friendships, but love in particular. Love.

This was plenty of food for thought. The words still often echo in the back of my mind, even though I’ve rarely listened to the song since then. The notion makes sense: over the lifetime, we give a lot of ourselves and our life to the person we choose to love, maybe even  more so than we do our friendships.

But it wasn’t until today, sitting in the third row of Gabor Mate’s keynote presentation at the CCPA conference that I really, really began to understand the depths of this idea.

Gabor Mate supports taking a biopsychosocial perspective in considering physical and mental illnesses. Amongst a host of ideas in this regard, what left the strongest impression on me was when he explained the undeniable connection between our attachment relationships and our health, our emotional bonds and our well-being. In one example, he described how attachment relationships support the immune system so much so that, particularly in elderly couples or couples who have been married a long time, the hospitalization of one partner significantly increases the likelihood of illness/death of the other partner. And the death of one partner, in turn, increases the likelihood of death of the other partner. In some cases, even the threatened loss of an important attachment relationship triggers stress on the body that has the potential to cause a number of health issues, he argued (a lot more eloquently and elaborately, of course)…

Well, fuck.

If Mumford & Sons didn’t drive the point home, Gabor Mate certainly did for me.

Choose who you love carefully.  Life — and death– depend on it.

no room for jealousy.

July 27, 2013

He spent the day with her today–going to buy shrimp at the market, making dinner, then going to an outdoor movie together. It sounds like a romantic date–one that we would’ve had, if I was there.

That’s what I was trying to remind myself–that if I was there, it would be me. Anyway, she’s his best friend. I tried not to think too much about it, but it’s hard to avoid the little pinch sometimes when I recognize that she gets what I want, especially as we haven’t been able to spend time together in the last three weeks.

Fortunately, just like he always does, he settles my insecurities before I even process them too deeply, and definitely before I voice them. Without me even expressing any form of uneasiness or discomfort with their date-like day together, he messaged to tell me (during their movie), that he wishes it was me beside him instead, not her.

When I reply with “yeah, I would be happy even if it was me *and* her…”, he quite simply responds: “well I prefer you.”.

Just what I needed to hear. It is amazing how he knew.

And just like that, there became no room for jealousy.

the fairytale.

January 17, 2012

I try hard — sometimes perhaps too hard — to be the kind of girl that I think he, and many men like him, want.  Aloof, easy-going, open-minded, liberal, independent, rational, unaffected. A cold hard bitch. One who doesn’t need, doesn’t want, and doesn’t care.

Many days I think I succeed.  Besides, not every one of those descriptions are a far stretch from the truth every day.  But the truth is also that I do need, I do want, and often I do care.  And sometimes I am affected, emotional, and sensitive. There is a little girl in me who wants to be adored, taken care of, and romanced; she wants the prince who will slay dragons for her and then dance with her at the ball; she wants the fairytale.

I know relationships are not rainbows and butterflies all the time. I know even in the best of relationships, he may not always fight for me or dance with me. And I think I’m okay doing both alone sometimes.  But what happens when the lonesome days outweigh the good days? And what happens when even the supposed good days don’t feel so good? What happens when we fight with each other, more than we fight for each other; and what happens when we stop dancing altogether?

through the years.

December 31, 2011

On days when I wonder if my heart is so damaged that I simply don’t know how to love…

On days when I wonder if I have grown so bitter that I simply can’t offer anyone forgiveness…

On days when I wonder if I am doing anyone a favor by giving second chances…

I remember AS.

Despite what felt like the largest betrayal of my life, I have always loved him and I forgave him a long time ago. I admire and adore him and am so grateful that he stepped back into my life after our 3 year hiatus. And contrary to what I would have guessed, I’m so glad I was able to trust him again, no questions asked. He has not disappointed me since.  So on days when I doubt my ability to love, forgive, and trust again, I think of AS and remind myself that I can and I will — when I believe in them and believe in our relationship. Because with him, I do. And as our friendship continues to develop, I know I will love him through the years.

He should make you feel terrific always–not crummy, and not just in the beginning.

I think I’ve truly forgotten what it’s supposed to be like.

Thank you for reminding me.

How to love?

September 11, 2011

See you had a lot of crooks try to steal your heart
Never really had luck, couldn’t never figure out
How to love, how to love

See you had a lot of moments that didn’t last forever
Now you in the corner tryin to put it together
How to love, how to love

See I just want you to know
That you deserve the best
You’re beautiful
And I want you to know, you’re far from the usual
Far from the usual

~~

Who knew I could derive such comfort from Lil Wayne.

I feel a sense of joy with the decision I made last night, even though in many ways I am exactly where I was prior to all the conversations and in fact he didn’t give me anything tangible at all.

I think I took a step away from games, self-preservation, skepticism, fear, and insecurity.  My sense of joy is a result of being proud of myself, because I think this is helping me grow as a person. In fact, I think this–learning to have faith in people and letting go of reservations– is partially what this entire journey of being single has been about. I’ve always been told that, especially in relationships, I don’t fully trust..that I never let myself become completely vulnerable because I think everyone leaves eventually and I don’t want to lose myself.  I have never let myself purely feel. Especially after the last few dating experiences, I became so pessimistic, untrusting, and scared.  And I’ve been trying to lead with my head, rather than my heart or my gut. And I think I almost let that drive my current ‘relationship’ with him. I think I almost lost sight of the basics–the importance of developing a strong base by getting to know each other, spending time with each other, talking, trusting, and being authentic. It takes time, and patience. Instead, I tried to pressure commitment, enforce expectations, and demand promises, none of which I think are the backbones of a strong relationship in the long run anyway. And all this was premature and unnecessary.  And it’s not who I am; I think I needed this to remind me of that.

I’ve always preached the whole idea that if you let others do what they want, they will be  more open, honest, and fond of you–in terms of parenting, especially; I truly believe that too many rules and trying to keep a leash on others only hinders relationships and causes them to push you away.  In matters of dating, at the end of the day, everyone is choosing and selecting just one, and my end goal is to be the one he chooses….and what better way to ensure he thinks I’m the best of the bunch than if he actually dated a bunch and still picked me in the end. This is something I’ve always had at the back of my mind. I’ve used it to justify my casually dating more than one person at a time, and I’ve used it to argue for taking a break with my long-term bf so that I could make a decision about whether or not he was the one for me. As much as some people may find this foolish, it’s the me I want to be, the me I was prior to being left, hurt, or forgotten.

More specifically, it’s the me I think I need to be when/if a relationship ever does work out for me (with him or anyone).  I mean, if M and I do begin a relationship at some point, I would much, much rather it be on the premise that he chose me being fully aware of what his options were, rather than I pressured or forced him to be with me. I would much rather we be able to look back to say that I was supportive of his self-growth and was patient with him, than for us to look back and know that I rushed him, pushed him, and demanded things of him just so I could ensure that he stuck around. I don’t think the latter is a loving thing to do. And I want to love.

Maybe this way I am setting myself up for a broken heart, or maybe I’m setting  myself up for something uniquely strong.  Either way, I’ll have no regrets.

“…Love like you’ve never been hurt”