For most of my life I have lived away from my native home and my husband has always said, “You can take the girl out of New York, but you can’t take New York out of the girl.” Being a Jewish girl from New York has been a part of my identity as basic as my blue eyes. Yet for all of the space that this cultural identity has taken up, and the personality attributes that accompanies it, I have found very little comfort in where I come from. Functional though it may be in getting things done, it has always required some kind of explanation or excuse.
Archive for the 'Water' Category
Here’s a New Year’s resolution that anyone can keep. Give the people you love, starting with yourself, the benefit of the doubt. Generally speaking and almost without exception most of us are doing the best that we can at any given moment. We are being as loving as we can be, as kind as we can be, as generous as we can be, even though our best might not make it, even and especially in our own eyes.
This was brought home to me in a deep and personal way as I spent the holidays with my original family. Although the visit did not include any storming out or other traumatic arguments that suggested the end of the relationship, the very lack of them and what was left over made the reality of the relationship clear. It was a bittersweet departure, with this realization of what was left between us, and our agreement to not try to be understood or provoke a healing in all the old wounds.
Love is the one treasure that multiplies by division. It is the one gift that grows bigger the more you take from it. It is the one business in which it pays to be an absolute spendthrift. You can give it away, throw it away, empty your pockets, shake the basket, turn the glass upside down, and tomorrow you will have more than ever.
Our breasts cushion our heart. As our hardest working organ, our heart never sleeps, beating over 2 billion times in a life time and circulating 50 million gallons of blood. Impossible to think that one could ever take this organ for granted, but so constant is the heart, we rarely celebrate its function or recognize it’s needs. Hearts perform best that are dosed with generous amounts of love and can bear the thrill of new romance as well as the tragedy of loss with equanimity. They strain under repressed emotion and isolation. Studies show both more stable heart health and increased longevity in the context of sustained loving relationships. Hearts need to be heard.
Although I don’t remember the exact day that I pulled the one foot that I had out the door back into my marriage, Today, celebrating 24 years of marriage, I can’t remember the last time that it occurred to me that I would ever leave. It seems like I should remember when that change took place as it so profoundly changed the very fabric of what we were doing together, but like most things in life that are daily, we don’t see them as they are happening. They are clear as we look back.
We never had a fairy tale marriage, and in fact anyone who claims to have one is probably either not really present or honest. Our love for each other was uneven and the common issues of attraction and initiation- who wanted who, first and more, plagued our ability to connect for years. The classic, “I am not in the mood” or “I am tired” responses create a cycle of defensive and offensive reactions that is almost like a pre-patterned dance. It’s a scenario that many couples just don’t have enough language to find their way out of.
Holidays magnify the best and the worst of our relationships. There may be no holiday that reflects this more brilliantly than Valentine’s Day. I spent many years in my 25 year marriage waiting for just the right gift, or the right words on the right card to show me how much my husband appreciated and loved me – I believed then that single moments or holidays done right could heal the long standing differences between us. The years that worked the best were the ones where we were already on solid and intimate ground. The years when we were estranged or exhausted, Valentine’s Day served only to illuminate our distance. The good ones and the bad ones have both taught me about reasonable expectations in relationships and for Valentine’s Day.
Collectively we are heavily invested in this holiday of love. Worldwide spending is over $28 billion and here in the US sales are expected to top $13 billion. That is a lot of love to be celebrating, given that so many of us are broke and afraid for how long it will take to prop up our ailing economy. This is a testimony to the fact that our need for love, both giving and receiving it, is as basic a need as our needs for food and water. Humans thrive on love, our existence without meaningful relationships is a shadow of what we were put on earth to do.
Sleep is our most basic human need. Some thirty million of us will attest to the impact of insomnia on well being. Indeed, unlike fasting from food which humans can survive for weeks, being deprived of sleep can kill you in days. The impact is so severe, that it not only precipitates physical disability, but also insanity which it is why it was one of the cruelest and most inhumane torture methods ever devised. Considering that complete lack of sleep is fatal, it is not really a stretch to realize that consistent late hours and a growing sleep debt we all share is responsible for a wide variety of illness, injury and disease. The ability to rest and rejuvenate is at the essence of our vitality.
Under the best of conditions, maintaining loving relationships is one of life’s biggest rewards and challenges. Many of us don’t realize how big role exhaustion plays in our relationship skills. The patience to nurture the bonds of intimacy in our relationships is not strengthened through fatigue, rather it is often one of its first victims. The struggle between sleep and sex is a common one for most couples in long term relationships. Tiredness is one of the most commonly cited reasons for not being intimate.
If love is so healing why does it hurt so much? This is a good question with difficult answers. Love the verb is a constant practice of feeling compassion, giving the benefit of the doubt and struggling to feed our goals and desires, as well as those of whom we love. This aspiration is a juggle even in the most functional of relationships; and the score rarely comes up 50-50.
Approaching our intimate relationships with the intent of an action verb is realistic, if not a bit daunting. The romantic version of the verb, the measure we use for our love relationships, reflects the illusion of love as a vacation. We sit side by side in some beautiful natural location and the only action required is offered by the love that we feel, washing over us, filling us, just as easily as the nearby waterfall washes over and fills the streambed. Physical intimacy carries the potential to generate this experience; flush with heightened hormones and released tension; lovemaking seems to encompass all of what is love.
When I teach about the Ecology of Love and talk about the water that lives between people I often use the term “showing up” to describe the flow that happens in relationships. In relationships, like the ocean, there is an ebb and tide to how we are present for each other, but if the water in the relationship is always out, then both people feel alone more often than they feel like there is someone at their back. Many people go through years in partnerships where the experience of loneliness is profound. It is something that I struggle with in my own marriage, each of us having a different sense of what togetherness means and how much of it we need.
I found this quote recently and have been hanging onto it, almost like fingers clutching a ledge, as the onslaught of stories and information pours on about the demise of our current state of relationships. Last week’s coverage of the historic turn of events where more women (51%) are living without a spouse than with one. Depending on your race the statistics are as low as one in three (Black women) and only as high as 6 out of 10 for Asian women.
Tonight I learned a physics lesson, live, in my own oven. I added a bit of warm water to a pyrex glass pan, and shattered it to pieces. I still don’t fully understand the power that warm water has to shatter glass, no more than I understand the rate at which relationships all around us are failing. Maybe I am drawing a metaphor that doesn’t hold up, but when you think of an innocent glass of lukewarm water having the capacity to shatter hot glass, perhaps its not so surprising that we humans collide so ungracefully through life.