Relationships, Love and All That Jazz
I'm not really sure what is so special (or screwed up) about this year but everybody I know is having some kind of heartache. Are we at the age where life gets complicated? Is this a sign of things to come? I wish I had the answers, I wish I could save myself and those I love from the pains of life. However, I can't and may be this is what we have to go through to grow, to learn and to understand.
Our lives are filled with relationships from the moment we are bought into this world. At the beginning, we have no choice in who we form relationships with...mum, dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles. These relationships at times give us strong foundations to face the world with and at other times they clip our wings to prevent us from flying. As we grow, we realise that other relationships are freely picked. The easiest choice being that of friends. Friends who make living fun by creating amazing memories, halving your troubles, wiping away your tears, fighting for your happiness, making it possible to laugh even when the world is ending but mostly by loving you even when you can't love yourself. At times even this choice isn't easy but once found- no matter the fights, misunderstanding, opinions and mismanagement, it cannot be lost.
If only the other significant-freely-chosen relationship was as easy. Choosing our other half. Why is it that this 'relationship' is filled with more troubles, woes, tears and misunderstandings than others?
Love is hard work. Once upon a time I was the type of person that believed that love can conquer all. Five years later...I realise that is the biggest bullshit quote on the planet. Love cannot conquer all. The only thing that can conquer all is understanding, acceptance, time and trust. Without that there can be no love, no future, no happily ever after. It sounds simple on paper but in reality understanding, acceptance, time and trust are the hardest things to have in a relationship.
All relationships start off good..the honeymoon phase. At the start it is easy to accept the other person and understand their motives and emotions. This is because you are blinded by the tingly feelings that covers your skin at their touch, deafened by the beating of your heart and made speechless by the loving things they say and do. It is easy to understand and accept because all you want to do is please and be pleased. As a result of the newness time is also easily achieved, you want nothing more than to see them and be seen by them. Your emotions are at an all time high and the constant attention, happiness and security leads you to trust. Love. So how does it all get so complicated?
Easy...it starts usually with time. The longer you are together, the less time you feel the other person needs. Its not that you don't want to see them, or don't love them anymore...its more that you grow comfortable and secure in the relationship that you figure that you can continue living and the feelings will exist forever. Whats not realised is that time is the most important aspect of a relationship, with time comes understanding, acceptance and trust. People mistake time as being a quantity thing but its not. Its a quality thing. You can spend hours with someone and still not feel satisfied, why? Its because as humans you want something from the other person, whether it is to feel secure, to feel listened to, to feel included...These needs can be satisfied in a split second- by a single touch, by a single word, by a single look..a single action. If your needs are met,understanding, acceptance and trust continue to deepen. But more often than not, the other person misunderstands your need as being overly clingy, demanding, irrational or selfish. They then continue to take the time away from the relationship thinking that with distance your need (or insecurities as they sometimes perceive them) will disappear as you have your alone time to think and sort it out. Of course, this is usually where the downward spiral begins.
This is when it gets hard and where it gets complicated. What can be done to fix it? At what point is it too late? I know there is no right answer, and the situation is different for everyone but I want to give the opinion thing a stab based on my experiences.
I used to believe that everything and anything could be fixed if you were determined enough (or stubborn enough in my case) but I know now that its not true. For things to be fixed, both people firstly need to want to fix it and secondly have to try equally to fix it. I think the hardest thing about this is that at times you miss each other- you may be too angry or hurt to fix it when they are ready to try and vice verse`. The timing of this is usually where it falls apart because your hurt and their hurt are in competition with each other and this stubbornness on who is hurt more or angry more can kill any attempt at truly fixing it. The giving partner will usually give in and the taking partner will be convinced that they were right. This is a vicious cycle that can continue for years...forever.
I think the point when its too late is based on how much you have invested into the relationship, what has been done (or not done) to fix it, what you want from the relationship and what you need for the future. I guess, in simple terms, the point when its too late is when you stop being surprised or hurt by the other persons actions or inaction. This is a dead end kind of feeling. But this is clinical, without considering conflicting emotions/couple history/investment of time and emotions. If I consider these, I guess the point that made me realise that it was too late was when he could make me cry, ignore me and rage at me without ceasing to be happy and continuing to live himself. I knew then that my continuing unhappiness was not going to prevent him from sleeping at night or going out to have a good time. So I guess that is when I knew that no amount of talking, compromises and action could fix what he had broken inside of me because he could exist without me.
It sounds so simple when I put it down like that but in fact that knowledge was difficult to comprehend, not just because it was harsh and beyond hurtful but because your own emotions and insecurities play a huge part. I always get asked why I stayed so long when I knew it was ending...so here are my deep,dark, shaming secrets:
1. I loved him, despite his many faults and I could keep giving even at my own demise...I believed he would eventually change and realise that he was treating me like crap and would make me happy again.
2. I was afraid to make the decision as I had doubts about my reasoning especially as I could live to regret it..it could be the wrong one..maybe I was asking for too much or not being understanding enough and maybe I needed to have more patience. All in all maybe he was right.
3. I was afraid to be by myself, I had spent so long in a relationship that I didn't know how to exist outside of one.
4. I wasn't sure if I could find anyone better, anyone who would understand me the way he did or know the things he did, more than that I wasn't sure if I wanted to go through the investment again with someone else. Staying was easier as he knew me and I knew him.
5. I wasn't sure if I could cope or deal with a heartbreak..maybe the pain he was causing me now was the better pain or easier pain than the break up pain.
So I stayed. He didn't. I guess if he hadn't given me the goodbye, it would have continued for weeks/months maybe even years.Maybe we would have married and this would have continued till both of us were bitter and resentful. I am ashamed to admit to my insecurities and doubts but I know now that their are others out there that have done or are doing the same thing.
If I could do it all again I would see the patterns of his actions and inaction, I would see his growing detachment and his unwillingness to meet me half way...I would then realise that no doubts and insecurities I feel inside should stop me from being happy and make me accept less. So I guess if my love affair was rewritten, I would have walked away. But I can only say this now, after my heartbreak and resulting self awareness and appreciation...
To each their own I say.
But just remember that understanding, acceptance, time and trust make up love. The are interdependent, and should exist on both sides. Everybody deserves to be understood, accepted, to trust and be trusted, and above all everybody deserves to have quality time invested in them. Everybody wants, needs and deserves to be loved. After my heartbreak all I can say is don't give constantly for anything less, don't constantly accept anything less and don't stay for anything less. You deserve to be happy and loved. Never forget that.