338 – December 4
“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”—Alexander Graham Bell
I have to solve the problem of me before I can solve the problem of we.
I learned this from trying it the other way around. In the whirlwind of my mad searching for the prince who would carry me off to happily ever after, I saw princes everywhere. I whirled and danced and obsessed and drank. When I got sober, my AA friends told me not to get into a relationship for a year.
“Why not?” I cried. “That’s an eternity!” They knew that the alcohol kept me hidden from myself, and that when I stopped drinking and started facing myself, I was going to change. In a year, I would be a different person, with different needs, different goals. I was an infant about to grow up, and I needed to wait until I was adult before I would have a chance at choosing a healthy relationship.
Well, that made sense to me. God knew, I hadn’t chosen any healthy ones up until that point. I was willing to give it a rest and see what I would become….
I relaxed into my self and my work, and now I relish the freedom and power of being single. I am happy where I am. The whirlwind gave way to peace. Perhaps someone may join me on my path one day. But I know this truth: We must choose which road we want to travel before we can choose appropriate companions for the journey. Whatever road you choose, focus on its adventures, its benefits, the gifts it provides. Make the choice and be willing to pay the price. The difficulties are your teachers, designed to strengthen you in ways you have chosen to be strengthened.
If you are in a relationship, and especially if you have children, remember that not everyone is so fortunate. Bless the companions you travel with. Give thanks to God and then to them each and every day. Praise them, make deposits to their emotional bank accounts, acknowledge them, help them up when they stumble, nurse them when they are sick, and let them in to know you. Receive the sharing of their self with you with humility and grace. And love them. Whatever it takes to renew your love over and over, this you must do. Without the commitment to love, the dust of the road will clog your mouth and blind your eyes and boulders block your way. Notice that this road is, after all, paved with gold.
Life’s treasures are more than numbers on a balance sheet, a bank statement, or a stock certificate. Your storehouse is also filled with the sweet drooly kiss of a one-year-old, laughter shared with a friend, and the warmth of a hand that sneaks into yours.
“I give and receive love, joy, and laughter everywhere I am.”
I have many treasured companions on my road in life.
My roommate, Shelley, and I have been best buddies for over 25 years now, ever since I moved in with her for what we imagined was just for a few months or a year or so. But it just worked out so great that we just keep keeping on! Once, a friend of mine suggested I was so successful I really should buy my own house. I looked at her and said, “Why would I want to do that? So we can each live alone? Houses are a dime a dozen, but a good roommate is hard to find!”
It’s nice to have someone who cares whether or not you make it home safe at night – and knows when you do. It’s nice to have someone fix you chicken soup when you’re sick, or laugh with you at the funny movie, or trade clothes, or admire purchases, or just share how the day went. Maybe in our culture we only show that people have that kind of relationship with romantic partners, married couples, or young school friends, but there are other options. Climb out of the box and look around.
Two women friends who took my workshop together decided they really liked the living model that Shelley and I had. They had both been thinking of buying homes separately, but then they looked at how they might pool their resources…and they bought a duplex! Until they each found romantic partners and got married, one lived in the upper floor living space and the other lived in the bottom. They were in and out of each other’s spaces all the time and had fun sharing and looking out for each other.