Reading time: 7 – 12 minutes
I am so disoriented these days: happy and distracted; elated and frightened; freed and troubled… I am an experience of Spectrum. Wandering my inner landscape like a giddy, but lost, child. Wandering my outer, seemingly new world like a giddy, but lost, child. Everything in the world, in my world, is all the same and so utterly different right now.
I love that I feel like a child of life, but I hate it, too. The good side of living and being child-like is that all of life, the good and bad, has an element of adventure to it; an element of optimism and absolute safety, but the bad side of living and being child-like is that all of life, the good and the
bad, has an element of terror to it; an element of disappointment and absolute aloneness.
How can we remain innocent, yet gain experience and evolve? It seems a complicated conundrum when I try to reconcile the reality of my innocence and the reality of my painful history. At once I see the world like a great, awe-inspiring game of Chutes & Ladders, but I keep getting blood on everything I touch, weeping from the scrapes and bruises that litter my skin and soul. How can I play this compelling game and stop feeling so immediately fragile? How can
I tend to my aches and pains without getting a mess on my playmates?
I think the answer isn’t in steering my life toward one extreme or another, but in steering life into the space of people who are as dirty-faced, bleeding, and playful as I. We are never alone or stupid or in need of a facade just to get through this life. When did I begin believing so absolutely that I needed to do this alone? When did it begin to matter so desperately whether another person accepted me and my failures, flaws, and flailings? It’s weird when one really tries to think about where one began thinking awful things about himself or herself, and more importantly, when did we REALLY start to BELIEVE that shit?
It surprises me how much I have tricked myself into these extremes between doing it ALL by myself, offering smiles and wisdom to all around, yet selecting one person (usually my boyfriend) to be THE ONE who gets all of the weeping wounds and scrambling anxieties. I save all of that for him. If HE can accept that mess, then it will finally be true that I am OK!! HE gets to decide this for me, though, of course. I don’t. I get to displace my power and my self-love into his hands, and I eventually spill my secret ugliness into his space, into his life, and then I wait…
I don’t wait to be loved, though. I wait to be told I am too much. I wait to be told I am too troubled, too childish, too irritating, too SOMETHING, or not enough… not enough something.
And if effort is made to really embrace me, I immediately move myself into a state of suspicion, because what kind of person could love THIS. Something must be wrong with him.
On the other hand, my friends; my beautiful friends, who have lived with, and loved me through all of these exposures, I rarely give credit for how perfect their love is for me. They don’t count, you see, because I assume they are getting the best of me, filtering myself into a servant of kindness, support, and compassion because THEY need; I am beyond their help, you see, so I don’t need them. But I have my duties as friend! And it’s the boyfriend who gets to be
the litmus test of my value. OF COURSE my friends are going to love me; they don’t get the messy me. But, if Boyfriend loves me… I am saved.
HA! What a bunch of bullshit.
If you are messy, you are messy. I’m messy. (We are ALL messy?) I get myself all over the place and my friends deserve a lifetime achievement award for putting up with me, loving me, and letting me.
Things are different now with my Love, this time, with Clem.
I found out on my trip to Austin with him just how messy I am. I showcased my flaws in the pattern of me at the most opportune time. I didn’t do this purposely, but some part of me knew exactly when to draw my broken side to the front of me, and do my best to scare Clem away.
It almost worked.
I saw something so glaringly obvious about my behavior and I can never go back to the unconscious ride through these patterns.
I grew up this week.
It’s not that I have ever meant to be the way I describe, above, but I think we can so easily get settled into these patterns of reaction and action and then we wonder why we keep sliding off the curvy, twisted road that we paved, ourselves, and into the ditch. It’s easy to get right back onto that road and start the ride again, doing the same thing. A point comes, though, when you begin to see the signs, the patterns, and while we can’t transform who we are immediately, we
CAN begin to take responsibility with the map we begin to piece together of ourselves.
I found a really important part of my map while in Austin with Clem. I now feel I’ve discarded the bulky, outdated RV I’ve been driving through life and traded my wheels in for a more manageable bicycle. I realize I started off in this life with more than I could handle, and I continued living that way until it has nearly killed me (even if only on the inside). Instead of overloading my wheels with people I think I can save (and then crashing all of us into the ditch), I just need to ride my bike. Now, I just have to navigate carefully, kindly, and keep my balance.
I know my metaphors can seem melodramatic and corny, but hey, I’m kinda melodramatic and corny, so there.
So… Ok… and the biggest news I’ve found in me over my trip to Austin is: I’ve fallen in love with Clem.
There. I said it.
I’ve had a growing, respectful, resistant, and beautiful merging with him as we’ve dated, and at one point, I knew I loved him, but now I am in love with
In my time with Clem in Austin, submerged in his world and bombarded by activity, I found the soft spots of my insecurities and fears. And, Good Lord, so did Clem. And he didn’t reject me, or try to console me… he let me baste in my own shit, standing off to the side with the most compassionate patience I have ever seen.
In my world I am usually in service and in control, but in Clem’s world, I was a passenger (for once). I had no footing. I had no reference. I was left with nothing, but me. While I had an amazing time, I was also all alone. Not because no one was around, of course, but because I became hyper-aware of every single irritating and dominating insecurity I have ever had in a relationship with a boyfriend (and myself). I saw my jealousy spike; my overreactions churn me; my sensitivity scratch at me; and my fight/flight mechanisms tearing me apart. I saw exactly what instigated each of these instances and how I could so easily have left the blame on the moment, or even on Clem.
I’ve never been one to blame someone else for MY feelings or my reactions, but it’s easy to leave the blame on the moment. I’ve slowly learned over the years that I can’t even leave the experience in a moment. As long as I leave the blame on the moment (or on another person), I have left a part of me behind, and leaving pieces of you behind is like tearing up your map of life and blindly swatting your way forward in the dark.
For some people, falling in love is like a drug that offers a kind of euphoria, escape, and the world changes temporarily, but for me, falling in love (with Clem) is like a wake-up call, a profound, inescapable reflection, and while I still feel the cheesy, corny, love-song feelings of being on top of the world, I also feel a deep responsibility to be a better person and my world has changed, forever. I’m changing, not FOR Clem, but WITH Clem. I’m changing naturally and because I like it.
I hope Clem likes it, too. I hope he will still love me as I learn, grow, and become better at being me.
I have to say that Clem is the first guy I have ever loved because of who he IS, not who I believe he can be (for me, or for himself). Many times I have loved a person, as friend or boyfriend, because I could see that person’s potential behind his or her fears, but I have RARELY come to love someone because he or she is already there. Clem IS his potential, unfolding in a way that is utterly inspiring to me.
Now, it’s me I love for my potential beyond my fears… for the first time. Who knew that all I’ve ever been is “potential.” It’s easy to hide behind potential, but I now begin the exciting journey to actualize myself in a way I apparently never realized I wasn’t doing.
Thank you, Clem. Thank you, Friends.