There are a few cliché phrases I really, really loathe. Some little chestnuts of what people try to pass off as wisdom that drive me bananas because 1) they aren’t wisdom at all, and b) they are so backwards and wrong that I don’t understand how they ever reproduced their nonsense and spread like horny bunnies across the landscape of this place. I really hate the phrase “it is what it is,” because dammit, that’s not even saying anything at all. Of course it is what it is it just is. Blah. The one though, that hits both notes on my extreme irritation scale, is the phrase “We always hurt the ones we love.” What burrows deep into my little mind-cave and rattles and drives me the most insane is the following sentiment that seems to be married to it, “because we know they’ll always love us anyway.”
To risk bluntness and ruffling some feathers of decency, can I just say:
What total and utter and complete and ridiculous shit.
Sadly, it’s not that the sentiment in and of itself is wrong, it’s not that it’s off-base or incorrect, it’s that it’s accepted, it’s that it IS true, it’s that it’s allowed to be spoken about as an inalienable fact of the human condition that cannot be fixed. Rubbish, nonsense, absolute farce, I say. I’m sick of this prevalent idea that it’s just an unfortunate but un-changeable fact of relationships that those we ‘love’ the most will be the worst to us, and we in turn to them. Why?
Couple weeks back I got into a mini-debate about this with a friend of mine, them excusing behavior they’ve been enduring as an unfortunate side-effect of being in a relationship, and in true autistic fashion, I rather quickly called out the fact that I hated that idea, and I hated the way it’s always excused away.
I’ve long believed that love is a privilege, not a pre-ordained guarantee, it’s a responsibility, not a right of passage. We are lucky to love the ones we love, and to them, more than all others, we owe them a debt of care. To those that have chosen to love us, despite all our many flaws and cracks, possibly even more so because of them, we owe them our absolute tenderness and grace. To those that we love, because we cannot possibly imagine an existence without them in it, we should never stop falling to our knees in worship, in reverence, in awe.
I don’t care what it makes me, I don’t care what it says of my stupid masculinity (that I don’t really have much of anyway), I will never love in a way that makes the people I love feel anything short of exalted. I put people on a pedestal, you’re damn right I do, because they deserve to be on one. We wander through life meeting so many people, and the truth no one likes to admit is this:
Most of the people we meet will never feel like home.
So tickle me surprised that when we do find someone that feels like home, like that soft, warm, comforting place we go looking for the moment we leave our first home, we’re told we’re supposed to what, treat them like less? Be awful to them as some bizarre form of posturing, or self-sabotage, or gaslit control? I don’t know where this idea came from, I don’t know where the excuses and the excuse-makers decided to harness their power from, but I want to burn that factory down, I want to shovel up the ashes and bury them three miles deep so no one else will have any evidence they ever existed at all.
We should be the very best to those who open up theirs hearts to us, those that allow us in when there are so many millions of reasons to shut up shop in this wild world, and never let anyone close enough again. It’s a tough world, and everyone, everywhere, is at some point or another, beaten down and trod upon and used and taken advantage of and hurt and left shaking and alone. Those we love, too, have endured more than we know, more than we’d like to hear if forced to do so. They are those that have suffered, and still faced whatever fears they accumulated along the way to say to us, “Yes, you. Yes. Always.” What else BUT our finest to them? What else would suffice to those that trust us with their hearts, and that we can trust with our own?
I’ve seen, in all my almost 42 years of wandering this silly place, a strange theme pop up in a lot of relationships that orbit around me, a theme that prompted the writing of this Signal Fire and diving into what’s a pretty tough thing to talk about. Many of those I know almost wear their ambivalence towards their partner as a badge of honor, men and women and non-binary alike, those in heterosexual relationships, and those of the LGBTQ community. I don’t know if it’s just a silly insecurity that prompts them to talking about their ‘old ball and chain’ or any of a number of colorful dysphemisms, about having to annoyingly check in with them before committing to something, about feeling irritated with having to help them with a task or give up their precious free time for them. What?! I sit baffled when the jokes are made, and I speak up and then am not invited back more often than not. Autism and bad jokes just don’t jive, my friends.
Problem is, I just don’t understand. I don’t understand being in a committed relationship with someone that you don’t want to celebrate, that you don’t feel lucky to be around, that you don’t miss when they are gone. I don’t want a relationship where I unload all the worst of me onto the person that has “no choice” but to take it. I don’t want them to feel they have to stay, if that’s what I give them.
So, this long-winded and winding diatribe is simply to say: BE the best to the people who open up their hearts because dammit, they deserve that. At minimum they deserve your best, and in truth, they deserve far more than that. And, and this is a big and, do not ever settle for anyone, in any relationship of any kind, that doesn’t treat You the same. You do not have to wallow in some lowered-bar existence where you’re just living off the scraps they decide to give, taking the abuse they dish out, and excusing it away as just being ‘one of those things.’
To hell with being the worst to the ones we love. To hell with allowing it in our own lives. This year, this time around the sun, we do away with all the nonsensical cliches that do nothing but hold us back. We challenge them, no matter the cost. Demand a life ten billion miles from ordinary, from cliche, from the lowest common denominator.
Be the best to them
those who open up their hearts,
and allow us in.