So… the first thing I have had to address in using my personal stitch cutter to delicately separate my life from the one I had aligned myself with over the past decade is establishing the things over which I have a full hold and vested interest, and which ones I need to either dismiss or reclaim based on the one-third of my life which is now, for lack of a better term, of the very aggressively and decided past. For example, I want to reclaim Iceland, the place of our honeymoon, because it was actually a transformative experience for me personally. It was the first time, in years, that I felt like a normal person because I had finally taken control of my mental health and decided to begin a regime of medication. So, Iceland was a world and experience lived in color again… a world which, despite my best efforts previously, had finally regained some scope and depth, one in which I could actually feel hope and happiness rather than trying to make myself rationally reach those outcomes through aggressive mental calisthenics. I associate this amazing change with one of the most important events a couple can experience, a celebration of “the happiest day” a couple will plan and execute. I assume you see the conundrum? Yes, I did something for the betterment of my relationship (not being depressed as all hell) but it was also for me that I made that change. That is how I now need to approach every thing that has become an aspect of my life because of the influence of that *other* person I, apparently mistakenly, chose to call my love.
I will never tell anyone to not get wrapped up in the life and interests of their significant other. Despite my currently horrible outcome, I still firmly believe in the importance and validity of love. With that, accepting and loving the things that are important to the person you love… that is what it means to be in a relationship. The important thing though, is that this responsibility has to be recognized on both sides. What I will caution is that you never sacrifice too much of yourself, and that you always remember that your thoughts, feelings, and interests are important. Don’t ever sacrifice too much of yourself for the sake of someone else. Though you are an “us,” and no longer just an “I,” it is important that you recognize your existence as a beautiful and vital individual.
My self-important lecturing aside, I have been faced with the conundrum of how to take apart, piece by piece, the better part of a decade. How do you decide what things actually mean something to you and what you adopted because it was important to your significant other? If you have the answer, let me know, because right now I am blindly feeling my way through the process of relearning the things that I, myself, am interested in… and the things that I adopted because they made sense within the context of my relationship.
I think the main thing, in this process of reflection, is the bitterness that emerges as I recognize the number of ways in which I adopted alternate approaches to life when I still had to feel like the things I loved were an obligation to said former person. If not an obligation, they required an aggressive process of convincing when it came to the worthiness of the endeavor. I see now that much of the beginning of the end can be defined by the moment when I told this person that I was tired of being the only one to plan things. I wanted his participation, input, excitement, and effort as well. I believe that was the beginning of the growth of my backbone and unfortunately that, eventually, did not sit well. What I want, crave, and feel I deserve is someone who will decide that he wants to participate in the things that make me excited. Someone who will celebrate my passions rather than often begrudging them. I know that that someone is out there, though I am not aggressively looking for him at the moment. What I am working through is what I love and what I don’t… What I have settled on may be surprising but I feel good about having taken the time to decide and rebuild what my life looks like.
So, what I love, and what defines me, are things I have accumulated, yes, over the past decade of influence… But they also had to meet the criteria of fitting within the realm of interest I have worked my entire life to cultivate based on what I love and in conjunction with the things that mean the most to those around me. So, what have I found I like, on my journey to self discovery, you may ask? Well… I will tell you kind inquirer!
What is really me?
- Family and friends… because they are my life’s blood.
- People overall. At least, the ones who are worthwhile. I like most people and I give a lot of chances to those who deserve them. If you can’t make it within the deserving cut off then it’s your loss, not mine. People are weird and fun to watch. Though, I have to say, I never feel more like an autist than when I revel in my people watching activities.
- Literature, as always and for always…
- The ocean, as it’s my happy place. Both cathartic and terrifying.
- Plants, specifically succulents, because I am better at not killing them!
- Music, all styles and kinds, it gives me feelings. Specifically live musical performances where I get to see my favorite bands perform.
- Coffee, for obvious reasons…
- Tea, for additional ones…
- Cooking, for the sake of having a creative outlet.
- Travel, because it is through new cultures and experiences that I find out more about myself and about the world in which I live.
- Movies, because who doesn’t want to get wrapped up in a whole other world for a while?
- Twinkle lights… do I really need to explain why?
- Adding googly eyes, inappropriately, to random public things. Because it’s hilarious and necessary.
No, these do not comprise what entirely defines me but they are the things I have determined to be important. There are other things that I enjoy but these are the general aspects. The difficulty, within them, is that I added additional bands, foods, locations, people, movies, and beverages to my personal line-up that I now need to audit for relevancy and legitimate interest. Sucks… But I am working my way through, item by item, with varying results.
Apparently I actually like wrestling… not to the point where I will watch it on my own but to the point where I appreciate when it comes up on my social media feeds and I miss the activity of watching it as a group and making fun of it. I also absolutely love folk music and mash-up artists. I have several new favorite books and movies thanks to he-who-must-not-be-named-at-the-moment… Including but not limited to (movies) The Fifth Element, Atlantis, Cars, Fargo, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Shaolin Soccer, etc… and (authors) Christopher Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Roald Dahl. I have discovered and shared artists, foods, places, restaurants, and events that I now need to reclaim personally so I can keep.
Additionally, I have recognized that I could not give less of a damn about sweet potatoes. Once a cornerstone of my food habits, I do not miss them in even a small way. You know what else? I do not believe that a bed needs a dozen pillows and blankets to be sleepable or that cuddling has an upper time limit. Nor do I believe that jealousy is a wholly irrelevant emotion… or that difficult people are worthy of maintained relationships. When you combine things, sure, it’s fair that there were difficulties in the relationship. I thought that accepting these differences was a part of maintaining a successful relationship and I would have continued to do so. But right now, I have the luxury of knowing what I want and that’s the first step to living my full and legitimate life.
I am feeling empowered by knowing what I want as I move forward. At this stage, any empowerment is a beautiful thing.
Photo: E. Campbell (2017)
West Philly, Philadelphia, PA