Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Permeable Membrane



...I disappear into the person I love. I am the permeable membrane. If I love you, you can have my everything. You can have my time, my devotion, my ass, my money, my family, my dog, my dog's money, my dog's time--everything. If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family. I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else.


One of the things that struck a chord within me while reading “Eat Pray Love” was Elizabeth Gilberts’ description of herself in love. She describes herself as a permeable membrane and I’m not sure if this is pathetic, na├»ve, or sad …… labels aside – I can relate. I’ve been that permeable membrane on many occasions, literally and figuratively. It’s easy to be that for someone else but hard to be for oneself and an even harder gift to receive.

I’ve always wanted to experience this sort of faith, devotion, and reverence. In a loving, sexually, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally connected relationship. I don’t think a mutual experience of this kind is unhealthy although many probably do. Perhaps not entertaining this degree of commitment, trust, and love is the issue. I notice a lot of people in relationships suffer from chronic dissatisfaction which is paranoia at the root. The disease renders it's victim color blind and has them convinced that the grass is greener on the other side. The grass looks so bright in this altered state that one becomes obsessed with the idea that their current relationships are no longer satisfactory. The obsession triggers the ego which becomes brazen and speaks in voices and tells us our various labels; race, job title, income, family name, education level, religious affiliations, gender roles, societal expectations, etc. entitles us to better. The disease in effect disables us and causes us to focus on the surface rather than the depth. The problem is, in our insanity the things we think we need actual make sense, but once attained feels wrong. It doesn’t nourish our soul, complement us, change our community, or world for the better. It causes internal eternal dissatisfaction.

My friend Nathan and I had a conversation a month after he dropped his girlfriend Delia and their child at the airport. They were leaving because she’d secured a job in Ghana (West Africa) that paid a nice monthly income which included a bonus for living expenses. Nathan works in Finance and had a great job before the mortgage melt down crisis. Although, he’s blessed (for many reasons) and is currently working as a consultant, their income is nowhere near where it once was. Due to financial difficulties his girlfriend exercised her logic skills and began working on a solution to their money issues. She applied for a job which would pay their mortgage, allow them to save money, and decided the sacrifice of separating their family was a necessary evil. Nat is extremely lonely – I felt his pain when we spoke. He explained that when Delia suggested finding work overseas he agreed because it seemed like an impossible goal to accomplish. Fast forward a couple of months and that goal is now their reality which has left my friend with a hole in his heart and a realization. He realized that the past three years almost never was………….

The conversation we had inspired this post. He told me

“there were a millions reasons why I could’ve and wanted to break up with Delia, nothing serious enough to make me initiate a break up, but the thought about what I “ should” have was always in the back of my mind e.g. a better cook, someone who spoke the language , more traditional, etc. The sad part about these thoughts is had I gone through with a break up for reasons that seem so insignificant today, I would have missed out on a huge responsibility that has brought immense joy to my life. Even crazier, I would have never known what I was missing and so would have believed that I did the right thing.”

That part of the conversation really sunk in and made me look at my past relationships and others through new eyes. Of course if a relationship is abusive, one sided, emotional destructive, etc I wouldn’t condone holding on to it at all cost. However, those of us who look at certain relationships as rest stops or not forever due to shallow reasoning – my post may be a wake up call in cultivating humility and selflessness. It may be an opportunity to honor love and practice giving unguarded with both feet in versus one in and one out.

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