Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Looking for love in places.

It's hard for me to talk about love without talking about place.

Even so, aside from my short obsession with Colorado as a 10-year-old, I never knew where I wanted to live "when I grew up". As a kid, I moved a lot. As an adult, I don't want to move much more. All I knew was that it was essential to live somewhere I loved. Not just liked, but truly loved. A place that gave me the same feeling as reading a great poem or listening to hip-hop for the first time. The same exhilaration as seeing the peaks of Colorado or jumping off a London bus. The same swell of warmth that I'd feel for a human loved one.

Of course, this is a tall order. Many places are just not lovable, unless you love Wal-Marts, parking lots, highway interchanges, strip malls, and subdivisions. (More on that topic here.)

Perhaps I've just traded one unrealistic standard for yet another. First husband, then career, and now place. I'm really knocking them down--will there be anywhere left for my fantasy life to turn? But...I can't be the only person who has a lot of experience minimizing and questioning my feelings. (Sciatrix writes about some similar issues here.) One common example is something like, "well, this is just a platonic or nonsexual relationship, so why am I so sad/pissed off/thrilled/confused about it?" It may be especially relevant to asexuals, but I think most people have felt this way at some point.

I minimize things that I'm not sure are possible. Like my desire to be married. I have no desire anymore to be legally married. But I do want some kind of life partner(s), be they romantic, platonic, or queerplatonic. For so long, I felt this was silly somehow. Because I didn't need any kind of partner and besides, once I got one, who knows if I would still want one? Anyway, it was hard for me to care about my own desire, as strange as that may sound. More reasons why I've minimized my love of place:
  • Large disconnect between my current state and my desired state.
  • Overwhelm with the task at hand.
  • Poor planning and decision-making ability.
  • Lack of financial resources.
  • Social messaging.
  • Comparing myself to other people.
For the past several years, I've gone back and forth. Sometimes I try to honor the importance of place, and sometimes I treat it like a dangerous delusion. I'm starting to feel like I need to pick one, for the sake of my sanity. It's true: I don't understand some of my desires. They seem strange, inconvenient, and illogical. That's life as a hyper-rational, hyper-emotional person. In order to love myself, do I have to treat my love as real? It would make sense. If I thought it was very important to marry a man who I was deeply in love with, would I treat that as a delusion? Okay, maybe I would, but most people would see it as completely normal. Maybe it's not fair to treat myself any differently.

While I want to try to stop minimizing my desires, I don't want to feel totally bereft if I never have these things. My question becomes, how do I "synthesize" these desires? Like, how do I honor them and work towards achieving them while at the same time, deal with the feelings involved with not having them yet? In some ways, I've already been doing this, but I think there are others things I could incorporate. My brainstorm on this is going to be the next post.

/Psychology nerd.


Jessica said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing.

The last two paragraphs really resonated with me.

"That's life as a hyper-rational, hyper-emotional person."

Intriguing mix. I'm not so rational myself. But this still resonated with me.

"In order to love myself, do I have to treat my love as real?"

Good question, and interesting to me b/c my immediate reply was "yes!" but then, thinking about it, I realize I myself do not treat my love as real, or my needs as real. I do not honor myself, I guess.

Acknowledging my needs/loves as real does not mean I can always fulfill them, though.

Ily said...

@Jessica: Thank you! This was one of those posts where I was thinking, "Well, dunno if this really makes sense, but I guess I'll post it anyway." So I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Here's an incredibly simple post about contradictory personality traits that I really liked:


They feel so annoying at times, but maybe they do make it easier to be balanced in some ways.

Anonymous said...

I also feel strong attachments to places, so this post also makes sense to me.

Of course, my situation is very different. I am (almost) 23 years old. I spent 19 years living in my mother's house.

Right now, I'm at a point in my life when I really, really need to be away from my mother's house. I want to broaden my horizons, and that is not so easy to do in my mother's house. Currently, I'm not even living on the same *continent* as my mother's house. However, I do not think I will always feel this way.

Sometimes I think it might be better for me to permanently move away from my mother's house for the rest of my life.... but most of the time I think it would be best, once I'm ready to live a more settled life, to return there. Even though the neighborhood around my mother's house has changed quite a bit since my childhood, it still gives me a sense of continuity and stability, and I think it would be hard (if not impossible) to find another place which would make me feel the same way.

Like you, I have no intention of being married, and I do not know if I will ever have a life partner, so I think having that sense of continuity and stability would be good for me (when I'm ready for that type of life, of course, which I'm not right now).


Ily said...

@SK: Thanks for commenting. I want to make sure I'm reading you right--you're not living at your mother's house now, but you're feeling conflicted about whether to go back or not? I'm glad you brought up the concept of stability and continuity. I think there's a myth that unmarried people are always on the move, never seeking those things, but it's really not true for everyone.

Anonymous said...

I'm not conflicted about going back at this very moment - I definitely need to be away *at the present*. The soonest I can imagine myself returning is in about two years.

But yes, even though I now live on a different continent, I still feel a strong connection to the neighborhood where I grew up. The question is, when I'm ready to have a more settled life, do I want to settle down back in my old neighborhood, or settle somewhere else.

There are definitely times when I feel there are so many places which are better than my old neighborhood.

However, there was a place where I only lived for a year, and I considered the neighborhood inferior to the neighborhood where I grew up, and even so I got pretty attached to it, and later would pass by the house again when I had a chance (and it was weird, even painful, to see it inhabited by strangers). Granted, that was a place I was forced to leave - I think the feelings would have been better if I had *chosen* to leave. Even so, I think if I were to give up on my mother's house permanently, even willingly, it would come at a much greater emotional cost, so that's something I consider when I ponder the issue.


Ily said...

@SK: Got it. It's hard to feel forced to leave a place...I can only really think of one time when I left a place truly by choice, so I can relate to that.

Emily said...

"I minimize things that I'm not sure are possible."

I do the same thing. All the time. If I pretend that something is not as important to me as it really is, then it'll hurt less when I don't do/achieve/get it.

"But I do want some kind of life partner(s), be they romantic, platonic, or queerplatonic."

This is precisely the way I feel. It's nice to see someone else put it in writing.

Ily said...

@Emily: That's what I like about blogging, finding people who can relate to the stuff I think that might seem strange to me at times. Thanks!