I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to choose another person, to be their partner, to build a life with them, and how to do that in a way that doesn’t require sacrificing my individualism, my own self-journey and adventure.
I’ve never been very successful at balance. I move people in too quickly, I’ve made my partner and our relationship a priority at the expense of my own needs and well-being, and then I end up resenting them because I’m not where I want to be in my life, or I am not moving in the direction of my goals: I am stagnated and I blame my partner. I blame what I see as the prison of my relationship.
In the past, when I’ve felt this resentment, I’ve found ways to sabotage the relationship. I’ve cheated. Left them for someone new. I’ve started fights. I’ve let the resentment grow: it is their fault that I am not a successful writer. It is their fault I am unhappy or unsatisfied. They are holding me back. If I were single, if I had a different kind of boyfriend…if only I was free…
Recently my partner asked me if I felt like I was being held emotionally hostage. It was a funny question because it came out of nowhere, but for some reason it felt incredibly important.
And the answer was clear: The only person who can hold me emotionally hostage is myself. The only person holding me back is me. Everyone else is just living their lives the best they can.
If I am stagnated in my life or career then I need to look inside, not at the people I love, because the responsibility is mine.
A few weeks ago I was given the honor of reading a piece about love at the memorial of a friend of mine’s husband. They had been together for 54 years. I am still stunned by this fact: 54 years with one person.
The two of them built a magnificent life together. They lived in LA and Berlin and Cologne. They supported each other. Took care of each other. Stood by each other while they chased their dreams.
“He was always there. With me. Cheering me on. Wanting me to succeed. Never once did he try to stop me from going after the life I wanted. Having that kind of support, that kind of love, it was the foundation I built my whole life on.”
This idea that love is a foundation on which we build our dreams and lives, that our partners are the support we fall back on in times of success and in times of failure was a revelation to me. The idea that we are here to help carry each other. To encourage each other.
Love is not a prison. It is the escape route. It is the way out of the prison. Having someone by my side, being in this relationship, it is the foundation, the security, that I can build my dreams on.
There is a balance here. One I am still trying to find. How to be a partner and a lover, a friend to the man I choose, and how to be a partner and friend to myself: how to bring these two things together and give them the attention and support they both deserve.
I look forward to the life my dude and I are building. I look forward to the adventures and the journey and the love. I look forward to building something together. But I also look forward to the life I will create for myself: as an artist, a man, as someone seeking adventure.
I haven’t found the perfect key here. I’d love to hear how you guys manage all this.
And thanks for reading. None of this happens without you.