Extra-Terrestrial Relations

Let’s start with a cliche:

Everyone makes mistakes.

Never heard that before... Source: http://thetikitakalondon.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/interlull-half-time-boring-boring-yawn-boring/

Never heard that before…
Source: http://thetikitakalondon.wordpress.com

True, we all nod our head in a vaguely bored, accepting sort of way when we hear those three words. We use them as an excuse for when we slip up: I’m only human, we all make mistakes. And we do. There are times when even the best of us mumble along in speech, digging a deeper, colder, lonelier grave beneath our feet as we go. We insult, accuse, condescend. We misunderstand, misinterpret, mis-communicate. We reject, scoff, and scorn.

We have all been the victim to a lot of mistakes, especially in love. There are relationships where people say ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it’ so many times it’s easy to lose track. This apology can work up to a point. It works because of the truth of the statement we started with. Everyone makes mistakes, so I can forgive you, you didn’t mean to. The problem arises however, not when it’s multiple mistakes that are made, but when it’s the same mistake over and over again. 

It’s at this point that the apology grinds. Because there’s a hard nugget of pure honesty inside us all: you know that not everyone makes the same mistake over and over. You know that if the same mistake is made twice, then the apology becomes meaningless, because if it was meant the first time it wouldn’t have happened the second. You feel that if they loved you as much as you loved them that they wouldn’t be so human as to make mistakes. For when love is involved, you elevate the person you love to a state of more-than-human, held to unspoken promises and assumed rules.

(An eerie, alien state, not achievable with our puny human minds.)

Then comes the anger. It’s not evident at first, because you love them and don’t want to start a fight. But it’s there, waiting to be noticed. And when it does, you are faced with an impossible swell of feelings. You demand apologies that you know you won’t accept because you’ve been angry for so long you won’t believe them any more. You want gestures and touch and whispers to make it better – whilst hating being in the same breathing space as them. You fight all those fights you put off at once, and make it so much harder to pull through that you’re in danger of losing sight of that love you started with.

When reading this objectively, it’s easy to see where the thought process gets distorted and sets up impossible barriers. In fact, it seems so obvious that it’s almost a pointless thing to say. But when it’s happening to you, when you’re in the moment, there is nothing but acute betrayal and anger. There is no room left for forgiveness, not straight away – and that’s ok.

It is because we are human that we hurt and get hurt, and it’s that very same humanity that means it’s alright to be upset for a while after mistakes are made.

This is a lesson that has taken me a long time to learn. For years in my relationship, I have forced myself to shrug off repeated mistakes and hurts, to put them down as innocent error. To an extent, I believe I was right to do that, for there are times when pettiness and quarrels can – and should be – avoided if possible. But at the same time, I began to realise that I was doing that at the cost of tiny portions of myself. I would chip away at my own ethics, my self belief, my self worth, my passion and reactions. I would keep myself in check when an argument arose because I was so terrified of hurting him.

I was so terrified of hurting him that I forgot how much he hurt me in the process.

Everyone makes mistakes; we are all human.

We are all human; we all love.

We all love; we are always learning.

When love comes along it seems such a miracle, such a treasure, that we covet it. We cradle it in our hands and wrap it in cotton wool, swearing to protect it forever. But that woolly little bundle is made of everything we had and everything we were before we were in it: which means it can still be ugly sometimes, it can still be human despite our expectations of it. Those fights, those battles, those arguments, those tears and shrieked insults are what make love beautiful: surviving in the face of all that, and with acceptance of it is the true miracle.

So when that joyous bundle hurts us, we should say so. We shouldn’t balk from shouting out in protest or expressing our rage. Equally, we shouldn’t shy away from sitting someone down and calmly explaining what they’ve done and how it’s made us feel. We should do whatever we can to ensure that we don’t ever simply sit in silence and take it. You lose yourself to love in the silence.

And you’d be a fool to let yourself disappear.

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Baring my teeth and flicking my tail at passersby. Grr.

Today, I experienced that feeling of uncontrollable rage. Every nerve and every feeling I had shot to my belly, my limbs were shaking, and I was scowling at the room, muttering in incomprehensible dark syllables.

I know. Terrifying. You’re probably quaking in your socks right now.

You may have picked up from recent posts, that in the past few months le man and I have been going through some particularly difficult times. We have gone through periods of loneliness, hurt, resentment, loss – and it has, on occasion, been hard to remember the love we share.

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Right now, however, we are BACK. We are laughing again, and going out for walks at sunset, and staying up until the early hours of the morning talking with a bottle of red wine. I feel more in love with him than I ever have, which I know is a result of our survival through the tough times. We have been faced with adversity and have lived up to the fairy-tale:

We have conquered the evil.

…In all our green-skinned, mud bath glory.

Understandably though, as a result of this, I am that slightly bit (ok, incredibly) more sensitive when it comes to people commenting on our relationship. I cannot stand opinions or assumptions being put on us or our actions, especially when people don’t understand them. And this is what happened today: more than one person commented on an act of kindness le man had performed, criticising it as a guilty apology, and labeling it as cheap.

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Immediately, my blood began to boil and I leapt straight into defense mode, typing out retorts and responses, and stamping my little child feet in an extremely attractive temper tantrum.

…Though now I see I perhaps acted a bit prematurely.

Well, I’ve already said it, haven’t I? No one else is in this relationship, no one else out there knows what we’ve been going through. Which means no one else would understand that those comments might possibly hit a nerve. 

These people weren’t acting out of malice or spite. And I can see where they’re coming from because I understand as well as the next person what ‘banter’ is…but I also think there is a time and a place for it. I just can’t expect people to know when I’m going to declare that it is or is not acceptable.

…Feeling a bit silly now.

We all have things that we are easily wound up or offended by. We have all put our foot in our mouths and said something that has unintentionally hurt someone else. We are all guilty of reacting before we’ve had a chance to cool down and really think about it.

So next time, I’m going to give it a while before I respond, if I even respond at all. And I’m sorry if I’ve offended anyone. We should all make it clear what we find acceptable and what we don’t, or we’ll just end up getting hurt unnecessarily.

I need to make it clear that me and le man ARE back – but we’re fragile and worn out. It’s been a long few months! I won’t apologise for defending what I love, because I think anyone else would do the same. I simply want to say that for the time being, I feel I should warn you:

It’s nothing personal, I’m just a bit of a lioness when it comes to my relationship.

Hear me roar!

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Whip me, baby

I’ve been posting a little bit less recently, but largely because I’ve been struggling with a comment that me and le man received from someone we thought well of.

This person turned to the man I love, and accused him of being with me purely for the physical benefits of a relationship (…well, not in so many words. I deserve some kind of medal for the polite phrasing I morphed that disgusting comment into), ultimately saying he is ‘whipped.’

Now, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t understand what this slang meant at first. The internet as ever, provides some useful definitions, though many of them in rather colourful language. Here’s one definition:

Whipped: When a man is controlled by his girlfriend…almost entirely. To the point of embarrassment when his friends tell him that his girlfriend has got him whipped.’

Eurgh. Vile. I didn’t even know how to handle this. The first thing I felt was repulsion – I was appalled by the insinuation that our relationship wasn’t worth anything, that after so much time together, it was not love holding us together, but sex. This person doesn’t know us as well as they seem to think, they are not in this relationship and so have no authority on the subject. It’s a betrayal to accuse someone of this kind of relationship, because it implies so much vulgarity in the accused’s character.

It took a while to work through this. It took a while to not be angry at le man for him not standing up for us – but as he said, a response to a thing like that is difficult to muster on the spot. It’s not so easy to have a smart, defensive retort when you’re busy seeing red.

It took a while because that person threw an ugly light onto something I see as so perfect and fragile. The physical side of any relationship is a private matter, one that exists only within that bubble. Having it commented on outside of the bubble is unsettling and enraging – it’s an infringement on that privacy and a belittlement of what you share.

It taken a while, yes, but now I’m ok. Because I’ve decided I couldn’t care less about what that person thinks of us. The way I see it, being ‘whipped’ is not a bad thing. It can get ugly if a relationship is unbalanced, yes, but that is an entirely different argument. This person is a fool to think that it is only le man who is ‘whipped.’

I am whipped, never mind about le man. I am the most ‘whipped’ person I’ve known in a relationship. And you know what? That is exactly what I want to be.

Because if I understand it correctly, it essentially means you’re willing to do anything and everything for the person you love, even if it means compromising the public image of yourself. As far as I understand, it means that you are loyal and devoted and would go to the ends of the earth for love. As far as I understand it, those who accuse others of being ‘whipped’ are people whose own lives are devoid of that kind of love. They have never experienced that love and will never open themselves up to the possibility of experiencing it. They themselves will never be ‘whipped’.

And gosh, I think that is the saddest thing in the whole world.

Because in being so ‘whipped’, I have never been happier.

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Who needs matching socks?

Time can have a damaging affect on a couple. Not necessarily because of the two involved, but because of what goes on around them.

Time can steal away what makes you you.

* * *

This past year and a half has proved to be more than challenging for me and le man. With life throwing more than our fair share of rubbish at us, we’ve found ourselves having to deal with issues that older couples than us would struggle with. We’ve not been able to catch a break, with one thing after another hurling itself at us, trying with all its might to batter down the barricade we had built up around us.

And for a while, we’ve been in a state of giving up. We surrendered to the trials of Time and stood, mouths open in vague shock, limbs frozen in an ice block of stone, while bits of ourselves were chipped away in the onslaught.

The problem was not the things we had to face. We faced them with bravado and gumption, and came out the other side changed – older, wiser. In that respect, we were a strong couple. A triumphant couple, standing the test of Time.

But it’s not just about longevity in a relationship. Our real problem has emerged in the aftermath: over Time, we lost the little bits that made us the individuals we fell in love with in the first place.

Le man stopped playing the games he loved, and watching the things he enjoyed. He stopped drinking in the pub with his friends and getting Chinese take-out. He stopped surprising people with visits and laughter, and stopped driving any place new to look at the stars.

I stopped spending time with friends, and writing and reading in the sun. I stopped staying up late, talking until the early hours about increasingly obscure topics. I stopped singing in choirs and dancing in thunder storms.

Now neither one of us are ourselves, and as a result, we have stopped being US. 

We are stuck in a state of limbo, loving and not knowing each other. We are lashing out and saying hurtful things…ultimately I think, because we miss each other. These past few days have been full of conversations, of letters written to each other by shaking hand, of tentative promises filled with hope, and embraces by starlight that are slowly knitting us back together.

It is so easy to be swallowed up by time, to allow your own individuality to disappear amongst the beauty and intricacies of you as part of a couple. It is easy to stop being a me and become  a you and me. It is what drives a wedge between people, what seeps into the purity of love and poisons happiness with resentment. When you are faced with it, it is a Mount Everest, it is Dante’s trip through Hell and back, it is a deep sea dive with no oxygen to buoy you to the surface. But in reality, it is simple.

Stop tip-toeing around the relationship. If you aren’t working as a unit, maybe that’s because neither of you are working as a singularity. Don’t walk away from the love, just get out there. Go and find out who you are.

And then run back to the one you love to tell them all about it and share that new nugget of you with them.

You don’t have to be identical in order to work. Two mismatched socks work just as well as matching – and in fact, they make a much more interesting statement.

So this coming week, I am going to share a cocktail with my best friend and sister. I am going to dance in any storm that comes my way. I am going to sing along with the radio in the morning. And then I am going to run into the arms of the man I love to tell him all about it, and laugh until the early hours of the morning.

Hell, I might even wear a funky hat. Just to lighten the mood.

Hell, I might even wear a funky hat. Just to lighten the mood.

* * *

Time can have a damaging affect on a couple. But a couple? A couple can fight back and heal.

A couple can become reborn.

Universe – go get a haircut. Get out of the house for a bit.

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There are times when you are stuck in a kind of limbo. You aren’t quite sure what decision you’re going to make. You may be swaying towards option A one moment, before quite decidedly stepping in the direction of option B the next.

I hate times like this. Equally though, they very rarely happen to me. It’s odd for me to be unsure about something, especially feelings. Usually, I know myself pretty well. I know what my reaction is and what it means, and I move on. Right now though, I am having a whole lot of reactions all at once, and none of them seem to be particularly appealing, or in fact, very correct.

Tonight however, it seems that there are forces much greater than me playing a part, and I am feeling very small.

You know the kind of things I mean: a book falling open to a specific page; a line in a film having a special meaning; circumstances falling together so you are alone in a car with the person that you need advice from most before tomorrow comes; and a song on the radio, playing insistently, as if screaming at you ‘Make THIS choice, don’t be a fool.’

Which is great, and all. All the signs from the universe are pointing in a positive direction.

Still.

I’d quite like the opportunity to search myself for a while longer. I would quite like the ability to make my own decision, without everything around me trying to make it for me. I’d quite like to be left alone that little bit longer, to be allowed to feel indecisive for one more minute.

So Universe, thank you and everything. But please, I am asking for just a bit of time.

Just. One. More. Minute.

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Mowing the lawn has never felt so bad.

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Today, whilst I was sitting in the garden, minding my own business in the sunshine, my next door neighbour began to mow her lawn.

Usually, this would not bother me. In fact, usually it wouldn’t even register on my radar.

But today it did.

Her mowing the lawn startled every living creature that had been settled in her garden. Suddenly I was surrounded by flies and bugs and tiny blades of grass, all seeking refuge from the gardener. The sound of the mower ripped through the air and even birds fluttered discontentedly from her garden into mine.

Now, I am NOT a nature girl. Not a single particle in me likes nature (apologies for nature lovers), so being instantaneously inundated with every creepy crawly thing with wings from within a ten meter radius was NOT ok with me.

So I scurried back inside, into my beautiful brick cage.

As I watched the swirling mass of chaos flying over the fence from next door, I got to thinking. This mower effect seems to be the perfect metaphor to describe ME recently. I may be doing something I see as harmless, but am I ever fully aware of the ripple effect I’m having on those around me?

At the moment, I am trying to work my way through a treacle-y sludge of stuff, in order to better myself and improve my life. But as I claw my way through this mess, have I stopped to consider what it’s doing to others around me? To people I love? To the one person I am trying to make peace with?

I process and react and make a change, and all because I think it’s going to help. But that’s methat’s my opinion. I can’t speak for anyone else and would be arrogant to assume I can.

The problem is, that for right now I haven’t figured out any other way to move past this. I have to take time for me and do things for me, because I haven’t done so in such a long time that’s it’s done more harm than good.

I’m just not sure I’m entirely comfortable with Lawnmower Me plowing through this mess, throwing all of my unwanted grass and unwelcome bugs over the fence in the meantime.

But as for now, I have no other choice. So whack on some bug spray and breathe through your nose. I’m on the grassy war path.

Close-up mowing the front lawn with houses in the background

Leave, don’t leave

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Soon, you will leave.

I think that is partly why I am so happy. It will be a release, a small window of time in which I can fly free, soar through space: be a comet burning and bright.

I need you gone. When I walk through the house, I walk through filtered memories, over the stain of tears on the carpet, past that place where love became rage so quickly.

Numbness consumes me. When we touch, my fingertips bounce off of you as though made of rubber. They feel nothing and leave no sensation behind. You ask me if I love you and my tongue swells up, filling my mouth, giving you an answer of silence even though inside I am screaming at you: YES.

Night brings with it the heaviness of the day, the gripes we ignored until they all come pouring out under the stars. Accusations and resentment, a fortress of destruction. We are two stick figures, waving swords haphazardly on the battlefield, hoping we hurt the other. Praying we don’t.

I need you gone.

Leave.

Don’t leave.

This morning you cradled me in your arms. I didn’t pull away when you held my hand, stroked my back, soothed me. You seemed cautious, as if expecting me to leap from you like a startled deer.

I didn’t move, but I did come closer, atom by atom. It was safe electricity, a shadow of the untamed lightning that used to flash between us. The crackle and fizz was familiar, still.

Seconds ticked by and we still didn’t move. You looked at me and I at you and we breathed each other in. We were so close in that moment, closer than we had been in eons. It was a closeness that overrode the hurtful shouts and apologetic tears.

We let no darkness in for the rest of that day. We laughed and baked and carried out chores as if nothing was about to happen. I walked you to the bus stop and kissed you goodbye, telling you this would be good for us. Telling you not to be silly, we need this. I need this.

I watched as you waved from the window, the bus drawing further and further away. Your face became a pale dot in the distance as you mouthed at me the words: ‘I love you.’

I didn’t move. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think.

Pain came rushing in where once the numbness had been, but this pain was different. This was my own pain, my guilt, my regret, my solitude. My wish that I could be someone different, do something other than push you away.

Leave. Don’t leave.

Come back.

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