So, I’m still looking at relationships, connections, and what that looks like for me. I reflected on whether or not I felt connected to things, and to people around me, but I don’t think (in more ways than one) those connections implied that my heart was connected. That it was connected to me, or I to it. Perhaps that is the larger issue. Where is my heart in all this? For much of my reflections on relationships, it’s been about where my head resided. I have always been told that attraction begins in my head, but maybe that’s backwards. Perhaps it begins with the heart, and the head simply justifies it, rationalizes it, or makes the attempt. The heart goes where it goes, often inexplicably and uncontrollably, responding to no rational considerations whatsoever. But does it lie? Can it be wrong?
There is all manner of research and scholarly exploration of how and why people make disastrous choices in matters of the heart. This intrigues me, mainly because I’ve had so many experiences that have been utterly catastrophic, at least for me. It’s very interesting, and often comforting, to explore things like attachment disorder and neurobiological factors in trying to make sense of that pattern, but ultimately, knowing why changes nothing. When families of murder victims are given the opportunity to witness the execution of the murderer, I’ve heard of some who found they didn’t get the closure they were seeking. Watching the murderer die changed nothing. Perhaps for some of them it did, but I wonder if they are not permanently linked to the execution in addition to the murder of their loved one. If so, I can’t imagine that would actually lessen their pain. But, I’ve never been in that position so I can’t speak intelligently about it. I just wonder.
So, how do I differentiate between my heart and my head when I am forming an attraction to another person? Both feel very good. I must admit, and have reflected previously, that it’s very difficult for me to perceive of love in some kind of bizarre hierarchical way. Romantic love < blood family love > friend love. That seems oversimplified, and not necessarily true. Suffice it to say that I have some fucked up ideas about love, and how it fits into my walking through the world. I think I have a lot of love to give, and sometimes wonder if that is what makes me seem “needy”. Once again, though, I don’t have time to fiddle with that. As Brene’ Brown said on a podcast in February: “I always describe midlife as when the universe comes down and grabs you by the shoulders and says ‘Hey, I’m not fuckin’ around. You’re halfway to dead now, so you gotta let go of what people think, you gotta find real love. This is it.’ ”
The universe is definitely not fucking around. This is the real deal, I have to put up or shut up. The time is past for experimenting, for being tentative, for wondering what happens when I press the blue button. I know what happens. I know that when you press the blue button, the results are essentially unknow and you have to roll with the outcome. There are really no certainties. You can press any of the buttons, and sometimes you know what happens, and sometimes you don’t. Most of the time, you don’t. The most dangerous ones to press are the ones you think you can predict the outcome. But, you pay your money and you take your chances. You’re gambling, taking a risk, no matter how you want to look at it…but if you don’t play, you can’t win.
I’m not playing, for the most part, so I suppose I have no chance to win. I don’t feel as though I was winning a large percentage of the time. When I say things like that, I don’t mean to exclude the winning efforts, the times everything seemed to fall into place. Maybe the problem I’m having is that nothing lasts forever? But it seems as though it does last forever for some people, at least from the perspective I have. We just lost a member of my community of faith, who died at 90+ years (not COVID related). His body just gave out, due to old age. He leaves behind his wife, who is close to his age, and a boat load of grown children. I had great affection and the utmost respect for him, even though he drove me a little nuts from time to time. I am very sad that he has died. Is that love? Or is that affection, and liking? I don’t effing know, but I know that I will miss him. Am I sorry that he is dead? Only from the standpoint of how I feel, how others will feel. I’m not sorry he is dead, only from the standpoint that his body is no longer failing, that he is no longer in physical discomfort, that in some esoteric way he did what he came here to do. It’s not my place to be sorry that someone’s soul has separated from their body. Would that not be presumptuous of me? It’s not my gig.
So, love is complicated for me. Maybe it’s complicated for everyone. It just confuses me to contemplate an emotional state that defies time and circumstance and relativity, yet is all encompassing of all modes of our existence. And perhaps beyond. It seems to be a visceral object, but it is not matter. It has no mass, but still it exists. It has no weight, but it is heavy enough to cause people to do amazing things when under its influence. It’s more than a random collection of chemical and neurological responses in the human body. It’s in your heart, in your soul, in your body when you grow old (thank you, Rod Stewart). It’s a paradox that questions our very understanding – or misunderstanding – of the real world, the esoteric world, the unreal world. Most of us believe, and have experienced, the timeless aspect of love. Because we’re bound to this plane, however, our biggest concerns are the here and now, the love that exists right here and right now. I can’t hedge my bets on having love three lifetimes from now, or be satisfied because I may have had it three lifetimes ago. I want what I want NOW, and that’s just how I roll.
So, am I connected seems to be a slightly different question than whether or I have love present. I can be connected to the interwebz and millions of people if I so choose. Do any of those connections satisfy me, do any of them fulfill me? Maybe some offer a measure of mental fulfillment, or satisfaction, but I’m not sure there are any that offer deeper sustenance. And what of that? I don’t know that’s what those kinds of connections are designed to do, but … I’m connected. And connection in and of itself is simply not enough. There’s more, there’s a craving and a longing for more. I often frustrate people when I want to discuss things like death, and what happens to us when we experience death on any level. There are some people I encounter, especially in the past couple of years, who angrily declare they will only discuss “happy” things, or nothing at all. Alrighty then. Good luck with that. I have to discuss it all, reflect on it all, take stock of how I handle it ALL. Cherry picking reality doesn’t seem to be reality, only control. The more I experience, the more I realize that I have very little control over much of anything outside of me. In order to have some control, or at least responsible use, of things INSIDE me, I have to talk about it, reflect on it, find out how other people handle the same things. Accordingly, there are a few people I’ve had to vote off my island.
I understand that our human condition requires, craves, connection. I definitely crave it, and I understand that I utilize various means to succeed in satisfying that craving. As I age, the means have become more meaningful, less self-absorbed, less narcissistic, and less immediate. The ends, of course, remain constant, and to some extent it is still all about me. I would hope that I give something back, throw something into the pool for others to draw on, though. When I feel like I’m doing nothing but throwing bait into the water, but not able to be fed, I get a little testy. I’m told that I should possibly change my fishing spot, or lower my standards on what bait I will consume, and in what quantity. I don’t have time for the analysis these days…and I struggle with the gut reaction that I should be able to get what it is that I want. It seems that everyone else has that ability, or at least it seems that way. Truth be told, I really don’t know if that is true. All I know is…I don’t usually get back what I am putting out there, and that’s not how I want things to be.
Now. What to do about this? I think when last I dealt with this, I was trying to choose my companions more intentionally, not getting so hung up on that feeling of flying, floating, euphoria. To some extent, I don’t know what the hell I am doing in the first place – most of my knowledge about relationships came from a dysfunctional set of parents and television. All television relationships appear to have crises, and I can see that. Only thing is…television relationships seem to resolve their crises and complications in between commercials once a week. Real life doesn’t go quite like that, and when people get hurt in real life they don’t still look like they stepped off a magazine cover (if ever they stepped onto one in the first place). I would be the first to admit that my naive and juvenile view of relationships is derived in large part from television and literary fiction. I’ve known for some time this formula doesn’t give me a fighting chance at success. What to do about that, however, remains a mystery.
I am a child of my mother, and my grandmothers, and my great-grandmothers, and all the women beyond them. I am a child of my father, and my grandfathers, and my great-grandfathers, all the men beyond them. I am my Self, and everybody else. I want very much to find the common threads I share with these people, but like many people of color, records are slim and elusive. Our families didn’t always have benefit of bureaucratic record-keeping systems; we sometimes didn’t actually exist anywhere on paper. But exist we did, survive we did, live we did. And here I am, all these years later, wanting to reach back in time. My paternal great-grandmother, the one who committed suicide…I want very badly to find her. I don’t know why, i am just drawn to finding out the story, solving the mystery. All that pain, betrayal, broken hopes and dreams. Was it love that drove her to it? My gut says it was rejection, the betrayal, the realization that she had been cast aside when she became a burden, a burden with a baby. The story I have told myself is that she was the back-door girlfriend of a wealthy lawyer, and when she got pregnant, he cut her loose. He cut her loose with nothing to show for her time with him, except…this new life. She could not tolerate being cast aside, with no hope for the future, but she provided for her child, my grandfather. She made sure he would survive, and willed him to another family. Then she had to go, and there are scant few records of her. But my grandfather survived, although not happily, it seems. I reached out to her in meditation the other day, and have reflected previously on that effort. I tried to send out the message that I wanted to find records of her, news of her, and I wanted to know what the pain had been about. The words that came to me were: “You know what that pain is about. You’ve always known.” And I have always known that pain. I don’t know why it came, but I know what it is and how it feels. I know how incredibly huge it is and how it threatens to engulf a heart, a soul, until you feel that you have no place to go except death. Perhaps this is what has always caused me to feel so trapped. I don’t know. I know that it’s not mine, though. I’ve been holding it all this time, and I need to let it go. I don’t want it to land on someone else, in someone else’s ancestral tree, but I don’t know how to release it to the Universe. This I will need to work on, because it needs to go. It needs to end with me. This is what brought us all together, my ancestral line, up to and including me. This has to be where it ends, I believe. Maybe I think too much of myself, but it’s not an ego thing. Just a thought/idea that keeps coming back, over and over and over. Time to let that go and make room for something else. This is the Matrix, and I need a door, right now.
One thought on “Disconnected?”
Bravo! Great post worth sharing. Would be better if you broke up the text into smaller paragraphs for readability and whatnot, but nonetheless the post was worthwhile. Thank you!
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