Susan's Blog

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Just Being May Be Enough?

Hi Mom
How are you?
I am having a great day.
Today I went to gym class.
It was fun.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what one gets out of other people. For the longest time I think I have wanted to get essentially the same thing out of each and every person I know, subconsciously. Every friend I would make, I would try to get as close to as possible. I would want to know how they think, what they love, hate, what makes them laugh. Intensity + intimate sharing = love and happiness in my mind. Or it did.

I would also want them to know about me that way, and to care equally. Ah, therein lies the rub. This particular rub became apparent to me when I first started seeing Ned, in college. I remember asking him, “But do you love me as much as I love you?” And he would say, “How can I know what your love feels like in comparison to mine?” Which to me would seem like a no, and I would get mad and hurt.

Eventually I realized that Ned was right: you cannot expect to know that the other person will feel exactly the way you do about you that you feel about them. The more difficult lesson for me has been to understand that this is okay; that even if Ned did not love me as much as I loved him, it was okay for me to feel the way I did. There was still a worthwhile relationship. There was still love. And there was no shame in what it was. It just was. I learned that my old way of being was a useless, self-tormenting kind of exercise.

But I still sometimes wondered, and I still sometimes harbored this expectation of reciprocity in all of my relationships, not really aware that I did. Then, along came Nat. Nat has made me aware of this issue in a whole new way. I get an email like the one above, and I find myself sighing that they are so similar, his emails to me. They are “only” about some scheduling aspect of his day, and he always says it was “great.” They were not enough.

Today I thought a few things when I realized this. I thought that I was sad that I could not get deeper thoughts or feelings out of Nat. And when I realized this, I felt a burst of relief, actually, because I recognized this desire as a permutation of that same very old dynamic with Ned, whereby I wanted to know his every thought and feeling and compare it to mine and hope it was the same!

But I have learned that people just give you what they give you. They come into your life as they are. They are not as you are! They are just a gift, in the sense that a gift is given to you, and is not necessarily something from your wishlist. A gift is what that other person is giving to you, wholly from them.

Who says that I have to get something more, somehow, out of Nat? Nat, the whole person, truly exists, with or without my mind understanding his mind. He is not some two-dimensional being, simply because his conversation is spare and sparse. I stand next to him, and I can just feel the golden rays of his essence.

That may be all that I need.


What a very nice post. I’ve never really thought of things that way before, but it’s true.

— added by VAB on Thursday, March 13, 2008 at 11:21 am

Same problem with my son. He always calls from his residential program with the same questions (sometimes in the same order). It can be frustrating, but he is trying to connect in the only way he can. So I accept it and learn to enjoy it.

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, March 13, 2008 at 7:01 pm

Wow Susan, your thoughts were so well said and rang so true to me. I’ll probably read them several times to be sure that they stay with me. I have had your book sitting on my desk at work and several people asked me about it. I told them that it comforts me. And I’m at a place where I need that. So many times books have come to me when I needed their message. Thanks, Hayden’s grandma, Nancy.

— added by Nancy on Thursday, March 13, 2008 at 7:31 pm