Friday, June 24, 2011

Rick's Ten Observations About Love

As a result of a comment I received from elevencats in Estonia regarding love, I thought I'd write this letter directly to him.  But I hope you find it helpful, too.
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Dear Elevencats,

In a recent comment you left on the post titled "Just Because One is Gay," you wrote the following:

1.  "...In the middle of the night when I cannot sleep...[I] start to search YouTube for clips about love just to get hope for myself."

And:

2.  "I am a selfish person because I need to be...[alone] and I push people I love further away to have these [quiet] moments.  Knowing me, I simply cannot picture myself in a relationship with another human being...."

I hope you see the contradiction in these two statements.  On one hand, when you're unable to sleep (possibly because you have love on your mind?), you seek examples of gay love to give you hope you'll experience it someday in your own life.  But, on the other, you say you need to be alone, push people away, and can't see yourself in a relationship.

So allow me to make a few observations about love, in no particular order, which I hope will help you sort out all of this:

1.  It is human nature to seek love.  When we don't have love from a significant other in our own lives, we celebrate it in the lives of those who do.  That's why we enjoy movies where characters fall in love.  That's why we're tuned in to music about love.  That's why we read stories about people who are in love.  We hold up lovers as an example of what we want in our own lives. And, because they have it, we believe we can have it, too.  Nothing wrong with that.  Love is a basic human need.  We should have it.  

2.  I suspect the people you push away now, to make room for alone time, are parents, siblings, and friends.  All of us need and treasure alone time, even within the context of long-term relationships.  Alone time is important for contemplation and reflection.  Alone time helps us to get back in touch with ourselves.  Alone time gives us something different and new to discuss with our partners when we come back together.  Alone time enriches relationships.  Alone time is necessary, even in relationships.

3.  If you were within a relationship, you wouldn't push your partner away for alone time in the same way you push away someone else who loves you.  Before Chris and I moved in together about eighteen years ago, we negotiated how we'd both get alone time when we needed it.  But we never had to follow through on our plans.  The truth is, when you're with the right person, you want to be together, as much as possible.  But, sometimes, you find yourself alone, and you value that, too.    

4.  Some people will tell you they prefer to be alone, they never want to be in a relationship.  But I think they're full of it.  The fact is, they've never had the right partner, and they've never been in the right relationship.  Sure, compromises are common when you're with the one you love. You become more like him, and he becomes more like you.  You do things he loves to do, and he does things you love to do.  That's all part of the give and take of being in love, and the price you pay is so worth it.

5.  Take some time to be single and alone.  You're still very young, and there's no reason why you should be in a relationship before you're ready.  Enjoy your life as a single, young man to the absolute fullest.  Get everything from it that you can. Do all the things you love to do.  Be as self-indulgent as you need to be.  Above all, learn who you are.  At this time, you are accountable to no one but yourself. And when you grow weary of all that--as you will--you'll be ready for a serious relationship.

6.  When I was single and alone, I knew what I wanted my life to look like, and it wasn't at all what it was then.  I imagined myself with the perfect man for me, in the perfect life together. Ironically, the man I envisioned myself with was exactly like me and nothing at all like Chris. Someone knew better who I'd be best suited to.  So go ahead and imagine the kind of man you think you should be with. Then, be open to the likelihood of someone who's not at all like him.

7.  There is no substitute for love.  Looking back on the past nineteen years, I know without a doubt this has been the best time of my life.  Being alone and single doesn't compare in any way, shape, or form to being in love with another human being--someone who comes home to you every day, someone who chooses to be with you, someone who is your advocate, your champion, your soulmate.  I cannot fathom what these past nineteen years would have been like without Chris.  I'm so grateful I don't have to.

8.  You've no doubt read here countless times over the past six months that you must love yourself or no one will love you.  I'll take that one step further:  the greatest love of your life...is you.  And so it should be.  At the end of the day, there is only you--a little bit of God on earth. Thus, you deserve to love yourself. Who is more worth loving than you?  But loving you doesn't mean being stuck on you.  It doesn't mean being arrogant or thinking you're better than anyone else.  It simply means being self-ful.

9.  Always be open to love.  Sure, you have your own ideas about what you want and don't want in your life, and those are all well and good.  But always, ALWAYS, be open to the possibility of love finding you.  Because, honestly, you are not everything you can be by yourself.  You will be so much more when you turn your life over to the magic and wonder of love.  You can't see that now, so you have to trust me.  But I am so much more today with Chris than I ever would have been on my own.

10.  So when will love come to you?  I can't predict that, and neither can you.  No one can.  I didn't meet and fall in love with Chris until I was thirty-two.  My sister didn't meet and fall in love with her partner until she was well into her forties. Some people are fortunate enough to meet the love of their lives in school or university.  All I know is, don't go looking for it because it will find you.  In the meantime, live fully, be the best you can be, and get ready for love to arrive and to transform your life, as it surely will.
*
At the end of your comment, you wrote, "Spread the love!"  I assume you referred to me spreading it through the words of my blog, which I will continue to do every chance I get.  

But you must see the application of that statement to you, as well.  Because you are filled with love.  All of us are.  All of us have an infinite capacity to love--ourselves and others.  And we have a duty to spread it.  

Living without love is not living at all.                         

8 comments:

  1. Every step I take, I make another contradiction. It is how my mind works. I push people who are closest to me away because I do not feel comfortable being myself amongst them. When I am alone I do not feel the quilt when I look at a cute guy. The other reason is that for some reason I need total silence to rest my mind. No-one around. Just me and the silence.
    Sometimes I think that it would be just perfect to erase all feelings I have. Just to live as a robot, just doing my task. But living like this takes away emotions. When I open up to another person, I feel totally naked and one can easily harm me. It is the same with love. Not only with love towards another human but also with love towards the work I do.
    For many years I thought (and there are moments when I still do) that if I could find a perfect job with what I can be too busy to have a personal life, I can be a happy man. Life has taught me that the only way to live, is to live in a balance. I had an amazing experience not long ago. I took care of a baby with another gay man (me being the closeted one). He held the baby and then I held the baby. Just for a second I was in a dream state and felt that this family despite having two dads could be as perfect as any other family. And this situation confirmed to me that having a family is my greatest dream. Nothing else is more important to me. Nothing else.
    I thank you for your words! I can not talk openly about my issues with people closest to me. It warms my heart that there is a friend in the world with whom I can be totally honest.

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  2. Give it time elevencats; it all gets better in time and we all work through our issues in time - we all have issues.

    Nice post Rick!


    Donald.

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  3. @elevencats: I couldn't agree more with Donald's observation that you need to give yourself more time. You'll become more comfortable in your own skin. You are still so young and trying to find yourself. It'll come, I promise. And all areas of your life will mesh so that you can be authentically who you are in all of them.

    Don't wish away your feelings and emotions. You need them all, even those that are difficult and painful, because they are the ones that make the good feelings and emotions more worthwhile and pleasurable. And never be ashamed of how you feel--you are entitled to your feelings. Your emotions are a part of you. They are what make you who you are.

    I'm worried, based on what you've said before and in this comment, that you think all of your happiness comes from achievement at school or in a job. Sure, education and work have their place in our lives, and they will give you some of the best feelings you'll ever have. But no job is ever an adequate substitute for being in love with a special person in your life. I hope you remember that.

    I love the vision you have for yourself of being a part of a family. But I hope you see yourself with another man who loves you like crazy and who you love like crazy, and the two of you together have a child. That's the ideal way, surely. Yes, children are important, but, in a relationship, your first priority should always be your partner.

    I've noticed that, since you started to write comments about six months ago, your English has really improved. Have you noticed that, too? Just curious.

    Also, I want you to know I'm just an email away. If you're not comfortable sharing everything on my blog, you can always email me by clicking on "Email Me" at the top right side of my homepage. I am happy to hear anything you want to tell me and will always respond to you. Thanks for the confidence and trust you put in me as your friend. I'm so pleased you look at me that way.

    @Donald: I haven't heard from you in a while. I'm so glad you're still there and interested in what I have to say. Thanks for your advice to elevencats. You are so right in what you said.

    And thanks for your kind words about this post. I never know if what I write will make a difference to someone. All I can do is write it and hope I'm helpful in some way. Comments such as yours tell me I just might be on the right track.

    Many thanks to both of you for your comments.

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  4. More and more I come to understand how important are human relationships: people who I can talk about things and who can make me realize things about myself that I could not have on my own. Sometimes I think that I should get a decent job and be a respected member of society. Then I could adopt a child (single gay man can adopt in Estonia) and devote myself to razing this person. Your comment spoke a lot about my nature: children are my first priority, then comes the love of my life. And I kind of know the reason why: my family has always taught me that having a child is the greatest part of human's life. Lovers come and go, but this love towards your own flesh and blood is evergreen. I understand what you are saying: that it should be our mutual wish and I should not push this idea to my future lover... Time will show if I am more of my family's child or if am am capable of creating my own ideals in life.

    Time... These times when I feel the loneliest seem to be way longer than a year. It feels like time in the world stops and my mind is the only thing still moving. Still in pain, still feeling this deep hole inside me what makes me hurt a lot.

    I can proudly say that this last week has been the happiest time of my life. The feeling that one of my dreams (receiving my BSc) has come true is great. I have been just resting, reading books, watching movies, cooking for myself, etc. My new summer job will begin tomorrow. I do not know who I am, where my life is going. Despite that, I am keen on seeing who I will become. Will I have strength to be me? Will I be spending time with my eleven cats or will I be in a relationship one day?

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  5. PS-1! I love your layout.

    PS-2! I have been using a lot of English during these six months (writing my final paper and posting here). So improvement of English is a fine additional outcome. I like that I can make mistakes and not get a bad grade. It makes me feel more human and more opened to learning.

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  6. Hi, Rick. It's me again.
    This time, ur post successfully makes me cry. :( I dunno how, but maybe because somehow what u're saying was right.

    I, for once, felt in a love with a guy. He's 2 years younger than me but somehow he managed to be more mature than me. I loved him very much, but somehow I broke his heart. I pushed him away. I told myself that I didn't need love, from him or from anyone. So, I just ended our relationship, over the phone, without even letting him to ask why. I was such an asshole. I know it. I was too selfish and I was too proud of myself. Days later, I realized that I did need him. I did need his care, his smile, his hug, and so on.

    But again, I' living in a such hypocrite country. I'm in the middle of the society who teach us, generation by generation, that being gay is a big sin. It's forbidden. It's doomed. I don't wanna make some excuses here, but believe me somehow those skeptical things could led a gay guy, just like me, to hate himself. And in the end, it could led someone to hate everyone else.

    Almost every morning, I started my day by crying. The triggers were usually randoms. But, yeah, I cried for my "gayness". And in the middle of the night, I cried again. For the same exact reason. I'm just hoping that it'll be easier for me to accept the fact that i was born this way. So from that point, i can move on with my life. And i don't have to blame anyone or anything else for it.

    I love to watch "Modern Family", "Brothers and Sisters", and some other movies and TV Series that are featuring some gays' life. Most of the time, I envy the characters in those movies/TV Series. I envy their supportive family and friends. I envy their soulmate. And so on.

    We all are made of love. I know that. And I have love too in my heart. But, sometimes, the bitterness of life could perish it.

    PS: Probably this comment may offend some of us, and I'm sorry for it. Probably, I'm just one of the homophobic gay. Pity on me.

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  7. @elevencats: You've given me so much to respond to.

    I think your interest in adopting a child and becoming a father is admirable. I'm sure in Estonia, just like in other countries around the world, lots of children are looking for good homes, and I have no doubt you'd provide one because of how gentle and sweet and kind you are (which comes out in everything you write).

    Yet, I have to draw attention to your own words: "Still in pain, still feeling this deep hole inside me that makes me hurt a lot." I have to assume you're talking about loneliness and the lack of a partner in your life.

    While Chris and I are not parents, I believe the hole you write about could not be filled if you were a single father, because the love you'd share with a baby or a child would be very different from the love you'd share with a partner. Raising a child is a noble thing to do, don't get me wrong, and I understand some cultures really push that. But you must look after your needs, too, and I simply want you to give those some consideration.

    You've suggested in past comments that finding a partner would be difficult because gay people are not openly out in Estonia. That might well be the case, but, to some degree, that's the case in Canada, too, even though we are fortunate enough to have legalized gay marriage. It's never been easy for gay men to meet each other and to fall in love, but it happens all the time, and you must not give up hope. You're too young to do that.

    Congratulations again on your achievement at school. You have reason to be very proud of yourself. And congratulations on landing a summer job. I remember how difficult it was for me to get jobs when I was in school, and I wish you every success for the period you're there.

    My best advice to a young man like you about what you'll become is to let it happen naturally. I've always been very impatient and want everything right away. I was no different when it came to wanting to know what course my life would take and who I'd become. To some degree, you have control over that, but, to a large extent, you don't. Just be present, make the best decisions you can at the time, and be true to yourself and your values. The rest will take care of itself.

    And, yes, most definitely, you have the strength to be you. Just watch and see.

    Thank you for your compliment on my blog, elevencats, and for your wonderful comment. I always look forward to hearing from you and knowing how you're doing. Please stay in touch.

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  8. @Aries Boy: I was deeply moved when I read your comment this morning. Thank you for having the courage to write it and to share it with me.

    I hope you don't mind but I used what you wrote as the basis of a new post, because I know you speak for many people, and because I wanted to address the concerns you raised for everyone collectively.

    Please be sure to see "Love Is Why We're Here," the post I just finished writing. I know you've heard some of the message before, but there is no quick answer to your suffering. All you can do is learn from everything that happens to you and resolve to do something different next time.

    I can't know what the individual circumstances are that make accepting yourself so difficult, but I think the journey to healing is the same for all of us. Somewhere, somehow, we need to believe we are worthy. We need to believe we're as good as everyone else (because we are). And we need to believe we deserve good things happening to us, like finding soul mates.

    No one can give you your self-worth. Only you can do that, by knowing in your heart that you are good and perfect and right just the way you are. Can we all improve ourselves? Sure. And we continue to do that throughout our lives. But, at any point in time, Aries Boy, you are as worthy as me, as worthy as any straight person, as worthy as anyone. There is no reason whatsoever for you not to believe that.

    Do not allow yourself to hate everyone or to be consumed by what you call the "bitterness of life" because you're gay and because you don't feel accepted. You can't change the world, you can only change yourself. So focus on that. Let go of what the judgemental people have to say, and work hard and diligently on being the best you.

    Even though you're going through a lot of pain right now, you will come out the other end a better person (your comment today already shows that), and, believe me when I say, you will love again. You really will.

    Thanks for trusting me enough to share a little bit of your life. I really appreciate that. I hope I've written something here that will help you.

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