Relationships are so damn hard. All kinds. Every day. It’s exhausting.
I can’t think of one relationship with a human being (I’ve never been that mad at a dog) that hasn’t involved tension at the least and heartbreak at the most. In love, in friendship, even in acquaintance (though lessened) the opportunity to be hurt exists. If you looked at it through the lens of pure pessimism, or self-preservation, or in weary defeat, interaction with other people would seem ridiculous. A futile and even damaging endeavor. From the just-touching-the-surface discomfort of miscommunication to the violent wrenching open of your heart, letting pain and hollowness pour in simultaneously, human contact is absurd on paper.
And then there’s the untouchable, indescribable, incalculable other side. The part where your heart stops with joy. Where you swear death-by-happiness is a thing. Where a friend writes you a birthday card full of the right words that couldn’t be more tailor-made and you remember why you shouldn’t give up. Or when the man you love hugs you tight in response to your snarky, hateful comment and you get a glimpse of mercy that you wouldn’t know if you retreated into yourself for good. Or your blue-eyed four-year-old says with a lisp that she’ll take care of you when you’re old and your heart gets soft and open and ready to love the whole world in response. This loving stuff. This caring about others. This willingness to be vulnerable despite how it looks on paper is actually worth every ounce of effort. I know. It doesn’t make sense. Welcome to being homo sapiens.
Yes, if you looked at if from an evolutionary point of view, relationships have helped us stay alive, create communities, thrive better than we technically could as singular people. Let alone the propagation of the species. On paper it does seem scientifically sound to relate with others. But science can’t put love on paper. It can measure brain waves and how they change due to circumstances, how chemicals and hormones can affect the way we think and feel, how brain injury can make us completely different people. But there has never been a scientific study that explains sacrificial love. The act of putting another’s needs above your own. And I would argue that loving people is a sacrificial act in general if it is really love at all. That relationships take mercy, overlooking wrongs, or dealing with them head-on in a way that is uncomfortable at best, in order to continue for a lifetime. Which is exactly how long I want to know my favorite people.
So this is how I choose to live. To end my days knowing that what looked like a bad move on paper – setting myself up for pain by investing in other, jacked-up humans and not giving up on the whole thing – was energy and tender heart well-spent. Even if it got bruised along the way. Even if it’s wilted and used up at the end. I plan to wring it out for every last drop of affection and call it a day. Hanging around a few, equally beat up souls who chose the same hard-but-worth-it way of life. Drinking tea and margaritas and reading and writing and watching movies together. And laughing. Always laughing, with our worn out lungs and our knees that don’t bend and our hunched over backs. And I’ll head into the everafter having tasted, just slightly, the goodness of the love that is to come. All because I decided way back when that the way things look on paper doesn’t always matter.
When I’m buying a house, yes.
When I’m giving away bits of my heart, not so much.
“Good luck with that,” you might say. And I’ll reply, “Luck is for those waving cats. I’ve decided. It’s as simple and super-hard as that.”