I don't have anything figured out. I'm not entirely confident that I ever will -- though I suppose that can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The ever-inspiring INPY recently wrote something that cut me right to the core:
Love is risk, and often times, many times, it’s risk without reward. And it doesn’t owe you a God damned thing. There is no “I deserve”. You don’t deserve anymore than anyone else does, and everyone deserves it. Everyone. And in the end? There’s really only “I am willing to work, to try, to risk”…and even that just brings up that there are no guarantees. You can work, and you can try, and you can still come home to an empty apartment and a note.
Jesus. I think that was me. Or is me. I work so hard for everything: professionally, academically, everything. And I must admit it: I work for something thinking that I'll have earned it. I think I extend the same sort of -- for lack of a better word -- work ethic in my relationships. This must be bad. Not that I develop a sense of entitlement, per se... but, I most certainly have a goal in mind -- and it's not self-serving, aside from the pride in having made her happy.
Wait. Where is the line between earning something and deserving it? And where is the line between falling on a sword and being selfless?
I'm fucking it all up.
I wrote this almost three months ago:
Which, of course, reminds me of one of those precious few moments, there at the end, when S spoke and I believed what she said as the naked truth. She told me -- that night I came home and thought I'd won her back -- that she "didn't deserve my love," and that she didn't return half of what I gave her, every day.I don't know which one of me I believe, now. That she did deserve it? That she didn't deserve it? That I resisted? That I agreed?
I insisted that she was wrong. That she did, in countless ways that she just couldn't see right then. I gave her examples; examples that I'm sure she'd forgotten, or simply didn't realize were so important to me. They were for not, of course.
In reflection though, I remember the moment with absolute clarity. As though it happened just moments ago. And I remember a very dark, very small, very secret place in my heart nodded when she said that. It was quick; fleeting. Somewhere deep inside me, I agreed. That I worked harder at us than she did.
But I pushed it away. Hard. Quicker than the breath came that carried my protest, it was gone.
I knew she was right.
I have diagnosed myself with Knight in Shining Armor Syndrome. I'm a helper. A healer. A consoler. A listener. The shoulder that's always there. The problem-solver. Mostly, I'm the doer.
--Edit: One of my closest friends just emailed me and (as is his endearing habit,) bluntly told me that the above paragraph makes me sound like a martyr. This was not my intent at all. I should clarify, by adding:
This compulsion of mine -- the Knight thing -- is a penchant to save her even when it is not requested. I have failed --repeatedly-- at just listening and empathizing... instead, I see a problem as an obstacle, and recommend an action to get past it. I have this intrinsic need to jump into her problems and solve them, and take responsibility for them, even when it is both unsolicited and, frankly, unwarranted. This has, in the past, lead to a great deal of frustration; mine for being "unappreciated" and confused, and hers for not having had the opportunity to deal with whatever it is on her own. Alas, as I've said, it's been a very tough habit to break. As much as I endeavor to listen, I've been much quicker to just do. Which is bad.--
My ex-wife was a diagnosed depressive. I left when I finally came to realize that misery really does love company. No matter how many problems I solved, always others came springing up to take their place. No matter how empathetic I tried to be, I remember falling asleep many a night, wondering, "What is so bad? Why is it so hard for her?"
She had reasons to be depressed. They are still very good reasons. But I couldn't compensate for them. I exhausted myself -- and our relationship -- fighting demons that I could not see, and that were not my own.
Next came S, the truest and purest and most assured form of love I could have ever imagined. She had demons, too. And also for good reasons. I tried to help. But there was that wall -- damn the cliche, but damn it! -- there was a wall. I only got to peek over it, every so often. Cradling her head in my arms, I felt it. Deep. Stroking her cheek, wet with tears.
Yet my line of thinking was this: I'll prove myself worthy. Of her trust. Of her love. That I'll hold her and never let go.
Jokingly, I used to say that I must attract this kind of woman. With problems -- not in the banal sense, that "problems" -- but the Maiden in Distress.
I think, maybe, that I seek them. And I can't stop. I don't want to stop. It is me. It is who I am.
Heaven help me.
Jess, at what? the curtains? also poignantly reflected on love:
That, to me, love really isn’t about completing another person. It isn’t about some soul connection that should be backgrounded by swelling violins.
The truth is that we are all incomplete and are meant to be so. But we can seek to know more about everything by questioning and analyzing ourselves and the world. Of realizing some answers cannot be explained but simply known.I let S know me. I wish she'd have let me know her. I think I thought I deserved it. And now I'm afraid that I'm down by two counts: thinking that I deserved it, and being attracted to women who engender the feeling.
And I think the new thing for me is this: One of the most incredible things about love is the possibility of knowing someone else. It’s not a simple thing, and it’s a wonderfully courageous undertaking. Because it also requires letting them know you.
But then again, the only thing in common between my ex-wife and S is: ME. Perhaps it isn't them -- perhaps it's me. Perhaps in ascribing the failures to some sort of wall, I'm excusing my own responsibility. Which only makes me want to try harder, next time. That has to be bad, too.
It's all unraveling. Another cliche: the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know a damned thing. Dad would've been proud at that realization, I think.
All my knowledge and piety I detest
What have I gained from your love in my breast?
Though the wind of separation blew away my zest
I kept my vows to Thee, sincere, honest.
As a spec of dust, I may be small at best
But through love, the sun itself is my nest.
Bring forth the wine, let me joyously ingest
For safety and security, in joy I didn’t invest.
If you are sober, save your advice and protest
Waste not your words on me, the drunken pest.
From shame, can’t keep my head above my chest
I was not of worthy service, in my quest.
Beloved didn’t say, though life Hafiz molest
Let me send him a cure to put him to rest.