Monday, November 28, 2011

For the back of my closet

Press play.
Right Ahead, You Sailor! by Right Away, Great Captain! on Grooveshark

Dear [Secret],

I cannot pretend to understand you fully. I quite honestly can hear what you’re saying and I can even see the value of it and where it possibly could be logical, but cannot fathom what event has made you so fearful to take a chance on someone. And while you probably think that our last conversation was about friendship and travelling, it was actually about the ability to take a chance on someone and valuing love. To think that you cannot date someone until you know everything about them is ridiculous (and as someone who values getting to know someone well before you marry them, even I find it extreme). Even after years of knowing someone intimately, you will still discover things you didn’t know about them before. And dating and friendship are not the same. Dating someone, in my mind, develops a different kind of closeness than being someone’s friend. I respect your need for friendship; I think its perfectly smart and it is something that I want, a base of friendship in my relationships, but I also think that it is partly an excuse you use. A barrier and obstacle you put in your own way. A way for you to eliminate and ease your conscience for not dating people and setting your priorities on a career and other aspects of your life, because you never really have to romantically invest your feelings and you can say that you’re just developing friendships and act like you aren't completely closing yourself off to people. But I think it limits the potential certain relationships could have. I think you sometimes choose to have inappropriate levels of intimacy with people. And I pity you for not knowing the difference. And I pity them for allowing you to cheapen their emotions. I think that there are some emotions, intimacies and affection that shouldn’t be shared with every friend and ought to be reserved for when you are actually dating someone. If they were married, you would find such intimacy inappropriate. But because both parties are single, somehow you have convinced yourself that you’re just developing friendships. And it’s a fine course of action. And I think your intimacies allow you some of the benefits of a relationship without you ever having to commit and take a risk on any one person and allow you to eliminate people without any real feelings. You think you know best, and I can picture the slight head shake and defiant eyes you have as you read this. What I say is not going to change your opinion. Of that I’m sure. But while I am often frightened of being hurt, I am never above taking a risk on someone -- obviously. No matter the pain or disappointment that is left in the wake of such bravery. And even though it has yet to pay off in any respect, I still hold out a hope that it might.

I’m taking the chance that you will read this. And I know, that you will know it is meant for you, if you do. I realize that this format may not be the place to respond to you. But truthfully, the thought of playing this out in secret and directly to you makes me ill. For you have wounded me far greater than I could ever convey to you. Or have you understand. And that is just one of those things. Sometimes things don’t work out how we think they will. But our previous intimacy feels inappropriate now. Like I am asking for you to continue to wound me. Because I have real feelings for you and you can only logically and rationally see me as a fresh perspective you are missing in your wheelhouse of friends. I felt like I was very open and honest about what I wanted. I told you what my intentions were. And I tried to be direct, even though such openness is hard for me, because I thought it might protect me in some manner. Because knowing is better than wondering. And I thought you were worth the risk and the effort. But that was for naught. I thought that for my directness, I would be rewarded with equal frankness. I had thought I knew what you were saying to me, but it now turns out that you were not as straightforward as I had thought. You may not think it but you hinted at having romantic feelings for me, playing on my hopes, when that was so clearly not the case for you or not your intentions. And maybe for your other friendships, that works. But for me, that was a betrayal of my trust. And as such, I now realize I gave you far more credit than you deserved. Unintentionally assuming far too much in your favor. I now know that you cannot give me what I need. Even if you never read this, it doesn’t matter. Because having it said is what’s important.

Friendship is important to me. To presume that because some of my closest relationships are with my family, they are not as valid as outside friendships, is to belittle the hours that have gone in to make those relationships. I realize that I do not easily make friends. So the importance of my friendships increases because of the rarity and how much effort it takes from me. Each and every friendship I have is something I treasure. And it is something I have worked at. And to look down upon some of my friendships, because they are with my family members is insulting. My family associations provide me with some of my greatest life fulfillment. And I plan to always make the effort to be emotionally close to them, even if I am physically far away. I am grateful to be so close with so many of my immediate and extended family members. Being close to them has been an intentional effort. Because I wasn’t always. But I realized early on that my greatest joys will come from my family associations. And I don’t think that their friendships are of any less value because we are blood and have an implied relationship. I CHOOSE them. And I thank God that I was blessed to have my lot cast with theirs. Because the variety and extensive value each of them offers to me is immeasurable. Their lives each take such different paths. Their experiences so varied. And I am lucky to be able to draw from their strengths and be a strength to their weaknesses. Our love as a family is one of my greatest sources of happiness. But the love I have for them as my family is separate from the love I have developed as I have truly sought to become real friends with them. Their friendships have been made with the exact same effort and forethought that I have used to make friends outside of my family. And the relationships are kept close with the same effort. I too chose CLOSE relationships. But where we differ, is I believe my family is supposed to be there for me. And should be a priority in my life. So yes, I hope that who I marry, values family as much as I do. Family is what is important, in the gospel and in life. And I refuse to feel bad for needing them in my life. And choosing to need them. I make them a priority and try to not undervalue them. Do I think they are the only people I can depend on in my life? No. Do I see the value of having independence from my parents (both emotionally and financially)? Absolutely. Do I plan on uniting with my future spouse and clinging to them for support and when appropriate to solve problems together? Of course. But I would never purposely create distance between myself and my family just for the sake of my pride, so I could feel that I am so perfectly fine on my own and don’t need to depend on them. Family ought to be there for you. They should be a source to draw from. I don’t usually outright disagree with people’s opinions (trying to allow people the benefit of differing viewpoints), but I think that you do not value your family enough.

Also, to presume that my family are the only friendships I value is to belittle another group of friends who have been such a crucial part of my life. I agree that life experiences are only valuable if you have people to share them with. And I have been lucky, that I have found, in each place I have lived, people with whom I could bond and share life experiences with. Moving away to dental school was hard. And I quite literally could have had no success if I had not developed friendships with my classmates. I know because I always tend to do things the hard way first. My first year of dental school was one of the hardest years of my life, with little satisfaction, as I was far from my family and my friends. I felt lost and lonely because I had yet to make real and lasting relationships with anyone in Boston. And I am forever grateful for the inclusive nature of John, Derrick and some of my other friends. They may not have realized it when they began to include me, but I needed their friendships. I needed them to sit with me occasionally in class. And notice me. I needed to have people in the same city that I could depend on and have depend on me. That give and take was so crucial for me. Yes, I’m sure that for you travelling has helped you realize the value of friendships. But that isn't the only way. And it causes me some irritation when people assume there is only one way of learning and experiencing something. My dental school friends and I have survived because of each other. No one understands better than they do what I have gone through in the last three years. In fact, if you have not been to dental school, you don’t get it. And I have no doubts that they will be my lifelong friends. We have shared too much for me to think otherwise. What has allowed me to survive, and in some cases succeed and thrive, in each new life experience I have had, has been the friends I have made. Sometimes it took years to find them, as is the case with Ali and Stef in Edmonton. But I could not have survived without knowing them. They taught me many important lessons. And I would never de-value their friendships, just because we don’t often have the opportunity to catch up. Or their friendships weren't made under flashier circumstances.

You seem to be under the false assumption that things far away from home mean more. “Oh, our first world problems don’t matter at all!” And while I don’t disagree that there are many people in the world that have it worse off than us, I could never agree that that makes them more important than people I know personally. I cannot fathom, finding strangers more important to me than my own friends and family. And I think you are at a wrong for having such a belief. Because it says that you care more for people you have never met, than for people who have loved you with no expectation of anything in return (as is the case with friends and family). Just because we do not have to struggle with torn apart families, war, hunger and famine doesn’t make our struggles of so much less value. Our problems are different for sure. There is beauty in the day to day, ordinariness of our lives. I agree that some things ought to be put in perspective by greater events. But I would never call someone’s personal and emotional struggles trivial. And I think that is where you truly do not get it. People’s emotions and experiences matter.

I guess my irrational anxiety wasn’t so irrational after all. My doubts were founded. And I feel hurt. And foolish. But I know that I will get over it. And I hope that things do work out for you. Please don’t feel like this experience has caused me to hate you or something (not that you would care if I did, since I’m sure such a feeling would be categorized as just another one of those trivial things in life that don’t matter since its not occurring on a grander stage). Because I don’t hate you. I think you are foolish at times, and that you don’t necessarily have your priorities where I think they should be, but that doesn’t negate your good qualities. I wanted to give you a chance again because I can recognize your value. And I realized that it hurt you a bit to be called a robot. But not unlike when you called me out for being selfish, I did it because I wanted you to realize how you can be perceived, with the hope that you might learn to value people’s feelings and emotions more and change for the better. Its not something you’re good at and it truthfully was my biggest concern about you. But it is something that is critical for all people to learn. I wish you luck, [Secret]. I really and truly do but I’m done, which is not an easy conclusion to come to or stick by. But I can’t play these sort of games anymore. There is more out there and I’m not willing to have you occupy a spot that ought to be reserved for someone who would actually be willing to care about me, as more than just a well read, pro-education, grad school student perspective. I am more than that. And want more than that. 

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