LOVE SCENE INVESTIGATION
My boyfriend Frank and I met on a Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago’s Midway Airport to LaGuardia in New York. Emblematic of the “closeness of strangers” we talked for three hours straight about anything and everything. We asked for and got each other’s unbiased opinions because “Hey! We were never gonna see each other again.” Long story short, I liked him so much I decided I would become friends — a rare thing in adulthood. Most of us already have enough friends bonded to us over long years. But I felt compelled to make Frank part of my world. He was attentive, a good listener, humble, affectionate, honest — too honest. After we hung out for lunch and a few NFL games, Frank seemed to have his sexual orientation, personal goals, religious beliefs and sense of responsibility in the right place. So I pounced. Just like the song says, “I fooled around and fell in love!” Best decision I’ve made in a long time. I love him. And I’m happy to say he loves me. We have some long distance and life choice issues we’re working out. He says he doesn’t want to get married right now but I can’t be with him without that. But, in the meantime, I am happy. Once I can stop myself from lashing out because I feel insecure or like this relationship is out of my control, we’ll both be even happier.
– Celeste T.
My wife Marta is the apple of my eye after all these years. We just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary. Right now she’s helping me battle prostate cancer again. When I was a basketball star in college at Ithaca, Marta was the prettiest girl on campus. Other girls who wanted me told me Marta was a lesbian but I made it my mission to find out for myself. Sparks flew, we became inseparable, got married and had two beautiful children. I’m not a perfect man but I wish my wife would stop demeaning me, especially in public. If I’m running late or need to shovel the driveway, she can just mention it with out the screwface and lecture on how stupid/ lazy/ no count I am. I wish because I doubt she will ever change. That mouth and her crazy controlling s*** — it’s just like my Mother was with my late father. I guess I asked for it. No need crying about it now.
Maybe you started out as friends and got involved “accidentally.” Maybe he had to bide his time to make sure you were open to a relationship and comfortable with him. Unlike a man to whom women are a dime a dozen, what you think and feel matters to him a whole lot. To the point that you may be over-doing it on the hormonal emotional extremes by picking fights, muttering under your breath, micromanaging, cussing and withholding affection and sex to punish him. And still he’s so not going anywhere.
This is the Holy Grail: love that is so strong you two have bonded into family. You are living a kind of emotional bliss and reassurance that is everything love songs promised. What is important to realize is this level of love and happiness is normal. At its heart is self-love that radiates out to alll those you hold dear and reflects back to you amplified. You came into the world knowing this kind of love and truly feeling it.
All the great religions of the world allude to this love of self, inner peace and joy. Call it God, Buddha, nirvana, Allah, heaven, etc., truly “The Kingdom is within.” Your inner perfection and emotional wholeness are God-given and don’t need to be earned. Awareness of the goodness and the wholeness that is already there within us is all that is necessary. And what is whole does not seek from without for it is complete and therefore requires nothing. Beloved & loving is our natural state. It is only lost through negative messaging in our upbringings and from negative people & experiences in our world.
Transcending fashion and the ups & downs of life, we need to embody this self-love which enables us to withstand & abandon the dis-empowering messages telling us we are unworthy. Human beings need real love to be part of who we are on the inside and on the outside. Truly, love is the new black. You just have to have it this season and every season. It is the perfect accompaniment and compliment to everything you are striving for in this life. It is battle armor, security blanket and tres tres chic all in one. Not the Canal Street Gucci version. The real thing.
But this level of love & comfort is great until you get sloppy and stop editing out the less appealing behviors you learned in your parents’ home, on your block growing up and in bad relationships. Most of us have been unmercifully fed messages of self-hate by unkind people, schoolyard bullies, bad lovers, workplace abuse and trying life circumstances.
All of us come into adulthood with a menu of learned behaviors — good and bad. Like the Manchurian Candidate, these habits become ingrained like brainwashing. We’re not even conscious they’re there. Unless we start screaming over minor annoyances, threatening to end the relationship with our loved one or violently lashing out before we realize it.
Most self-improvement discussions do not respect the need for transition. Inevitably, you will fail to live up to the unrealistic & unnecessary goals of movies and magazine articles that demand we contort into perfection today. Such failure produces stress and anxiety. These negative emotions drive us to derail positive changes we have accomplished; we then seek to numb the pain with emotional blow-ups, blaming, over-eating, excessive drinking, retail therapty and other negative disempowering behaviors.
You wanna prioritize your relationship, but make it a slow journey. Even after months and years, you’re still getting to know and trust each other. And love it is just that — a journey, not an end destination. Yes, there will be ups and downs. But as you make better choices you’ll feel better; feeling better makes it easier to do better. As your choices and behaviors improve, so will your loving relationship.
Again, learning to live love is a shift back to normalcy — back to normal kindness & consideration, back to thinking and habits that honor love and family. By becoming more conscious of what you think and do for the rest of your love life, you can truly learn how to enhance it from the inside emotional balance to making good decisions on the outside.
You will have changed, and your relationship and home will become more peaceful and healthful for the good work you are doing.
In relationships, we should see change as a journey, not a destiny. The body and the mind always resist drastic change. And, when you see change as all or nothing, you stumble to make any change at all. Any positive change is good. Just 1% better is 1% better. You are not a machine, you are human. Maya Angelou said “When you know better, you do better.” Thus, you should strive to be better, not flawless. Apologize when you mess up, be kind and understanding. But keep moving forward to a better quality of relating.
True permanent positive change is incremental. You can achieve smaller realistic goals. This ensures success. Success breeds positive feelings, and you when you feel better about yourself, you can then do more good. You then associate change to feeling good, and you no longer cringe when you think of setting new goals.
Love is the new black. Get yours. Wear it long, wear it strong.