Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baby Vs. Bathwater

"Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater," we're warned. Hear it all the time. But, do you know the difference when you critically need to know?

During my closet clean-out, I sorted through my jewelry case. Jewelry is a particular passion of mine. I must have been a crow in a past life- if it's bright and sparkly I'm attracted to it.

I came across a box that I haven't touched in several years. I knew what it was; I haven't looked at it since I deliberately banished it to the back of the drawer. It hurt too much. But, this time when I looked at the earrings and matching necklace, it didn't hurt. The tanzanites winked at me like Elizabeth Taylor's eyes. That soothing gorgeous violet blue. And, in a good way I immediately thought of John.

I absolutely loved him! But, it didn't last. And, it broke my heart wide open. Pulled me apart emotionally. Completely disassembled me for awhile. I was so furious with him for being stupid with my heart, that anything to do with him was simply too painful to consider. I stayed that way for a very long time. I don't feel that way anymore. In fact, John and I communicate often. When I fell for him, it was because he was a wonderful guy who was sweet and kind...and he is, still. He's living a contented life. I'm glad that he's well- and happy to call him my friend.

Michael often jokes that I picked him because I didn't want to change the monograms on the towels. Pretty funny... I will admit I love the name. It's strong and loving. Most Michaels are the nicest men. And, my Michael clearly lives up to his name. Both my Michaels do.

He thought it odd when he learned of my bond with former husband, Michael. He couldn't get his head around the concept; it's so drastically different from his experience. His ex-wife won't even say his name so being in relationship with Beth is impossible. It's a shame considering they share an ongoing bond because of Melissa and Evan, and even more because Michael is willing to be friendly with her. But, Beth refuses to acknowledge that Michael exists. And, that caustic way of thinking, I don't understand. Why wouldn't a woman want such a marvelous man as a facet of her life?

It doesn't happen over night; it took a couple of years after our divorce for Michael and me to find our way back to each other. But, it was important to both of us that we did. Now, my two Michael husbands are friendly. We socialize. I love wife Jen, who is intelligent, kind, and generous. And, Grace, their wonderful little girl calls me Aunt Holly. First Michael sang at my wedding and Gracie was the most adorable flower girl! They are an extension of my family.

I couldn't imagine life without Moo in it. I've loved him since meeting him in college when I was 19 years old. At this point in life I have become, "his side of the family," since he has no other family. No one who knows his stories from his younger days. As he knows mine from my younger days. You just don't throw that sort of bond away. He's not my husband but he's still Moo and I'm still Shine.

Like John, his life path was tied to mine for only awhile. Then it was time to search for what was right. 'Awhile,' is a relative term. I'm not comparing the time-frame since Michael and I were married 14 years and in relationship even longer, while John and I were together about a year. But, in terms of the emotional investment I made they are very comparable.

So, what's with me, that after both these guys whom I loved walked away from 'us', I'm still in relationship with them now? I must be crazy, most think. After they left, what's with me that I wouldn't shred all evidence of their presence? Why do I retain bits and pieces, like jewelry, books, notes? Or, after some healing time, with the individuals themselves?

I suppose because I never understood why anyone would throw out a perfectly good baby with the dirty bathwater.

It's natural to react when we're wounded. To seal ourselves off from further hurt and respond with total anger. Rage even. But, when it's cooled off? When you're not so raw from the experience, what then? Do you remain angry with them for the rest of your life? Do you continue to hate the one you adored so completely? Or, do you remember that you loved them? Learned from them? Became more because of them? Are a richer Human Being for having encountered them? Do you leave your emotional door ajar should a special someone wish to return?

Would you rather remember only the few last broken moments of hurt and sorrow, or easily recall all the preceding joy and happiness you experienced with them? Would you prefer the lie, "He was a liar and lousy! He didn't love me because he broke my heart," rather than honestly remember all the good qualities that attracted you? Would you prefer to walk around with anger that burns a permanent hole in your heart or would you rather mend it?

If you're not willing to recall the good things, you make yourself out to be pretty foolish. I mean, why would you have been interested in someone who doesn't have good qualities? Me? I'd rather think of myself as a discerning individual who only wants quality people in my life, even if they untie their ties to me. So, tossing the poor baby out with the water isn't an option for me.

I can't ignore the rightness of a Human Being to change, grow, and move. If I want those things for myself, I can't deny them to someone else. We all have the right to follow our hearts. We have the obligation to grow through experiences with each other. We have the right to search for what we want and need to be authentic.

I don't always like it, especially when it means I don't end up with what I want. But, I must acknowledge that we have rights, even if someone I love needs to part company with me. It's always hard. Painful. Sorrowful. Hurtful. However, it's always right in the end.

I know that if I'm open to possibility, love always grows into its correct shape. It finds its correct space in my heart. It continues to support and love me in ways that I couldn't have predicted. At the very least, I get a sense of peace when I say as they're going, "I wish you well."

I've talked here about lovers and husbands, but I apply the same thinking to friendships and family. To all relationships that have been emotionally meaningful. For me there's not enough love in the world or my life. I'll always hope for more and for the opportunity to share more. I don't much care what form it takes. So long as it's genuine. And real. So, the baby stays with me long after the bathwater has circled the drain.

The same liberating option exists for you to exercise. When it comes to relationships, are you able to tell which is the baby and which watery part to let go?

Namaste' Till Next Time,

1 comment:

melissa said...

Eerily, I was having a conversation about this subject earlier today.

My mother has a lot of dirty bathwater clouding her vision- but thankfully, the rest of us are clearly able to see, love, and keep my dad's "Bebbe". ;)

I think I've been fortunate, as well, in being able to retain the more valuable aspects of the men I can no longer be in a "relationship" with. I completely agree, that without their good qualities, I never would have loved them in the first place, and that they've all taught me a lot about myself and the things I seek in others.

I'm glad this is a subject you've touched on- I hope that more people can rinse away the anger and resentment (even if it takes some time) and that we can all hang on to those babies...
(in a figurative sense)

Love you.

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