Monday, November 2, 2009

Thoughts on Love

Some time ago, I started a new relation- ship. It was one of those fairy tale stories ... we had known each other since we were babies, raised as step-cousins, and stayed connected through school, marriages, deaths, divorces and all of life’s ups and downs. I thought, I think we both thought, it would lead to “happily ever after” ... it lasted two years and the ending left me numb and bewildered about what happened.

This morning I came across the initial, long emails where we explored the possibility of living our lives together. I knew we had lots of differences so I asked for a sharing of our fears and how we would overcome our differences. The emails were filled with confidence and love ... by communicating and loving each other, we would overcome the differences. So, we jumped in with both feet.

I had been wondering a lot about how I got into the relationship when the pitfalls were so clear from the beginning. Finding these emails eased a bit of the judgment I was feeling toward myself. I did hear the warning bells but we talked about them and thought we could work through them. I took a chance on love and I’m not sure that’s ever a wrong thing.

The error, I think now, was that both of us let our loneliness and life-long connection cloud our ability to see the reality of who we actually are as people, a reality that quickly became apparent in the every day reality of living together. We projected onto each other the fantasy of what we wanted in our lives and when reality started to tear through the fantasy, we both wound up hurt and disappointed. Then, rather than focusing on our common bonds and using those to weave a stronger relationship, we focused on our differences and pulled the fabric apart until it was in such tatters that it could never be whole again.

I keep trying to find the lesson in all of this. It has made me doubt my ability to see the reality of another person. How can I avoid projecting my self and my fantasy onto others? How can I know when they are projecting their fantasy onto me?

Perhaps part of the answer is understanding that the beginning of any new friendship or relationship is almost pure projection and fantasy. I see myself in you and feel like I’m falling in love. Perhaps it’s only when I begin to understand you as a real human, brilliant and flawed, separate from me, that I can truly choose to love you.

Until then, I’m only loving myself. So, perhaps, the big lesson in all of this is to learn to love myself more fully ... enough that I wouldn’t need to project myself onto someone else in order to fall in love. John O’Donohue says in Anam Cara:
"A friend is a loved one who awakens your life in order to free the wild possibiities within you."
Can I befriend myself enough to free the wild possibilities within? And, by doing that, can I become more available to love the true person within each of my friends? I can, at least, keep trying.


  1. Jung might say (as he once wrote), "It depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves"; but I think I would disagree. We cannot accept another into our life unless we first can accept ourselves, ourselves how we are, how we are meant to be. My digital friend Louise has a post this morning on acceptance. It seemed written for me. Her site is Namaste.

  2. Maureen, thanks for the comment and the referral to Louise's blog ... it is a great find. Life is indeed an interesting and continually surprising journey!

  3. Sorry for your hurt. I appreciate your transparency. In my years of counseling experience, people are always looking for security, significance, and acceptance. We can receive some of each from our peers, but never enough. I won't belabor you with my suggested source of totally sufficient security, significance, and acceptance. Press on and do not grow weary of well doing! --Don

  4. Don ... thanks for your nice note and, believe it or not, I think we have the same source, but just different paths to it. Hugs to you both ... and give Sedona a break ... ;-) joyce

  5. I recently downloaded Anam Cara to my Kindle, but have not read it yet. Love the quote Joyce. I stumbled upon your blog from Kim's blog, and am enchanted. I've added you to my reads and look forward to reading more. Have a lovely day. :c)

  6. Jayne ... thanks for the lovely note and I'm sure you'll enjoy Anam Cara ... my copy has turned yellow from all the highlighting. It is a treasure. joyce