Friday, September 26, 2008

on cups of tea and old-fashioned letters

Ah, relationships.

For whatever reason, I have been thinking of them today. My history, my memories, my photographs, the tattered, old-fashioned letters I keep stowed away. I have so many great things in my life, my friends and past-relationships being most of them. I have slips of paper with ‘I love you’ scrawled across them, from friends and loves that have come and passed.

I am coming to realize a few things about me lately. There are a lot of them. One of which is that I am happiest when I am in the company of someone else, and I tend to cling to relationships to define me. Another is that I am nostalgic to a fault.

My roommate and I sat out on our patio overlooking Moscow last night, the cool autumn wind in our faces. We curled our fingers around warm cups of tea, and enjoyed the rare treat of a cigarette. Bundled in blankets with my head on her shoulder, we admitted secrets to one another; secret worries about the other, musings about our lives and where we are going, and the always-necessary recounting of our separate experiences that day.

“You just always seem to be looking for what’s going to happen next; where you will live or your next relationship, or you are the polar opposite and dwell on what’s been and the places you have lived and want to return to. But you can never go back, really, and you need to be a whole person… I don’t think you have ever felt the need to be your own person outside of a relationship before. But I think you would like it,” she told me, “and I think you need to give it a try. Really give it a try.”

I felt like that’s what this past year has been spent trying to reach.

Parts of me know those things are true, for the most part. Relationships to me, while various other people see them as hard work or exhausting, are a challenge that I enjoy. It is a chance to be more than yourself, and to focus on letting that person know you care, and that you are invested in their life and their happiness. It gives you the chance to be thoughtful, to be considerate, and to realize things about yourself that you may not have found on your own.

But where is that balance?

Between being happiest in the company of others while learning to make your own happiness of the utmost importance? Between loving being with someone and feeling like you need them? Between hoping for the past and future while living in the present?

I would like to say that I know, but the answers are still hazy in my mind.

Going through the box of letters and memories today gave me gratitude for all the amazing men I have been able to date in my life, and all the different ways I have been blessed by them and inspired and driven by them. They each have their own place in my history, and a few ended painfully while others are still my closest friends. Granted, there are a few I with I hadn’t wasted so much time and emotion on. Granted, the endings weren’t always beautiful. It is definitely a funny thing, this life.

The truth is, I have loved a lot in my life, and been loved by many. In the grand scheme of things, that in itself makes me blessed.

In this process of becoming myself, this unending walk of mine, I wonder if I will get to a place where I can be content without needing to have the knowledge that someone is content with me and thinks I am lovely. Who I am should assure my soul that I am safe. That I am beautiful. That I am cared for and appreciated regardless of circumstance or status.

But on nights like tonight, I just want someone to sing me a love song. I hope that’s okay.


Elyse said...

Here is the greatest thing you can discover from solitude:

To truly love yourself.
To truly respect yourself.
To truly enjoy yourself.
To truly understand yourself.

Only when you can do those four things can you truly experience them for other people. When you love, respect, enjoy and understand yourself, relationships aren't there because you need them, they are there because you WANT them. That difference, I think, is vital.

Here's something I wrote to Alyssa sometime after she broke up with Trevor, I used slightly different verbs, but it all gets to the same idea:

"You can't trust others until you can trust yourself. You can't love others until you can love yourself. You can't have faith in others until you have complete faith in yourself. Once you have those three things, you realize that no one else can control your happiness. Once you have those three things, whenever you get in another relationship, it can be because you want someone, not because you need them to survive and feel whole. And I know that might not sound like love, but its the truest form there is, I think -- choosing to be with someone not because you have to be dependent, but because you choose to be dependent (while still keeping a strong sense of who you are)."

Dayna said...

thank you love...

it is good to be hearing from you again.. :)

appreciate what you said!