Tag Archives: Relationships

Conundrumm

“I married my best friend” is a bit of a tired cliche. How often is it really the truth? How do you truly know this statement to be fact? And if that statement is put to the ultimate test and proven to be true, what do you do then?

It seems like a lot of relationships start out as infatuation/lust. Sometimes they develop into genuine friendship but all to often couples rely on that friendship developing over time and through life experiences, that can be a bit iffy. Men get their head turned by a pretty face or cute figure while women like bad boys and all too often overlook what’s right in front of them. That’s a broad generalization but good enough for where I’m going with this. How many people do yo you know that tell everyone that they are married to their best friend while finding excuse after excuse to be anywhere but around their spouse? I can still remember when I matured enough to realize that all too many people can’t wait to complain about their partner, in fact it almost becomes a badge of honor to talk trash about your “best friend”.

My wife truly was my best friend. Trust was something we had right from the start, respect was never lacking, and secrets were something shared and never kept from each other. I knew for a fact that I married up and was amazed every morning when I woke up and realized she wasn’t a dream. Maybe that is part of the puzzle of finding that perfect friend, we both thought we had found someone better than ourselves and worked constantly to be worthy of each other’s love and respect. So how can I say with such certainty that Karen was my best friend? Because when faced with the ultimate test, the sudden and irreversible severing of that friendship, I find myself completely lacking in the knowledge and skills to have and be a friend.

Karen and I were married in 1986 when we were both 21 years old. Karen had been part of the popular clique in school while I had been the opposite end of the spectrum spending most of my time behind the scenes figuratively and literally. Looking back now I never really developed any life long friends until meeting Karen, while she heard from friends from high school all the time I truly can’t remember the last time I talked to someone I was close to from back then. I spent 30 years looking forward to getting home just to be around my best friend. Actually I was rather anti-social, my go-to response when asked if I wanted to go golfing, hunting, drinking, or pretty much anything was “I’ll check with Karen”. That response probably made some friends think “boy is this guy whupped” but the reality was it was just an excuse not to be away from my bestie. Usually I never even discussed it with Karen cause I would rather be with her.

Now that she’s gone it’s the quiet support, the knowing she was always there that I miss the most. If we went somewhere she was my guide, she was never awkward and approached all situations with confidence. Now I’m consumed with doubts and anxiety at just the thought of accepting an invitation. How do you know you’re not bothering someone? How long is too long to stay? Do they really want me here or do they just feel sorry for me? And most important of all, who’s going to elbow me if I slip into my “Union Meeting” voice or get to preachy?

Karen was my validation, seems like everything I did was anchored to her. Sure I did stuff that pissed her off, that’s normal (whatever “normal” really is) and just like a child testing boundaries I usually didn’t do that again. Where and how do you find that stability, that continuity, that reassurance we all need after a stressful day, week, month, year? Lots of people may tell you that “I’m here for you” or “if you ever need to talk” but how do you get that voice in your head that’s screaming “you’re being a bother!” to shut up? I haven’t quite figured that out yet. Practicing a bit of self regulation before reaching out does seem to muffle that little jerk inside my head a wee bit.

What can you (I) do once you (I) have recognized you’re (I’m) in this circular world of needing contact, support, and validation but not believing you’re (I’m) worthy of it? As with most everything in life Practice is the key. Practicing self regulation makes reaching out just a little bit less scary. Practicing mindfulness makes the inevitable missteps less painful. Practicing being a friend helps others realize that they too are worthy of love and affection.

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Back to Work

Today is Sunday but this post isn’t a lament about the end of the weekend, just a continuation of my pondering on the role of work in my life. Is fulfillment found in the absence of work? Are relationships fostered and strengthened by sloth? Does retirement mean mean the end of productivity?

Currently I am employed as a representative for a Labor Union, did I choose this profession? No, work like this chooses you. The men and women who early in life actively seek positions representing for the rights of others are, in my opinion, the scary ones that often give organizations like Unions a bad name. SQUIRREL What I am trying to get at is that even in a position where your labor serves others daily I have found that the sense of accomplishment/fulfillment generally only endures approximately 3 days. In the field it’s said that a dozen atta-boys are wiped out by a single fuck-up, it’s the same when you’re trying to help people. All it takes is one unreasonable person in self denial to wipe out a months good work.

I have been very happily married for over 25 years, and that doesn’t mean that everything has been wine and roses. Like any couple Karen and I have had our ups and downs but in retrospect the downs have usually begun and been fostered by a lack of effort on one or both of our parts. A good relationship must have a basis in consideration and respect, both of which can easily be taken for granted. The effort a couple put into maintaining a happy, health relationship can take many forms but in my experience the benefits are long lasting and the payback far outpaces the input.

One of the wonderful things about being in a Labor Union is that your career and the relationships developed during that career don’t evaporate when you retire. To one extent or another most Unions have retiree’s clubs with functions that allow members, retired or not, to come together, socialize, relive, and share. This interaction of the past, present, and future is something that is sadly missing in modern America. SQUIRREL Over the years I have noticed that the retirees that do the best and live the longest are the ones that keep on working. Not necessarily for wages but in some endeavor that gives them a reason to get up in the morning and feel like they’re needed. That could be taking care of their grandkids, volunteering in the community, being a campsite host, or pursuing a hobby.

The unifying concept I am trying to express is that the most satisfying labor you can perform isn’t necessarily for wages. Work performed for the benefit of others, either directly such as volunteering at local charity, or indirectly such as trying to make this world a little better by trying to practice a sustainable lifestyle, is much more lastingly satisfying than just making money. There are a lucky few where these two types of labor coincide but unfortunately that is more the exception rather than the rule.

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