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Friday, December 20, 2013

fair warning, fair lady

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - from the book Narcotics Anonymous (1981)

~     ~     ~

foreword: to a few of my future female friends

hi future female friends. i will be happy to meet you. i mean that, and a great many other oft-misinterpreted phrases, very literally; and that's significant, because i experience happiness very, very rarely (perhaps because i define it quite narrowly... but, it seems wise and useful to do so).

my name is isaiah. it doesn't really matter what you call me, as long as you call me the same thing every time, otherwise i won't know you're addressing me.

the things you might immediately ask me (to begin the process of getting to know me) are probably trivial. i'm likely to answer you anyway, but i would much rather skip to the important stuff. in fact, this entry for that very purpose: to tell you what you need to know about me, in order to prepare you for potential emotional entanglements. i beg you not to judge me arrogant; in truth, it has taken years and years of soul-searching and lesson-learning (the hard way) to bring me here, to the point where i have the choice of either matching the above definition of insanity, or else admitting that i am who i am.

at first it seems so strange to me that i would hesitate to define myself. but then i remember that there are certain things about me that i hate, and that if i were not so set on being me, i would change them.

so please read this with the understanding that i am neither bragging, nor self-absorbed; neither overconfident, nor narcissistic. i am not attempting to justify any actions, nor am i writing this out of concern that i will be misunderstood (though that is a constant concern of mine apart from this writing). my purpose here is to offer you the chance to decline my friendship.

"why would i do that?"

because, apparently, i am a troublemaker.

"in what way?"

i love people; then, shit occurs. let me explain.

~     ~     ~

there is something critical to be said of genuine, deserved confidence: although it has earned recklessness the complimentary title "calculated risk," enabling its possessors to go where no one has gone before, it has also led to needless strife and suffering. if i were king of the world, i'd mandate that the phrase "nothing ventured, nothing gained" should always be completed by its cautionary counterpart: "so if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall."

this is the thing you need to know about me, before getting to know me: that when i meet a woman whose interests & personality & character cooperate with mine, and whose needs i find myself able to meet, i simply do so. with all of my weight forward, i set my eyes on this goal and pursue it as though it were my divinely inspired purpose. actually, that is just the pinnacle of compatibility. all it truly takes for me to devote myself to someone, are these three things: 1) a perceived need for friendship, and 2) a perceived openness to that friendship, and 3) female-ness.

((there are certain elements that could compromise this pursuit, even at the level of my desiring to do so... but they have shown themselves to be few and far between, and i cannot count on them to keep me from danger.))

sometimes i need to say a thing several different ways... not for you, but for me. this is one of those times. so here it is again: when i meet that person, i love them, on purpose, with little-to-no regard for the secondary consequences, ramifications, or potential complications. i neither expect nor require them to reciprocate; reciprocity simply multiplies and expands the situation, many-fold.

it began innocently enough: i believed loving people was the right-est thing to do, so i decided to do it. only, i wasn't able to connect very well with men. since early grade-school, i've just gotten along better with the awesomer sex. i'm somehow emotionally incompatible with most dudes (there are some notable exceptions, for whom i am very grateful). anyway: i found myself paying more attention to the non-men humans. and, as it turns out, women who are already feeling cared for don't respond much to my kind of generosity. not that they avoid or dis-appreciate me... they just aren't deeply drawn to me...

...id est, women who are not feeling cared for, are deeply drawn to me. or maybe it's women who have been dis-cared for in the past. probably both. whatever; i don't have that all figured out yet. i think you get the basic idea.

the bottom line is that, once i realized my crusade to eliminate un-cared-for-ness would inevitably cross my destiny with those matching a certain description (non-male, my age or a somewhat younger, hurting or lacking in some element of essencia), i did one (or more) of the following:
  1. immediately ceased all intentional caring for people
  2. placed strict boundaries on the content of my relationships with girlypoos
  3. turned myself in to the authorities in anticipation of committing well-intentioned but still reprehensible relational atrocities
  4. all of the above
  5. went on just like i always had 
i'll give you one guess. highlight this gray bar   the answer is   to check your answer.

~     ~     ~

honestly, i would be thrilled to develop a close friendship with you. again, i mean that very literally: as i consider the potential for mutual enjoyment (of a general nature; nothing specific), these symptoms present themselves: my heart rate increases. my mood temporarily improves. the creative portion of my brain kicks into gear. i begin dwelling on the expectation of good things, and no matter what degree of crappiness characterizes my life at the given moment, i immediately feel my own personal ray of sunshine warming my skin. i feel more alive. i feel fulfilled. i find in you essencia, and turn my full attention to it the same way roots seek water or certain plants turn toward the strongest light. i am neither exaggerating nor taking creative license. these are my concrete, tangible, only-slightly-metaphorical experiences, described exactly as they occur. and what i've described here is only a portion of what i experience.

the more i perceive potential friendship, the more devoted i become. i brainstorm about what gifts you might appreciate. i search my memory for things you've said to me that would indicate what you might need, that i can offer. i pay special attention to phrases or interactions that reveal your sense of humor, and from then on tailor my jokes to your personality. i ask personal questions, produced by genuine interest in your life, along with intent to verbalize my empathy, with the hope that you will not only believe that i care about you, but experience that care with your whole self.

i decide to care for you (read, but carefully: to love you) in the most active sense of the word.

"isaiah... not gonna lie. this sounds fantastic. where do i sign?"

i urge you to reconsider.

"why?!"

because i tend not to consider what will happen as a result.

"what undesirable thing could possibly occur???"

perfect question... almost like i thought it up and asked it myself. here are some possibilities based on my real-life experiences so far:
  • you could have trouble distinguishing platonic interactions from romantic
  • your parents could worry that i'm a predator who's targeted you (untrue, but suspicion sucks)
  • you could, against your will, fall in love with me
  • you could become un-healthily dependent on me
  • your boyfriend could become... well, a little upset
  • my wife could get more than a little upset (i'm single now, so i'm archiving this one)
  • base, carnal lust could complicate our friendship (also being archived, thank the Lord)
  • i could become impractically dependent on you
  • our preoccupation with each other could interfere with our daily functioning

there are of course other dangers; i just haven't cataloged them properly yet. still eager to sign? i should hope not. but if you are, then perhaps you need more of my babbling to convince you. lucky for you i'm extremely wordy tonight.

~     ~     ~

in another post, i expressed gratitude for those women with whom romance never reared its lovely-yet-dangerous head. i wouldn't call any of the above complications super-likely... just plausible for the general population, and somewhat plausible-er for women matching a more narrow description.

"you have a hilariously high opinion of yourself."

that statement itself is hilarious, because the exact opposite is true. the reason i come across this way is because i feel compelled to make sense of my experiences, and to share what i've learned with those who give a rat's patootie (or more) about me, mostly for their own sakes.

"what experiences? you mean like, other ones besides what you alluded to above? what are you saying, that women just fall all over you left and right?"

not exactly. what i'm saying is that whatever scent i'm metaphorically wearing (putting on, really, since it's my own choice), it seems to be popular with certain creatures. here's an example: in the days before facebook, there was a social network called myspace. it exists today, but in a much different form. back then it was the facebook of the world, except super dumb.

anyway... i would express myself there quite openly, and frequently. my personal life has not been very private since high-school, and that, friend, is a choice of mine as well... one that pairs very well with my chosen / given mission. yes. but anyways, this is what happened: women would write me to express their deep appreciation for the way i seemed to care for people. they were often complete strangers, two or three degrees of separation away, but they would recognize even from a distance how much i cared about people, and would then take the time to write me and say so.

this happened mostly with women, multiple times. i have searched in vain for a better explanation than that upon which i now strive to expound.

it's way past time for me to decide whether the spade is a spade or not (in my worldview). the correct course seems clear to me now, tonight, in spite of my dislike for it.

"did something happen recently to shed light on it, or to push you to finally define it confidently?"

multiple somethings. and i am thankful for them. i am thankful for the experiences, excruciatingly painful and (at times) extremely stupid though they were. i am thankful that learning is finally following loss. i was not at all convinced that it would do so.



i write this to you, future female friend, because i want you to know ahead of time what you're getting into. i write this because i can no longer, in good conscience, delude myself into un-expecting the next segment in the pattern. it began with a wondering in the back of my mind: "will this happen again?" and grew into a worry: "could be coincidence this time, but should i maybe do something to prevent it happening yet again?" and has now become a necessary fear: "exactly what kind of ethically bankrupt idiot am i, if i don't take responsibility / action?"

i am so weak, and so human, and aching with longing for essencia, especially in this, the end of a chapter, as i give up some of the most substantial, fulfilling, enchanting friendships of my life. i actually can't wait to meet you.

but i'm choosing to be honest this time, primarily with myself and secondly with you, that i might succeed at this other goal i hold so highly: to do the right thing. and maybe, in doing the right thing, i'll accomplish this as well: the preclusion of friendships that lie in cold, empty ruin rather than aging to perfection. and please know this: i am aware that friendships rise and fall like kingdoms, some flaring like falling stars for only a brief time while others go on for many years. my goal is not to make every good friendship last forever, nor even to keep a friendship stuck in a certain stage. rather, i intend to make sure that, when a friendship changes or ends (as they naturally do), that it does so for acceptable reasons, and not because i effed it up.


one last important note: there were some highly significant friendships which began differently. in very rare cases, they developed because a girl decided to care for me first. in others, simple proximity / friend-ish compatibility was the magic recipe. i recognize that these exist and could exist again, and i see that my responsibility in those is no less than in these other types.


thank you for reading this monstrous writing, / my shamefully bare soul.
when we meet, i hope to be who i am in such a way that you only benefit and never suffer.
please forgive me when i fail, and please encourage me when i succeed.
i [will] love you... always genuinely and with an innate passion, but now with caution as well.

-i-



for more reading on a sub-topic of this topic, and to get a look at my thoughts on these matters before i decided what to do about it, click this link, which will list all of my blog entries on a perceived 'grey area' between platonic and romantic relationships. (it will include this post; don't let that confuse you.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

leave the light on



my whining is because it still hurts, not because i'm actually upset. i say that to let you know, i'm really happy that our friendship woke up again. i'm not sure any amount of pain could outweigh the good things i experienced. even now, as things wind down, i'm more alive than i would be otherwise, especially if i let myself dwell on the friendship overall.

some of my most favorite days (of my life) happened this past year, and you are to blame for so many of them. after a hellish 2012, you made things bright and warm and i don't care if you want to give someone else krediit; you're taking this praise or else i'll be angry with you, on purpose.

listen to me: you helped me heal. i don't want to even consider what this year would have been like without you. there's a reason why, as our friendship matured, i had a hard time keeping up with it. you aren't just fun to talk to. it isn't just that you hear me so clearly where many others don't. it's more than the fact that you sought me out again after so long. it's that you helped rebuild me.

you being 'there' every morning and every evening felt a lot like a miracle, over and over again, and you are (or were) the only person who could be what i needed. i'm crossing my fingers at this point, hoping i don't need that anymore, because if i do i'm probably effed. feels like i'm trying my new feathered-friend wings for the first time... after being pushed (out of the nest), not after jumping voluntarily.

i still want to message you all the time. that hasn't changed yet. but i'm expecting it to, and almost ready to let it happen... since it seems like it will happen anyway. i tell you this so that you'll know, it isn't because i lost interest in your life or don't care what's happening with you anymore. i do; i'm heavily invested. but that is changing. i just want to make sure you know, this isn't something i chose, or would ever choose.

i'm not locking any doors. just closing them so the cold wind doesn't freeze me permanently. even if i locked them you probably still have a key anyway. the kind that opens every lock, even after years of disuse. good; keep it.

i'm still reading Eye of the World again, and i'm still taking rellcommendations, and i'm still leaving the wolume halfway up, most nights. i wake up every few hours to drink some water anyway (that's also your doing, of course).

tänan, müsteerium, for a thousand thousand things. you are my heroine. (the good kind. but also sometimes the drug kind sorta. but mostly the good kind.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

IPPON

months ago i posted something about returning to my original mission. i'm changing my mind slightly, to incorporate (or maybe just to grudgingly accomodate) new situations and new understandings of what others want and need.

i've decided or discovered (or both) that some things must be allowed to take their own course.. that my personal emphasis on free will and design as overarching omni-applicable values are sometimes ineffective and therefore impractical. what this means is that i am elevating something else to a higher position in my hierarchy of goals / drives. not sure what to call it, but it is far more responsive. if it were a martial art, it would use more circular movements: less kicking and punching, more adapting to the styles of others. more guiding existing forces rather than initiating them or opposing them.

"awesome. now that you've explained it to yourself, say it in 'merican."

it is better for me now to reciprocate and reflect than to reinvent, revolt, or resist. i will try less hard and less often to make things happen, and instead navigate within what is happening.

this sounds so great in my head, and looks even better on blogpaper. but in my heart it still feels like planned atrophy with the eventual goal of amputation.

i would change things if i could. not many things but a few big things, foundational things. this is not where i want to be, constantly on the edge of samishii, living from hug to hug, drinking only moonlight, waiting for music to matter to me again, wondering if maybe seasonal affective disorder can be rightly blamed for any portion whatsoever of my emotional state.

but i have little-to-no say in any of that. so i must learn judo all over again, and find a way to apply its principles to life.

starting is the hardest part. so i'm giving myself one full point for doing it.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

quit while i'm ahead

on Sunday i took my siblings, plus Ara Sessary, to the Scarlet Sparrow.

i had to ask Mom to extend Leah & Gabriel's curfew to 10p. and she wasn't rational about it... but i am learning (finally, after 27 years) how to navigate that successfully. mostly it has to do with accepting the irrationale itself (and a person's lack of aversion to it) as part of life itself... which happens to be the subject matter of this post.

going back a little: Leah was in her room with the door closed when i knocked and asked her if she wanted to come. i could tell she was low on energy, or mood, or both, but i like to include her because she's pleasant company and because i like to let her know that i care about her... especially since the family started buckling under multiple stressors several years ago.

she was quiet most of the night, with a total of maybe 1.5 smiles (reluctant ones even then), and it reminded me so strongly of myself in college: willing to be with people, but often so stressed and/or drained that i did a crappy job of it. we were in a group so i couldn't just ask her what was wrong; but since she'd borrowed Dad's cell, i texted her and asked if i could do anything for her.

she was texting people most of the night, but she never replied to mine.

i am not one of those people who expects prompt replies any time i communicate with them. that's because i know that no one should expect that of me. sometimes i have multiple reasons for not talking to people. the difference with me is that i eventually do get back to them.

i haven't figured out yet why this hurt me so much, but i'll try to figure it out here, even before making this post's point (and perhaps it will support that point).

as far as i know, Leah appreciates my brotherly acts of gift-giving and taxi service and tech support and camera instruction. i also believe she is being hoenst and genuine when she says i'm a good brother. so, i thought (perhaps mistakenly) that i was actually doing a decent job of it. this matters extra to me in this chapter because before, in familial relationships, i always coasted. i learned that relying on autopilot in a family of introverted people makes for very low-key relationships. even if we can say with sincerity "i love you," there isn't necessarily a strong emotional investment in that commitment.

i set out to change that several years ago. the progress has been so slow, but i treasure the tiniest weeniest fraction of every mile of road i put behind me. i am teaching myself (my heart) to treasure my family.

so when i tried to care for Leah by doing the only respectful thing i knew how to do in that situation, and she continued talking with others but not me, i was disappointed. that is normal. internalizing it in such a way as to blame myself, is normal only for me; i do not think it is healthy.

i understand some of the reasons why i took it personally. i understand the various trusts i have destroyed, and that i now expect people to be repulsed by me. i understand that 'decent' might be the very highest attainable goal for me as eldest brother Micu. and i understand how much work friendships can take sometimes.

but even understanding all those things, i couldn't shake this deep sense of offense that resulted from Leah's lack of reply.

so i asked her about it last night. she was in her room with the door open this time, watching Hogarth enjoy the new cat-house she and Dad built for him. 

i asked why she didn't reply to my text. she didn't really answer. i asked what i should do in the future. "just don't talk to me." i asked how i can know when i'm supposed to not talk to her.

"i don't want to talk about this right now. i'm going to bed."

at this point i almost broke down. the way i tell it here, it sounds pretty normal; she wasn't in the mood to talk about it. but from my perspective, with everything i'm carrying, it was my fault. something was wrong with me.

so, finally the point: i am very super extra ready to blame myself for any relational setback, hindrance, issue, or conflict.

"but isaiah: other people have issues sometimes that factor in."

i know that. the problem is that i can't know what those are. even if the person tells me, i can't always trust that they're right. it is much more likely that i'm the problem.

"no it isn't. you just tend to believe that."

perhaps. but i can rationalize it.

"but whatever's motivating you to think it in the first place may not be rational."

that's why i'm writing this post. i have to figure out what and why and how to deal with it. and i know this for sure: i hate thinking negative things about people i want to be close to.

so in this case with Leah: if i acknowledge that she might have some issue that's keeping us from communicating well, then i will be less drawn to her as a person. i won't love her any less; but i'll be let down. i'll be disappointed because it would mean that i can't make our friendship better. 

yes. now i can say it more clearly: if i am responsible for a problem, that makes it possible for me to fix it. but if someone else is responsible, i can do nothing, and the problem is beyond my ability to resolve. and that leaves me hopeless.

as little faith as i have in myself sometimes, i still do have faith in me. some. enough to try.

but how can you trust that things will turn out well, if someone else holds the key to that? if a friend hurts you and refuses to talk about it, what can you do? what can do?

there's not much. i sort of have to wait it out. and, in order to wait for something without letting it eat at me, i have to let it go. i have to walk away from the kettle if i want to wait patiently for it to boil. and i'm the kind of person who takes the lid off every minute to check for tiny bubbles. x_x

i don't always invest in someone. but when i do, i generally dive in head-first. this is bound to be emotionally difficult, if i keep the habit.



recently i've been... challenged... by life, to let go of things. to withdraw heavy investments. i cling to these things (people, mostly) because i benefit from them so much, and because i love it when they benefit also. it's a mutual nourishment for which i find it impossible not to seek & strive daily. it's closeness. it's a close brother to essencia. it's good for me and others. yet life seeks to pry it from my stubborn fingers.

why?

i don't know. perhaps there's no reason or purpose behind it; perhaps it really is an endlessly complex combination of chance and choices. it doesn't matter either way. i still have two options: 1) hold on to the horse's tail as it tries to gallop away from me. 2) learn to let go, and take the much longer route through the desert. 

(i say "learn to let go" instead of simply "let go" because giving a man a fish vs teaching him to fish, blah blah blah.)

~     ~     ~

letting go of shame isn't something i'm ready to do yet. i can tell because when i ask myself if it's a good idea, i laugh at it, but then continue asking myself.

letting go of the people closest to me, of my life's best friendships, is not something i'm totally ready to do... but it's something i'm planning to do anyway. behind my own back, in a way, since i plan to force myself to do it even though my heart isn't willing.

letting go of any expectations for closeness with my family is something i might be ready to do. caring about them so much makes it so difficult... but maybe i can convince myself that i can't be of much benefit to them anyway. i'll try that next.

letting go of my church family will not be as difficult as i had once imagined. it's many weeks since i heard things from out of nowhere, but one or two of them sunk in and sprouted leaves, and the fruit they bear may soon be ripe enough for the picking.

letting go hurts a lot. i attach so tenaciously; i long to keep what enlivens me, to live in the house that suits me so well, to continue Loving people close to me like it's my whole purpose. but it isn't always an option i guess, and the best things in life are not guaranteed permanency.

i feel like cursing but i'll spare you this time. welcs.

closing thought: i wonder what will happen when i finish uprooting myself from the soil that sustained me. i don't know whether i'll wither, adapt, or take root elsewhere (if there is anywhere else to take root). i feel like my time for making the most of life has passed, like an aspiring musician who spent 8 years and a gadzillion dollars on law school.

the only thing i really know for sure about the future is that it can't possibly be as good as what i have experienced (and what i almost experienced) so far. which probably explains what i feel like doing currenty.