Saturday, 30 August 2014

Choosing love

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today.  It's got me thinking. A lot.

I  agree with it.  I think it really is a choice to love someone.  Whether that's a SO or a friend or whomever, it's a choice.  I don't think it starts as a choice...in that in order to continue to choose love I think you have to have had it in the first place - it has to have a kick start, as it were.  Ergo, there will be people that you will cross paths with and not love.

But there will be a few, a very few, that you will love.  Maybe fall in love with, that's semantics...but love. Truly love.  And I think once you are at that starting point, love is a changeable, thing.  I believe Love is steadfast (as it is described in the Bible).  That doesn't mean love doesn't change, it doesn't mean that it will always feel the same (in fact probably you won't feel it at all sometimes...), it just means that it's there, standing steady, because of the commitment of the person/people to hold it in place.  REAL Love doesn't happen of it's own accord in my view.  It IS deliberate.  A choice every day to love someone even if you don't like them very much that day. Or those pressures like those listed above seem to be far more real feelings  than the ones of  love. Or the impulse to jump ship is more overwhelming (and God knows we've all felt that...).

I've had a tough couple of weeks. Actually, a tough couple of months.  There's been a few times when I didn't feel love, like the movies might like us to think we should.  I chose to love anyway, steadfastly and deliberately.  Unfortunately for me, it didn't work out.  And I have, I must confess, in the past few days shown glimpses my own filthy side as I struggle to come to terms with it. I have not been very deliberate in my attempts to to be consistently patient and kind. (although God knows I've tried, I really have). I've certainly let my own ego get in the way. (Then again, who wouldn't?...) To learn than for some, feelings win over form is a painful discovery.  I have had every emotion - sadness, shock,disbelief, amazement, grief, insight, disappointment, anger, self righteous fury , worry, shame, self doubt, humiliation. And for better or worse, I still haven't yet been able to ''choose'' to turn OFF love (can you even do that?).

My trust in what love is, and should be, and could be, has been seriously rocked.  Not for the first time in my life I find myself wondering if this ''love'' thing really is just a bunch of emotions that not only cant be trusted, but are somehow both ephemeral and finite. Maybe the sages are wrong, and in fact love is NOT a choice. Maybe it isn't solid. Maybe it isn't something that lasts at all. Maybe it really is just about feelings and all this ''love is patient/love is a choice type thinking is just a way of getting us to live on logic not feelings.  Many is the day I have challenged my own feelings of love toward another.  In 25 years of adult relationships I think it would be impossible not to!

So...Maybe it's something you just get carried away on a wave of - and as so, can just as easily be washed into a new wave?  Even if you've been bobbing around in it for a while, with a life jacket on,  it would seem there's no guarantee that you're going to stay afloat. That's a scary thought for me - how can I trust that love really can be steadfast if that is the truth?

I can question all I like.  But I don't believe a word of it.  I think Love...to love... IS a choice. It has to be. Or the whole world would be rushing around from ''love'' to ''love''.  Sure, to love every day can require pain.  Commitment.  Sacrifice.  Letting go of ego. But it's also full of the potential for true joy, security and safety in being able to be 'us'. And I know this because we all do it - we do it with our children, friends, family.  We choose to love these people.

It seems that the only time we forget this is when it comes to 'romantic' love.  Why is that different? I welcome your thoughts.



Thursday, 28 August 2014

body image and the 40 something

It's kind of ironic that even though I am probably the fittest I've ever been, I wear my clothes better than I ever have, and I spend more time and energy (and money...) on my appearance than I ever have before, that I feel....Old.  Yep, that horrible word. The one that makes me cringe, and want to run to the mirror and check for wrinkles.

It's not that I look that old - I reckon I look my age but no more.  And probably not less.  I put a lot of effort into my hair and makeup and clothes.  I certainly don't feel old either - and I know I've got twice the energy of many people half my age, able to ''stay up late'' and indulge in a heap of physical activity but not tire out. So why do I feel old?  Because I look at myself with a critical eye, when the light is extra bright, or I'm hanging over a mirror (don't do it!!!!!) and can see the lines, the slow loss of skin tone, the grey bits in my hair, the general ''oldness'' that comes with advancing in age.  I might only be 46 but there are days - many days - when I yearn to be ten years younger, if only to get back the skin and vibrancy of better days.

Why is that feeling old and feeling ugly are so entwined...and so pivotal when it comes to our self esteem? It's not just because of our appearance-obsessed society surely?  Because people have been agonising over this for hundreds of years, not just since the Internet got invented.  I think it's because the two concepts are not agreeable - no one wants to be old, and sure no one wants to be ugly (and for ugly feel free to substitute fat/skinny/unfit/grey/pudgy/stooped or whatever your fear is)

Probably, it wouldn't matter so much, if I had someone telling me I was beautiful. My father tells my mother every day, even after 35 years of marriage.  She laughs and says she isn't, but to him she is, 72 year old body and all.  I have never believed I was beautiful.  A  good heart, sure.  Well put together, usually.  Smart and stylish, sometimes. But not beautiful.  That's not looking for sympathy either by the way, it's just stating a fact as I see it, born and endorsed through my painful teen years of red hair, glasses and a ''bit of a weight problem''.

I'd love to be one of those women who proclaim to the world that they are proud of their bodies. Those ones that wear their stretchmarks like tiger claw scars. That are happy to wear a strapless top even when they really shouldn't - or a bikini when they REALLY shouldn't.  But I'm not, I'm just a regular person, normal weight and height, with a regular body and the usual insecurities one might expect from a 46 year old mother of two.

Do I have poor body image? No I don't think so. I have had minor struggles with an eating disorder in the past, but that had absolutely nothing to do with my weight or shape, and all to do with a feeling of control.  Do I like how I look? For the most part. Sure there's things I'd nip tuck and transfer. I'd really like less wrinkles and I'm not adverse to cosmetic enhancement - botox, teeth whitening, large pots of wax, all seem like fine ideas to me.

Do I think I'm enslaved to society's version of eternal youth? No not at all, but I do want to look and feel good  - and not be judged for doing so. Appearances might not be everything, but clothes maketh the man!

So body image for me, might be more than skin deep - for sure there are people that I find absolutely gorgeous who are no oil painting at all - but the reality is that when I wake and look in the mirror, I am reminded that age is not my friend.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Karmas a bitch

As a result of the goings on amongst a number of couple friends of mine this month, the expression ''karma's a bitch'' has been bandied around quite a bit.

I'm pretty sure that it is used these days as a bit of a throwaway line - an easy way in fact, of getting out of having to take a stand on an issue - much easier to say ''karma's a bitch'' than it is to actually have an opinion about someones behaviour, not least because I think by taking the perceived moral high ground we each run the risk of having our own shortcomings and misdeeds thrown under the spotlight. No one wants to be the one to be the confronter. To have to make a stand.  To possibly tell someone that they behaviour is NOT OK. We're afraid of it.

I'll admit it - I've been guilty of saying it too over the years - for much the same reasons.  By starting with ''I think...I can't believe...I don't agree..''.and moving through to ''but each to their own....they have to find that out for themselves...it's not what I would do'' I can salve my own conscience of inaction by adding oh well karma's a bitch to my statements, as if in some way that absolves me of action.

Today I made a difficult decision to confront someone I have found out is involved with a married woman.  It grieves me terribly. It's someone I really like and care about and have known a long time.   And it would be easy to throw the karma line out there and carry on as if it didn't really matter.  But I just can't.

Whether you want to call this karma, the butterfly effect, cause and effect, or consequence - at the end of the day it is true that (cliche alert) we all reap what we sow.  There's absolutely a ripple effect for every action. often more far reaching that we could ever have imagined with one decision - whether that decision was right or wrong, well thought out or impulsive, selfish or done with selflessness.  I also think that almost ALWAYS, we don't think through consequence at all before acting, especially in matters of the heart.

Relationships are complex things...at times difficult to navigate, often fraught with challenges, ups and downs - and I defy anyone who says that the ''right relationship'' will be easy.  That's absolute bullshit in my view. And I am the very last person to deny that my own actions have had their own set of consequences, that seem to go on. And on :).

But when I see someone I know well, doing something that will, regardless of how pure their intentions (it's borne of real love I am sure), create the havoc that I am confident this situation will, I'm afraid I can't just sit back and say nothing.

Sure, karma's a bitch, and there's a VERY good chance she's gonna come and bite both of these two of the butt pretty soon, but I will not use that as an excuse for inaction.