Let me say that the “Dick and Dork Theory” of my girlfriend Jennifer and her college best friend spans the entire human condition. In brief: at any one time, in any relationship, one person is being a dick and the other is being a dork. My brief (on the same) is “s/he who is ambivalent determines the course of a relationship” – any relationship by the way. It is the uncertainty, the lack of constancy and displacement which ultimately drives a wedge between people – patience, expectation, passion and being valued are all extinguished in the face of ambivalence.
I have been thinking a lot about relationships of late. Those based in friendship, the possibilities of new love, of those falling out of love, what we feel for humanity or the blood of our hearts in small people, social interactions un-imagined even 20 years ago (that often come with unrealistic expectations of immediate intimacy and action), old marriages that mature with time like great wines and those which after years of various piled up illusions shatter like a crystal goblet on a stone floor. Storms of alcohol and sarcasm, ignorance and selfishness, self-pity and meanness are the outward signs of deeper symptoms of co-dependence, neglect, abuse, and yes, ambivalence. And it is the light (or darkness) of bearing witness to the pain of these un-couplings which make me grateful to have lived alone for so long – nothing I offer will prevent the raw emotions or serve to heal wounds faster, there is no equivalent for New-Skin or Bio-Oil for the soul.
What we at our most vulnerable often forget is that to “treat someone as we wish to be treated” leaves no ambiguity about how to engage with others. Of course FULLY embracing this across the scope of those with whom we come in contact on a daily basis would be exhausting and utterly impractical. Without self-love and self-compassion, some measure of discernment, and personal responsibility we cannot be present for others. Whilst we should offer the same compassion we would like to experience, sometimes the recipient is far too busy casting blame and aspersions or feeling sorry for him or herself to accept what we can, realistically, offer. Therefore, the challenge I believe is ever to be “present” without embracing the cliff hanging rescue of our protagonist by the likes of Lara Croft or Dudley Do-Right.
A man I am coming to know recently wrote to tell me that I didn’t owe him an email – that my desire to do so (or his) was not an obligation to reciprocate. Which reminded me of a single line from the wonderful movie Monsieur Ibrahim where Omar Sharif’s character says to his young friend Momo (Pierre Boulanger) while in the Turkish bath (somewhere in Paris): “What you give to others is yours, no one can take it away, what you do not give is lost forever.” (My translation from the original French – forgive me if I am ever so slightly off). This is the antithesis of ambivalence, this is manifestly how living should be – giving without consideration of reciprocity or ego demanding ‘credit’ for the doing, for taking pleasure from what (we hope) gives pleasure to others but taking that pleasure for ourselves regardless. The process of building discernment is a means of protecting our energy and our being, it creates a permission to disengage and, of course, cease ‘doing’ when our efforts are not appreciated or when there is hostility being expressed on the part of the other person. Our raison d’etre is to live (and hopefully love), justly and powerfully, gently and with kindness and respect, whilst maintaining inviolable boundaries and we can only do this when we present ourselves in fullness of being. Our relationships should be a source of comfort and stability, providing sustenance against the toxicity of family, friendships, work relationships and ‘love’ that we have all experienced that are terribly wrong. It is truly up to us to stand for beauty and provide a means for it to resonate rather than let life slip from our fingers.
It is why, I think, people who garden are more generous than others. The gardener has a tacit agreement with the Earth and its creatures to nurture and understands that time and patience is requisite to see a single flower bloom to be pollinated and produce a pepper or tomato or an arm full of blossoms. It is much the same with relationships – to flourish we need to give and receive in measures which will sustain and cause us to thrive, assuming that connectedness provides desired intention and subsequent action is without egregious error. Guarantees of success do not exist with any relationship without sincere desire to take something precious and provide shelter and cherish it. I think it takes so much more to extricate oneself from the less than ideal than anyone credits. Perhaps if we made our expectations as transparent as we later do with our regrets the altered reality of our relationships would mean less pain all the way around.
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