Hamilton Habourfront, Aug. 2009
"I saw your boyfriend walking your dog yesterday."
"We had a fight; I yelled at him." The words tumbled out of my mouth as if I had the compulsive need to confess what had happened to someone.
"I hate boys. I wish I was single," she said in reply.
I don't discuss my personal issues with many people at work because I've learned the hard way: nothing remains hidden. People's deepest and darkest secrets have been exposed many times on our floor, case in point: one of the nurses was seeing a resident quietly for a few months (a married resident for the record) and another nurse happened to see them walking randomly in a park, holding hands. Awkward. And bad timing. In a city of 500,000+ residents, what are the odds?
Anyway, that's why I tend to keep my cards close to my chest. I have a few good friends I work with who I am more willing to discuss these things with--the fact that they've shared personal problems with me also makes me more comfortable to expose myself--but even then, it's very pick and choose about what I let people know and it's difficult for me, because I don't have many close friends to talk to anymore. I feel compelled to talk to someone about issues and worries I have and lately it's only been coworkers who have been willing to listen and help me figure things out.
The second reason why I hesitate to discuss matters of the heart with coworkers is the fact that I can be very proud. I hate admitting that things aren't going as smoothly as I thought they would and I hate telling people that I'm struggling to make sense of something that seems to go so easily for others.
Moving on from there, I found myself reluctantly agreeing with E. Her words "I hate boys/I wish I was single" resonated so deeply within me. I love the person I'm with, but I also hate him sometimes. We lay in bed last night, staring at the ceiling and not knowing what to say to each other and I felt like ripping his poster off my wall, throwing his clothes out my bedroom window (even though there's a giant air conditioner blocking it so that would be impossible) and slapping or punching him. I wanted to hurt him as much as he had (unintentionally, I'll admit) hurt me.
Forgiveness, love and commitment.
Those are the three words that define a relationship, the three things that keep it chugging along. Even as I think about this, there's definitely some anger and upset lurking deep inside of me, the desire to cruelly continue to hurt him lingering. I feel that he doesn't understand the extent that he hurt me, the words said striking so deep, wounding to the core. The most frustrating part is that he doesn't intend to hurt me, words are just so fickle and don't translate well.
Forgiveness. I'm not magnanimous in my natural state. Forgiveness is a hard lesson to learn; I briefly mentioned it in my last post and am reiterating myself--we'll all need it so we all need to learn how to give it.
My parents taught me that forgiveness means to truly grant pardon, to cease to feel resentment against, to let go of an offense. Forgiveness is moving on from the hurt, letting bygones be bygones, allowing the pain to become history. Forgiveness isn't constantly bringing up old hurts and wounds...it's genuinely letting go and moving on.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. ~L.B. Smedes
Commitment. I discovered mid-February that I was falling in love with this wonderful person. Unsure of what to do about the feelings, I wisely kept my mouth shut and waited until he was ready to share his feelings. At the end of February he sat down with me and started talking about his feelings, scared to embark on a new journey but unable to avoid the truth: he loved me. In that moment of intimacy (discovering new love is always intimate), we both made the choice to be committed to each other, to be there for each other during the ups and downs, to be loyal and faithful to each other, semper fidelis and so on.
Even when there are times when I feel like I hate him, I made that commitment those months ago to be with him, to hang on when the going gets rough and every time we argue or cry or hurt each other, I have that thought come to mind--this is the person I chose to love and this is the person I want to be with. This is the person I committed myself to despite any disagreements we may have. This is the man I love. Commitment is more sure and steady than any other virtue, for love can sometimes be defined as just a feeling, dictated by emotion. Commitment is what takes you through the valleys.
Commitment to him made me reach over in the middle of the night and touch his hand. I don't want to be someone who only sticks around when the going is easy; I want to be faithful and constant, I want to be true to my word and I want to be there for this special person.
It's such an acclaimed emotion and feeling, something everyone pursues at some point in their life. We all feel that our love is the most grandiose of them all, that we love like no other couple has, but love is more than an ideal. Love is the embodiment of many virtues combined together, virtues such as forgiveness and commitment. Christ-like love teaches us to put others first, to reach out to someone even when they have hurt us, to put other's interests before our own. It's best defined by Paul in 1st Corinthians:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~1st Cor. 13:4-7
I'm not sure where I am even going with this. I feel like a hypocrite writing out all these ideals that I believe a relationship should consist of, when I have such a great storm in my mind and heart...but what else can I do? I can't move back to where I was before because I would lose so much... All I can do is look toward the future with him and hope that we will still be together, that I can somehow find the grace to be a good partner and helpmate.
Where I am insufficient to know what to do or say, God is there in those silences. Relationships are about more than just pleasing each other--they're about learning and growing together, becoming better people and seeking God (or whatever one believes) together in order to strengthen one's faith.
I yelled at someone yesterday that I promised I would never intentionally hurt. I raised my voice angrily to express myself, I said things last night to break him and make him understand how much I was hurting. I didn't communicate reasonably or logically, I couldn't find a way to express my displeasure and pain staidly. I failed in my role of being understanding or supportive.
Back to the top... I hate boys sometimes. I hate this person that climbs into bed with me and promises me things that he doesn't make good on. I hate how he has the power to hurt me so deeply, unlike any other person in my life. I hate how my life has been so completely altered since he arrived in it, so changed from everything I know. I hate how much I love him, how far I would go, how I would bend and stretch for him, how willing I am to change for him. I worry that I'm more 'vested in our relationship than he is and when I express those feelings, he brushes them away and says our love for each other isn't comparable.
I hate how confused I am all the time. I hate how I can't imagine my life without him. I hate how I sometimes feel suffocated by the emotional depth of our relationship. I hate how in some ways I have ceased to function autonomously from him. I hate how I worry and obsess over whether we truly have a future together or if it's all just a pipe dream. I hate how insecure I am about my worth to him.
The thing I hate the most is how uneasy I am about someone else intruding into our relationship and taking him away from me. I fight the demons of anxiety and fear that plague me when I consider the possibility of someone else being the right one for him, I shove away the negative thoughts that ride around the carousel of my mind. Fear makes me want to clutch him closer and hang onto him with all of my being, but wisdom and instinct tells me to let him go and believe he will continue to love me for who I am.
I apologize for rambling on about these things that are mostly irrelevant and boring to read. I'm not sure who else to talk to, where to get advice about what to do. I'm not even sure what there is to do, other than find a way to forgive him for hurting me even when he didn't mean to...and graciously let him spend his time as he wishes instead of expecting him to always love being with me.
I leave with this quote:
Let us forgive each other – only then will we live in peace. ~L. TolstoyMuch peace and hope for each and everyone of us to move forward.