This morning, I was woken up by what I thought was a neighbor’s loud, ruthless hammering. Bam, bam, bam! However, after the sound continued for a solid ten minutes, I realized that the noise couldn’t possibly be from someone hammering the wall—there’d be no wall left.
Once the sleepy haze evaporated from my brain, I was able to put two and two together. Last night, San Diego received a rainstorm. What was disturbing me was the aftermath of that storm: rain falling from the gutters. Drip, drip, drip! Incessant, painful, infuriating.
Now, the old me would have screamed and cussed, pulled my hair out, perhaps thrown something out of the window, or gone out and ripped the gutters right off of the building. However, the new me did only one of those things. I’m pretty sure that’s known as “growth.”
Anyway, I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I just laid there, simply thinking. Yes, thinking—as if I need more wrinkles. Lying around and thinking is the number one cause for wrinkles . . . which is why I choose not to do the activity too often.
What was I thinking about as I willingly let the lines form across my face? Relationships, of course. All sorts of relationships.
Roughly five years ago, someone said to me, “I don’t build relationships out of convenience.” He didn’t so much as say it to me, as he screamed it in my face. Okay, that’s a lie. He sent it to me in a text message. We all know how to read into a text, right? And when do we ever get the subtext wrong? Trust and believe, the words were soaked in venom.
Who was this guy? That’s not important. Not for this blog article, anyway. Though, it does beg the question: Can you really ever be friends with an ex? Perhaps we’ll explore that theme next time. The point, however, is that these words obviously got under my skin, because I’m still thinking about them all this time later.
Relationships built on convenience . . . All relationships. I’m talking about the relationships we share with parents and siblings, partners, friends, even the waitress at a favorite Chinese restaurant. Let’s face it: that latter example may be the most vital relationship we ever experience.
Anyway, lying in bed at six a.m. this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not I build all of my relationships on convenience. And if I do, does that mean that when a relationship I share with someone becomes inconvenient, I just toss it away? Specifically, do I dispose of people?
If I wasn’t already awake because of that fucking drip, drip, drip, I was now. Because that couldn’t be me; there was no possible way I disposed of people. After all, when I think of a disposable item, Kleenex comes to mind. Used Kleenex, of course. Things like paper plates, plastic silverware, Adam Sandler movies, folks who voted for Donald Trump. Those are examples of disposables, not individuals I’ve built a bond with.
Before too long, I realized a certain factor applied to the situation, a factor that I have written about several times before. A factor that I will likely continue to write about. A factor known as the “gray area.”
In life, you will rarely find a situation to be solely black and white. It’s safe here to generalize and say that most things in life aren’t black and white. Well, except for panda bears.
The circumstances of every relationship are different. Regardless of the type of relationship, it still takes some amount of work, effort, energy to keep it going. This is normal, expected. Yet, how much work is too much work? Remember, we’re talking about a fun, healthy, loving relationship—not a job.
If you think about it, relationships should be—for the most part—relatively smooth and easy to uphold. Who wants to fight, argue, regularly deal with conflict? I’m not referring to disagreements; disagreements are common, even amongst two people who like or love and respect one another.
I guess I’m alluding to those who make it too damn difficult to share a relationship with. You know who they are; you’ve been involved with them, too. Some people make it next to impossible to connect with, despite how hard you try. Unfortunately, the desire to want the relationship isn’t always enough.
For example, my brother and I don’t have a tight relationship. To be blunt, he’s a hard person to get close to. Our conversations are often one-worded and one-sided, and the effort I put into them never pays off, leading to disappointment and frustration.
Lucky for me, I’m a writer. The new novel I’m working on centers around siblings, so I’m able to use what I know to help fuel and authenticate the character’s storyline. We’ll just chalk my whole sibling experience up to research. I’ve learned that a writer’s research is never done.
Another thing I’ve learned: Find the silver lining . . . in everything!
On the flip side, there are those who require an excessive amount from you, creating a different kind of imbalance in the relationship. Sometimes a person can take or ask for too much, resulting in exhaustion, exasperation, and detachment. Balance is also a key ingredient in relationships and life.
It’s true: Not all of life’s wonderful blessings (i.e. relationships) will come conveniently. However, it’s significant to take a look at the definition of the word. Convenience is defined as: “The state of being able to proceed with something with little effort or difficulty.” Similar words include comfort, ease, enjoyment.
Don’t we want all of our relationships to cause comfort, ease, and enjoyment? Obviously, we don’t live in a perfect world. Remember, not everything is black and white. Therefore, I know it’s not fair to say that a relationship is either good or bad. Fun or painful. Easy or hard.
But, for the most part, shouldn’t we be able to classify relationships one way or another?
Yes, I’m familiar with the popular phrase: “If a person really cares, they will find the time for you.” I’m also aware of the fact that life gets messy and complicated, and everyone handles aspects of it differently. Some seclude themselves in order to recharge and deal. Others require constant attention.
Again, there’s no right or wrong, no black or white areas here. It’s all gray. Lots of gray when it comes to relationships. Fifty fucking shades of gray, to be exact.
That being said, I still don’t think people are disposable. If I’ve ever given that impression, it was one hundred percent unintentional. I don’t think I’ve ever even met someone who disposes of people. Maybe I’m choosing to believe that those people don’t exist, or perhaps I don’t surround myself with them.
What I do know is that things change and people evolve. It’s common for people to get busy, weighed down, and wrapped up in their own lives. Self-involvement is not always synonymous with selfishness.
If we learn to not take things so personally, to not get offended so easily, and understand that most of us are trying our best and not going out of the way to hurt others, then all relationships just might become simpler and more enjoyable.