Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Finding Space for This Love

The lovely Mon-Mon left a comment on my series This Space of Love that I felt deserved a response. She said, "I find myself coming time and again to your post... especially when I am lost. I want to believe I love unconditionally, without expectations. And yet, I have a love who causes me pain, who has expectations and I don't know what to do. I want to love her without expecting anything back but I can't handle the pain loving her brings. These are my thoughts this fine day..."

My first thought was that Mon-Mon needs to trust that the pain will ease. It always does, because we always change. When I fall in love, a new me is created. The me that loves this person is open and raw, loving this connection, confused by this connection. As the moments stack up, this me becomes larger, and there is more space for the pain, or the pain becomes less, or less important. Keep in mind, my friend, that you know this is a moment in time when you feel this seemingly unbearable pain: you give me a clue you know when you say "These are my thoughts this fine day..." There will be more highs, more lows, and more blissful moments of perfect joy.

If I fight the pain, the pain gains its own strength. I would feed it by trying to fight it or trying to avoid it. If I allow the pain to be part of me and part of the love, it becomes no more than what it is. It's still not easy. I do my share of obsession, of wishing, of experiencing dashed expectations. Finding the space to love means noticing those moments and letting them go. It means noticing those moments where everything is just OK, just perfect, and encouraging those moments to extend. Give those moments more attention than the negative ones. If you think you can't handle it, you can't handle it. If you think you can get through this, you'll be more likely to get through this. I think a good bit of the pain is not knowing where this will lead. Maybe part of being able to love without expectations is being able to love without knowing where it will go. It helps to know there will be pain. Regardless of what I do, or the other does, the forging of a new self and a new relationship generates heat, friction, and yes, pain.

Come to think of it, the more I can be happy with this love as it is offered, however it is offered, the less pain I feel. It's more a matter of accepting than expecting. Maybe you need to accept that you can't meet all her expectations, and that doesn't make your love any less valid. It sounds as though you are working on no expectations, but at the same time, demands are being made of you that you can't meet. Is it possible to reframe the conflict? What are the needs that are not being met, really? If you can't meet expectations in the form she asks for, is it possible to meet the need behind the expectations in a form you can give?

Sometimes pain comes from not being able to articulate needs for the other. It could be you express yourselves that speak past each other rather than to each other...styles of communication that come from your cultural differences that shaped each of you.

It could be needs arise out of fears that are expressed as expectations. Can the fears be brought to light, so needs can be addressed directly rather than through conflict?

I have learned it is possible to give more than I would have expected I could, and that does not take away from me. If I find somehow it does take away from me, or from my relationships, then it's time for me to reconsider how much I have to give. This pain will not kill me (unless I nurture it to the point of suicidal depression...and that's not going to happen), so it's possible to endure and find the fulfilling empathy that comes after. It helps to remember the pain of love sparks a biochemical process, and those biochemical processes can be turned around with beneficial actions. Do exciting things, learn something new, play, exercise, experience new things. Not only do these help take your mind off things, they help turn around the biochemicals causing those lows.

1 comment:

Mon-Mon said...

Thanks for posting. Isn't that a buddhist thought - in life, there will be pain. Accept it.

I know this to be true. With growth, comes pain. But there is the thought that some point the pain will lessen. I don't expect to be estactic 100% of time. But generally speaking, I would think loving someone would bring love into you life. More than anything else. Especially as the relationship transitions from new to more established.

We have spent a considerable amount of time discussing all of our fears, addressing all of our needs and finding compromise in hopes of achieving - not a balance necessarily - but a structure that meets most of all of our needs. But even with all the discussions, her fears don't allow her to meet the compromises we spend so much time reaching. And her fears come out destructively, so the rest of us are left with the remnants of what she said and did.

It's true I can't avoid expectations anymore than I avoid expecting. Accepting in my case at this point means walking away, with love and hope that she will find her way.

Thank you again for the beautiful words...