I have traveled many, many, many miles down the road of love these last few days. My goodness, I am plumb tuckered out! I have a new understanding of love – in that it’s terrifically expansive and (thankfully) impervious to definition when I step back, stop analyzing and let it be. By this I mean love is not one thing, it does not have only one elucidation and it does not have a destined trajectory. My understanding of love has been challenged and not for the first time.
I have always been a romantic and an idealist and an optimist – a truly dangerous mix that can often blow up in my face. I experienced just such a combustible reaction most recently. I was informed by a dear friend that the dynamics of our relationship must change. What? Shock. Dismay. Confusion. There were lots of tears and bouncing back between denial and bargaining (on my part). Why? I was into our relationship just the way it was; he wasn’t. When I had calmed down and remembered all the words my friend had said to me I realized it was not the end of our relationship but the emergence of a new one. A new friendship could be interesting and truth be told, I too felt the growing pressure of the dynamics as we had established them. We do need to change how we interact with each other.
I’m willing to try a new way of relating because I don’t take my friendships lightly. For one, I don’t trust very easily and this can make it difficult to move past the acquaintance mode. Also, I cut all ties with my family and then friends when I was diagnosed with HIV and made a new start in Vancouver. Since diagnosis I have been very discriminating as to whom I spend my time with and in what capacity. Finally, and I think you will agree with this one: making new friends as an adult is difficult. I mean, it’s absolutely possible but it is a bit… erm, awkward. Right? So when I meet someone who makes my spirit sing I won’t disrupt that relationship without thoughtful consideration.
I have lost a few friendships over the years; some have fizzled out, others have ended as a conscious choice and others have been shown to be other than I thought. For example, a few years ago I was very sick. I was in and out of the hospital every few weeks for about an eighteen month period. Needless to say I was exhausted, depressed and very self-focussed. I didn’t have much energy for anything other than trying to hold it together. Most of my friends rallied around me at this time and helped me cope. The ones who couldn’t engage with me at this time are still in my life, but in a less intimate capacity. I understand not everyone can or will meet others at their pain, but personally, I need people who are comfortable with all the messiness of life not just the good times. The people who will meet me where I am and travel along with me are my friends. By the same token, I do not abandon my friends when times get rough.
Now, can I do this? Can I redefine a relationship, its dynamics, and its expression? Have you ever done this? Successfully? When I have moments of sadness over what is lost, I remind myself of what has been salvaged. I remain in friendship with someone I love very much. Here’s my opportunity to explore love. I get to poke around inside it and try on some new ways of loving. That sounds alright to me. I’ve never regretted loving. My heart is big, perhaps even infinite. I don’t know. I reckon I can do this redefined friendship. I’m thinking of it as the second novel in an ongoing series. The first novel was a breathtaking, passionate, Jane Austen inspired period piece where letter writing and distance figured prominently. The plot of this next novel is yet to be determined. The narrative has taken a new direction, the central characters are altered somewhat, and the genre has certainly changed but the crux of our story continues to be love.
This was posted on Friday, September 7th, 2012 at 1:06 am and is filed under HIV stigma, Relationships, Spiritual and Emotional Health, Support . Feel free to respond, or trackback. Read our comments policy.