People come in and out of our lives over the course of our journey. In some instances only once, while others reappear over and over again. When children, romantic partners, co-workers, friends and acquaintances make an appearance, we can be tempted to consider their main function in our lives as the most obvious. However, I believe that, almost always, the purpose for meeting someone is not what we might originally perceive it to be.
We tend to believe we have children to fulfill a deep seeded human desire to nurture and procreate and, ultimately, to live forever, even if only through our genes. For the vast majority of us, work is a necessity. Therefore, we may be tempted to view fellow travelers who come into and out of our lives because of our jobs as mere accident due to unavoidable circumstances. The commonplace idea regarding those people to which we find ourselves physically attracted is that they have been brought to us for the purpose of romantic love or long-term partnership. Close friends and casual acquaintances often are seen on the surface as people we can connect with, spend time and share experiences with.
Yet, how would our lives change if we believed that these fellow travelers enter into our lives for much more meaningful purposes? What if we chose to look just a bit below the glassy surface and begin to notice all of what we cannot readily see above? Like the ocean, if we lose our fear of drowning and take a dive, we find a vast world that we never would guess existed. If we dare to view all those who we come in contact with as teachers, we begin to make connections to our own life’s journey, and how these various people can help us grow, develop and ultimately become who we are meant to become.
Is your recently diagnosed autistic child teaching you tolerance of those ‘different’ than yourself? Is your new love interest, who you feel isn’t able to make enough time for you, instilling a value for times of solitude, which can be scarce in today’s hectic world. What about that friend who always seems to be a “Debbie Downer”? Maybe her purpose is to teach you empathy and ultimately sympathy? And consider that co-worker who seems to take forever to respond to email; could it be that he is in your circle to help you to develop greater patience and persistence?
Aspire to delve more deeply into the purposes behind why you’ve been blessed with the presence of certain people. You may begin to enjoy and value your time with them, no matter how short or long, much more.
Stalking easy prey. This was how he understood the wooing process. First dates are for observation; second, for laying the trap. By the third date, no possibility of escape existed for his victims.
He chose the flowers he would present to her on date number three based on the color of her energy. She was always so impressed with his ability to ‘guess’ her preferences, and altogether failed to remember answering this question about herself, or elaborating on that childhood story. Guided by an experienced hand, her conscious discerned only an intensity of interest on his part, which translated as taking her seriously.
He prided himself on setting the scene. Sometimes, he wished her in a dress, and so, he arranged for a more upscale location at a later than usual dinner time. Other times, he desired her in something casually-cool so would get tickets to the theater or a concert. On rare occasions, he was drawn to the more masculine aspects of her person, and liked her in jeans and gym shoes. This prompted something along the lines of a sporting event.
He was truly and overly obsessive during these endeavors. Perhaps they served as his second advanced degree; quite possibly a graduate degree in seduction. He studied her mannerisms, voice inflections and facial expressions so intently, she had no choice but to believe he was genuinely ‘into’ her. Indeed, he was ‘into’ her, and though an inevitable end would come, he honestly hadn’t the foresight to see it.
By date number three, he knew all he believed was necessary to know about her. This was why he made sure to never schedule encounters more closely than one week apart. He found through experience, that after he had absorbed all of what he wanted of her, their time together was limited to merely an additional 11 weeks. An average 14 weeks was not ever the relationship time-frame he set out to achieve. Nonetheless, this is the span he tended towards.
By week 10, she began to notice that his interest appeared to be waning. Week 11 brought her to the realization that she had developed feelings for him. By the end of week 13, induced by his ever decreasing attentions, panic set in and she began to initiate contact more frequently.
Week 14. The end.
He simply could not understand why the women who chose to date him were always able to hide their ‘crazy’ until after he’d invested so much time, attention, energy and money. How were they so deceptive? How, with all the questions and careful observation, could he keep missing it until the end? “Ah well”, he often thought on the occasion of such an end. “There’s plenty more where that came from.”
“Love doesn’t always have to come with a chaser of trauma.” I don’t remember where I originally heard or read this quote. And though I can’t claim it as my own, it communicates, so very clearly, a powerful and pivotal theme present throughout my journey.
If I chose to love you, and chose to continue to love you, do I then unwittingly chose suffering?
Intimate relationships afford a most ideal petri dish for abuse. And why? Because we are vulnerable with the ones we love; and vulnerability, in and of itself, invites abuse. On the other side of the love=trauma equation, we tend to get careless when we get comfortable. Our selfish nature asserts itself wholeheartedly, managing to inflict trauma, even without intention. The truth is that most of us will admit to staring in roles of both victim and villain when it comes to love.
So what is my response? Should I proceed with fear-laced caution? Or maybe I lead with a dagger, increasing the chances of delivering the first strike. I could also carry on through these chaotic seas shielded by iron (though I prefer masonry), preventing penetration – pleasurable or otherwise.
I don’t accept that there is one true and proper way to respond. I may try disparate approaches with different people in varying situations. Nevertheless, I do believe in the importance of being awake to the love/trauma dynamic and to the truly contrary nature of each, despite their perceived correlation.
Media, technology, pop culture have all left us numb. We are truly amazed by so little anymore. Awaken inspiration lying dormant within by allowing yourself to be awed by the innumerable instances of beauty in our natural world.