Last winter when I was doing some traveling, I spent some time with a guy I was getting to know. At one point he said "You're so tough. You play roller derby, you have all these tattoos, you're on this adventure and you do scary things. You're so strong. But you cry when you're hungry or tired or cold. I don't get it. What's that about?" I can still recall the sensation of my heart sinking, slow and heavy, like a smooth polished stone, as I realized that this person simply did not get me.
In this guy's defense, I'll say not everybody gets me. In fact, there are just a few sacred souls who I believe truly do. And while I don't know that anyone gets every thing about me (hell, even I don't) the people who love me sure do try.
I have a powerful emotional world and I'm not afraid to hide anything. People aren't used to that and sometimes they don't know how to respond. With me, what you see is what you get: tattoos, tears and all.
Years ago, I had a boss who told me "You're a sensitive one...You're an emotional one...I'm going to teach you to be like me..." For three long soul crushing years, I tried. Eventually, I realized I didn't want to be like my boss. I wanted to by myself. When I finally got up the guts it say so, it didn't go over well. I was told I made other employees uncomfortable, they didn't feel they could talk to me, I was unapproachable. At the time, I was upset. I didn't understand. Years later, I can see quite clearly that I probably was awkward as hell because I was trying to hide my true self inside those office walls.
When an ex-boyfriend once called me a weirdo, I was taken aback. "Gonzo is a weirdo," he eagerly explained, appealing to my deep rooted adoration of all things Muppet. Yes, he was correct and yes he has an appreciation for the work of Jim Henson, points for him. The boyfriend meant "weirdo" in an endearing way, and I get that. I've filled that role for a guy more than once. What I mean is he loved the idea of me more than he loved the reality of me. I get it. I've been guilty of that as well (the tortured artist, the hardworking cowboy, the sexy fireman. Need I go on?) The truth is the reality of any relationship is different than our idea of what it "should" look like.
So how do we find a middle ground? The goal is to find someone who appreciates us as a whole. Someone who deals with our quirks and maybe even appreciates them. And someone for whom we feel the same. That can be a lot to ask.
I'd forgotten the Gonzo comment until I was watching the new Muppet show last week. Gonzo appeared on screen in a loud patterned shirt and I was struck with a vivid memory of that conversation with my ex. I got to think about it and you know what? Gonzo is pretty f-ing brave. He's always doing crazy stunts and chasing after that chicken he's in love with. He works hard, he's loyal to his friends. He likes cracking a joke. Sure, the others laugh at him and sometimes he's awkward, but that's what happens when you put yourself out there! I'm not ashamed to be in the same category as Gonzo!
|Photo from Wikipedia|
Someone else's idea of me isn't real. My idea of me isn't real. The truth lies in my actions, in the energy I put into The Universe. I get grumpy when I'm hungry and cry when I'm over tired. Someone who loves me knows when to say "You need to eat something," and it all works out.
That's what we all desire and deserve, to be received and understood. To be wanted, not simply tolerated. That doesn't mean everyone always likes us or agrees with us. It means they know our truth. It means they understand our intentions. I'm not only talking about romantic endeavors, but any relationship.
We can't expect a romantic partner to be our everything. It's important to find our own tribe, that collection of like minded souls who make us feel less alone in the world. The more you embrace your true self and eliminate people who don't support that, the more room you create for people who do.