Marty’s knees (a romantice divertimento)

Marty knew it made no sense and couldn’t possibly be true. That it felt true was besides the point, (almost). Because oh man, were he to believe it, live it, and be wrong? That shit would knock him down. Like most, Marty was tired of getting up one way or another in life. I’ve donated enough to that cause. This is precisely what Marty thought when he realized some bizarre shit was going. Had to be. He’d fallen in love with Sheila and that couldn’t possibly be right. He’d known her for more than a decade for fuck’s sake. It wasn’t like her beauty — admittedly the kind known to buckle knees when first observed by even the most casual observer — was anything new to him. His rational side, what was left of it, understood this. But, there was a problem. You don’t know somebody for more than a decade for shit’s sake and suddenly, badabing-badaboom, you’re in love. It doesn’t work like that, or so he’d always thought, until now that is. Somehow and in some way she’d become an anomaly. What the fuck’s up with that? Had he missed something all these years? Did some part of his mind simply leave the area when he wasn’t looking, knocking his understanding of reality out of alignment? They need body shops for the mind, he thought, not for the first time.

And if all this wasn’t enough to make his head spin, a new Sheila reality was on the scene. She made his knees weak.

I can see you, out there!

I am glad you’re alive,
sweet ears listening from afar.
I can see you, out there!
I can send my words loving
you full length, all depth and wonder.
I can see you, out there!
On the crest of every sunrise,
and every sunset too.

If you love…

I had an ocean-wide crush on Julie Andrews when I was a boy and it was all for naught. You don’t get to choose who you fall in love with and, sadly dammit,  you don’t get to choose who falls in love with you. You do, however, get to choose how you respond to either reality. When two people realize they have  fallen in love with each other, the choices are relatively clear, if they are honest.

When one person falls in love with someone who has not responded in kind, the choices are again relatively clear, if honesty is the guide, though not always easy. But, perhaps, easier, though not pain free, if the love you feel is in fact, genuine. You cannot and and should not look to impose your will, to manipulate the other person into feeling the same way you do. The results of such an effort are never healthy. This last is not my instinct in the least.  I want and deserve to know someone loves me freely and truly.  Period. End of story.

There is another element to love, real love, as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t seem to get the notice it deserves. Kindness. I don’t know how on earth you can love anyone without kindness being present. You don’t have to abandon loyalty to self to be kind. And, part of kindness, part of being kind, is supporting the other person’s right to be who they are safely and happily in life, regardless of your specific role in the person’s life.

The task is to find a way to love the person that is healthy for them and for you. There are times when the healthiest choice is to disengage from them. However, there are times when loving human connections find ways of flourishing, if they are given honest emotional soil from which to grow. Love can cause many beautiful relationships to bloom into beautiful “flowers.” Any angst you may feel at not always being able to choose the “flower” fades over time, if you really loved the person in the first place.

 

 

Falling in love (an interview)

Do you think you’ll fall in love again?

– (Smiling) I don’t know that I have much say in the matter.

– How’s that?

– I don’t think falling in love is something you choose. It just happens. It’s like one of those exquisitely delicious moments life offers, like, for me, the first time birds find the newly placed birdfeeder. The breathy gasp of joy is out of me before I know it. Like falling in love, it just happens. Your experience of the moment or the person simply happens.

– So a person’s powerless? Defenseless?

– What would you be defending? As for powerless, you’re not. You have a lot of say over what you do in response to falling in love. You can pack up and run. Some do. Or you can allow the experience.

– What about rushing into it?

– I’m not sure you have, speaking for myself anyway, that you have much choice over the intensity of feelings.  I think there is such a thing as moving to quickly. Remember to breathe, enjoy the beginning of things. There are a couple of things I’ve learned over time. The hard way in some instances. First, never give up who you are for someone and second, allow yourself time to be sure the person you’ve falling in love with is really there, and, if you they are, that they’re able to be fully present as real intimacy expands its reach.

– Giving up who you are would be?

– For me it would be, say, someone doesn’t like that I’m a writer or love to read or that I jump into the fray when I see someone’s rights are being denied.

– And people being who they really are? Allowing intimacy?

– There’s healthy compromise and there has to be in relationship, but if you begin to give up the essentials of who you are, resentments build, the relationship becomes toxic and then you’re done. As for people being who they really are or being able to continue to be present when the intimacy becomes real on all fronts… Sometimes I think people present themselves as someone they’re not, not so much because they want to be deceitful or dishonest, but because at some time being themselves openly was a dangerous undertaking. Connected to this, at least in my mind, is the person who flees, runs, disengages – you pick the word – when the relationship really begins to be fully intimate. Some run because when you are fully with someone it can feel as if your very existence is at risk. It’s not so, but God knows it can feel that way.

– Are you a runner?

– No. Other way around, there are times I should’ve disengaged and didn’t. And then, one more thing.

– And that is?

– In order for any relationship of any kind to be a healthy one, each person needs to be who they really are safely with the other. Absent that, there’s no point.

– And so when it comes to you falling in love again?

– (Smiling) If there is the possibility of being in a loving healthy relationship with someone, I don’t want to miss it. Cool?

– Cool. Thank you.

 

When Love Ends: A Postscript

I owe you an apology. In the previous blog post – When Love Ends – I carelessly omitted a common and often painful challenge many face when their relationship or marriage comes to an end. The judgment of others.

The judgment of friends, parents, siblings, family members from across the spectrum, clergy and then some may, in some but not all cases, be well intended. Nevertheless, it is deeply wounding. The furrowed brows and heavily lidded eyes of judgment can inflict enormous pain and guilt and, at times, possess so much influence they lead some to stay in or return to relationships that are, in fact, deeply unhappy.

Judgment deserves no decision making power. I know and have known people who stay in relationships and marriages because of their families judgment, because some religious mandate says God says…. First, while I have no right to doubt the well-meaning sincerity of those inflicting the judgment – they are still wrong. As for, God says…..? Bullshit. God wants his children to be happy in life, not miserable. It has been written and often repeated that God helps those who help themselves. If one or both members of a relationship or marriage realize they are not in love anymore, are they not helping themselves by disengaging from the marriage? Is it not healthier and, dare I say it, more loving for each person to be free to live their lives and perhaps, if they are so blessed, meet someone and fall in love and experience a truly healthy and happy relationship and marriage?

Remember, you are living your life, no one else. You have a right to happiness. Taking care of yourself is not an act of disloyalty to anyone else – no matter what the forces of judgment may say. Depending on your circumstances, you may have to let them have their say, but you don’t have to let them have the decision.