I guess that is what we are all working on. A level of comfort with being vulnerable with others. Working on ourselves, challenging ourselves to grow and deepen our connection and intimacy with others.
It is terrifying really.
But at the very same time, there appear to be no other good options. I do not want to go on the rest of my days, running, hiding, cutting, leaving, fearing that if I let someone in that they will destroy me. That seems like really old thinking that is not really applicable to the life I am living today. The person I am living with today.
Pain in relationships is inevitable. But I really do believe that the suffering doesn’t have to be part of it. The suffering, for me, comes from my refusal to grow, to change, to challenge myself to do better, to be better, to do the hard work of actually, really changing.
This last two years has been a lot of change. A LOT! Like in every aspect and area of my life. And it has been hard and painful and life altering. And I am so fucking grateful for it. I am so fundamentally changed, rearranged even.
I saw an old friend at the grocery store last night. We are no longer friends. I said some things that were not well received, with no real thought given to my point in saying those things, and that was the end of a long friendship (from my perspective — she clearly saw it completely differently, which I understand and get.). To her it was a betrayal, but for me, I had been betraying myself in that relationship forever. And I knew it and was totally dishonest about it. When I finally did get honest, it was a shock and caused a great deal of commotion and pain which I regret.
Running into her last night is something I have feared for the last year and half. I lived in constant fear for a period of time that I would run into her and it would be ugly. Last night there she was on the frozen food aisle. My first thought was to just hurry by, but her gaze met mine and so that was no longer an option. I really do not want to cause any more drama or trauma in that situation.
So I said a cheery hello, she uttered a surprised hello followed by an immediate look of “oh, yeah, you, I don’t want to talk to you.” Which I got and honored and just kept walking. And I was ok. I felt a great deal of love for her. I prayed as I walked away that she was happy, healthy, that the people she loves and cares about are happy, healthy and safe. I wished her the best of all good things and then I paid for my groceries and left.
I feel good about my interaction, awkward though it was. I recognize that for me, I still love this person, even though I cannot have an ongoing relationship with her. And that feels like a grown up, mature and evolved state for me to be in today. The intimacy in that relationship required that I had to honor my own. And it doesn’t matter that she didn’t understand or accept it. I was honest, and that honesty ended the relationship. But not the love, well, at least not for me.
I walked to my car last night, embraced, held in this ever evolving intimacy with myself. It felt good to have my own back for a change. That I was genuinely glad to see her but I didn’t louse it up with a whole bunch of phony and forced conversation. I meant my cheery hello. And I blessed her and all that we shared as I quickly moved on.
Sometimes, I am learning that an ever evolving intimacy requires just that, the skill of moving on, not with anger and resentment, but just allowing the love to have changed you into a person who values themselves at least as much as she values others, which has historically not been the case.
It is hard to be a bitter disappointment to others. But I learned, very badly, that being a disappointment to myself was the greater ill. And while my truth had no better landing place in her than to be pissed, hurt and angry, that didn’t change the fact that it was still my truth. And I am learning, not very gracefully, or quickly, that my truth cannot be changed because you want me to change it.
And that is a whole lotta growth right there.