The Power of No

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I have this problem with saying no… I don’t know how to do it. I hate doing it when I have to and I feel incredibly guilty when I actually say it to someone.

 

See…I am one of those people who go above and beyond for the people around me. I will voluntarily go out of my way to make you happy or more comfortable and I will more than likely do things for the people around me even if it is a major pain in my ass and inconvenience.

 

I guess this stems from the fact that I feel that if I do all these things for people, that they will accept me and like me or some such ridiculous notion. What actually happens, however, is that people walk all over you and then misuse you.

Boy have I been misused… 

So now I am practicing saying no and not doing everything for everyone. It is so in my nature to care for others and to make their lives easier that I neglect my life. I can actually not remember the last time that someone went out of their way for me without me even asking. See, people don’t. They are so involved in their own lives that they don’t see yours. And it is not that people don’t care, its just that most people are very much just all about them. There are very few people who are like me and who are cursed with this stupid need to make everyone around them happy.

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I think its time this ends. I have especially felt this over the past few weeks. And I don’t want to do this anymore. I just keep saying yes and putting myself in situations where I almost always experience a loss, be it financial, time or emotional or even a combination of all!

So…if you are reading this and you feel this may be directed at you: Take note! Whether or not you are the one taking advantage of others or the one who is constantly being taken advantage of.

Just say no…….

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This is how ……..

Stress. I have stress. I am stressed. Stress and I are tight right now. Like conjoined twins tight.

Going into detail about all the things that are stressing me at this moment will be a very long list…so lets just say that there are a lot of factors contributing to the levels of stress in my life. Work, emotional, physical…just about everything. Choices that need to be made, steps that need to be taken, work that needs to be done…

So instead of listing the things that are stressing me, I am going to share with you the weird and wonderful ways in which stress…

  1. Neck spasm. I get this wonderful burning feeling that runs all the way down the left side of my body that kind of escalates in my left trap. This gives me pins and needles in my left hand. Heart attack? Wouldn’t be surprised!
  2. Severe Migraines.The simple process of breathing sends my skull with waves of crushing pain
  3. Sleep walking. Yes. This happens. The other night I fell asleep fully clothed in my bed and woke up without my pj pants on my couch. All the lights on. No idea how I got there.
  4. ADD. I cannot focus on anything. Its like there are misfires everywhere in my brain. I go from: have to buy milk, milk comes from cows, toaster toasts, skulls, oh hey look shiny! So yes…logical train of thought: Zero
  5. Water retention. I bloat like a puffer fish. I look like the Oros man. I look like the zombie in the second season of The Walking Dead that they found in the water well. My double chin rivals that of Honey Boo-Boo’s mothers!
  6. Shake it baby!  I think I get temporary case of Parkinson’s. Sometimes it gets so bad that I can’t hold or lift a cup of coffee to my mouth and need to use a straw to drink anything, Hot or cold.
  7. My stress spot. Eczema. There, I said it. I have this spot on the back of my head/neck that is my stress spot. And I will scratch that spot till it bleeds. Gross right?
  8. When I am not sleep walking…I am not sleeping. Insomnia. Insomnia like a BOSS. My brain will be so active I could probably write a trilogy of epic proportions…if my ADD didn’t keep me away from actually staying on one thought. So my trilogy would start with a rainbow pooping unicorn and end with a serial killer from Jamaica who’s calling card is a bag of weed and instructions to a hidden treasure.
  9. Lastly, and by no means leastly (? Yes I know I just made up a word), procrastination. Why do you think I am writing this? I have a shit ton of work to do…and yet I am writing this and pinning like a mad woman on Pinterest.

High-functioning anxiety looks like… 23c365f6af44dd8272a6b5fd1d1f9938

Over-Achievement. Hyper-Activity. Perfectionism.

When it sneaks out, it transforms into nervous habits. below the belt sarcasm . Fast pace walking. Running my fingers through my hair.

If you look close enough, you can see it in answered text messages. Flakiness. Nervous laughter. The panic that flashes through my eyes when a plan changes. When anything changes.

High-functioning anxiety feels like…

A snake slithering up my back, clamping its jaws shut where my shoulders meet my neck. Punch-in-the-gut stomach aches, like my body is confusing answering an email with being attacked by a lion.

High-functioning anxiety sounds like…

You’re not good enough. You’re a bad friend. You’re not good at your job. You’re wasting time. You’re a waste of time. Your boyfriend doesn’t love you. You’re so needy. What are you doing with yourself? Why would you say that? What if they hate it? Why can’t you have your shit together? You’re going to get anxious and because you’re going to get anxious, you’re going to mess everything up. You’re a fraud. Just good at faking it. You’re letting everybody down. No one here likes you.

All the while, You appear perfectly calm.

It’s always looking for the next outlet, something to channel the never-ending energy. Writing. Running. List-making. Mindless tasks (whatever keeps you busy). Doing jumping jacks in the kitchen. Dancing in the living room, pretending it’s for fun, when really it’s a choreographed routine of desperation, trying to tire out the thoughts stuck in your head. 

It’s silent anxiety attacks, hidden by smiles.

It’s always being busy but also always avoiding, so important things don’t get done. It’s letting things pile up rather than admitting you’re overwhelmed or in need of help.

It’s that sharp pang of saying the wrong thing, the one that starts the cycles of thoughts. Because you said too much, and nobody cares, and it makes you never want to speak up again.

It’s going back and forth between everyone else has it together but you, and so many people have it tougher than you.

Get your act together.

Suck it up.

You’re not OK, you’re messing everything up.

You’re totally OK, stop being such a baby.

It’s waking up in the middle of the night sobbing because the worst-case-scenario that just went through your head at high speed seems so real, so vivid, that even when it’s proven to be untrue, it takes hours for your heart to slow down, to feel calm again.

Because how “OK” are you when a day without a plan is enough to make you crumble? When empty spaces make you spiral at the very anticipation of being alone with your thoughts? When you need to make a list to get through a Sunday: watch a show, clean your kitchen, exercise, answer five emails, read 10 pages, watch a show… ?

It’s feeling unqualified to write this piece because I’m getting by. It’s when you’re social enough to get invited to things, but so often find yourself standing in a room where it feels like no one knows you. It’s being good at conversation and bad at making close friends because you only show up when you feel “well” enough. Only text back when you feel ready. Because you’re afraid they’d hate you if they really knew you. That the energy would overwhelm them, and you’d lose them.

So you learn to reign it in. Channel it. Even though sometimes you do everything right (exercise, sleep, one TV show, five emails, 10 pages…) and you’re still left with racing thoughts, the panic. The not good enough’s.

When will it be enough?

Having anxiety means constantly managing motion that can be productive or self-destructive, depending on how much sleep you got. Depending on the day. Depending on the Earth’s alignment with Mars. Depending on…

It’s when “living with it” means learning how to sit with it. Practicing staying in bed a little longer. Challenging the mean, unrelenting voices that say you’re only worth what you produced that day.

It means learning how to say, “I need help.” Trying to take care of yourself without the guilt. It means every once in a while, confiding in a friend. It means sometimes showing up even when you’re scared.

It’s when answering a text impulsively and thoughtlessly is an act of bravery.

It’s fighting against your own need to constantly prove your right to exist in this world.

It’s learning how to validate your own feelings. That even though you don’t feel like you’re enough, and you’ll never be enough, it’s knowing you’re at least anxious enough to benefit from help. That admitting you need it doesn’t confirm voices’ lies. That taking a break doesn’t mean you’re a failure.

It’s finding your own humanity in the anxiety, in your weaknesses. It’s trying to let the energy inspire you, instead of bring you down. It’s forgiving yourself when it wins.

It’s a way to live, with this constant companion. Your bullying twin. Collapsible luggage you can bury away at a moment’s notice. Shove it under the bed. Pretend it’s not there until you can’t fit anymore. Until you can no longer ignore it. Until you have to face it.

A first good step is staring at it straight on and calling it by its name.

High anxiety can be a natural consequence of a busy lifestyle, but its existence is akin to the chicken and the egg. Which came first, the anxiety or the busyness? Am I always moving because I’m anxious or am I anxious because I’m always moving?

Either way, it’s not a noble way to suffer. It’s not a “better” way to be anxious. Just because you’re “functioning” doesn’t always mean you’re happy. And just because you’re functioning doesn’t mean you shouldn’t slow down, breathe and take one damn second to be happy the way things are.

In this very moment.

This quiet, short moment.

To remember the peace you found in that second of silence, until the electricity starts again, and you’re forced to move.

So this is how I stress…and currently I have all the symptoms. At least I can still laugh! Even if that laugh is slightly manic and leaning toward the hysterical nature of The Joker (circa Health Ledger/ Jared Leto). But hey…that’s why they have wine! And the gym…yoga helps….

Now let me get my shit together and get some work done…oh look, a bird

Like-a-secret-or-a-sin

 

 

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We’re young and untouched
with dandelions being blown in our hearts.
Eyes with a sparkle from our favorite
childhood fairy tales.

One morning in undeniable sunlight
we shake hands with a feeling,
then we go home and write of
his eyes and how his smile cut through an unopened door, deep inside your delicate soul.

We float through the emotion
that we’ve just dived right into;
until the ocean dries up after he tells you,
he doesn’t want you.

All our innocent souls are now stuck up with our hearts in trees
and we hope when we throw our hearts to the floor,
he’ll come running to save its breaking–
But no.
There it goes: smash…

We all fall down

 

 

What I learned in Chapter’s 2013/2014

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Well friends, the new year is coming upon us very soon, in fact this is the first week of December and considering it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything thought provoking, I think that now is a good time for me to share some of my reflections on these past two years– years that will soon be just another conglomerate of memories, a past-read chapters to reminisce upon, in each of our individual books of life.

I have gone through many changes these past years. In just two years I’ve worked my ass off during these past two years, gained myself, finally, moved to a new apartment and moved again, lost everything, fell in love and had my heart broken, left behind a crazy former life, entered a new career path, changed jobs far too many times, gained friends, lost friends, gained a best friend, got in and out of a relationship, met a ton of people that I thought would stay in my life but never did, have been estranged from family members and then reunited with them– finding both forgiveness and remorse in my heart to give; I’ve been as blue as the deepest depths of the ocean and as radiant with joy as the sunniest sky; I’ve felt lost and then I’ve felt found, only to feel lost once again, but then knowing that one day I will be found once more.

Through all that I’ve gone through these past two years, like every year-I’ve learned a great deal.

Here are some of my reflections that I hope may be of some help to you:
Forgiveness is the pathway to peace. To forgive not only others, but also yourself, is the only way to find true rest in your heart.

People will hurt you, and the pain they inflict may or may not be intentional, but you must remember that all acts of malevolence or negligence are only born out of ignorance. People inflict harm because they lack wisdom and understanding, and for that reason you should attempt to develop compassion for all human beings, especially those who cannot love, because these are the ones who are who enduring the greatest struggle with their own unruly mind and restless heart.

People will most certainly come and go in your life, and only a very select few will stay for a while, and an even lesser number will stay forever. For this reason, appreciate all those who walk into your life, because they are there for a reason, but don’t attempt to cling to their presence. If their presence is needed in your life, then the universe will make it so they stay, but if they are no longer needed and each of you have your own respective paths to follow (which branch in diverging directions) then let them go and wish them abundance on their journey through life.

~YOU CANNOT PLEASE EVERYONE. This has been a huge theme in my own life that I’ve had to learn. Attempting to make everyone proud and pleased with your decisions is a lost cause. Everyone has their own opinion on how you and everyone else should be conducting their lives, and everyone’s opinion is different! It is tempting to try to make everyone around you believe that you are making all of the right decisions according to them, but you are forgetting a very important piece of the puzzle… you’re forgetting YOU! What makes you happy? What makes you feel the most alive? What do you want to get out of this existence before your inevitable death? These are the questions you should not only be asking, but chasing. People may not, (and surely will not) always agree with your decisions in life, but almost everyone will respect a person who follows their own heart and their own path, and someone who is true to themselves despite all outside criticism.

~There is light and darkness in everything: in life, in others, and most importantly, in yourself. There will be great sorrow and destruction in the world, as there always has been; there will be thoughts and feelings within yourself that you will be ashamed of, dark impulses that you fear and try your best to repress and avoid. You cannot extract the darkness from life, nor from yourself. However, you must realize that amidst the darkness, there is a greater and even more powerful light– both within life, and within yourself. The light in life and the light in yourself is always more powerful than the darkness, and everyday you can choose the light. You can choose to grow the light in yourself and then you can choose to spread this light into the world around you through your actions and your treatment of others, so that you can do your part in dispelling the darkness of the world.

~Judgment causes pain: pain for others, and pain for yourself. Some judgment is natural, but when it causes you or others strife, you must step back to see if it is not yourself or others who are the problem, but rather your close-mindedness that is the problem. As it relates to my prior point, there will be dark and light impulses in both yourself and in others. However, the darkness in ourselves and others is never dispelled by greater darkness, which comes with judgment and harshness. Darkness is dispelled by the light that you can give with your own loving-kindness, understanding and compassion. Seek to love and understand yourself and seek to love and understand others, even if you feel neither yourself nor others deserve such a courtesy.

~Life is much greater than you, and to remember this may allow for an objective peace. We are all brief and momentary waves on a vast, endless ocean. For a brief moment in time, we arise, are formed as crests from the boundless, watery pool of life, and then, when it is our time, we again are dissolved back in to the greater ocean, becoming one again with the body of life. We are all individuations of the same thing– the same ocean: we are all one. Honor that sameness that is of all things and beings, and seek to honor the greater power of the ocean, the power which is beyond our comprehension and which is a mystery who gives all things their brief hour to be individuations of itself

Love in Your Forties……

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Forget Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook or any other unrealistic expectations you may have conjured up in your mind about love at this point in your life. It’s all useless crap.

As forty-something’s, we are all or should be wiser members of the new population of adult dating society and as much as we may like to think we have it all figured out, we quite often don’t. At this age, we are in a constant state of stationary state of hope/hopelessness, transformations as in being single again and growth on this new path with what you want and don’t want and despair as in “you are dating , again!”. Your love life is a depiction of those inner transitions, and that is entirely okay. In fact, that is the way it should be. So, with that said, here are some things you should realize about love in your forties…

First of all, let it be known that this is a time in your life to make decisions, right or wrong, which suit you—not everyone else. While you live, laugh, life and be the best you, you will realize that these will be some of the best years of your life. So do yourself a favor and don’t waste away your best stage of your life drowning your sorrows in a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, a bottle of vodka or a box of tissues. Put to rest the constant complaints surrounding your love life. If you spend all your time focusing on someone else, you will rob yourself of the opportunity to focus on yourself and do things that are entirely for you. Whether or not you’re in a relationship, dating or single; get out there, do everything you can, be a little selfish, and give yourself this chance to figure things out and establish who you are as an individual.

On that note, being single for a few months or for a few years does not mean you are destined to spend the rest of your life ‘forever alone’. I promise. Honestly, being single is awesome and until you get over the negative stigma associated with your single status and learn to love and embrace it, you probably aren’t ready for a relationship. Being single shouldn’t be about being lonely; it should be about doing anything and everything you want. Own your independence, take on every opportunity and do everything you could possibly want to do, without having to consider a significant other. This doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out for a relationship or are ‘un-datable’; it means you are capable of standing on your own two feet and loving yourself, without needing someone else to do that for you. And that, quite frankly, is one of the most attractive traits anyone can posses.

This is also a time in your life in which, instead of focusing solely on finding one other person, you should focus on the relationships you have with all the people around you. I consider myself to be in not one, but many committed relationships. With who? My friends and family; the wonderful people who have embedded themselves as a constant in my life, regardless of the comings and goings of any other fleeting relationships or troubles. These people are all my soul mates, in their own way. Take this time to enjoy and nurture the potential for so many incredible relationships with the people you meet, and you will open yourself up to the best kinds of people.

Now, as I’m sure you all know, not all of the relationships which cross your path in this life will not all be of the positive kind. Unless you are extremely lucky and equipped with unnaturally good judgment, you will probably fall in love with a complete jerk and get your heart broken once, twice, or maybe even multiple times. It happens.
I honestly think that everyone needs to date someone that is totally wrong for them at some point in their life. It may suck getting your ass kicked romantically, but it will serve as a valuable lesson to never settle for less than you deserve. Because after getting dragged around in the mud for awhile, most of us will come to our senses and realize that those kind of relationships are not worth the emotional hardship they cause. Then when the right one comes along, we will never look back.

With that said, there are times you will be on the providing end of the jerk spectrum. We are all hypocrites and assholes at one time or another when it comes to love and relationships. We will preach our hearts out to everyone within earshot and then turn around and do exactly what we warned someone else not to do. Why? Because most of us have to learn the hard way to learn at all. And that’s okay. Most of the time, we haven’t even figured ourselves out enough to know what we want or need in someone else. So, embrace the uncertainty and embrace your mistakes. It is all an essential part of the process. Date every type of person, fall in and out of love, break-up, make-up, have a one night stand-all of it. Things won’t always work out, but that’s the point. Don’t beat yourself up about it; love in your forties will never be the end of the world and your mistakes will only help to steer you in the right direction in the long run.

Another point, which perhaps I’ve grown to understand more than ever this past year, is the importance of being brutally honest with both yourself and anyone you’re with, in terms of what you want and what you need. We spend so much time glamorizing the idea of love and relationships that sometimes we force ourselves into relationships or situations with people that might not be right for us, based on an idea of what we think we ’should’ want. But in reality, the ‘should’ does not matter. What matters is the character you and the other embody and the corresponding traits which align with you romantically, mentally and emotionally, in a way that will work both now and in the future.
Don’t waste your or their time in a relationship that is, ultimately, not right for either of you in the grand scheme of things.

Lastly- and perhaps the single most important point of all- do yourself a favor and let go of any specific romantic timelines you have set for yourself. This is not a facet of your life that you should not stress about with any unrealistic deadlines. If you’re single, in a long-term relationship, engaged or married or divorced, it doesn’t matter. Don’t panic about not being in the place you expected to be, romantically, or at any point in your forties. You are only human in your forties, in this stage of your life, so wherever you are at right now, embrace the hell out of it. You will end up in the right place in your life, at the right time, one way or another. Don’t force the process, just be happy, enjoy it and let it be.

Hello…..

No, seriously How the fuck are you?

How carelessly these three, heavy words are thrown around, and how rarely people truly answer them. Fine. Good. Little candies thrown to appease the questioner, who often doesn’t care in the first place. Most people ask it out of social decorum. How are you? My aunt is dying. But you don’t want to know that. My dog is sick. My dreams are crumbling. But you don’t want to know any of that. Good. I’m good, thanks. Smile wide. I am asking this question from the bottom of my heart: How are you? How are you, really? Of course, you can’t answer back. At least, not right away. I’m just alone, in my bedroom (well, in my living room, really. but let us not be derailed by particulars), typing my thoughts. But I can wonder. I can reach out a few fingers of empathy and lift your chin and look into your eyes, and wonder. Chances are, you’re not happy. Happiness is not a constant. It is a variable. It comes in short bursts, like fireworks. Like memories. Like time.

Chances are, you are suffering, in some way or another, big or small. Maybe something really bad is happening in your life, and it’s like the world is falling right on top of your head. Something truly, actually bad, like an illness. A death. A black, empty agony. My words aren’t enough to comfort you, then, but I can imagine what it is like. Sometimes, I sit in my room and imagine someone I love dying. I don’t know why I do it; it’s just something that my mind runs away with, and I end up curled up in my bed, sobbing my eyes out over a hypothetical situation. The only antidote I have found for such suffering is to remind yourself of the transience of existence. All this will pass – the pain, you, life, humanity – all of it will pass. It is short. The problem is we get attached to things in that short time. I am sorry. I do not know if that helps.

Maybe you’re just dissatisfied, you know? Like there’s a little worm wriggling in the apple-core of your soul. Just, nagging at you. Maybe you hate your job. Maybe life seems dull and meaningless. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with money worries and just wish you could spit out coins, fly away to a land where money isn’t needed, win the lottery. Maybe you’re unhappy with your abilities, your achievements. Maybe you feel useless, a failure, washed-up. Hold that thought.

Life is suffering. They are one and the same. Most of us, as children, did not realize this. We could still fool ourselves with safety and security and perfection, because, if we were lucky, our parents held up the moon and the stars. Did you ever have these moments of pure, unalloyed joy as a child, swinging through the air on a swing at a park, tucking into a good book at bed time, eating a delicious dinner? A tiny capture of perfection, in which your heart soared and sang hosannas and everything seemed deliciously right and safe? And the funny thing is, even the moments of suffering as children were felt less keenly. As children, we could pick ourselves up much more easily, comfort ourselves with trinkets and kisses and imaginary worlds. That’s really funny, how we get more sensitive to pain as we grow older and more knowledgeable about the cold reality of the world. Children are brave because they don’t know the full story. Grown-ups are terrified because they do, and they know it doesn’t have a happy ending.

But, yes. You are probably not okay. You are probably unhappy about a lot of things. I can understand that, because I’m a human being, and if there’s one thing we all share, it’s pain. And I think the only thing you can do in this situation is to get comfortable with misery and push on. Life will never be without misery, but you can choose how to react to it. Take baby steps towards fixing what’s making you miserable. If it’s something that can’t be done away with, try to cope. When we were younger, and less mature, we shied away from discomfort, from things that ‘hurt’, like needles, but as we grow older, we have to grit our teeth and realize that needles exist in the world the way darkness and wind does. We cannot run away from it – we can only delay its occurrence – because it exists in ourselves. Life is the host of misery.

Perhaps you really are good. Perhaps you’re at a point in your life where you’re happy with yourself and the direction you are going, and when asked the question, you answer with a genuine smile. That’s wonderful, and I am happy for you. You serve as a poster-child of hope for the ones who are struggling. You show us that happiness and contentment is possible. Nevertheless, I’m sure you weren’t always that way. To get to the blissful state you are in right now, you probably get to go through your share of hell and nitty-gritty hard work. You are so strong, and I admire you. You deserve everything you get.

Or maybe, you think you’re happy. But you know you are not. Contrary to popular belief, we’re not good at fooling ourselves. When something is wrong, we know it. Our hearts tell us. In that case, I urge you to seek your true happiness. Your dreams. There is no pain worse than dying with your music unsung.

Do you ever sometimes want to run out into the middle of some desert as the sun sets and the clouds catch fire and throw your arms up in that wide, empty expanse and scream in a long, yodeling ululation, just for the heck of it? Just to say to the universe, hey, look at me, I’m alive, I’m here, I’m me and I’m shouting. Just to release all the tension in your soul. Hear me roar.

But I’m here to tell you that you can roar in other ways. Quieter ways, but not the less satisfying for it. I know it’s hard. It’s hard to go after your dreams. It’s hard to find your own happiness. The world is an indifferent place, and most of the time you feel like a tiny little nothing. Life pulls you in different directions, and no-one seems to care. But it is the only way to truly live in the way death is the only end to life. We don’t know much of anything, but we know this.

Hey. I have a dream. Do you want to hear it?

If on the off and improbable chance the universe ever pops his head out of the celestial administration office to check on us little folks on this little ball of rock, and asks “How are you all?”, this is the reply I want us to give, deep from our hearts:

“We are good. We are so very fucking, damn good.”

Mouthpiece

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When did we stop using our mouths as conduits for our hearts?

I want, I need and I am ….
Replaced with canned responses
Feeling-less quips (mistaken for wit and candor)
We speak through filters
Truth imprisoned behind bars of self doubt
Worried that if we say what we mean and mean what we say we might reveal something

Ugly

Unusual

Uncomfortable

About ourselves

But what if…

What we think of as unseemly and unsafe and unattractive

Is actually
Unbelievable
Undervalued
Unparalleled

What if when we open our mouths and let the pieces of ourselves fall into the light, we are creating worlds of experience and empathy and earth shattering beauty?

And what if our failures and faults and fuck-ups are the catalysts for change and hope and growth?
Reach into those shadow ridden corners where you hide the scariest secrets, your most dear terrors and wrench them free from their shackles.

Scream your joy and sing your sorrow.
Whisper your madness, and harangue the hills with your laughter.
But above all, don’t you dare slip quietly along letting the uniqueness of your human experience be shuttered by an invisible filter.
Open your mouth and let your heart speak.

Soul Made – the fallacy of looking for “THE ONE”

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Falling in love is not my specialty. My daughter likes to joke that my relationships have been informed by the torrid and never happy ending Russian novels I used to be so fond of. And she is not that far off the truth. But those novels also taught me a couple of valuable lessons: obstacles are par for the course when it comes to love, and “the one” does not exist. I believe the definition of love changes as we do and that more than “one true love” can be had during the course of one’s lifetime. And, above all, that “the one” is made and not sent by divine intervention to cross our path at the perfect moment.

And all those good dreamers, myself included, who spend countless hours pondering just such matters, It might not surprise you to learn that the science of romance isn’t incredibly romantic. That believing in soul mates—or destiny, or the idea that there is exactly one person who you were absolutely put on this earth to find—can and probably will backfire.

If you are one of those people who have been with the same partner for the past thirty years with nary a disagreement, you would be a very rare breed indeed (and an enviable one). Most of us have to contend with the job of resolving petty arguments and overcoming disappointment in as healthy a fashion as possible.

Let’s assume we meet the perfect specimen, someone who meets most, if not all the criteria, we look for in a partner (because, let’s face it, who hasn’t drawn such a list?). It’s absolute bliss for a while, maybe even a good while– maybe we marry or live together, and even add children to the mix. One day, he or she will do something that will get on our nerves, which will tarnish that shiny patina of perfection. At first, we will overlook it, we will let it go but then the behavior will repeat and how we confront it is crucial. Those who believe in destiny and soul mates will be more likely to start questioning whether this is “the one” indeed, while those who take relationships more in stride and equate them to a journey, will be more likely to look for solutions, work out compromises and treat what comes up as a roadblock to be surmounted with ingenuity.

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Russian novels aside, what we believe, even our notions of love and relationships, might be rooted in how we were raised.
If we start a relationship believing in its perfection from the outset, we are doomed. Working towards a goal–not necessarily of perfection–over time, through collaboration, repetition and trying hard, will more likely result in a healthier relationship down the line.

It was actually the foolishness of Madame Bovary who made me see that love at first sight, “the one” and waiting for something good to happen is a load of bullshit.

“Love, she thought, must come suddenly, with great outbursts and lightning, a hurricane of the skies, which falls upon life, revolutionises it, roots up the will like a leaf, and sweeps the whole heart into the abyss.”

Love can certainly do that. But what matters most is how we learn to climb out of that temporary abyss, with patience, resilience and a tolerance for boredom. Even the most exciting journeys, after all, have their share of hours spent chugging along.

Paris images found in the public domain