June 8, 2010

Maybe It's Me: Erikson's "Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation," or, I'm Sorry I Suck Sometimes

We are fragile children of the universe who, with the help of previous life experience, temporary distractions, and time (the best remedy of all), are constantly in a state of healing from our own internal battles, broken hearts, and wounded egos.

However, we’re also self-involved creatures of destruction constantly over-consuming and leaving a trail of sabotage and compromise in our narcissistic wakes.

It’s amazing then, given the polar opposites of the human emotion, how many of us actually end up in healthy, sustainable romantic relationships when it could easily go the other way.

And frequently it does.

More often than not, relationships fail for one reason or another and each of the two parties involved, without intentionally meaning to do so, fall closer to one of the aforementioned extremes than the other. There have been moments where I have been so caught up in my own existence that I have blown right through relationships, torn right through some unsuspecting hearts, carelessly leaving nothing but fragments on my way to bigger and better things. In my most recent history, though, I have been the fragmented one collecting the pieces of me I still could from the post-relationship carnage and reassembling a lesser version of myself hoping against all odds that time really would heal all wounds.

(And for the non-existent record, time really does heal all wounds – it’s cliché, but it’s true).

I honestly believe that it’s important to experience both sides of this emotional spectrum. I don’t think, however, it’s healthy to stay in either of these mind-sets for too long, especially if we’re actively looking for love in either of these extremes.

When we’re at our most destructive, we are insatiable. Nothing is ever good enough - and so we run through our lists of wants and demands in life, whether consciously or not, trying to find a place we belong regardless of what or who gets in the path of Hurricane Us. On the other hand, I’ve watched far too many friends at their most broken wait in a sort of desolate limbo for some prince charming (intentionally lower-cased) to be the answer to all their life’s dilemmas.

Guess what? Prince charming is not ever going to be the answer to life and love. And the sooner we can breed a generation to recognize that, the better of we’ll be as ap eople.

In my opinion, I’ve found that it’s in the quiet, nondescript interim where we find this healthy, sustainable “true love” that flawlessly seems to happen to people as it has since the beginning of time (although Adam and Eve were created specifically for one another, so I think they’re the exception to the rule).

I don’t think that the perfect-for-us relationship exists naturally as depicted in the media. I don’t think it’s something we can actively go hunting for, and I don’t think it’s something we can passively hope will come around and save us from ourselves.

I truly think it’s when we’re in the middle of our own emotional spectrum as individuals that we stumble upon someone else also in the middle of their own emotional spectrum, and in that serendipitous common moment of serenity where neither party is being pulled in one direction or another, we find and begin to construct that relationship meant just for us.

Maybe it’s me, but it’s (life, love, and everything in between) all about balance.

And as I continue to grow up and watch normal, healthy relationships around me develop I can’t help but begin to wonder if that isn’t what real love really is: one great, big balancing act.

It’s about finding someone who you can break the heart of, but they’ll still love you recklessly; and in return, allowing that same someone to occasionally break your heart, but never feel the sting from it because life is sweeter with them around. It’s important to remember that heartbreaks don’t always have to happen on some colossal scale either. Tiny infractions incur daily


It’s about being able to put your pride in check after being an enormous bitch or closed-minded jackass and apologizing to the best of your ability, even if it’s as pathetic as “I’m sorry I suck sometimes” (which can take a world of effort to say for some of us). It’s important for us to be able to counteract our negative imperfections (because not all imperfections are bad – some of them are the very reason why the other person fell in love with you) with a humble attitude.


And it’s about knowing when to give up the fight and just have faith in yourself and in the other person. It’s so, so easy to take previous experiences with former lovers who burned us and convince ourselves that it’s going to happen again. By doing that we inhibit ourselves from allowing the person we’re with from loving us as much as they can, want to, and need to (and as much as we hope they do, want them to, and need them to). Despite how many times we may have heard it before, not everyone is out to hurt us. And when someone is holding us close and telling us that we’re not alone and that they, while perhaps not as outspoken or overly emotional as you may be, is also terrified of being hurt too, is when you lock fingers and take that proverbial leap of faith together (in whatever direction that may be).


Because, in the end: we’re the extreme.  We're both the fragile children of the universe and the self-involved creature of destruction; the broken hearted and the heart breakers; the hermits and the lovers.  The extremes in our lives are not defined by the situation we were, are, or will be in; nor the outrageous emotions we choose to embody.

But us.

We are the “weights and measures,” the heart, of our own life’s great, big balancing act to healthy, sustainable love. Love of self, love of family, love of another . . . love.