I am 50 and single and triggered by bullshit, so, fair warning. Plus I have gathered quite a few other people’s quotes to help me explain myself. I was planning to write on love and somehow it morphed into fairness. Makes me think of the phrase, “All’s fair in love and war.” Sadly, I detest that saying. Some friends and I in a single’s group were spit-balling on love and relationships. One of those members is Lisa Mickey, a fellow armchair philosopher. She once gave me a great checklist of what she looks for in a dating relationship. She narrowed it down to, “self-awareness, electricity and mutual high regard.” Love that! I’m giving you a feel for her because I will be quoting her again later.
But first, my triggers. I’m triggered by fairness and judgement. Essentially, it’s hard enough to deal with our weaknesses and failures when we are totally guilty. Dealing with being judged unfairly? Damn, that stings. And being judged as not enough for someone in a relationship? Double sting. Okay, this is the modern dating scene I am talking about. Where everyone has a list of who they will and will not try to date. I’m not talking deal-breakers here like addictions or untreated illnesses, but just idealistic stuff. The man has to be “yay-tall” and the woman has to be “so-in-so lbs.” And I’m not talking about personal preferences either, because we all have things that bug us, right? My point is, why all the judgement? Just look elsewhere, buddy. And, by the way, choosing a date by externals? I thought that went out in middle school?
What I’m trying to say relates to fairness because the hope for fairness in life can kill love. Fairness is not reality. Some people will cheat you, lie about you, judge you, exclude you and steal from you. Come on, boundaries are what’re real, unless you live in an alternate dimension where everyone is a faery love bug. So, since there is no fairness and everyone will be judged over and over again there is only one thing to do: go look in the mirror. Maybe instead of, “What do they have to offer me,” ask yourself , “What do I bring to the table?”
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t heard, “Life isn’t fair,” at some point. We defy the poet’s words when we come unglued by unfairness, “Nothing external to you has any power over you.” (Emerson) The only thing we do have power over is the way we walk in the world. The reality is that life will hurt sometimes, but those times do not have to define who we are.
This idea resonates relationally and culturally. Interpersonal life is all about that mirror. Chuck Degroat expresses it this way: “It’s ironic, because a condition which appears most self-centered is actually a condition of radical self-disconnection manifesting in a person utterly out of touch with his own needs, his own longings, his own story.” We must get in touch with our own needs, our own story, our own weaknesses and our own magic.
“I have tried
to carve (your) rules
into the back of my eyes,
so that I might belong.
but an owl
is calling outside my
nocturnal song. And
in this holiness
there is nothing wrong with me.
Where I find holiness.
Where I am enough.
Liezel Graham (2019)
We usually say, “Nobody is perfect,” in defense of our lesser acts. How about turning it on its head and say that to mean that it’s okay to be whoever you are at this moment. And that moment, when we feel okay, is when we can also be honest about those areas that we need to work on. No way is the goal ever perfection. It’s more like growth. Be less of an asshole tomorrow than I was today? Learn the lessons life has to teach me? I don’t really know, but I had a therapist tell me one time that the idea is to have a higher percentage of healthy days than unhealthy ones. Sounds good.
And just think of all the time we’ll have to grow up when we aren’t spending so much time calling down judgements on those around us. Maybe focus inside instead of outside. God it’s not easy, but who ever said it would be? Why are we so surprised when people act crappy? Remember the mirror and that day the assholery won in our own lives. Happens to us all. Let’s not waste years asking the world to validate us. We have the power to forgive ourselves and get on with it. How about this: Stop asking everyone and everything in the world to accommodate us, but let us become accommodating. Stop begging to be loved and love someone. Stop asking for validation and start giving it to others.
Our group came up with a few basics of human needs in relationship. Lisa said, “We want to be noticed and witnessed.” It makes us feel more alive. She said, “I’m convinced…that we function best when we are fully ourselves, and to be fully ourselves, we need other people to reflect and to respond to what we are. The human experience is unlocked when we experience nonjudgmental observation. This allows us to see others in all their glorious wonder and ridiculousness, and accept them in spite of it all.” (paraphrase)
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” Ms. Cummings nails it, there is risk involved. But what delights may await us if we take it.
This clip from “Shall We Dance,” talks about the witness in marriage but can apply to all of our relationships.