A Season of Decluttering: New Mindset for Relationships

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There are patterns I’m trying to make sense of. The question of why these relationships keep fleeting in the same manner, turns out, was the wrong one. That question left me in a never-ending loop, running around myself over and over again. I was circulating the problem, not unraveling it. A cosmic joke of sorts that I was the center of. What I’ve come to understand as of lately is that the question instead is, why do I continue to distract myself and hide within relationships when that space in my life is trying so hard to clear up for something else? Perhaps something more lasting? Something greater.

Since I was a child and acquired the same amount of frustration as I do now, my mother always responded with the same answer: “There is a time for everything. What you’re wanting, you will get. But this time, right now, it’s meant for something else. That time will come, too.” She was always annoying that way, you know, with her wisdom and such. I am socially inclined to roll my eyes at that. What does she know? Adolescent me wasn’t too fond of that response either.

But then came the time to reflect. The time where therapy found me instead of myself looking for it. Silly 21 year old me assumed that after those 4 years of therapy, after changing as much as I did, and after moving across the country and calling an end to what felt like a very significant chapter of my life, I must now be done. That this is it. I learned what I was meant to learn and now, I could be free and happy and satisfied all the time. I was finished the process of ‘becoming’. Ha. Ha. HA.

Moving to Vancouver, I found myself in a stream of relationships. I kept finding people, and not just regular people, but my people. It felt like a river of blessings being thrown at me. Friendships like the ones I’ve formed here are so different than any I’ve ever experienced. The partners I had, they were reflective of the type of person I was. It was strange for me, mostly because I was very happy being my introverted self, reading, writing, strolling along sidewalks and discovering new places to venture off to. But suddenly I wasn’t doing any of that alone anymore.

Everything in our lives is a preparation for what is to come. I wondered why after a period of intensive solitude, I was suddenly met with so much social activity. I mean, the last season of my life was spent in a cave of my own thoughts, writing the first draft of a novel and mourning over the loss of most of my friendships and relationships. But I went with it, as I try my best to do with most changes. I liked it even, so much so, that I let myself get used to all this new love I was stumbling upon.

If that is not foreshadowing enough, I’ll put it simply: Always be open to uncertainty. No, I don’t think that the answer is to “never get comfortable with things” or to forbode joy by any means. Trust me, I’ve tried that nonsense out for myself and it’s no good. But, for someone who has a mindset of being open to growth and change, it means your life will also come with a lot of hard lessons and endings.

Pain is the greatest teacher. I invite her in, always. I let her sit next to me for as long as she needs so that I can learn what I have to learn and relieve myself from having to repeat the same lesson over and over again. But still, my stubborn nature likes to resist certain lessons, especially when it comes to love and career…and friendships…and okay, pretty much everything.

I AM TRYING. I promise.

So what is the lesson here, right now? Why did a flood of people come into my life, only to leave again? Why is it that I cannot bare staying in one place for so long before my legs get itchy and I know it’s time to move again? Why did history repeat itself but with better people? Within a better place? Amidst a different version of myself?

Well, I suppose it’s because these endings were met with confrontation, tears, and sitting side by side with discomfort instead of avoidance — something I didn’t think I was capable of doing before. These endings were all met with saying the truth out loud and saying it in a way that is respectful, firm, and loving all at once (because I realized that there is such a way to do that).

Life is a series of endings and beginnings. It doesn’t mean we have to begin to walk into any sort of relationship with the prospect of its end. But instead, we do have to go in with an open mind. What is there to learn here? What value can I bring to this person and what value are they bringing me? For whatever amount of time that this is meant to last, how can we work together to bring each other to a greater place than where we stood prior to our meeting?

From getting used to this cycle of relationships, it’s so easy to get caught up in needing some sort of replacement right away. Find new people, find new friendships, find new partners. Something, something, now. You can get so caught up in it that you may even find yourself feeding off of others like they’re a bad drug habit. And what a great way to attract the right kind of people, right?

I guess, as my mother would say, there is a time for everything and just because you lost a lot in one area in your life, doesn’t mean you need to fill that exact space up right away. That time will come, but you don’t have to try so hard to do it now. And maybe replacing or trying to fill that area isn’t the answer. Maybe this space in my life is trying to clear out for something else, something I can’t even think of right now. Perhaps an expansion of another area of life is in order.

That’s what I’m choosing to believe, only because this frame of thought has gotten me this far and I’m sure it will take me farther.

Courtesy and Misconduct: When to Hold on to Relationships

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I get blinded very easily. Not to say that I trust easily, but when I do, everything turns cloudy. My black and white vision suddenly becomes grey and all I can see is their rightness, even if that means that I’m in the wrong.  I don’t have a lot of pride when it comes to the people in my life that I love. Everything that comes with social conduct falls away and all I want to do is protect them from anything and everything. Sometimes that meant holding their pain for them. Other times it meant standing up for them. And then, in those odd cases, it meant leaving them behind to protect them from me.

I’ve talked about how that’s often led me to stop their growth, but what I haven’t discussed much is my own aloofness. How all of this didn’t just harm the people I love, but it also hurt me. Distractions are funny that way. Some people wander over to binge watch tv shows, others scroll up and down their phones for hours; but for me, I focus on everyone else’s problems.

I’ve been thinking about being courteous lately. Dating someone new means that they don’t always fall in line with what you’ve been used to in the past. I’m not going to lie, it did bother me. When you’ve been with people who fall under the same line, it’s a strange thing to experience something new. New behaviour, new voices, new laughter, new ways of expression. It’s a funny thing to learn about another human, to get close to another human, and then on top of that, it’s even stranger when that human doesn’t match what you are used to.

So back to courtesy. I’ve been making attempts to dissect it and what it actually means, and what I’ve realized is that it is just following societal expectations. It might just mean looking for social cues to accommodate yourself to. There are rules to dating, unwritten ones and written ones that we tend to follow intentionally. But what happens when someone doesn’t? Would you rather them play the role of being courteous, or would you rather them be authentic?

What I’m trying to get at is that I think our expectations for people tend to hold us back from new experiences. I know that mine have and I know that sometimes they still do. I also know that we’ve skewed away from the meaning of some words like courtesy for example. Something that was intended to mean politeness towards others later became mangled with the notion of chivalry.

I’ve been working on setting my priorities straight, creating a mental and physical note on what is actually important to me in any relationship whether it be a friendship, a partner, a family member, etc. What are my non-negotiables and what am I able to withstand? What do I want versus what I actually need?

In making the effort of becoming more intentional with everything that I do, I also want to apply that towards who I surround myself with. Our people have a lot to do with how we feel, what we expect, and how we communicate and think for ourselves. As social beings, there’s no way to avoid the mixing of your energies – that is unless you decide to completely isolate yourself from all of humanity for the remainder of your life. Either way, if you plan on holding on to relationships, remember that who you let into your life is a choice and you can say no (which was a hard lesson for me to get a grip on).

When you learn to accept instead of expect, there are fewer disappointments. But when it comes to other human beings, I think we have to really become clear on ourselves first. I remember going through a time of transformation when it felt like everything in my life was being ripped away from me. But looking back, I see it now for what it was: a decluttering. Sometimes we need that, too. But I think that before that, we have to know what we need and before we know what we need, we have to know who we are. Because we are always becoming, there’s always going to be the ups and downs, changing and restructuring. That’s the hard part (and the interesting part).

I think to avoid all of that gunk, we choose to stick to the standard rules of expectations that were given to us. But easier doesn’t always mean better. And I would argue that it’s actually more painful to live that way. To shut everyone else out. To hold on to belief systems you never bothered to look in to.

As Ziad Abdelnour once said, time decides who you meet in your life, your heart decides who you want in your life, and your behaviour decides who stays in your life.

someone will love you; someone isn’t me

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I’ve been regaining my sanity, the inkling of calmness I was afraid I left behind. I credit that all to starting up my daily yoga and meditation practice again.

There’s something you guys don’t know. Something that I don’t really talk about. That when I moved away, I left a boy behind. No one knows that, not even him. We haven’t spoken in years now, but he’s stayed in my mind through this time, the way that unfinished business typically does. We talk every now and again, but not often enough for it to make sense that I still think of him the way I do.

He was someone I never gave a chance to. Someone I didn’t believe when he told me that he cared about me. Someone I always look back on and wonder, what if I had let him in?

I believe in everything happening for a reason, and that certain things won’t happen and never will only because you are supposed to be somewhere else. I don’t think I’d have made my way to Vancouver had I given him a chance. I don’t think I would be this person either because the girl he initially met is no longer here.

It’s an odd feeling. This reminiscing of what could have been that runs parallel to the gratitude of it not working out. Because if it had, you wouldn’t be where you are today. How our stepping stones and greatest lessons are sometimes people you never paid attention to. How sometimes you can be grateful for your adolescent ignorance and also wish you knew better at the same time. But we know what we know and we understand as we learn. It’s as simple and frustrating as that.

We’re always so eager to know more than we do; and when we know more, we wish we knew it when it mattered. As if there is no way to make use of this information now, even though deep down we know it’ll be a useful tool for the future. We want it now and when we have it, we wish we had it then. It’s an annoyance to me sometimes, being human. But that’s what we are. That’s what we’ll always be.

To the boy that never happened. To the boy I now think of and wish I had known better, I hope being human gets easier for you as I hope it does for all of us. And know that someone will love you the way I wish I had.