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“if you love me take my hand”

May 6, 2009

Freedomgirl‘s comment (from a while ago, this has been incubating – i’ve decided to post it even though i can’t seem to get it edited) has gotten me thinking, so perhaps i will go into the part where i feel like i ought to feel like things have been moving too quickly. She said,  “what is too quickly? too quickly is more than you want. but you want it, so it’s perfect.”

Which is a) insightful and true, but b) brings up a lot of my personal issues. There’s really nothing else to say about point a, but i do want to give it (more than) equal weight to my craziness.

The simpler, and probably less relevant issue here is commitment. Jake used to joke that she felt like we were married. It wasn’t really a joke (it was, if anything, part of our problem later on), but i think it became one due to my somewhat panicky negation of the claim every time.

The thing that perhaps started it among my buddies was a time we were all chatting about relationships or some-such. Someone said the word commitment, and both me and Madam, sitting next to each other, looked over our shoulders and said, “where?!” They had already pegged us as commitment-phobes, but that pretty well sealed it. (And now the two of us have the longest-term relationships of the group…)

Anyhow, all i’m trying to say is that i’ve always been jumpy about “serious” relationships, hence feeling that things have happened very fast. Along with which i went into this with rather strong intentions to take it slow, which failed rather immediately (and led to lots of teasing by Jamie).

But all that really amounts to is an occasional “how strange” reflection, because it is, as mentioned, not more than i want (and perfect).

The bigger issue here is…respectability, i suppose.

I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of effort over the course of my life trying to be taken seriously. This is, most of the time, an issue that i’m over – an echo from my past.

I was always that kid who spent more time with adults than other kids.  I can remember thinking, in middle and high school, that, for the most part, people my age were irritatingly immature. And being kind of terrified that the adults – or older kids – whose company i so enjoyed, thought the same way of me.

I was always that girl who wanted to do “boy things,” which was perfectly acceptable until middle school. Because i was too shy to really stand up for myself  (or, to be honest, i feel like saying anything about it doesn’t actually make anyone accept you, it just makes them play along), i just had to do boy things well (construction), or at least earnestly (basketball).

In college, it was being taken seriously as an intellectual, or at least as a student. Which is basically the same thing as wanting to be seen as mature.

I have mixed feelings about all of this. I think that i was moderately successful – and i’m not really the sort who can try to re-imagine the past anyhow. I still value all of that, but i’m not so keen on the insecurity that led to it, and i think perhaps i over-valued them.  I feel like, as i said, i’m mostly over it, but then it still makes me anxious to even write about. So perhaps it is only that now that i am an adult i’m not often fighting to be taken seriously (the gender stuff kind of fades into the background as well, once everyone is done with puberty).

Here we are, after a long detour, back to the point. It turns out that my fucked-up internal definition of “mature” is “rational” (and it turns out that this is still the goal). And so, every time i feel like i am following my heart over my head (which, let’s be honest, i almost always do) i get a pang of old insecurities. After only a year, it couldn’t possibly be reason having me all tied up the way i am (metaphorically speaking, in this case).

Lady Brett

"North Dakota" - Lyle Lovett
PS. Jamie - this probably begins to explain my use of
the term "crazy" in contexts that seem weird to you.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2009 7:29 am

    I dunno…a year into our relationship I was tied up and crazy with love over M. Is love rational? I think there’s an argument to be made that it is…after all, married people live longer and have better health, so being in love and making a commitment to someone may be a very rational thing if your goal is to live a long time.

    Honestly my definition of maturity would be getting to the point where I don’t fucking care what anyone else thinks. I don’t know if that’s rational or not, but it’s certainly following my heart. I’m getting there slowly, and the closer I get the better I feel.

    I spent my twenties being really, stunningly respectable. Doing everything right. Then everything took a sharp turn to the left in the UK and I’m looking at a future of relative poverty, doing something I care about with my life, making amazing friends. This isn’t a commentary on your life, as I don’t know you at all really.

    I guess my instinct is to reassure you, that you don’t have to commit yourself, you can just be. M. and I ratcheted down the commitment a lot — now we don’t talk about being together forever. We talk about sleeping with other people, though we haven’t done it yet. We talk about reasons why it may not work out. But somehow we’re still together, and honestly our relationship is stronger for it.

    I think, just to go on pontificating here [yikes when did I turn into a pontificator?!?] that it’s really easy to take a true and genuine love between two people and turn it into an obligation. Sure, obligation has a part in any relationship — it takes some effort and some reciprocity to help a partner when they need it, even if one is tired and cranky. But [just speaking my own experience here] for me it turned into a way of life that the outside world really supported — always putting the relationship above all else. Our society is set up to encourage the pairing off of people and their subsequent retreat to the private realm. And maybe that’s another reason to feel commitment phobic — that’s a sort of horrible fate. It’s nice to move around in the public realm too, as a couple and separately, and of course lots of couples do.

    One final thing, before you wish you’d never responded to my comment — that feeling of obligation, that ‘I said in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, etc’ feeling — it can be used to cover up a wealth of insecurities and fears. There are things I didn’t do ‘because M. needed me’ that really were ‘because I was too afraid’. M.’s needs were an easy way for me to excuse my cravenness. I’m still struggling with that one.

    And frankly, a year in, if you’re that crazy in love, something’s going very right, in my opinion.

  2. May 8, 2009 1:06 pm

    kind of off topic, but i’m way skeptical of the “marriage is good for your health” research, as it tends to overlap so much with other social things (like having money) that are good for your health. i think long-term commitment makes a lot of *sense* if the point of life is to raise children, too. (which i’m not going to get into at the moment – suffice to say there’s not agreement on that around here.)

    it’s odd, though, because (with a few exceptions) i feel like the outside pressure on me, because of my community, is distinctly anti-traditional. that’s actually something i’ve really been wanting to write about. i suppose i’ll have to, because i can’t even figure out how to write another sentence about it without going off into paragraphs.

    i’ve done “crazy in love.” that was the last time around, and i’m so glad this round feels sane (though i feel i’m using the phrase significantly differently than you are, so i certainly appreciate the sentiment). i really appreciate your perspective on all of this, too!

  3. May 9, 2009 6:38 am

    i would love to hear what you have to say on the topic of your community exerting ‘anti-traditional’ pressure on you, when you have time! and i definitely agree about the marriage is good for your health argument — there’s got to be some lurking variables in there somewhere. happiness is good for your health, however you get there.

    and yes, sane in love is better than crazy. having done both with the same person, it makes a world of difference. love shouldn’t be about losing yourself — which it has been for me. i’ve discovered recently that i like myself, and want to spend more time appreciating that.

    i appreciate your perspective too — and i wonder if this is one case where it might be easier to have this conversation in person…

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