We tell our stories, we think we learn ...
First written on September 19, 2002
There are those who repeat their patterns, and end up hurting, and fall back into the same patterns anyway.
And, there are those who think they learn from their mistakes, and try new methods, and end up hurting anyway.
Either way, we armor ourselves with our stories, stories in which certain details are conveniently forgotten, and others are stretched, because story-telling is not an exact science ... the requirements of telling a story warp our pasts into bite-sized packages.
We are never the heros, we are never the villians, we just are.
Once upon a time, after a boyfriend broke up with me, I told my story to a friend, and he was totally supportive of me, and critical of my boyfriend, and I said, "Stop."
"You've only heard my side of the story, and I'm a law student who is very good at his craft, so of course you are taking my side."
Reacting against the past by forging in a new direction sorta makes sense, except that the new direction is bound to be just as perilous as the abandoned one.
So monogamy failed me, eh? I try open relationships instead. So my first open boyfriend was the jealous type, eh? I try one who is less jealous instead. That didn't save me from relationship problems.
So, I try having no defined relationships, a Zero Boyfriend Zone. How is this supposed to be a less perilous route? It is something new, something different, something to be excited about because I've never done it before.
Except, I'm not, not really. I'm learning to rely on many people in small doses, depending on who is available, at random. I'm not self-reliant. Self-reliance is always a fiction, just like having a boyfriend you can always count on is always a fiction.
Sometimes I want larger doses.
Maybe I have learned one thing. Just one. From all my relationships.
It isn't a hard & fast rule ... meaning ... it won't make all relationships last forever, it won't avoid all relationship problems ...
But ... the rule: Relationships require a lot of attentive interaction. This is what relationships are. Relationships are not things we have, they are things we do. People continue to exist while we aren't paying attention to them. If we don't pay enough attention to them, they will drift away in search of attention from somebody else. Sometimes they want larger doses.
Of course, even this rule has its exceptions. It can be taken too far. People do need breaks from each other, and will need to wander on their own paths. Sigh.
There are no rules.
I saw this book, "If the Buddha Dated" ... and the very first sentence belies the entire project, "Of course, the Buddha didn't date."
That's what I thought immediately before opening the book, damn it!
I paged through it, and it had a lot of standard relationship advice, yawn.
The second part of the book is called "Awaken Your Desire" ... which is the opposite of what the Buddha would've done, according to his modern interpreters.
I've come to the tentative decision that romantic relationships aren't a healthy goal, that they are illusory, that they promise too much, that the desires attached to romance can never be fulfilled.
I'd rather pay attention to the people whom I know, in a compassionate way, according to my abilities, without having any goals or labels or desired outcomes.
The hard part is deciding which people to attend to ... but does it really matter? Can I promote my own internal happiness by making good choices about the people in my life? All the people I could choose from have their faults (as do I), and I'll have problems whichever way I go. Can I really banish all the people who cause me pain? Am I supposed to surround myself only with people who are always happy and supportive?
There are no rules, the stories from my past won't help. I have to make each decision in this moment, based on the facts and circumstances, by trying to see things the way they really are, and knowing that I will never understand things fully. By seeing clearly, speaking the truth, acting with compassion, and letting go of the outcome.
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