Love, Real, Let Go

Trying to convince someone to you without putting your best foot forward is tough. Trying to convince someone to love you when you don’t like them is disastrous. Trying to convince someone to love you when you don’t love yourself is impossible.
I try to think of a good match as a checklist. Does this person do this, this, and this? Being vegan is good, although I haven’t been able commit to a vegan diet myself. But you know, I would like to, someday. There’s probably a reason people talk about living your life authentically or living your best life before meeting the person of your dreams. Also people say don’t date someone’s potential for similar reasons.  I might never become a vegan.
But let’s move on. So this person has hit enough on the checklist to be interesting: used to be vegan, traveled, highly educated, wanted to live abroad, and liberal.  Good so far. And let’s talk some more and talk more often. But here’s something that is a big clash. Oh, that was a big no. Doesn’t believe in monogamy in marriage?  Likes pets more than people and finds it hard to connect?
Why not let go?  Honestly, I am too desperate alone to let go first. Maybe there is some chance… one of us will change? I don’t want to be that one. I don’t want to have superficial conversations or be silly. I don’t want to sit in the same room just on our phones or computers instead of being together in more than just proximity? I don’t want to spend Fridays alone because friends come first. But if I won’t change, do I really expect the other person to change? To love me unconditionally while I want them to lose all the undesirable parts.  Or maybe we can compromise. I can try to live with this and expect slack on this. But I have never had this arrangement last for long. Who breaks first? I can’t remember so that’s a good indicator it was me.
But people say you have to let go of what isn’t working to make room in your life for what will. Compromising won’t work long-term without deep commitment to the belief that this particular compromise is the best compromise to be had or there is too much to lose.  But I never feel that assured. I imagine it could be better. I imagine someone more similar to me that doesn’t set off warning bells by telling me things I don’t want to which become accustomed.  I imagine someone that is like a best friend, instead of a boxing partner. Or I think, wouldn’t it be great if I smiled just thinking about this person instead of indifferent?  Or I think, wouldn’t it be great if this person wanted to talk to me or see me first, instead of me feeling like I alone want to connect?  I think, wouldn’t it be great to be with someone else?
But I hang on, waiting for this person to decide. I ruin it. By being my awful self too raw and honest too soon.  Or by becoming distant or cold. Or by demanding so much and so often.  Maybe it could have worked. Maybe it could have never worked. It definitely did not work.
Because love isn’t love until you love yourself by living authentically and letting go of those that don’t bring joy and goodness (more than grief) into your life.

Love stories with additive love

The typical love story is boy meets girl, they get married, buy a dog or cat, have kids, then grow old.

Now same sex couples can openly be together and have children. Possibly not what barren heterosexual Christian couples embracing reproductive technological advances had in mind.

But shouldn’t children be regarded as a blessing?  Even to unwed mothers, even to homosexual couples, even to couples that divorce.  A person’s personal feeling on a particular child may be complicated or negative, but shouldn’t society as a whole embrace the children of their future continuation?
As Andrew Solomon wrote, “I do not accept competitive models of love, only additive ones. I espouse reproductive libertarianism, because when everyone has the broadest choice, love itself expands. The affection my family have found in one another is not a better love, but it is another love, and just as species diversity is crucial to sustain the planet, this diversity strengthens the ecosphere of kindness.”

Personally as a single mom, I am looking for additive love. Someone that loves me and first baby, and will want to have more children. Someone whose parents and family will love all my children.  That siblings of different blood to all be loved equally.  To be a whole family, even if one child has a different father.  To have an abundance of love, instead of restricting it to mere biology.

I have struggled to keep my baby’s father involved. I know his family wanted only the baby, not me. Definitely not me with another love relationship and definitely not half-blood siblings.

This makes me sad.  Will my son have to go on solo trips to see his father and the rest of their family?  If I get married and have more children, will we go as well and have a separate vacation from my son?  That makes me sad, thinking about separating siblings because of the complicated and proprietary feelings of adults.

I still work very hard to keep my son connected with the other half of his family.  It’d be easier and less painful to cut off contact.  But the idea of my son having more family to love him is important to me.

It’d be wonderful to have all three families together to celebrate life’s special moments.  Right now, it’s hard to imagine.  Because it’s difficult to imagine people genuinely being happy for others, generous, unselfish, and optimistic.  The idea of people believing in an infinite additive love instead of our traditional redactive model.

President Barack Obama’s 2nd Inaugural Speech

“Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.  We affirm the promise of our democracy.  We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.  For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.  The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob.  They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

For more than two hundred years, we have.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.  For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.  No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.  A decade of war is now ending.  An economic recovery has begun.  America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.   My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together. 

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.  We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own. 

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time.  We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.  But while the means will change, our purpose endures:  a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American.  That is what this moment requires.  That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. 

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.  Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage.  Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.  The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm.  But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law.  We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.  America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.  We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.  And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes:  tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice. 

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. 

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm. 

That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American.  Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness.  Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay.  We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.  We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.  We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.  But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream.  My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.

They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.

You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.

You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.  

Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright.  With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.

Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.”

– President Barack Obama

Difficulty and Growth

Life is hard.  I feel like I have woken up from a long nap.

It’s like I am slowly realizing the dream I was living in has ended.  “Time to wake-up!”  Now I have a lot of growing to do if I want to become a person I love.  Instead of the last few years of just surviving, I need to focus on thriving.

It’s scary.  I feel confronted by difficulties.  It is very scary.  I am always worried about messing up, getting in over my head, or how the consequences will hurt my heart.  And it seems like everything, even good growth, hurts my heart.

Maybe I should think of it like stretching muscles before starting a work-out.  It might not feel great, but it is getting me ready to do something much more demanding.  And it’s a necessary step.

Maybe I should try not to think about it too much.

My life now–

Just like Lola Versus.

29, not getting married, needing to find myself, instead of blaming others.

And she had 29 years until the next upheaval and she hoped at the end of it that she felt the way she did at the end of movie.  The way she felt as she put her cut flowers on the table and sat down in her apartment.

Will I find my calm and myself too?

What Comforts Us

A list of comforting essentials (inspired by The Art of Comforting by Val Walker)

The Arts to express ourselves

Belief, for a sense of meaning and purpose

Comfort foods and drinks

A safe, relaxing place to restore or rest oneself

Connection, a support system, community, a sense of belonging

Entertainment, media, and games

Gratitude

Humor

Passion, Interests, Hobbies

Love and affection

Nature, experiencing the life on Earth

Pets and animals

Touch, hugs, caresses, massages, foot baths, brushing hair, putting on lotion, putting on nail polish or makeup, sex

Sports

Medication, treatment or therapy

Opening up to Love

I have been pretty badly heart-broken.

I can ignore it.  I can trivialize it.  I can even forget it for a while.

But I still have a broken heart.

A heart that doesn’t trust love.  Or people who say they love.  A heart that doesn’t believe in kindness, honesty, selflessness, comfort, or healing.

But today I was waiting around in the classroom and picked up a book called “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul”.  Not a book I would typically read because I don’t go for those kinds of sappy, amateur stories and I am a decade removed from teenage.  But I had time to kill and it was lying on a table needing to be re-shelved so in between the table and shelf I flipped it open.  And read a single story.  A story of a girl and her grandmother.  A story of feeling alone, isolated, and full of loss.  The girl tells her classmates about her grandmother and also about her death.  And after telling herself it was foolish to open her heart and be honest, she receives anonymous support.  A gift of lilacs like the ones she saw with her grandmother and words of encouragement.

And I am encouraged too.  People do sometimes care.  We can be rewarded with love when we open up our hearts to others.  And we do have to open up ourselves and be honest – to not be alone and miserable.

Of course, we all want to be loved.