Drawing on strength

I try not to talk about individuals, besides myself, when I share my insights or uncertainties about relationships. This is partially because it is no one’s business, but mostly because I am not qualified to speak on how other people relate.

That being said, this is about Susan. I am stating that up front because it provides important context to people who know both of us. It has very little to do with that fact that I spectacularly shattered some dishes that included a rather kawaii plate of hers. T_T

Anyhow, the thing I wanted to share is that I have a new understanding of how I relate on an intimate level. It began when I was thinking about my friends, and how I have an internal taxonomy based on not only what I’ve done with a person, but also for them. It is difficult for me to admit it, but I do a lot to validate myself through other people. My close friends are people that I get a lot from, and they fulfill me in different ways, but there is this underlying thread of sensing that I also fulfill them.

Writing that I find it odd that I am uncomfortable with the idea of validating myself with people, but it may just be how we communicate and socialize, meaning it is normal. I know why I don’t like it: nearly every social problem I see around me are caused by how people relate with people, or perhaps how they relate with the expectations, stated or not. My reaction, intentional and direct, is to fight the need to care about those expectations. I do well by this, I end up moderating my communication in a way that I find healthy, but I do tend to err on the side of not caring about others’ opinions.

When I thought about it, I realized that my relationship with Susan is different, or rather that I think of it in way that I’ve never been able to before. It was this sense of having someone on my side through really adverse times, a reservoir of strength and time. That really is it for me, time. I have always felt rushed by the events and circumstances of my life, and with Susan’s companionship I feel that I have just a little more time to figure things out, take a deep breath, and launch back into life.

I want to understand why our relationship is like this. This is difficult, because all I have to compare it to are my past relationships, which may just be incidental. Perhaps I just never trusted anyone like I do now. Or I wasn’t mature enough to cultivate this relationship. Is it a phase in life? I do feel like I am beyond the common problems that plagued my life for a decade between 15 and 25; things like having a place to live and obtaining gainful employment. In that case, maybe it is just a new awareness of where and who I am, now that my basic needs are being met.

I try not to linger on them, but I sometimes regret how I handled intimate relationships in the past. It is ironic, because when I look at me from those times I can be very forgiving. I was very young and had relatively healthy relationships. Despite a few short-lived hook-ups I have been in a series of relationships that continue to grow in duration. In high school I was with someone for three years (nearly the entire time I was in school). Afterward I was married for four years. Now I am somewhere around 5 years (we were fortunate enough to have ignored any single point of time as the mark of our relationship beginning).

All signs point to our relationship continuing. And by all signs I mean a lot of work, and tentative plans to continue working. When compared to the benefits of being honest and communicating and remaining engaged in one’s life, intimate relationships seem pretty easy. Compared to anything else, they are perhaps the most difficult endeavor a person can take on; this is certainly true on an emotional level.

So, I draw on a lot of strength from Susan, and work to stay present in my life so I can stay present in theirs. It is unfortunate that I wasn’t able to create a safe space for other people in my past. On the other hand, I am glad that I now recognize that I needed that same safe space myself.

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