Since their first four hour phone conversation it had been exactly 3 years and one month. During that time they had ups and downs, learning to see one another, learning how to love in ways neither had experienced before.
Maturing. Not infatuation any longer. More intimate than physical alone. Fun and satisfying on a level deeper than either had experienced.
Tonight He was alone at his apartment 100 miles away from Her. The plan was they would not see each other again until the music festival on September 15 – a full 20 days after they had last held each other in bed.
Life had changed, become somewhat complicated, for both of them. Her brother, sister-in-law and three dogs had moved in. He had taken that “career job” He had put off for so long.
Tonight, after a couple playful texts from Her, He longed. He longed for the smell of Her, Her ample hair pushed against His face as He held Her in bed. The softness of her body against Him. The mischievous smile She seemed to have at the slightest provocation.
He knew She missed as well. The foot massage followed by the playful tickles. The safety She felt in His arms each night. Him crawling back into bed with Her just before Her alarm and holding Her as she went through the 30 minute ritual of waking.
Sometimes, like tonight, the distance seemed hard. He thought of her and pulled a pillow to His chest and hoped to dream of Her.
There are truths about life I don’t particularly like.
I don’t like disease and decay are a part of living – if you live long enough – and death if you don’t. It’s not fun or fair or even defensible. But it is true nonetheless.
One truth I particularly hate is this: People value you only in what you provide for them. If you provide them a positive, joyful experience, they will value you because of that experience. They may not value you once that experience, or your ability to provide it, wains.
Duty or obligation may keep a child visiting the nursing home. Fear of loss of even the little bit a failing spouse can provide, believing the alternative is no one, can cause even the abused to stay. Your job is only secure as long as you provide something more valuable to your employer.
Friends are there for us until the price of friendship is higher than its return. Until we become an emotional “money pit” where walking away yields the higher reward.
Honor used to keep people committed. Paying the toll. It was an artificial social constraint that is less seen today. In my opinion, it is good we no longer see obligation as the reason to stay in a relationship, to give to others, to spend our woefully limited emotional and chronological capital on others.
In the midst of this truth, we must ask: What can we depend on to have a personal sense of worth?
The only way to thrive, to live or even survive in the face of this truth is to value yourself. What you give yourself is more important by far than anything you can give to others.
A sense of self that says “I am a person who values me, who values the me I am” overcomes the sense of self-doubt and valuelessness others might project.
I give to others of my time, my emotions, my love not simply because of what they might give to me in return, but because it is my morality to love. I value myself enough to spend my capital on others, as well as on myself, because that is the kind of person I choose to be.
They may not “deserve” it. They may not have “earned” it. I give to them even when it is unrequited because I am that person. The person I am dictates how I live, how I love.
Are there situations, relationships, where I hope for a return? Certainly. There is a level of love I reserve for reciprocation. If it is not, then I may count the cost too high and choose to end the relationship rather than continue the pain of unrequited love.
But those relationships are rare, reserved only for the most intimate.
Loving freely is the mark of Abundance in your life. You are secure in yourself and who you are, knowing someone else’s response to you is not an indication of your value.
Fear robs us of Abundance. Fear someone will “see” us. Fear someone will “reject” us. Fear someone will not “value” us. Fear of not looking “cool” to others.
When we value ourselves, there is no place for fear to assail. We are content and proud of who we are. We love the person we have chosen to be.
The key to valuing yourself is to identify and then live according to your deepest held values. It causes us to respect ourselves.
I like to think myself as seeing people as they truly are, looking beyond labels. This morning I realized just how shallow I can be.
I first heard about Sam a few months ago. He is one of my neighbor’s brothers and she told me he was getting out of prison just before Christmas. At the time I didn’t give it much thought, just conversation. She was excited she would finally get to see him again. I was happy for her, ’cause I’m such a caring, compassionate guy.
Today she was coming up the stairs while I was on the balcony, Sam was behind her. She introduced us. I remembered the conversation from months ago and realized he had just gotten out after an 18 year stint.
We talked for the next hour or so. About his plans. About how his life had changed in the time he was “away.” He was smart, articulate, positive. He owned his choices and was quick to point out life had been more than fair to him. He paid the price for the choices he had made and he believed he would also pay the price or reap the reward for the choices he is making now.
He’s a guy I could hang out with and have a good time.
But here’s what it showed me about myself I didn’t like. When I went back into Area 51 after our talk, I was surprised by him. Without me even realizing it, I had in my own mind a “picture” of what an 18 year ex-con would be like. Seeing himself as a victim. Unintelligent. Negative. Angry at what the world had thrown at him.
It made me wonder how many other “categories” of people I dismiss without realizing they are “people” not just a category. Political affiliation. Religion or lack thereof. Skin color. Geography. Socioeconomic status. Job.
In 2017 I’m going to attempt to see more “people” and less “category.” That might be the best Christmas gift I could receive. Thanks Sam.
Sometimes it’s hard, fighting you for you.
Wrestling not against my error but against your fears.
Sometimes it’s hard, discerning thoughts you can’t verbalize.
Reading your mind without the gift of clairvoyance.
Sometimes it’s hard, giving you unlimited space,
to find the you I’ve already seen and know.
Sometimes it’s hard, reminding you of the good,
when all you can visualize is the pain and hurt.
Every time it’s beautiful, to share our lives,
seeing the joy and the pain together.
Every time it’s beautiful, the love we share,
enjoying intimacy beyond the simple physical.
Every time it’s beautiful, the mundane of life,
being someone at your side who is companion, cheerleader, friend.
Every time it’s beautiful, seeing your joy,
sharing private moments of victory no one else will see.
Every time…it’s wonder, an awe and contentment for me.
Sex is an itch you can scratch.
Love is an itch in that part of your back you can’t reach and you need someone to scratch it for you.
For two years now She had been His joy.
He was working through a difficult time. Walking through mud. Business was picking up, His long hours were beginning to bear fruit, emotionally He was tired.
They were seeing each other less to give Him time to right His ship. She had come to His last weekend and it was delightful. Monday at 6am they waved goodbye and He was back to work.
When He knew they would be apart He would take down His pictures of Her. The wallpaper on His phone and computers changed from Her smile to something that didn’t immediately remind Him of Her. Pictures that didn’t create the longing to feel Her pressed against Him, tightly encircled by His arms.
Today he put them back up again, maybe only for a day. He needed the energy, the peace, the touchless embrace of Her smile.
And for the first time this weekend, He felt joy.