Boy, You Complete Me!

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“Perfect Two” is a song that plays often in my household.  I have a love/hate relationship with the song.  Musically, it’s a cute song.  It’s sweet.  I love the simplicity of an acoustic song.

My daughters are as funny as can be singing this song together, and usually quite loudly.  The BEST thing about this song is that T sings it!  He learned it word for word as a joke on the girls.  One day, it came on, and he started belting it out.  VERY out of character for T, and he got the results he wanted.  The girls stopped whatever they were doing and looked on in amazement.  “Dad!!!  How do you know this song???”  That’s a sweet memory for me, and I think of it each time I hear the song.

Now the hate part of the song.  I cringe at the lyrics.  You might ask why.  They are sweet and loving.  “You can be the peanut butter to my jelly…”  Yep, that’s pretty sweet.  It’s this line that chills me each time I hear it:  “Don’t know if I could ever be without you, cuz boy you complete me.”  Uh oh…  COMPLETE ME.  Is she missing a piece of herself without him?  An arm, a leg?  Her heart?  Would an internal organ stop functioning if “Boy” were to go away?

It’s the classic Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White/Prince Charming song.  She is not COMPLETE without her man (or boy.)  As little girls, at least in my generation, we were spoon fed this concept.  Someone will one day come along, and our lives will be complete.  I am trying so hard to make sure that my daughters understand this concept is a fairy tale.  They are already complete, capable, competent human beings all on their own.  Someday, they will fall in love, but that love will enhance their lives, not complete them.

So when “Perfect Two” comes on in our household, the first thing the girls do is wait for is their father to start singing.  The next thing, for their mother to once again launch into a discussion about Being Complete.  “Yeah, Mom.  We know…”

 

 

 

 

Resisting Closure

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For the past year and a half, I have fought closure; kicking and screaming, heals dug in, eyes squinched shut.  I have seen closure, and I have looked at what lies on the other side.  I could see it as if I were looking through a big picture window.  I wasn’t sure I liked what I saw on the other side.

Closure:  1.  bringing to an end; a conclusion.  2.  A feeling of finality or resolution, especially after a traumatic experience.

Finality after a traumatic experience.  Yes.  But why wouldn’t I want that?  Why wouldn’t I want “finality after a traumatic experience?”  That seems like something I should want and desire; to finally bring a traumatic experience to an end.  So what was stopping me?

To be able to walk away from a situation, whether that means to physically walk away, or to simply disallow a situation to take up real estate in your head, you have to be able to have acceptance.

Acceptance – the mental attitude that something is believable and should be accepted as true.

I resisted acceptance, too.  Actively and blindly, I resisted seeing the things right in front of me that were “believable and true.”  I clung to a fantasy that was my perception of reality.  I now know why.  If I let go of that illusion, delusion, fantasy, I was going to be forever changed.

Closure has been right in front of me for a very long time now.  Closure was a gate, and all I had to do was enter.  Instead, I circled around and around.  I pretended to ignore it.  I refused to look in that direction.  I shuffled my feet and whistled a tune, all in an attempt to avoid acceptance.  Acceptance meant letting go.  Letting go meant that I had been WRONG.  Letting go meant that I would be forever changed.

Letting go meant that my illusions turned into disillusionment.  Letting go meant that my optimism and belief had been unfounded.  My trust turned to distrust.  My happiness turned to anger and resentment.  The truth had been turned into lies.  What once sparkled and glowed was now a crappy blob of dryer lint.  Of course, I didn’t want to accept all of these things!  I knew what acceptance meant for me, too.  Acceptance meant that something essential about myself was going to be forever changed and not in any good way.

I’m not sure if I am making myself clear.  I liked who I was “before.”  I imagined who I would become on the other side of all of this, and it scared me.  I liked trusting people.  I liked believing in the good side of life.  I wanted to be an optimist.  I didn’t want to be wary.  I didn’t want to distrust.  I didn’t want to be cautious.  I wanted GOOD to prevail over EVIL.  I wanted a fairy tale.  Mostly, I didn’t want to be forever changed.

I have taken that step, and walked through the gates of acceptance and closure.  Yes, I have changed.  No, it doesn’t feel good.  It feels empty and sad.  I do distrust in the simplest moments of happiness or kindness, but there is something else.  This is important.  Who I was inside has not changed.  The essential ME has not changed.  I do still want to believe in good.  I still see good all around me, but there is a new dimension beginning to emerge.  Maybe it is a new depth of empathy, but I’m not really sure.  I am recently equipped with something, as of yet undefinable, that feels gentle and sympathetic.   I look at the people around me and I wonder.  We all have a story inside.  We all need kindness and love.  Some of us deserve it.

This past weekend, I took steps back into my life.  I reconnected with old friends.  I listened to great music.  I spent time with people I love and who love me in return.  No, acceptance and closure are not easy things, but they are so very much better than the gray, stark landscape of denial.

Dreamers, Realists, and Fantasizers

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I have been thinking about this post for days.  A recent conversation gave me food for thought.  I’m no philosopher, and I will hopelessly simplify a subject that could be studied for many lifetimes.  After a great deal of thought, I now believe that there are three basic types of people:  people who are realists, people who dream, and people who live a life in a world created by their own fantasy.

I’m a dreamer.

No doubt about it.  Sometimes I have to literally force myself back to reality.  I imagine and suppose.  I strive.  I push.  I am never satisfied.  When something is good, I hope for more.  That doesn’t mean that I am never happy.  What it means is that I am never done learning, and trying, and hoping.  I want to make more successes and more happiness.  If something is fun, I want to do it again and again.  While this dreamy side of me sometimes works to my advantage, it often means that I leave the more boring, mundane duties of life until the last possible moment.  I will go on great business trip, learn a lot at a conference, make great connections while networking, but then I leave the travel expense reports and required paperwork until the last moment.  (That usually means a couple of friendly reminders from the department secretary.)  Logically, I know that the this paperwork is important and must be done, but it seems so worthless and non-productive to me.  Paperwork is just one example.  I could cite hundreds of examples of times when I have left the less than fun aspects of a project, or just daily life, until the last possible moment.

It is my birthright to be a dreamer.  My dad was the same way.  It was one of the reasons I loved him so dearly and why we were so close.  He “got” me.  I understood him, too.  He felt emotions so deeply.  He was touched inside by words, poetry, music, a beautiful scene in nature.  I can still see the goose bumps rise on his arms as we spoke deeply, late at night in the darkened kitchen or when a song on the radio touched him.  Oh yes, I understood all of that.  Even now, with Dad gone, I feel the things that would have moved him.

The realists.

T is a realist.  He believes in nothing….literally.  He does not believe in heaven or hell.  He doesn’t believe in God.  He does not believe in the spirits I see and feel all around us.  He believes in life, and he believes in death.  He believes in what he can see and touch and taste and smell.  All other things, he leaves for people like me, the gullible dreamers.

T is a good, kind, dependable man.  He is a law-abiding citizen.  He pays his bills.  He eats three square meals each day, exercises, and gets plenty of rest.  He works hard, and he works well.  He is satisfied doing the same job he has had for over thirty years.  He has never wanted more, or maybe he has, but he has not tried for more.  His job provides all that he requires in his life.  He is familiar with it.  He’s good at his job.  He has freedom to make his own schedule, spends time outdoors, enjoys his co-workers.

Sometimes I feel sorry that T has been saddled for life to a woman like me.  Often, I know I am a curiosity to him.  For a couple who has been married almost 27 years, I often feel we are mismatched.  I feel inadequate.  T deserves a better, calmer, more down to earth kind of woman.  He deserves someone practical and calm.  He would appreciate a woman like that.  Not that he doesn’t appreciate me, but he would admire such a woman.

He liked it best during the years when I stayed home with the kids.  I cleaned, baked, and parented.  Those were things he understood.  It’s more difficult for him now.  While he is interested in my work, I know he doesn’t understand why it is so important to me.  Why do I thrive on the stress at times?  Why do I like having so many irons in the fire?  Why don’t I want something that takes less of my energy?  Why wouldn’t I be happy just to BE HOME?  (Big, huge UGGGHHH!)

We’re working through all of these career-related changes.  I have been proud at the progress he has made in seeing me in this different role, a role that has changed all of our roles.  It has been a bumpy road, but the changes have been good for T, too.  He has been forced a bit outside of his comfort zone.  It’s not all black and white around here anymore, and T has had to spend quite a bit of time in the gray areas, too.

Fantasy.

While I am a dreamer and chase that feather floating in the air above my head, and T is carefully placing one foot in front of the other and staying right on track, there is a third type of person I have encountered at times  in my life.  This is a more rare type of person, indeed.  A person whose life is based on fantasy can even be dangerous.  They may consider themselves to be realists when in fact they are living their own (maybe even twisted) version of reality.  People who live a life of fantasy are capable of causing great harm or simply never amounting to much at all.  They are lazy.  Fantasizers are simply too lazy to be real AND too lazy to chase their dreams.  Both of those things are too much work.   They are too egocentric to care about anything beyond what feels right and good to themselves at that particular moment in time.  They don’t connect the dots.  Heck, they don’t even SEE the dots!  They want immediate, instant gratification, and they will do whatever it takes to feel good from one moment to the next.  They are looking for the quick fix, the easy way out.  They live for the moment.

I’ve known a few Fantasy-driven people in my lifetime.  One of them is a colleague from a different city.  I see her several times each year.  Her life is a mess.  She has had two failed marriages, and is living now unhappily as a  single mother.  Each time I see her, she is deeply in love with the man of the moment.  He’s always “the one.”  Sad things is, it’s a different “one” each time we meet.  I have sat listening as this woman tells me for hours about Mr. Right and then watched her head off to her room with Mr. Guy-Who-Happened-To-Be Sitting-At-The-Bar.

Another Fantasizer I know was a former board member.  He was an extremely intelligent man with a vast knowledge of historic preservation.  With some effort, he could have had a wonderful career.  Instead, he was always looking for the goose with the golden egg.  He was always trying to “make a deal” with some developer with deep pockets who would finance a project for him.  So many times, he got his hopes up, but they were dashed to the ground when his true colors showed through,
and for whatever reasons, the projects failed.  No, he failed.  He failed to produce.  He may have been knowledgeable, but he was not capable of the hard work involved to see a project through to the end.

Thoughts.

I have often berated myself for not being more like T, more grounded, or more detail oriented.  Certainly, he would not be sitting up at 1:00 A.M. blogging on a workday!  The older I get, though, the more I am comfortable with who I am and how I am.  My quest to know and learn and dream has, at times, led me down paths I would have preferred not to travel.  Along the way, though, I have learned, and I have grown as a human being.

I come from a long line of dreamers.  As I begin to see that quality emerge in my own children, I feel sense of wonder and awe.  There it is….a part of me, a part of my dad, a part of my grandma.  All of us dreamers.  I hope my children are led in beautiful directions as they follow their own dreams.