Love in it’s many forms…

Love is the thing that most of us spend our whole lives chasing. Yet we often fail to realise is all around us in its many forms.

It is one the most painful parts of life, given that most of the things you love will either leave you or die, and yet it’s an addiction that we keep searching for. After all who wouldn’t want to hold onto the things and people in life that contribute to their happiness in a positive way?

Happiness and love, if you could bottle them and sell them you would never be poor again!

Today love was talking to a Macmillan Nurse about how I can help my Nan. The conversation is a precursor to a meeting with the GP this week. But today we talked about ‘end stages’ and making decisions on ‘quality of life’ as a family.

It all seems so far away given she is currently asymptomatic but in reality it is a clock we have been trying to ignore since the start of the year. That’s what happens when the cancer comes back, you have a clock over your head which no one can see, ticking away to a time that no one knows, when the clock just stops.

We all have a ticking clock, our own schedule for meeting our maker and none of us know when or where that will be. None of us ever wants to be faced with making the decision for the end of our lives and yet in some ways it is the most important decision you will ever make not just for you but also for your family and the people who love you.

Power of attorney was another idea we discussed. My sister advocates everyone having a living power of attorney, given we never know when it might become useful. It’s something I have considered for myself.

I have no idea how I am supposed to have the conversation with my family though. How do you ask someone who is in themself well how they would like to die? I think that conversation will have to wait a while so we can deal with the more pressing issues in hand.

I’ve thought about death myself, having my brother die at a young age made me realise that it can happen to anyone. I don’t fear it, it’s inevitable, but I do hope it’s painless and that the people I care about the most are not left in any doubt that I loved them to the best of my ability, even if I made a mess of it at times.

I might even write my own eulogy and make them read it out. I’d hate to think of people being upset, I’d rather they came in fancy dress and had a big party. Imagine the looks they would get stood around my grave dressed as zombies, ghosts, devils etc I would certainly find that funny looking down on them. Definitely no lilies, I can’t stand them, they give me a headache.

I might even make a playlist of all the songs I love and make them listen to it! The worst funeral song I’ve heard was Who’s Sorry Now, it was their favourite song but thoroughly depressing. Lyrically it’s one of the most bitter songs I’ve ever heard.

I’ve been talking to my friend a lot lately about how I feel. Trying to work out what I did to end up where I am now, directionless and lost in my own life. We’ve talked about how I absorb other people’s issues and make them my own and how I need to stop. Knowing that she is experiencing some of what I am at the same time is a help.

Even when love is bad for you it still fills your life. Even when you know that walking away is the best thing for you it isn’t easy to do. Knowing you deserve to be treated better, not attacked verbally, emotionally or physically doesn’t make it any easy to walk away.

Because all types of love, good and bad leave shadows in your life and you never know how quickly the scars are going to heal. Nothing is ever all bad, sometimes the good is worth fighting for and sometimes you have to know when to give up.

I’m reading the Chimp Paradox, which I will review when I’m done. It’s helping me to understand that there really isn’t anything wrong with me. People can sometimes make me feel like there is because I have a big capacity to love and sometimes people struggle with how to accept that. It doesn’t make me a bad person for caring. I have to be honest with myself and do what makes me happy.

We’ve also talked about how other people interacting with us isn’t always about us. Sometimes people project their failings, anger, hurt, frustration onto the nearest or easiest target to allow them to feel like it is someone else’s problem but theirs. If you’re lucky you’ll get an apology when things calm down and you can decide whether to accept and heal or reject and move on.

There are times in life when accepting you are at fault is not something you are capable of seeing or doing. There are also times when you might feel like you want to make amends and either don’t know how or are too stubborn to try.

It makes me sad to think of all the times people could make things better by apologising and making amends rather than hurting people, which is a waste of everyone’s energy.

I’ve talked to people who have cut all ties with people they were close with and even they have times when they miss talking to that person and the bond they once had. It is almost impossible to remove someone who made their way into your heart. No matter how much time passes that person is always there.

I’ve never wanted to be someone who lives with regrets. There really isn’t much I regret in life. But this phase I am living in now feels like it might end up making the list. For a combination of reasons I’ve lost sight of who I am and what I want. Whereas I had such a clear idea of what that was a short time ago now I have no clue. I don’t see my future anymore and I don’t mean that as I feel like I’m going to die.

I mean it in the way that all the recurring dreams I had of places I was going to go, the people who I was going with, even the child I saw have all gone. The vivid dreams I’ve always had, a lot of which came true, have all left me and now I don’t dream any more. It’s unsettling not having that movie going on in my head every night, without it I feel like a huge part of me is missing.

I don’t even know how to make the dreams come back, I’ve never consciously done anything to promote them, eating cheese before bed or drinking milk, I’ve never taken drugs. I’ve just always dreamed. As a child my dad would play Supertramp – ‘Dreamer’ at me all the time. I remember him telling me that being a day dreamer would never get me anywhere but he was wrong. My dreams were what gave me my drive to keep trying and showed me the things I wanted the most. Without them I don’t know what I want.

I’ve also talked to my friend about the unconditional love of our parents, who if we are lucky nurture and protect us in an environment filled with love, expressed to its fullness. If we aren’t as lucky the love is more implied that expressed, we know it’s there it just isn’t as visible. But there are some people who never get to see that unconditional love at all. Instead they are beaten and broken at a young age by the people who nature intended to protect them.

We disagree, my friend and I on why people treat others badly. She believes if you are a good person you are incapable of hurting someone else. I believe that you can be a good person and hurt someone without realising it and learn how to avoid doing it again. I think there are times when we all chose to hurt someone for one reason or another in a fit of chimp rage.

She believes that some people enjoy hurting others as it feeds their ego, having power over people and that they never get to experience true feelings and emotions. I’m sure there are people like that out there, I feel sorry for them, because at the end of the day they will never let themselves be happy or know what that feels like. Instead they choose to push away the people who might just be the best thing in their lives if they gave it a proper chance.

How many times could we have avoided the heartache in our lives by sitting face to face with the person we care about and talking to them, calmly and honestly about how we feel and what we want, and coming to a mutually beneficial arrangement and sticking to it?! Yeah I know, never going to happen but it would be nice if it did!

We also disagree on the influence of bad parenting on children and adults to a degree. I think most people grow into an adult hoping to avoid the mistakes of their parents and doing the opposite to what they didn’t like about their life growing up. She believes that you follow the example you were set by your parents and treat people how you saw people being treated.

I’m not convinced. I’ve seen instances of people treating others badly because that is how they were treated. But ultimately you reach an age where your actions are your own, you made those choices and you have to accept them. The example you were set doesn’t have to define you forever, you can choose to better yourself and break the cycle. You just need to want to change and that’s the part where most people fail, you can’t make someone change who they are.

I don’t believe asking someone to change who they are is the answer. You can’t love someone in an idea of what they are and mould them to it over time. When you love someone you love them as they are, faults and all because no one is without faults. However, the parts of them that you adore should outweigh the parts you make allowances for.

I heard about a couple the other day who fought over whether or not to keep the cardboard cover over the top of a milk bottle. The woman keeps it on under the bottle cap, the man throws it away. This was causing stress and arguments between them. Life is too short for petty battles over milk. Accept there are different ways of doing it and live your life.

I’ve seen what happens when little arguments start. It goes from one thing to another and before you know it your life is a series of little arguments over petty things. I hate the way people fold the towels in the bathroom so I quite often just re-fold them, it saves a constant argument that no one listens to. They do it their way and I correct it when they aren’t looking! Do they ever notice, no, does it make me feel better, yes. Problem solved!

We are all a product of the environment we live in and the experiences we have had in our lives. If we are never shown love, we can’t possible hope to show love to others.

But it isn’t only giving and receiving love, you also have to love yourself in order to grow as a person. I think there are times in life when loving yourself is harder than giving your love to other people. Sometimes the way you feel love for yourself is the way you are with other people. Let me explain what I mean…

I would consider myself to be a helpful person. I read a lot and I’m always picking things out for people they would find interesting or sharing books, recommending films, looking for that special present or experience that a certain person would appreciate. I probably spend more time thinking about other people than I do myself. I’m the fixer in the group, the one that keeps bringing everyone together. I’ve been told I’m someone who people know they can rely on when needed.

To me being able to make someone feel special, even if it is for a second when they realise you paid attention to something they enjoy makes me feel good about myself. I love myself the most when I am able to help the people around me be the best they can be or experience something they love.

I’ve been lucky to experience a lot of special moments with my parents, concerts, theatre, comedians, holidays, restaurants, too many to mention. I’ve got some wonderful memories of all of my family, things we’ve done together, places we’ve been, shared experiences everyone is priceless.

I sent my friend in the US DVD’s of her favourite UK TV show because they aren’t released in the states and got a lovely response in return. Or the time I sent a friend a poster to wish him luck for his new office, I got a thank you photo of it placed where he would see it every day. I even became known as ‘the library’ in the office for sharing around my books to people who I thought would enjoy them.

I think I am a bit of everything when it comes to love. I have had people openly express their love for me, hide it, deny it, ignore it, give it and take it away again but through it all I kept giving my love in return. When love is threatened or lost it takes months and sometimes years to make peace with it and find a way to keep going.

You don’t ever forget it, but you reach a place in time when remembering is no longer painful. It would just be nice if you could cut straight to that.

I’m all kinds of awkward in social situations at times, I talk too much, laugh too loud, get people in trouble for being cheeky, I can be a bit weird, have a slightly devious sense of humour and get carried away at times with being happy. But one thing is for sure, you will never forget me and if I ever loved you I probably didn’t forget you either! Oh and if I was naughty it was my chimp that did it!

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