Thursday, July 05, 2007

on life and living ...

I've spent a lot of time recently thinking about the person I have become.

For almost half my life now the main emphasis in it has been the relationship I'm in. For the past 7 years that's been infinitely more true. Somehow I have grown into the belief that I am defined by my relationships with other people (or just one other person). I'm not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing. It's just a thing, one that I'm taking note of.

I stopped, a while ago, trying to nourish my artistic spirit. J thinks that the art I do (collage, photography, etc.) is all relatively silly. Well, no, he's never actually said that. But what he has done is just never been interested in really looking at it, talking about it, etc. So I've put it aside. The things I am most interested in now are things that he is also interested in.

Why is this ok? Why do I think it's alright to put aside the person who I am, who I want to be just because of my relationship with someone else? It's like I got into this relationship with him and just put myself in a box, on a shelf, to wait until I had grown dusty. I am definitely involved in an abusive relationship, but it's one that I have created for myself. No longer can I blame J for the fact that I don't do the things I want to be doing. This is my life after all, I should be the one who says how I get to live it. Instead of setting myself up for failure, I need to insure that I can succeed. Don't wait for J to do awesome stuff ... just go and do it on my own.

I have always been afraid that if I really go and live my own life that J and I will end up being two completely different people living two completely separate lives just in the same house. So instead I sit around waiting for him to decide that now is the time when he's going to want to start doing the stuff that I want to do. What a load of crap for both of us! For me, it means I'm never going to live the life that I want to if I just sit around waiting around for him to make the first move so that I can be the person I want to be. And for him it means that I'm always waiting for him to become a different person so that I can be more myself, instead of just learning to be myself and letting him be himself.

So here's the question ... if I keep living my life like this isn't that worse than if he and I live completely separate lives? I mean, what's the worst that happens ... I discover that the person I want to be doesn't actually want to be with him? And if that's true, then I move on with my life and live as I want to. Obviously that's infinitely easier said than done, but it is possible. And even if I'm living without him, I'd actually be living with myself, not just this shell of me.

Huh. How odd. I think I'm really on to something here.

So now I just have to figure out how to get past whatever fears I've got holding me back. Everything else can be worked around, it's the fear that's really the problem.

Golly. I set out to write something completely different, but here I am at this incredible point where everything could change. Amazing how life works. I am in constant awe.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know I've said this before, but I remember feeling the same way with my ex. That if I started to separate from him at all, define myself even a tiny bit away from him, it would snowball and I would have to leave him, since I knew that really what I loved was the connection we had, and the history, and most importantly, his view of me. And if I started to define my own image of myself I wouldn't need his. And I knew I would never have that kind of relationship again, since I would be too defined as a person. And I knew as soon as I broke up with him, I wouldn't even be able to figure out why I was dating him, since I knew it wasn't about HIM, but 'us' or 'it', it being history/connection/his definition of me.

And I was right about all of it, it happened just like that, but what I was surprised about was that it wasn't sad that I couldn't have that kind of relationship again. What I have now may be different, but its infinitely more functional and inspiring. And we certainly lead very separate lives, but then we do things together and have a great time. And I've gotten him more into gardening and biking, and he's gotten me more into reading mysteries and bluegrass, but we wouldn't be doing those things together if one was waiting for the other one to do it.

people sometimes can change together, I've seen it happen, mature and morph together, etc., but someone has to take that first step. waiting for someone else, and trying to take the exact same step together, seems risky to me.

7:45 PM  
Blogger margaret said...

You are totally right ... it's the Us here that I love. Although, to be totally honest, the us right now isn't actually much of an Us.

I know that if I left him I would never have a relationship like this again, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want one. There's just too much passion here, too much desire for there to be this giant thing that's bigger than the sum of its parts. Too much of the relationship being its own, god-like, feared and revered, entity.

I just don't feel like I have the energy for that anymore. I want us to have a relationship as adults, not as super passionate, angsty teenagers.

8:44 PM  
Blogger LMM said...

Your photo speaks volumes, and illustrates this post perfectly. I had to stare at it for several seconds before I could make out what it was -- your reflection transposed over D's carseat. Brilliant, actually. Not that I'm surprised.

It's so hard, isn't it, this push and pull between ourselves and our relationships. All those damn lines between individuality and things we share are so blurry. I think what's important is regularly taking those steps back to evaluate where we are - as well as what's behind and in front of us. I put a lot of stock in those precious moments of clarity, and think they can be very revealing and inspirational.

I'm glad that you are gathering your information. I think that's a healthy place for you right now, trying not to distinguish bad from good but simply noting.

11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. I often let other people define who I am as well. It's hard not to. I really have to work to remind myself that I am not my husband, my mother, my friends and if they don't like what I am doing, it's o.k.
I can't help it though, I like approval. I like to be liked and told how good I am and you only get that when you do it the way other people want. Sigh. sorry I have been out of touch. My in-laws were here and then I taught for a week....which was crazy. I'm here now. How about that long overdue walk?

2:08 PM  
Blogger faye said...

This is an amazingly insightful post, especially in that you have an art piece that tells the same story as your words. I love Lauren's interp.

I've been thinking about 'self' a lot lately, too. I define myself pretty well in romantic relationships, bc it is something I've just been thinking about since I was little and watching my mom move us from boyfriend's house to boyfriend's house to...We moved 30 times before I graduated from highschool, and she actually moved out her boyfriend's house. She represented the extreme side of the spectrum, in which there was very little of her own self that was defined outside of a relationship, so with each boyfriend came new hobbies, laughs, amounts of time she wanted to spend with me, favorite things to cook, etc....

Where it hits me is in friendships, where I never saw it comes in a different way, where I'm so afraid of losing that "self" that I refuse to be vulnerable...and then I start to feel so isolated b/c I realize, "am I being open at all?" and I realize that maybe I'm not, maybe bc I'm so used to feeling like I can't be too much of a pain in the ass or I'll be kicked to the curb...looking at things from that early world-view, which was erroneous to begin with.

Anyways, I don't have anything smart to say, I just thought I'd express my similar, yet different expression of thought.

I think this post represents huge growth, really. It just feels like an epiphany, don't you think? Looking forward to seeing how it goes...

(p.s. My husband and I study Bowen Family Systems, and according to that, when one person in a relationships makes efforts to define 'self,' the other usually ends up feeling really anxious and maybe doesn't know why, but that in the end, it always moves the relationship forward. We have experienced this to be true for us, both in the anxiety and in the growth that follows.) ;)

1:03 PM  

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