Waiting for the Echo...
I got called out yesterday.
On one of my grosser defects in full blossom.
Let me back up a bit...
I, not so unlike other people, want to feel needed and wanted. And, also, at least I think, like other people, I look for the people I love in my life to show me they love me. Little ways, big ways, all the ways.
To some degree we all walk around waiting for this. For our spouse to show us the love they feel, for our kids to demonstrate some inkling that we matter, for our bosses and co-workers to show up for us in ways that make us feel valued, supported and worthwhile.
We all do it. In all the ways. Romance, friendships, I could make a good argument that feeling the love is indispensable to any relationship. And I would be right too.
But what I got called out upon yesterday was this:
I make up little ways or tasks, that I decide someone who loves me would or should do. And then I try to either force them to do these things (nicely of course!) or I decide that the absence of them in my life is indicative that they do not love me. And then I begin to feel as if they don’t, and then that gives me permission to plan and execute my exit.
It is such a fine line. Wanting things, needing things and using those things to create a set-up for those we love...
Where exactly do these needs come from? And are they important? Or can they just be set aside and allowed to fade away?
To be clear. I was not called out for needing things or even wanting things. I was brought up short in an effort to have me address the issue underneath it all, where love is concerned, I am always waiting for love’s echo.
I ask for things, some little and not so little, from the other person, but what I am really doing is setting up a situation where I decide that if they do this or that, then they love me, and if they don’t do the thing, then they don’t.
I am trying, desperately I might add, to find new ways all the time to convince myself that this other person actually cares.
And that is exhausting apparently for everyone. And you would think being told that would result in a willingness to back up...but no, it didn’t. Not until it was pointed out to me that when I am always putting forth these new ideas, she called them “tests” I miss the fact that this person from whom I am asking new and varied things, is already showing up for me in ways that count. Like a lot.
Basically, she called me out for being chicken shit.
I want these things to demonstrate a depth of love, I offer them up and then wait for love's echo or reply. And when I don’t get it, then I am upset and feel like I am not really all that important to the person.
That hit home and as much as I wanted to yell and scream that this wasn’t true...it was and is. And I have done it my whole life.
I lead my partner or friend to a place and offer up something that only I know should engender a romantic or thoughtful response from the other person, then I wait, ear to the mountainous cavern below, waiting to hear what I want...sometimes I get it, often I do not. And then I use that lack of information or echo against the very person I love and am trying, somewhat desperately, to be closer to. (yes, I do get that that is totally fucked up...).
It was pointed out that this will likely never get me what I want. And instead, leaves me alone on the mountainside, waiting for that fucking echo of sentiment I put out there, somewhat strategically, in the first place.
I am sure it will not surprise you that I bore easily and don’t stand there waiting to hear the echo forever. I give it a beat and then I am off. Jumping to whatever conclusion seems appropriate given the lack of reply that I just received.
I can see, NOW, my child-like response in this whole waiting for an echo game. The child runs up to the canyon edge and yells into the canyon, and will stand there for quite some time waiting to hear its own voice echoed back, never really being sure that it is their own voice, instead believing in the magic of it all.
What an ugly metaphor for a woman of my age and station in life. Ugly but grossly true.
I did it recently with my current man. He was going on a road trip, and I suggested that we send each other songs that make us think of the other while he is away. He didn’t like the idea but he didn’t say no. What he said in fact was
“Wait, if I don’t send a song that doesn’t mean I don’t care or think about you, ok?”
I would not be derailed...
“No of course not, but...”
And guess what?
I sent a song, and he has not. And to go one further, he hasn’t even listened to the one I sent.
(I am considering deleting this whole post because I can barely stand how I see myself, let alone how all of you are going to view this...but I would like to change this love echo situation so I will plod onward...sorry, not sorry”
Now, I will admit this whole thing where he didn’t even listen to the song that I sent kinda killed me. Like in all the hours in the day, he couldn’t or wouldn’t take three minutes to listen to a song. Why?
I do not know. I mean, I have filled in lots of reasons in my head:
He doesn’t care about me
He doesn’t love me
I am not important to him
He is self absorbed
(The list goes on but I am gonna stop there...)
I was trying to add some romance to our relationship. I seem to need that from him, well, anyone really. But I didn’t say that. I just threw out this demand and then I have been waiting for the echo to come back to me in full flower. I will admit it stung a bit when he just avoided the whole damn thing.
Then to make matters worse, and I seem to have a knack for that, I told him that it hurt my feelings that he didn’t even listen to my song. He apologized (he is a civilized man) and said he was sorry and that he would listen to the song.
He hasn’t. Well, I suppose I don’t KNOW that. But the fact that he hasn’t brought it up, or sent me a song kinda of speaks for itself.
And while I have been standing on cliff’s edge, waiting to hear that echo back of the love I sent out to him, I am plotting. I am using the information, or in this case, lack of information back as a condemnation of the love we share. He isn’t doing what I want or what he said he would, so therefore...draw your own conclusion, I certainly am!
Fuck, I have done this the whole of my life. Set up these little situations, ok, manipulations, and then used the response, or failure of response, as a warning sign that all that is good in this relationships is not good at all...
Do you ever have this happen, see something you have done FOREVER but see it in a new, somewhat glaring, somewhat horrific light?
This is what happened to me yesterday...
And I wish I could report more progress...
I still feel somewhat slighted and am still waiting for that fucking echo of the love I sent his way and that is as far as I have ever gotten before. I wait for the echo, do not receive it and then use that information as fodder in my “he doesn’t really love me campaign...” (I know, why would I be launching that kind of campaign with someone I love? Most especially against someone who has shown up for me in so many ways...repeatedly! He just doesn’t want to send me songs...)
When I look at this whole ordeal as a rational adult...I see the error of my ways. This man, this guy, loves me and his behavior demonstrates that at every turn. He calls, shows up, tells me he loves me, helps with my not so fun teenagers, helps my parents, he holds me and kisses me and opens car doors for me. And all of that just gets pushed aside and away in the fatal absence of the fucking song.
FUCK! What is wrong with me?
So many things...but that is for another day.
I did not sit him down and say, “Hey, I am feeling like I could use a little more romance in our relationship...so how about, in this case, we send each other songs to profess our undying love for each other?”
I didn’t say that because that would be nuts. And weird. But that is exactly what I meant. (Fuck, I really do not like admitting that...this whole piece smacks of stuff about myself that I really don’t want to look at or see...).
Instead, I said. “Hey! Let’s send each other songs!” Leaving out all the important other sub-text.
Who knows why he hasn’t complied...I mean he told me he wasn’t keen on the idea from the start, but still I pressed on. And set us both up for a confrontation and hurt feelings later on. And let’s be honest, I was totally using his refusal to send me a song or even listen to the song I sent him as fatal evidence of how our love was going so wrong...
Wow, I am exhausting. Who knew? Probably everyone, everyone knows...and yet, I persist.
Maybe he thinks it is stupid. Maybe he didn’t want me horning in on his solo roadtrip. Maybe he is just busy thinking about other shit that doesn’t involve me. It doesn’t really matter. He is doing whatever it is he is doing and I am sure he has his reasons.
But I have no control or business over there on his side of the street...which really pisses me off because I could really help the guy out. HA!
I know, and accept that my work is over here with this crazy person who thinks that the fact that her boyfriend didn’t send her a song back or listen to the song she sent is some indictment of a lack of care, concern and love. Wholly missing that this man lives with my two, smelly, difficult teenagers every day. He helps them, shows up for them and puts up with a great deal of discord for his trouble. This same man holds me every night until I fall asleep on his chest and snuggles me all night long. This man brings me coffee in bed. This man spends his mornings, almost without fail, talking to me and laughing with me as we begin our day. This man helped me clean out the rental with all the decay and death addled wears that are part and parcel to someone who drinks themselves to death.
But none of that mattered because I lost focus. I was waiting for the stupid echo which is all consuming I might add, and leaves me completely unappreciative and undervaluing all the shit that he does every single day for me and because of me.
And, for the first time, I saw just how exhausting this might be for someone. To show up and give your heart, mind, body and soul to someone who says, “hey buddy thanks...but all of that is meaningless unless and until you engage with me on this whole song exchange...” And we know, that after the song exchange it would have been something else, and then something else. Because that is what the echo requires...you have to keep throwing shit down that canyon so the canyon can send the same shit back. And so long as you are standing there, wistful and weepy, you fail to notice or value all the love that he gives you day after day.
The most honest thing I could have said to him was this:
I want you to go on this trip, but it makes me feel insecure, like somehow you are going to forget me and your love for me, so let me interject myself into your entire trip by now requiring you to send me love songs daily in your absence so that I can feel secure and loved and not worried about our love dying.
The good motive hiding the bad. I am a master at it. And until yesterday, the one that was the most fooled by my conduct was me. I didn’t see my manipulation, and I would have denied the set up. I couldn’t admit this about myself...until today.
I love him. He makes me happy and a little giddy and that makes me terrified. I have been here before and well, we all know how that went. So I would like for him to give me assurance, a guarantee would be really fucking nice, that he is going to love me and never leave me.
And we all know, that is not something that anyone can give anyone ever. Life happens. People change. Love comes and love leaves, most often without our permission or consent. We all only have this moment right here. And what future love I have with this man really depends on how I love him and me in this day that we are in.
I don’t need songs or tests of faith and fidelity and love. I just need to allow the love he spends on me daily to land wholly in my heart...and mind. And let that stick. Let that permeate my insecurity and doubt. He loves me today. And I know this because not only will he tell me when we talk shortly, but he shows me this love in all that he does and says. It is there in all his actions and words and deeds. It isn’t in some silly song test that I have drummed up to a fever pitch to tell myself that this love, this relation, this man is lacking.
No I wait for the echo of my own voice. The one that comes back to me and tells me things that I would perhaps rather avoid. It is scary to love someone, and even scarier to realize the love they have for you. Because once you see it, once you really see how this other person trusted you with their heart, their body and mind, you just might be overwhelmed with responsibility. And who wants that? So much easier to throw tests to the canyon winds and wait, in vain, for love’s words to find their way back to you.
Or you could just stop waiting for the fucking echo and stop giving your boyfriend or husband ridiculous tests that do not prove anything except that perhaps you are a fool and wholly missing the relationship you have. Or maybe that is just me. I can stop waiting for the echo. And instead, I can own my voice, my actions and my motives and just admit that loving someone as much as I love him scares the living shit out of me...and, most importantly of all, there is nothing I can do about any of it.
Love is risky. Love requires a great deal of giving and other actions that seem easy at the outset but are much harder in practical application. Waiting for an echo so much easier and less intimate. And chickenshit. And while I have no guarantees our love will last, I know that whatever the time we spend, I want to spend it appreciating him and the love he gives so freely and to stop requiring these stupid little tests that prove only that I am warped, and petty and a child. Children wait for echos because they believe they contain magic. Adults, we know that it is just physics sending our own voice back to us, repeating what we just said again. And that is not love, that is not anything. So I move forward, waiting for no more of my own voice lying to me about shit that I already know.