Saturday, March 04, 2006

Love actually

Brew of the day: Organic Chamomile Tea ~’tis gentle and soothing. Have been drinking it all week…highly recommended for keeping a girl calm during her cycle.

Paul and I went to the cinema last night and saw Brokeback Mountain. There is no question that it is a ‘good’ movie ~ stunning location shots, brilliant directing and highly skilled acting. I, however, felt quiet disturbed by it on many levels. For those who have avoided press descriptions, it is essentially about two cowboys who fall in love with each other and then go on to marry women, have children and NOT live happily ever after. They meet sporadically over the course of the next twenty years. (By the way, why were they called cowboys when they were herding sheep?)

It is filled with angst and the trauma that can, and often does, define human relationships. And that is where I found the whole thing so darn uncomfortable. Forgetting that it is about a same sex relationship (because I think it is about so much more than that; the theme is used to draw people in as a groundbreaking piece of cinema) I feel it is so representative of what is going on in the collective unconscious of our species.

I take no pleasure in the belief or practice that love is ‘difficult’; that true love is a journey of difficulty. Bullshit! We’re humans. We make conscious choices, or at least we can! Most people choose to go through their relationships as they go through life ~ blindly, as if somehow that excuses them for creating a great life.

I often joke that had I met my husband a year earlier I wouldn’t have looked twice at him. And I’m sure this is true. I was programmed by friends and society to believe relationships were hard, that all men were bastards (and that was, not surprisingly, my experience! ~ after all, we get what we think about all day long). I was fortunate enough to have my eyes opened...and open them I did. Thank the Goddess because, sure as the sun came up this morning, I’d have been divorced about three times by now.

My difficulty with a movie like Brokeback Mountain comes because it represents something so alien to the relationship I have. Watching the male leads interact with their on-screen wives filled me with horror, to say the least. For me, it wasn’t just a movie. It represents so many people I know ~ and so many I don’t know.

Friends all around me are going through relationship issues of every description. I feel in uncharted waters when offering comfort. One friend says her husband never says he loves her. When she says it to him, he just grunts. Maybe he doesn’t love her?

Almost all of us are dysfunctional to a greater or lesser degree, and our genetic programming and life experiences can conspire to amplify any difficulties we have about expressing our deepest feelings. If someone is so inarticulate that they can’t express their deepest feelings to their life partner then surely they can find other words or, indeed, ways to express themselves. How about, “You make my life. I love waking up with you each morning. I can’t imagine living my days without you.”? How about actions speaking louder than words? Making a cup of tea without being asked. Filling a hot water bottle for your partner. Doing the dishes when you can see they’re really tired and just need to go to bed. What is so hard about this?

Our ability to express love to another is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. In my single life, which truly feels a lifetime ago, I never failed to make myself a delicious meal each night after work. I’d set the table ~ light a candle, have beautiful flowers and put on calming music. Why on earth live one’s life waiting for someone else to do these things for us? And yet, if we’re honest, that is what the majority of people do. “I can’t cook a meal. I can’t have fun. I can’t go to the movies. I can’t go for a walk. I can’t…I can’t….I can’t…I can't LIVE without someone else to witness my journey!” It is no one else’s responsibility to make us happy. That is an inside job. When we do it for ourselves it makes it so much easier for another person to share our life, rather than filling some void.

Another friend has left her marriage of ten years to be with another man she barely knew. It just felt right to her.

Other friends are living half lives...not sure which half they’re living. Probably not sure if they're dead or alive. They're staying with partners that are no more than flat-mates…scared to move, scared to move on. I find this as hard as anything. Life is too short for stalemate. Too short to be caring about what others might think of us and our choices.

And still other friends live their married lives in a constant state of war. The adrenalin rush of furious fighting is a perverse form of foreplay to great sex. They live for the yelling and screaming matches because they know within hours they’re going to crawl into bed and have frantic sex. Because so many relationships are like this, people think it is normal. And in British culture people equate normal with natural.

Each to his own, but to me this is nothing short of emotional rape. Why would you allow yourself to open emotionally and physically (and pyschically) in such an intimate way with someone who has just treated you like you’re their enemy? Hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for forgiveness! But if this is what is considered a ‘healthy’ relationship, I’d rather be alone and celibate for the rest of my life. Honestly!

Many people would think that the relationship Paul and I have is ‘boring’. We don’t fight. Ever. We communicate civilly. It doesn’t mean we agree on everything. We don’t! And we've certainly had many difficult issues come up in our life's journey that we've had to deal with. But those painfully difficult times never meant that we went to war on each other. Why would we? We're on the same team!

In many ways, we make love all day long. Our eyes meet, we smile, we touch each other’s shoulder affectionately, playfully. We laugh an awful lot. Is there a greater aphrodisiac? Not a day has gone by in our 11 year relationship where he has not told me he loves me at least twice a day. Perhaps this is the thermometre that lets me know our relationship is well. But it isn’t just his words. His everyday actions and habits are confirmation of his feelings.

We start and end each day in each other’s arms. It is a safe place. Our relationship is my liberator; my incubator for personal growth - like an ongoing meditation.

So what makes me different to most of my girlfriends? After all, I didn’t just get ‘lucky’.

I made a choice. I chose not to take second best or tenth best. I chose to let love in fully and completely and to nourish it and be nourished by it. All humans can do this. We just have to say yes to ourselves.

When we have a love that opens us to great heights emotionally, and brings deep intimacy, we have a platform upon which to live the rest of our life. We feel stronger and more sure of ourselves…when we’re not fighting a daily war with our ‘beloved’ we can go out and live more fully and ably in the world. This is true love. And we all deserve nothing less.

1 comment:

Carla said...

Dear Veronika,

I just want to say how much I love your blog. I can relate particularly to this post (i.e. Sat 4 March), since I have a similar relationship with my long-term boyfriend. We have often expressed to each other that our making love happens all the time, and in all sorts of situations, not just in the bedroom. He is my sounding-board and my most loving companion. It really touched me to read your words on this subject. Thank you!