Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Longevity in Love



The falling in love part is not under our control, is it? Cupid's arrows are raining down on us all the time, while the lusty currents in the earth are always reaching upwards to the sky. IF they intersect, and IF you happen to be in the path, then boom, you're in love. Open your heart - or not - expect to fall in love - or not - bat your eyelashes - or not - and it can happen, or not. My mother met her last great love in the produce department at the supermarket. I'm thinking that the falling in love part is more about Fate than anything else.

Everything goes away, both parties idealize the other, hormones dance back and forth. After that, love gets more complicated, which might be why so many people measure "success" or "luck" in love by how long relationships last. It's not the dumbest way to measure, though I know couples who have been together a long time whose relationships are not (at least to my eye) healthy or fulfilling, so length in relationship can't be the only measure, can it?

Jeb Berkeley, my very favorite couples counselor of all time (and I've seen a few!) always said that everything ends sometime - everything. To him the success of any relationship could only be measured by how present, honest, respectful and compassionate the two people were for the duration, how they conducted themselves through good times and bad times.

I've been shit in relationships - codependent, an enabler. I've kept secrets, kept my lovers at arm's length because of my "intimacy issues." I've cheated on partners, dumped them unceremoniously, been dumped just as unceremoniously. I've had many passionate relationships that lasted only slightly longer than a snowman here in DC. My, my. But I've let the love course through my heart, unobstructed, for each and every one of those people, in spite of my clumsiness.

Right now, working on these two paintings, listening to Taj Mahal over and over again, I find that I am at last prepared to forgive myself for all my bad behavior, chalk it up to being human, leave the past where it belongs and let go. This is such a powerful healing I am currently experiencing. All I can say is wow.

33 comments:

deborah said...

preparing to write about this
and old loves
appearing in droves
as my mind wanders over relationships
amazing
love you so much
you adorable human

Bee said...

I wonder what the Sustainability lecture will be about?

Jeb B's criteria for evaluating relationships really jumped out at me. My husband and I are in one of those shifting moments -- where we are either going to come out of it smarter and stronger, or it is going to slip away. We are both solitary, private types and there are a lot of ingrained habits related to those qualities. The "present" and "honest" bits are the most difficult for us.

Thanks again, Reya, for this fascinating conversation.

runmotman said...

Probably there is at least one perfect match for every person, but whether or not you stumble across perfection is dubious...too many factors involved: the right time, the right you. Unfortunetly life isn't a Nora Ephron movie, it's more like a Bugs Bunny cartoon + Die Hard + Night of the Living Dead, with beautiful--abundant?-- interludes of Mozart mixed in.

rothko said...

Seriously, you should read "The Four Loves." I started re-reading it yesterday because of your other "love" post. I read it the first time for an English class and I remember how it struck me then (and still does). There's a heavy Christian backdrop to the thing because it is, after all, CS Lewis. But the insight and the great writing puts it beyond that sort of label. It's just really good rumination on the kinds of love.

Reya Mellicker said...

Rothko? Just ordered Four Loves. I trust you when you say I should read it.

Ronmotman? a Bugs Bunny cartoon + Die Hard + Night of the Living Dead, with beautiful--abundant?-- interludes of Mozart mixed in.

Oh yeah!!

Reya Mellicker said...

Bee - the Sermon titles for the past few weeks have all referred to spiritual economics, so I'm assuming she's wrapping up that theme with this one.

Kim said...

Reya,

Wow you blogged some of my feelings, I am currently wondering around in the ces pool of my marriage looking at all the pieces and attending couple's therapy for 1. It is amazing how words you need to absorb can pop up all over the place at any given time. So today I thank you for being that beacon in the fog!

Kim

Maythen said...

Hi Reya,

It sounds like such a simple thing to do, to accept past mistakes as being part of what makes us human, learning from that and striving onwards. After my last relationship and how those issues seem to be spilling over into new ones, methinks a ritualisation of this healing process would be helpful.

Thanks for the inspiration...

Maythen

John Hayes said...

Another great post on this subject. I think Berkeley's definition of success is right on, & while I certainly hope very strongly that my relationship with my wife Eberle goes the duration-- because I do think we measure up pretty well by those criteria-- I agree withn you that there are lots of long-term relationships out there that seem pretty empty. Been there, too....

Love runmotman's line about Bugs Bunny, etc.

Reya Mellicker said...

Maythen - That's why I'm doing these two paintings, as a ritualized way of healing. There might even need to be a third painting.

Maythen said...

I think I may have to follow your lead...I'm no good at painting but I don't think that matters in the least!

IntangibleArts said...

Letting go? Should be the easiest thing in the world, right? All matter is energy and all energy is in a state of flux/transference, it's The Way, yes?

And yet it's a sacred practice with us complicated humans. If it can be done with a clean (enough) heart, it's like a homecoming...... well spoken, by the way.

Delwyn said...

Hi Reya, In addition to Four Loves, I suggest Erich Fromm's The 'Art of Loving' a tiny volume packed with succinct theory on moving from the sentiment of love to the practice of the art of love by mature personalities.

The Family Julz said...

Taj Mahal is good stuff for the soul.

Reya Mellicker said...

Julz, of course you would love Taj. This album was recorded live at the Fillmore East on my 18th birthday. He's playing with a band that includes FOUR tuba players. It doesn't get better than that! I wore the album out. A friend just happened to notice the CD in a bargain bin somewhere and though I'd get a kick out of it. perfection.

Maythen, I would never let my skill at painting, cooking, singing, dancing or anything else keep me from doing it anyway!

Ronda Laveen said...

I love Taj Mahal! Not too long after the concert at Fillmore East, he appeared in concert at our little JC in upper no. Cali. He was fun to see in concert.

Have you seen the movie he was in (can't recall the name) about the female doctor of music. She went way into the hills and recorded bits of hill billy music. It turned out that they were bits and pieces of very old, important musical roots. The music showed the migration of music from continent to continent and age to age.

I kept looking at this black guitar player that was playing on the stooped porch of some backwoods cabin. It was Taj. The movie was called something like the Song Catcher. Something like that. What a treat.

Your love painting is such a great way to honor the past and move into the future. Namaste.

willow said...

Like I said before, you are in such a good spot right now. You seem so spiritually healthy and balanced. I hope it's contageous!

Love "sustainability" on the church placard.

kathi said...

I'm "all outta love" here. Just ended a long relationship that happened in the worst of times and was doomed from the start. I've learned along the way to be more self sufficient too. Perhaps it's more hiding and protecting myself, but I'm really not open to any new relationships and doubt I will be anytime soon. Maybe I'll smile more in the grocery stores now? You never know...

Amy said...

This post made me sigh. A nice, long, happy sigh. Your favorite counselor didn't happen to be a practioner of Buddhism, did he?! My favorite one was and she told me the same thing. For the time of my life I was going through, it struck like a bolt of lightening. It was then I learned my lesson about Impermanence.

Does the sun shine down just on you wherever you walk?! If not, it should.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Reya, for some reason this post has struck a chord and made me sad. I do believe in letting go. I liked runmotman's comment about there being the perfect person out there. I think I have found the one for me ... I just hope I can keep up my end, I have no doubts about his. I & he happened to be in the right place, at the right time, at the right age and open to the experience. Thank God!

Evening Light Writer said...

I've always enjoyed the thrill of the chase though. It is fun to fall in love just hell to stay that way sometimes.

I don't regret the way I've loved or how I've loved. A friend once told me that the person who loves in the relationship is always the winner. I'm not sure what you win..a lonely Friday night watching Greta Garbo movies, crying, and eating orange circus peanuts.

I've never had any trouble finding love, just staying in it.

Reya Mellicker said...

I'm not sure what you win..a lonely Friday night watching Greta Garbo movies, crying, and eating orange circus peanuts.

Yeah, except I eat popcorn instead.

ArtSparker said...

I have been following the discussion and linked to you today with a related image.

Lover of Life said...

Wow, you are brave. I'm not sure I have ever done that. 28 years of marriage doesn't feel that long. What's that song "Don't Blink" by Kenny Chesney?

Ronda Laveen said...

Greta Garbo, crying and eating...sounds like the triple crown to me.

tam said...

i don't believe in pushing relationships part their sell-by date. However i'm glad i stuck with mine through and beyond the sour spells, as it has unfolded into something extraordinary. closer to agape love i suppose.
What i meant to ask though was if you had read Skeleton Woman in the Women who run with the wolves collection? About the waxing and waning cycles of relationships. I wonder how many give up on a relationship when its in the shadow phase of a cycle. Perhaps as many as keep on trying to make a dead one work.

karen said...

thank you reya, i so needed to read this...

Lisa said...

strange.
i have been dreaming of old loves.
i love your definition of falling in love- i love the way you write xx

Mrsupole said...

I actually think you are falling in love with your inner self, they say that you have to truly love your self to be able to truly love someone else. Not sure if this is true but it seems like you are really starting to like your self. Finding out things from the past were not what you thought, seeing them through new eyes.

Have you thought about this. Could this be what is happening. I hope so. Once you love yourself they say others will also love you. But we all already do that, so that part must of already happened.

Stay on the path to enlightenment, you will get to the light.

God bless.

The Family Julz said...

I got chills reading about your 18th birthday concert. And now I am repeating the mantra "I was not born too late, I am where I am supposed to be... I was not born too late, I am where I am supposed to be..."

;)

I'm praying I get to see him next time he rolls through Jacksonville.

The Family Julz said...

Re-reading, did you attend the show? Or it was just a divine surprise that it was recorded that day? Either way, lovely!

Squirrel said...

I love CS Lewis , The Four Loves (have it on tape with Jack himself reading it!) and my kids have borrowed it and also love it.

My children had some ups and downs in love too, and I tell them not to give up, and to be honest and kind. I find myself missing some of their old loves--since once it's over you tend to lose contact with those significant others that used to hang around your house and call you "Mom." You can't get that back once your kid has banished them.

Rose said...

I liked this post. You made me think about being in love and being in a long term relationship.
It was put to me once by my mentor and therapist: How you feel about yourself in your relationship is the way to measure being "in love". When you feel good and look forward to being with that person, you are headed down that heart walk.
Isn't it a great feeling to be in love?