Category Archives: relationships

Sometimes we drive each other nutty, but this guy really loves me…

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Our anniversary is coming up this Saturday. It will be 17 years. That’s a pretty long time. I like to think of myself as young-ish, but 17 years married starts to make that a less convincing argument. I think about the Hubs and where we have been. It hasn’t been a dream, full of wonderment. Marriage is not a fairy tale. Let me say that again…Marriage is NOT a fairy tale.  Our marriage is NOT a fairy tale. Sometimes I don’t know how any marriages last. It’s often a bit of a Gong Show, but we are still here, hanging on,  and experiencing an upswing right now, which is nice.

Here’s the thing:  he still  loves me, after all this time. I am still first. Not even his comic books have surpassed me…yet. I never wonder if he still loves me, I just know it. I am not an easy one to love. I know you must find that difficult to believe, Reader, but it is true 🙂 I am strong-willed and opinionated. I have a really horrid temper and mornings make me grumpy. I am wildly jealous and territorial. And yet, this guy loves me. Not only does he love me, he likes me. He really, really likes me. He thinks I am funny and cute. He sees my wild swings of emotion as side effects of my passion. He finds my jealousy and territoriality (is that a word?) charming. I have never, ever felt like I had to apologize for being me. He accepts me just as I am.

Hubs is steady. Level. Calm. Content. Loyal. He is everything I need in a life partner. And he makes me laugh til I need my inhaler (I have asthma). That is a most excellent quality. He is better than me and he loves me better than I love. I am not sure what I ever did to deserve to be loved in such a way.  My conclusion is that I did nothing. Not everyone finds someone who loves them in  this way, or who doesn’t get bored with them. I got lucky. I picked a Really. Good. Egg.

He tells me often that he hopes our kids turn out like me, but Hubs, I think we make a pretty fine combination. My Mallard Duck, or My Golden Eagle (did I tell you they pick a life partner too?) I am so very glad to be going through this journey with you. I hope you can tolerate me for a really long time, but if not, I’ll just kick your butt.

Soul Extraction


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I love people. People are one of my favorite elements of our planet. Well, people and flowers.  I love going to the State Fair every year, not for everything fried on a stick, but to watch the sea of people move, almost as one, in a wave-like fashion down the packed streets of the fairgrounds. I love to sit in crowded places and listen to the hum of human voices. It soothes me.

Working a crowd is not my scene, but I thoroughly enjoy getting to know people one on one. I love to sit with a person in a coffee shop and listen to their story.  I want to know where they are from, what makes them tick, what makes them laugh, and the sorrows they’ve known. I don’t forget those stories either. I try to remember the details and the stories become a part of the quilt of humanity I am sewing together in my head.

When I meet someone unpleasant, I always try to remind myself that they too have a story. There’s a reason why people act the way they do. When I forget this detail, I am happy to have friends around me who will remind me.

I once had someone tell me, “Don’t invest so much energy in people, invest more in your life and your work.” What??? That’s like telling a bunny not to eat carrots or a child not to laugh. It’s my nature. People are my life. That sounds like a dramatic statement and it isn’t that I overextend myself, but I love to invest in others, as much I can. Why not add to other’s lives if you are able and when you have the opportunity? It’s part of the journey we are on together.

The people I meet along my way in this world are like treasures. Each highly valued for one reason or another, with something to teach me about myself or about life; Something they do or say that makes me laugh; An alternative viewpoint or experience with which to challenge me.  I keep them close to my heart, even when time and distance separate, the memories of the  people I have known and the things I learned from them remain a treasure.

It’s probably because of my love for people that I get so attached to friends and struggle with so much sorrow when they move away because my friends are never just an accessory to my life, they are a part of me.

And I am faithful, especially with my closest friends. I stick around and work when things get hard. I wait, hoping and believing things will improve and they often do. Relationships with people ebb and flow. I am quite aware of this. My husband says I stick around a lot longer in a relationship than most others would. That might be true. I think I do it because I have faith in humans that most times they come back around and things can be good again. I always seem to retain hope.

Sometimes friendships gradually end over time. I’m ok with that. But sometimes they end because of neglect or hurt. Those are the endings with which I struggle. The hardest thing I ever have to do is to watch a close friendship of mine end. I’m really bad at giving up on someone. For me it’s like extracting part of my soul, the part that they occupied. It’s a painful process and leaves a hole in my heart.  However, I know that sometimes turning away and letting go is the bravest thing to do, even if everything in me cries out, “No!”

If you read my post, Circumstantial Erosion, you’ll understand when I say, sometimes there just isn’t enough beach left on which to rebuild.

Fortunately, time heals wounds and I comfort myself knowing there will be new people to meet and to know. I’m mindful that no two beautiful people are exactly alike. There is no replacing someone whom you have lost, no filling the hole they left completely. But there will be new friends in which to invest and love; new stories to hear and patches to sew into the quilt.  After all, it’s a great big, wonderful world. 🙂

 

Circumstantial Erosion

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Did you ever experience a friendship or other relationship that degraded so far that at some point, when it got to be ugly and mucky and unbearably sad, all you wanted to do was climb into a time machine and transport yourself back to a moment when the friendship was still good and talk to the person the way you once knew them, telling them what’s now going on because that person, that friend you once knew, would understand? Yes, I know a little about that.  It’s been a part of my life lately, but when I stop to think about it, it’s always a part of life as long as there are relationships in it.

A few years ago now, Chris, my darling Hubs, and I had a gigantic and super-serious talk about our marriage. Life had been hard. We had moved to Minnesota, experienced job loss, lived without many friends, had lots of small children and not enough money, and we let all of these happenings take their toll on us. Our relationship was suffering from what I now call circumstantial erosion, the unfortunate reality of allowing life and all the crap it brings to erode away at your relationships because of your lack of care for those relationships. What I have learned since that time is that this is not just a marriage problem, but a relationship problem.

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Relationships of all kinds-marriages, partnerships, friendships, parent/child-all  take work and lots of it. They require time and and sacrifice and grace and, perhaps most importantly, intentionality. Without intentional efforts to continue building your relationships and maintaining them, the happenings of life, both big and small, will wash over those relationships and carry them out to sea. The thing about erosion, and if you are from an ocean town you may understand this better, is that it doesn’t happen quickly. It happens slowly, gradually, unnoticeably, a little bit of sand at a time, until suddenly one day you look out and the beach has disappeared and you find yourself standing on just a strip of sand, wondering where your relationship has gone.

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Be intentional. Be intentional. And when you think you have invested in your relationships and been intentional, be more intentional. Work at them. Don’t let all that life brings distract you. Don’t take the easy way and let your relationships drift. Give those people whom you deem important in your life as much purposeful effort and care as you can give them while still maintaining your own strength.

Sometimes erosion is irreversible. Sometimes by the time you realize what has happened, the damage may be too far along and it would take the Army Corps of Engineers to come in with major equipment to rebuild the shore. But sometimes, if you are watchful and careful, you might be able to prevent the shore from being completely washed out from beneath you. Tell your people the hard things, be honest, have conversations, let them know that you see things breaking down and eroding. Tell them you won’t let life and all its happenings wash away what you have. Tell them that it will take mutual effort, but that you are willing to work at it. And more importantly, that you are willing to keep working at it, since erosion is always a threat. Because these people, these folks whom you love and have invested in, are worth just a little more of your effort, no? To prevent circumstantial erosion? And maybe, just maybe, you can turn things around and the shore will be restored once more. I know it’s possible. I’ve seen it happen.  🙂

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A few years after that big conversation

Frozen

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Joyful summer, 2011

I decided today was as good a day as any to start blogging again. I’d stopped for a while. Papers to write. Friends to whom I could tell my secrets and thoughts. There was little need for a blog, I guess. But here I am three years or so from the start of this blog and there’s a need again. Friends keep moving or moving on or are prepping to move. Getting married. Making new friends. Moving countries or states. So now, seven years into living in Minnesota things are hard again. Not as hard as they were when I started blogging, but difficult. Plus, I am currently awash in melancholy which is always a great time to write.

Three years ago my world opened up. I met several dear friends in quick succession. My one friend (who has since moved over the ocean) said, at the time, that she felt my heart open to the world that spring. I was invigorated and felt alive and joyful. I spent that summer with days at the lake where friends would come and go with their kids. We’d bring lunches and stay all day. I had weekly coffee talks with another dear friend with whom I’d talk politics and policy. I turned thirty-five that summer and threw myself a party and had many guests. Now, I look back on pictures of my party and that summer and feel drowned in sorrow. Most of the people have physically moved and some of the others have simply moved on.

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I know for many people this is just a part of life. Friendships ebb and flow, but for me it aches. I love people. I love the people in my life. They become like my family. I invest in them wholeheartedly. I feel and enjoy their presence with every bit of my soul and the loss of their presence, or sometimes even the reduction of time spent in their presence, is agonizing. I guess I don’t adapt to changes very well.

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One friend I have made here in Minnesota posted quotes about love for the entire month of February. One quote shared was, “It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.” I could not agree more. Sometimes I wish I was different. I wish I didn’t notice when friendships change or care as much when people leave. I wish I didn’t feel it so intensely. I wish I could be like my husband who says, tongue in cheek, “Relationships: A mess not worth making.” Alas, that is not the case. So, I trudge through this world adoring and hating, feeling exhilarated and distraught as friendships begin and end and people come and go. It is what it is. I make no apologies because this quality is at the core of my being. I ask only for an extra measure of grace and the understanding that for some people change is much harder than for others.

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Lastly, but not unrelated, I saw the movie “Frozen” today. It struck many cords with me. I got sort of teary when Princess Anna was singing about true love. Not because of the true love part, but somehow, Disney captured in their animation pure joy on Anna’s face, which reminded me of that spring and summer three years ago and the feeling of complete contentment and peace I experienced that year, much because of the many wonderful people with whom I had the pleasure of spending time. I long for that again. During the movie I also found myself thinking that life would be much easier if my heart were frozen and impenetrable, but in order to avoid the pain and sorrow of friendship, one must also miss out on the love and joy with which it is coupled, and I guess I wouldn’t really give that up. I had an all-out cry at Olaf’s summer time song. Yeah, I totally feel that way about summer. Chris thought it was funny that I was so moved by such a silly song, and we both agreed that summer can’t come soon enough to hopefully move me from my sorrow, even just a bit.

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My Constant

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