There is a list of names next to my computer. Though it resembles it, it’s not a list of people who love me no matter what. It’s a list of people I trust to share myself with, unguarded and unafraid, under any circumstances. It’s a short list, which is a fault of my own; fear plays too big a role in my relationships, but a few have stuck by and either out- laughed, out- loved or out- waited my hyper- sensitive heart.
Everyone should have a list like this. Don’t write it when you’re feeling sorry for yourself, for god’s sake, but write it at a moment when your heart is open, and draws itself naturally over the faces of those who love you. It is an intense exercise in gratitude, and it lends clarity to relationships that may not be as rich.
Perhaps the most important person on that list is myself. Turns out, I will never abandon my self. Even if I wanted to, and I’m certain I’ve tried, as vital as our external community is, we will never be effective members of it so long as we do not consider ourselves the central piece of our puzzle; the central piece of our experience of love.
I am not lovable because x number of people love me, trust me, emulate me, want me, desire me, admire me, etc… I am lovable because I give myself the gifts I need to be strong and healthy and vibrant and lovING. I am lovable for no other reason than that I know it. Contrary to what our puffy egos tell us, others CANNOT validate us. They can only validate what is like them in us. Does that make sense? Why is it that the people ahead of their time appear to be some of the most lonely in history? Why, when we are growing and evolving, do we feel abandoned left and right by those who were once played major rolls in our lives?
We can only validate what is LIKE US in others.
The rest of it we must trust. The rest of it must be shared. Gently, loudly, bumpily, troubled, happily, gumpily, gracefully, tactlessly… in songs or stories or photographs or crying or conversations or sex. Many of us are excellent at sharing this part. Many of us are enthusiastic story tellers, wanting to express our story or another’s story (which is actually just more of our story- only we can tell our story). Many of us have perfected our expression of ourselves, or HOW we’d like to tell our story. Many of us do this in a number of ways, and well.
Where most flop, however, is in the reception. It’s the listening bit that throws people off. We believe that if we are good enough at just being ourselves we can have satisfying relationships. You will draw the right people to you, to be sure, if you are real with yourself, but you won’t keep them. Our super free-loving, hyper- independent cowboy culture lies to you about this but, actually, you do need to work a leeettle bit to make it WORTHWHILE to be around other people. And for them to be around you.
Intense, loving, growth and change-inducing relationships DO NOT JUST FALL INTO YOUR FUCKING LAP.
I’ve come to realize that this major mistake is a lot of why people are shitheads to each other.
Obviously, this comes as a gigantic shock.
Has anyone ever seemed SUPER stoked about you, but as soon as you start talking, looks extremely bored?
Do YOU get bored with other people’s ‘stuff’?
Has anyone wanted you to simply drop into his or her life, staying uninterested in your friends, dismissive of your activities, insulted by your differing schedule… ?
Are you afraid to share what affects you and matters to you to those around you?
What about someone who wants to dive into your emotional life, affect it, ask questions about it, but then, like an amateur dominatrix, drops what they learned back on your head, as if to blame you for it?
Are YOU that juicy- stuff vampire, hunting everywhere for gooey life stories, taking things with trust and then being unwilling to share honestly about yourself?
Do we see a pattern here?
It’s a reciprocity problem, and I encourage you to think about the side you tend towards, whether big and life- altering or only sometimes noticeable…
For my part I at first tend to withhold my time and emotions, so I require super persistent story vampires, but then when the wall cracks, and I want to communicate more love, the nature of the vampire becomes victorious boredom. So then I feel culpable, as though I overshared, and thus begins the pattern once again. Undersharing our story kills the juju by putting a wedge in the circuit, attracts the wrong people (people who want a challenge), and then puts us at fault when we open up willingly. A mechanism of sustainable attraction is not unavailability. Polarity is a necessity of deep chemistry and attraction, but not push-pull.
So I look back at my list. On it are people I have fought with more than anyone else I know, but when we fight no one leaves until it’s resolved. No one storms out, disrespecting the open heart of the other. On it are people so unlike me strangers wonder how we’re friends, but we’ve spent so long poring over each other’s lives it’s as though we lived it ourselves. On it are people I hardly see, but who know my deepest and most offensive mistakes, and who’ve given me the trust that comes with forgiveness. Not one person on that list holds things over my head, blames me, bullies me, wants to tell me what my deal is or says I’m not good or beautiful or simple enough. Not one asserts that I’m clumsy and confused (I already know) or tells me I’m too emotional, unavailable, or overwhelming… I am not a fantasy, object, accessory or imaginary character to anyone on that list.
To each other we are rich, raw, honest, working shit out, diligent, persistent, available even when it’s inconvenient but most importantly, functioning from a place of real love and support, not self- deception and confusion.
Every day I am overwhelmingly grateful for them.
Think about your people today.
Sweet to the Pea
Re-posted with permission by Paula Creevy.