Friday, March 25, 2011

what people are saying, part three

last weekend i took pictures of the l.a. marathon--it was rainy, but of course that didn't stop anyone...


so in my last post i began to talk about how my blog friend jim wrote to me that it might be easier to either stay in los angeles, or leave it, if i had a partner to share the ups and downs of decision making with, among other things. this is not the first time it has been suggested to me that life might be easier if had someone to "share" it with. and believe me, i know that these comments come from a place of caring, and they have caused me to give a lot of thought to the reason that i seem to like being alone.

every so often, i see couples as part of my internship. as you can imagine, by the time they come into the counseling center for therapy, the "sheen" has usually worn off of their relationship, in a manner of speaking. in other words, i get to see what happens to couples who turn on each other, or who are about to. much like what happened in the excellent film from this year, "blue valentine", with ryan gosling and michelle williams. and as you can further imagine, the exercise of seeing love tarnish in front of me has a certain, uh, effect on me from time to time.
for a while, in fact, i decided that i did not want to see any couples, because i did not want to be negatively affected by what they were going through. (for some reason, i am not similarly vulnerable to what my individual clients are sharing with me.) mind you, it was also during a time when i was having some "difficulty" negotiating my own dating experiences. but i think i see things somewhat differently now--thanks to some time passing and the information i have gleaned from a few well written books on the topic of relationship. (these are not of the "self-help" variety, which i generally scorn; rather they are based on psychological theory and brain research--the real nuts and bolts, instead of "feel good" machinations by authors trying to sell quick fix books.) the nutshell: relationship is about "attachment", and when things go wrong in a bad way, it is often because the attachment bond is ruptured, or at the very least badly damaged, and the potential for repair depends on the state of trust, safety, and response-ability already existing between the two partners. super distilled nutshell: if you don't build a strong base, the slightest wind will blow your house down.

when i read jim's posts, i get the strong sense that his relationship with his husband is built on a very strong base--there is an ease in the descriptions that actually make me smile when i think about how they must support, comfort, and provide companionship for each other. i don't think i am making this up--jim has a way of talking about his husband ron that clearly demonstrates respect, care, and enjoyment. i even feel that when he talks about his dog sophie! i suspect that this is because jim is a respectful, caring and nice man, and i hope to meet him someday. but beyond that, i marvel at the opportunity to read about a relationship that appears to work, easily. (granted, they probably have their "stuff", but who doesn't? it is not the stuff that knocks us down, but how we deal with it.)

anyway, before i go on about jim to the point where he gets concerned and stops following my blog, i will explain that the reason i use his relationship as an example is to let you know that for me, when it comes to being with a partner, i have never had what i suspect jim has. don't cry for me, blogentina, because i have had some decent relationships, but i have never felt safe in any of them. never. so...when it comes to feeling safe in the world, i have found that i have gotten really good at doing that for myself.therefore, in a strange way, the idea of a relationship, to me, is not all that comforting.

sometimes i wish it were.

two runners, apparently supporting each other

but we all have to play with the hand we are dealt, to a greater or lesser degree. i have come a far distance from where i was, relationally, five, ten, twenty years ago, and i will travel further still. but right now, where i am right now, is still pretty close to where i have been all my life, which is being able to take really good care of myself and my needs.

so as much as i value jim's comments, i also recognize that they are coming from his point of view, and that this does not exactly match mine. (but keep 'em coming, jim!) for me, decisions are not more easily made with someone--i can do that myself. it's not so bad, really. and i am open to having that change a bit.

a slick hollywood walk of fame on marathon sunday

and until that changes, i suspect that i will continue to attract, and be attracted to, similarly self-caring individuals who, on one hand, connect very easily and willingly, and on the other, only go so far with that. at least that is how it goes for me here in los angeles.

a rather lonely, but beautiful walk


  1. Rest assured, I'll keep 'following' your blog! You have peeked my interest now.
    I would like to say, as you have already recognized, that it is not easy to be in a couple relationship, as you have seen I'm sure with your clients and friends etc. It has to be 'worked at/on' daily at first....then the 'sailing' will kick in and away we go!
    It is not for the 'weak of heart' lol! We have had our 'times' but as you said, from the getgo we put down a strong foundation. We realized pretty quickly that we really 'liked' one another and had important but basic things in common which we both felt were worth building on, like respect for people, the 'outdoors'/nature, similar tastes in things and the fact that we could wear each other's clothes!!! lol Let's face it, that was like doulbling your wardrobe over night!

    We never even thought about how long would we 'last'. It was all so new to us that we supported eachother as we both stumbled along trying to figure life out!

    We are also very different, personality-wise. Ron has a much lighter spirit than I. I have learned a lot from him over the years in how to 'lighten up' when he sees me getting too serious. I am a very serious person.....just who I am. But have learned to balance it with some laughter. I think this has been mutual. It's bound to be after so long.

    Being in a couple relationship is not for everyone! It is a choice and can be very difficult. And at times I truly understand why! I prefer being with some one. But I also appreciate and understand that there are advantages to being single too.

    Thank you for your kind comments. We are certainly not perfect at what we do, being a gay couple in a predominantly straight world, but we are trying the best we can.

  2. sounds to me like you are doing pretty well, jim. funny, i am considered the "serious" one all the time as well. maybe we are just thinkers! i wonder how much your decision to stay out of the gay areas has affected your relationship, for better or for worse. my personal feeling is that it has helped it. thanks for your comment, as usual..!

  3. You are correct.It was a conscious decision to 'leave' the gay culture for our own survival as a couple. We couldn't and didn't want to lose ourselves. Yes, it worked well for us.

  4. caliman,
    First my apologies for missing this post. You're on my blog roll and I didn't realize you had updated from your last posting because I was looking at the picture of the Run in the Rain and it looks the same. Okay, having said that here are my thoughts on relationships. Not all relationships work. However, some do. I have been extremely lucky in that I have one of those relationships. I know that and I thank my lucky stars every day that I met Bill (my husband) and that after 46 years (47 this July) that our relationship is stronger than ever. Do we have our differences? Do we annoy each other? Do we have arguments? Yes to all three and more! Oh yes, we have big time fights. Haven't had any for awhile (thank goodness) but it will happen again. We don't even have a lot common in mutual interests. I like to eat out, Bill doesn't. I like to cook, Bill doesn't. I like cats, Bill doesn't. I could list many more examples of how dissimilar we are but one fact has always remained true. I love Bill and he loves me. We trust each other totally. I feel 'safe' with Bill and he does with me. The angst and worry that I recently posted about in my blog was really more about my fear of being alone when Bill is gone (assuming he dies before I do.) I know, I JUST KNOW I will never find anyone like Bill again and it scares the shit out of me. I know I will be vulnerable and I cannot let that happen. I have many friends and there are guys my age that I that turn me on but I could never live with anyone else. Not only because I'm hard to get along with (which I am) but for the simple fact that I would never trust anyone else. I've already tried that and I've had guys literally steal from me. Unfortunately that has been my experience when I have dipped my toe into the waters of another relationship. So I don't know what to tell you in the way of advice but I did want you to know that there is the possibility of finding someone who you will like and feel safe with. The odds of that happening are extremely rare but it could happen. I don't think it will happen for me though and that is my concern. I will have to learn to live by myself because I've seen the alternative (living with someone who I'm not 'safe' with) and living alone is far more preferable. By the way, Bill has never wanted no does he get involved in the gay culture which in retrospect is probably wise on his part. I have found most of it to be very shallow. Wide but shallow. So there you are caliman. I don't know if I was able to help you other than to state that there is always hope.

  5. ron, i am so grateful for your thoughtful comment. this is exactly why i created this blog! you do not have to worry about what "advice" to offer, you have offered a lot. the key in what you say is that you say you totally trust bill and feel safe with him. bingo! that is the crux of my work with couples in therapy--strengthening that bond. as i have said, i have never had that in an intimate relationship--doesn't mean it won't happen, but i am getting older. maybe that is why it WILL happen--i am loosening my desire for the experience of "falling in love". good god--too much work and energy! fortunately, i am really good at being alone, but like you, ron, i don't want to be that way in the future. i don't think i would mind living alone, but i don't want to feel alone. i intend to do something about that now, and i am.

    my sister lost the only man she had ever been with (her husband) after nearly 50 years, and is now struggling with being alone. so far, she has gotten two dogs, which helps! but she is not prepared to be alone for the rest of her life and is not sure what to do. i don't envy her position, but i also don't intend to be in the same. i hope you are able to build a strong enough network of close friends so that you don't have to be alone either. perhaps we can toss hope back and forth when needed...! -tony

  6. Tony,

    My BIGGEST fear now is being alone. I have friends, many very nice. But I have no one that I can count on. To be more precise, I have no one who would put up with me. I don't think I'm that difficult to live with but apparently I am. I know for a fact that I could not live with any of the friends I have now. This probably sounds hard, but I don't believe that I could count on any of them if the going got really tough. I don't expect my 'going to get tough' but I want to be prepared. As I said before, I can always count on Bill (as he can me). There was never a question about that between the two of us, no matter how many arguments or fights we got into. We always knew that in the end we belonged together. Each one of is half of the whole. I know that sounds corny but it is true in our situation. More than a few of our 'friends' are jealous of us and our relationship. I have been told more than once that I didn't 'deserve' Bill. Well,the fact is that we were both made for each other. Bill has NO FAMILY. I am his only family. I have supported Bill (not complaining) since I urged him to take early retirement 27 years ago (when he was 55). 'Friends' have told me "Why do you support him?" Then don't understand. It's not a question of support of charity. It just is. If the situation were reverse he would do the same for me and I know that. What it comes down to Tony is that I just don't trust anybody except Bill and my youngest brother (I don't even trust my other brother). I've known too many people who are ready to throw me under the bus at the least slight. I have such a situation right now that I haven't written about in my blog. Someone who I thought was a friend is now distancing himself. He tried to control what I wrote in my blog and I threw it back in his face which he didn't appreciate. Another 'friend' gone. So be it.