There are times that is seems the universe is conspiring to make me see something but in the case it is just reminding me of my confusion. There have been three different conversations over the ten days that are focused on how difficult relationships can be, friends, family and romantic are challenging at best. All of the conversations started from a different point, with each person sharing an experience, something they were trying to work through be it a different initial point, they all resulted in the same destination.
Talking with a friend in the studio, she shared her struggles with relationships, how it is founded in her past and what impact in has on those in her life. She was thinking of the importance of communication and respect for there are times she is able to share her challenges and others she needs time to process and formulate her struggle then return to the discussion but it takes two people with a set of developed skills and a willingness to work to nurture the relationship. She talked about being blessed with friends and a husband that are there, willing to work as much as she is. Just as any other living entity, if you do not feed it, love and support will surely die. Later in the week, one of my closest friends was talking about making a move to follow his love, again the conversation meandered through topics but landed on the fact it takes two committed to the success of the relationship. There was discussion in the fact that yes, everyone stumbles and when another reaches out their hand for support it is how one reacts that can determine whether it is an opportunity to strengthen the relationship or if it chips away at the foundation.
I spoke to my neighbor, someone who struggled with finding a caring relationship, sharing some of my initial experiences. I met her about a decade ago and she was very much in the midst of a wonderful relationship. They had come together later in life, about my current age; she struggled with trust and maintaining her independence and he struggled with ptsd and subsequent depression from his service in the Vietnam war. It took time for him to learn to express his needs and trust her while she struggled with how to support him and trust his withdrawals was to heal himself not thinking she had always erred. They learned to embrace their love, to stand by each other and work through the difficult times all with the communication that worked for them. They made the life that worked for them, irrelevant of what others thought. They managed to share two decades, seeing each other through many joyous and sad times, through loss of parents, retirements, loss of friends, and a health crisis. They made it work just as they needed it but it took both people committed to listen with respect, to care without condition and to love wholeheartedly. I suppose they survived on the fact that they each didn’t want to quit, they each didn’t stumble at the same time. I hope that one day I too can find that type of relationship. She shared this with tears in her eyes for she lost the love of her life two years ago to cancer which they had thought they beat.
I am faced with the fact you cannot nurture yourself at the same time you torture yourself, As I think of all these situations, I think of my own baggage, the pain from my past, the trouble I too have with trust, my own coping mechanism and realize that I want nothing more then to retreat from the world. That returning to my fortress would offer me the security, protecting my heart and soul from pain but it would also keep me from experiencing so many of the blessings I have over the recent past. I suppose a reading the other day summed it up, intimacy isn’t easy but neither is loneliness, you need to figure out which work you want to do. For a long time I would have said loneliness, but if I were honest now it is intimacy, hands down!
“Real love takes work. You have to be willing to make the effort.” —Rabbi Weinberg