Monday, January 18, 2010

“Instant- Anything” is an Illusion

After more than three years of living the separated life, I’m getting past the stage of desperation and heading toward serenity and self confidence. I’m not referring to the glamorously vogue self-confidence with its extravagant smile. Most people probably wouldn’t notice much difference if they saw me in real life due to my serious and reserved persona. Yet something new is happening inside me. When it comes to starting a new relationship, it no longer sits well with me to open up too soon as I was accustomed in the past. I no longer feel the necessity of being known intimately unless I have a more substantial basis. I think it's hard to explain how you see things and why you do what you do to someone who is a stranger to you. The reality is that letting it all hang out in one sitting is not the answer to achieving intimacy. “Instant-anything” is an illusion. Lasting relationships are like layers of varnish applied to fine wood: one fine layer at a time.

I have intense feelings and insightful thoughts. I also have a great need to be heard, yet I treasure my privacy and only open up to a few people as introverts tend to do. Ironically however, once I do make a connection, I tend to go overboard in the opposite direction. I become an open book. It can get so intense that if that connection is threatened in any way, I feel as if my life line has been unplugged. It’s as if all meaning were being funneled through that significant other to give life its color. That’s why the following quote struck a sensitive inner cord inside me:

“By learning to love and care for ourselves, we diminish the risk of starving for someone else to fill the void within our souls; a void that only we can truly fill.” -- Sherry Obenauer

To translate feelings into verbal language is arduous, so I congratulate Sherry for the potent way she describes humanity’s relational conundrum. “Starving” is exactly how it feels. It’s a silent agonizing. Personally, I’ve always had this deep-seated doubt whether I would ever connect with a special someone on a deeper level. It’s because it’s difficult even for me to understand myself – let alone expect someone else to. I live a rather paradox life. I can be over-connected one moment, then detached in another. I go from one extreme to the other and cannot always control on which side I may find myself. This deep need for alone time can be a problem if the other person does not appreciate it's my way of refueling, rather than a reflection about her worth. However, thanks to Obenauer, I’m learning something quite revolutionary: Life and love is complete with or without a partner.

When we’ve been alone awhile, we learn to love ourselves and so we approach life from a perspective of strength rather than desperation. We no longer feel the need to coerce, even with subtle bribes. People find us more attractive because we’re content with life as it is. We’re able to accept the ebb and flow of life; the highs and lows without bemoaning.

As I continued reading Obenauer’s article, it begged a decisive question: Who would I be without the thought that my sense of wellbeing depends upon someone else?

Now that I’m on the path back to singleness again, I have had to redefine myself in a couple-oriented world and that’s a daunting mission because culture confuses love with dependency. Dependency (or Romantasy), is the polar opposite of love. It seeks to trap happiness in a cage, seeking breezy, dreamy and euphoric horizons. The sentimental subtexts read, “I only find happiness in you.” Or “My life without you would be meaningless.” While the words sound sweet accompanied by music, the lived experience is a let down. Sherry sums up her commentary by saying,

“The purpose of entering into a relationship should be to share oneself with another person as opposed to trying to get from someone what is lacking in ourselves. Expecting someone else to fill in the gaps usually results in grave disappointments, a sense of failure, and endless resentment.”
-- Sherry Obenauer

Once upon a time I wanted to believe that even an antagonistic mate could learn to love, even if I had to sacrifice my mental and physical health in the process. I’m learning not to place my sense of well being in another person’s hand (as if my life depended upon it). After all, it’s our self-concept that dictates our boundaries and how we allow people to treat us. I’m grateful for the opportunity to reexamine my assumptions in order to breathe more freely.

--- Troubled Reflector

Reference: Article by Sherry Obenauer “Today's Happy Single”

1 comment:

Patricia Ryan Madson said...

Thanks for mentioning my book, IMPROV WISDOM in your favorite reads section. What a pleasure for a writer to know that their work is on someone's list. I appreciate your taking the time to share this with your readers.
May all of your improvisations turn out well.
Warm regards,
Patricia Ryan Madson