Have you ever had something that you know is no longer any good or has become worn out, but you can’t just part with it? I have a pair of shoes that I like. I’ve never been able to find a pair close to them that would let me replace them so I have been careful with them.
While walking today in the rain my left foot suddenly got wet. There appears to be a hole, or I may have just worn through the sole of the shoe and now I have a wet foot. And no real reason to keep the shoes any longer. The cost to repair them, if they can be repaired, is going to be worth more than the shoes.
The hole did not just suddenly appear despite what I would like to think. It has been slowly creeping its way to a catastrophic failure resulting in me being left with a soggy foot. And I have chosen to ignore the slow building failures because, well, they are a special pair of shoes.
Part of me wants to blame the shoes for letting me down, but they haven’t. They lasted a long time, took me on some amazing adventures and it’s just their time to move into a different being. I knew the day was coming, but still I let things linger to the point of a painful goodbye. And I let things linger into a slow decline because that seemed easier than finding another pair of shoes to replace them.
Our relationships are like that sometimes aren’t they? We let them linger long past their best by date simply because it’s easier than saying goodbye. We don’t consider if the other person would be better off moving on or not at times. Because it’s a comfortable fit even if it’s grown from one thing to something completely different. In those cases you aren’t left with a soggy foot, just a broken heart and possibly wet cheeks from tears. Because goodbyes are not easy, whether it’s a loved one leaving or a trusted shoe finally reaching the point of no return.
I read a book about a person who did a solo trip to the Antarctic and all I could think of is why. Why would you put yourself through that kind of risk? Why did this idea even pop into the person’s head in the first place? And why didn’t I ever push myself like that before?
On one hand I can not imagine wanting to put myself so out there that if something went really wrong there was little to no way to get help. But on the other hand, what a marvelous way to not only push yourself, but really get to know your own weakness and strengths (obviously before you start out on the journey and then once on the journey simply grow them out).
There is something to be said about self-sufficiency and knowing you have pushed yourself as hard as you can. There is also something to be said about feeling you are in a much larger space, wide open and for the most part untouched by millions of people. (I should mention that again, the cold and I are not good friends, so this might not be the ideal trek for me.)
I can honestly say I’ve never put myself that far out on the line. I’ve never had my entire life and death in my hand and having to trust in myself to that degree. I’ve also never pushed myself that hard or under those types of conditions. Would I be a different person if I had? Maybe.
But a friend reminded me that there are days when I struggle to get up and moving around. There are days when lupus seems to be my version of climbing a mountain or going to the Antarctic all on my own because in some ways lupus is very much your own individual challenge. And so maybe, in my own small way, I have pushed myself somewhat that hard. Just not exposed to the cold and the frostbite or the total loneliness. Or the life and death situations etc. Besides, I’m not the kind of girl who can go that long without a decent cup of coffee, running hot water and indoor plumbing so yeah that’s why I haven’t pushed myself that hard!
It’s a strange thing, to know where your lover is in a crowded room without hearing his voice or catching sight of him. I just know when he comes in. I know when he’s moved off to the right or the left. It is as if in some ways we have become one, or he has become my own creation.
I know when Beloved is talking about that scar, the one that runs just down there and makes him look a bit more pensive than he should. I can tell without hearing him, without watching his hands. I already know when he is talking about this because I know him so well. I know him, perhaps better, than I know myself.
Beloved knows when I walk into a crowded room without having to look for the top of my head (it’s the curse of a vertically challenged person). He does not have to hear my voice to know if I am heading his way or away from him. We have, in some ways, become one. Attuned to each other as many couples seem to become.
I didn’t set out to have this in my life. I never asked for such a person who would the other part of me, the part that is more calm and level-headed. I did not want to have someone complete me in a way that he could press the broken parts of my heart back together. I don’t suspect he set out to find someone who has become known as a “fire cracker” among his friends. I doubt he said his life was missing someone who was “feisty” and not likely to back down from any challenge. And yet here we are.
In some ways we hold each other’s brokenness together while at the same time trying to fill in the gaps and missing pieces the way you might glue a broken piece of pottery back together. It’s never perfect, it’s always going to show the scars (yes even those inflicted by the one who has opted to put things back together), but it somehow works. And it some how works that we know where each other happens to be when we are together. And when we are apart, it’s as if there is room to breathe, for those broken pieces to relax a little bit and the cracks to start to feel a bit looser again.
He does not make the brokenness go away, after all surely that is part of the human condition. Rather he helps to shift the brokenness into a more manageable place, to where I am not just broken, but I can be whole if somewhat shattered. And this somehow makes me a better person, or so I tell myself as I revel in the idea that I too am a bit of his own creation, after all he has shifted and rearranged the pieces he can, dropping those that he can’t. Surely we are somewhat each other’s creation or modification without meaning to do either of those very things to one another.
What no one ever tells you about being in a long-term relationship is how much everything changes. The constantly getting into each other’s spaces gets old at some point and you wonder really how much stuff does this person need and how far does he really have to spread it out!
The cute way that he kicks off his shoes stops being cute and instead becomes a moment of wondering how a grown man who is intelligent and takes good care of his books cannot seem to bend over and straighten up his shoes. It’s as if he would be breaking a law of some type if he did this. And yet he is the same person who complains as he trips over his strewn about shoes.
You go from thinking it’s cute how she needs you to grab the stuff on the top shelves to wondering what has happened that she is incapable of pulling over a chair, steps or a stool so she can reach what she needs on her own. You wonder what else she has stored where it’s not easy for her to reach just so you have to do that task when all you want to do after a hard day’s work is sit down for a few minutes.
That adorable need he has to have a certain food item grates on your nerves after the one hundredth time. The charming way she always says “just one more second” and then you find ten minutes have come and gone and she still isn’t ready. You wonder how she gets through life being late or if everyone has just learned to give her a time estimate based on her own standard time zone so to speak.
Ah but young love, love in the first fullness of bloom cannot begin to imagine these moments. How could you ever get tired of listening to his heart beat or curling up with her and listening to the day she’s had. But it does, it grows old just as we do and so you have to find ways, ways to not feel so strongly about those very things that you used to like so much. And if you should happen to know how to do this, please let me know!
Beloved was talking with some friends about how they used to go up on the rocks and such. They all mused about whether or not they’d still be able to do it, now that they have a few more years on them. The conclusion is that they could probably do it once, and probably just as good as they used to do it that one time, but that would be the extent of it.
We probably all have that same claim, once we get a bit older and wiser. More aware of the dangers and risks that have always been present, but in our younger days, we just didn’t see them. And of course, the fact is, we may have gotten a bit slower, but we make up for that by finding smarter ways to get the same results. (Or at least I like to think that’s the case.)
The funny thing is Beloved, and his friends feel like they now must head out and prove what they believe to be possible. It’s a bit foolish really for a group of grown men to be hoping around on the rocks regardless of the weather. Especially since one of these men happens to have an illness that has affected his balance. But you can’t talk an 8-year-old boy out of doing something he’s determined to do and let’s face it, that’s about the mindset they are at.
Perhaps a large safety net can be spread out so that when they fall they won’t get hurt, or wet, or killed…
Someone once asked me why I tend to be okay with Beloved and I being apart for a period of time, back together and then apart again. I suspect this person was questioning how I could trust that things would remain the same if he was gone for a period of time. Perhaps it was that this person could not imagine being alone for any period of time.
Part of it is that I need my own space, so yes sometimes an ocean, some fields and rocks tend to come between us. It isn’t that I don’t miss him, or that I require exactly that much space, but it works for the two of us.
Part of it is that we each had our own lives prior to us meeting and becoming a couple. The question of who was going to give up his or her life in one country was quickly answered when we both realized that neither of us would want to give up our way of life and could not ethically ask the other person to do what we ourselves would not be wanting or able to do.
Part of it is that it just works for us. It isn’t always easy. And yes we do miss some key events in each others lives, but for us, it still works. Until it doesn’t and then one of us hops on a plane or two and head to where the other person is working full steam ahead. Whoever travels to the other is responsible for helping that person slow it down enough that we can have time together. But sure, when I’m there impossible schemes, improbable ideas enter my head and there is no way to stop my mind from racing around those ideas until I look at what he is doing and realize I need to slow things down so he too can slow down.
UIf you are fortunate you will never have one of those “can’t happen to me” moments in your life. Or perhaps your moment will be for something small or trivial. Some of us though will go through one of those moments in a more painful way.
I’ve had a few of those moments in my life. The first major one was realizing that my chronic illness that cannot be cured. The second moment was realizing lupus can limit my dreams, forcing me to rethink my hopes and dreams from what I wanted before.
The next massive one that shook me was when Beloved was sick, but it couldn’t be cancer. Until it was. This was followed by realizing he too wouldn’t be able to walk away unscathed from cancer. It cost him a bit of a lung. But thankfully that is all.
Last night I had another one of those moments, sort of. Thankfully it turned out to be short-lived to due to a mistake. But for a moment I was reminded yet again that IT can happen to me, to any of us. At any time.
Frequently we cannot stop those moments although we will sit and second guess it all after the fact. The best we can do is realize that it can happen to us, it may not have happened to us this time however it has happened to someone. We can respond with compassion and support and take a moment to appreciate what we have.