Two Very Important Conversations

(I promise the next few blogs won't have pictures of kittens, cats, or any other kind of feline. I'm not a cat lady, it just kind of happened this way)

For the first time, I'm stumped.  I don't know how to write this post, even though I've wanted to write it for a very long time, which is ironic, because it's about the importance of having important conversations - the importance of communication.  I apologize in advance for the length. I have lunch with "S." every once and a while, because we get each other.  We exchange each others personal drama down to every last detail, and arguably, know each other better than anyone else.  We've never judged each other, nor are there any boundaries to what we discuss.  There is nothing that I could say that would shock her, or send her running, and vice versa.  We have important conversations because we willingly let ourselves be vulnerable with each other.  We have only gotten to know each other recently, but she already knows everything there is to know about me; we are best friends, without being "best friends".  We don't make attempts to talk to each other daily, nor do we ever have phone conversations, but once a month for coffee, it all comes out, and we process each other objectively.

Yesterday I had lunch with her again, and as usual, I left feeling a little better than I had before.  Later on in the night, I had another important conversation with "K.", someone who was my best friend for a very long time.

S. talked to me about the importance of going out of my comfort zone and expressing myself to the people that mean something to me; to follow my heart wherever it leads me and to not feel scared of being hurt again, or afraid of my own feelings.  She told me all the things I've been telling myself, but needed to hear from somebody else.

The second conversation I had, I played therapist. K. discussed the important things she needed to express, asked me for my input, and I think I helped her because there were no boundaries to our discussion either.  However, our relationship has historically been more complicated than that.

K. and I used to be the inseparable.  We loved to be in each others presence because it was fun, and we really admired each other.  Admiration is a little like infatuation though - which I commented on in another recent post - where we are always constantly trying to impress the other, and never say the things that we want to say because you are afraid that it will rock the boat.  Instead of spelling out all the nitty gritty details, our friendship was undone for a while by the subtext - real concerns that exist, but are never made explicit. 

So, K. and I, sadly having grown apart over the years, reconnected five years later as different people, and having a more detached sense of friendship.  We talked at length about her varying concerns, and for the first time in our entire friendship I was able to give her meaningful, heartfelt and un-bias advice.  It's not that I no longer care about K., its that I care about her in a way that her life is not attached to mine; where in the past I'd become emotionally invested in her decisions because I thought they had a direct effect on my quality of life, in the present, I can openly discuss things with her because I have no expectations of her.  Even though I enjoy her friendship and am fond of her, her life - I had to learn - is completely separate from mine.  We weren't attached like it felt we were, and we promised each other we always would be.

It's hard to have important conversations when you feel a part of yourself is on the line - like words will make or break you, or you might lose a person who you've attached yourself and your personhood to.  For me, I tend to put friendships on pedestals, and like some people turn to religion, count on them and believe in them, because when I find someone special, it becomes something communal, other-worldly, and bigger than just myself: I'm part of something.  But when I reflect on this, I know how unhealthy that kind of relationship or friendship is.  Real relationships of any kind are based on mutual trust - trust that even if you say exactly what you want or what you are feeling, that other person is not going to try to catch the next bus to Pasadena; that they won't ignore what you're saying, and avoid the conversations that need to be discussed.

(Maslow's Hierarchy)

I have a problem where the people who I admire and care most about are the ones I am simultaneously the most and least honest with.  They get the benefits of all the love I have to offer, but they never ever get to know me until its too late.  The *special* feeling makes it impossible for me to be honestly honest, when being honest could have potentially strengthened what was special in the first place.  I don't know if the answer is detaching oneself from the relationships we have and remain objective, impartial but loving parties to each others personal dramas.  It seems counter-intuitive to the kind of love I've always felt to willingly detach myself.

I don't know if I'll ever be able to maintain and balance that *special* feeling of exclusivity that comes with intense friendships and relationships, with a healthy dose of openness.  But my two very important conversations with S. & K. convince me that maybe it's possible to be open and care for others without expectation or worrying about the place you hold in their lives.  Maybe I


find it in me to forge new relationships that aren't based on holding things back, and alternatively, fix the ones that were effected by that very lack of communication.  Maybe, it is possible to love without wanting or desiring to be the most important part of their world, or wanting to be involved in every part of it.  Maybe, that's a more mature kind of love that doesn't end up feeling needlessly possessive, jealous, or hurt.  Maybe, communication is the key.

And maybe this new kind of independent love will feel more *special*, in time.

Arianne TongComment