Thursday, 12 December 2013

What Love Looks Like

I have some friends starting new marriages, and new relationships. It makes me happy to watch them, they gaze adoringly into each others eyes, laugh at their own private jokes, and when they are apart, the other is all they talk about.  This side of love is the most familiar to me, it's what people would commonly recognize as "love", and to be honest, sometimes I miss it. In conversation with these friends, it has come up now and then, that they are worried for what things will be like in their relationship when this "phase" is going to end, as it inevitably will, if their relationship is growing. 

I don't really remember when that changed in my relationship with my husband, it was small, and over time, so there was no cause to mourn its passing. However, it has left me with other questions, and those are, what then, does love look like? How do I still show him that I love him? Do I miss "love" when it comes from him, because it looks different than it once did? How can I be sure I haven't sunk into apathy, taking everything for granted, longing for something that I've long grown out of?

Well, recently I've been challenged to focus on the positives of my relationship, rather than on the negatives.  Hearing that is surprising. I thought, that won't be hard. In fact, I assumed that was the habit I had created over our marriage, but after a couple of weeks of trying, I realized that in fact the opposite was true. I had been focused only on the "have-nots" and the "I wants" of our relationship. It had brought us into some pretty destructive arguments, with the two of us walking away from each other wondering how on earth we had ever been in the "Romance" phase of love at all. There were days when I actually wondered how two complete opposites had ended up together, coupled with the terrifying adage "we made a mistake", and I knew our marriage was headed to the dark places that no one in the light of romance ever wants to go.

It was at this critical moment when I received the advice, that I needed to focus on the positives about my husband, rather than the negatives.  Basic - yes, life changing - incredibly. It was easy to recognize that my husband isn't perfect and harder to know that he can't necessarily fill all of the "have-nots" I have so dutifully laid out for him, and even harder to recognize that I was equally as imperfect as him, and I was not filling all of his "have-nots" and I might never be able to do that.  It was at that point, that Love started to look differently for us. It started to be things like cleaning the kitchen together after a meal, to talk and spend a bit of time reconnecting, and deeply appreciating little things, his smile and easy manner with our kids, and how he cares about me before himself - I was awake most of last night, and this morning, he quietly got up, made arrangements with work, and brought our son to school without disturbing me. 

I'm not saying we're perfect, we're certainly a long way from there, but when love starts to look differently to you, remember to focus on the positive, at least it's a place to start.

Monday, 2 December 2013

"God Bless Us, Every one!" - A Christmas Carol

We had this family tradition growing up, where we would watch all of the best old Christmas movies as the snow, reflected in the light of the oversize Christmas bulbs, piled up outside.  Though it first appeared in a grainy black and white, and then later as told by Muppets, A Christmas Carol has always been one of my favorites.

Ok, so I know that this is an iconic book that has been since turned into movies and plays, but it made literature accessible to me, even as a small child, and it was then I grew to love it.  Not to mention the fact that it is absolutely filled with all of those hidden gems that have the power to make people find the truth about themselves and the season.

If I could work my will...Every idiot who goes about with Merry Christmas on his lips should be boiled with his own turkey, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart! (Scrooge)

I always laugh at this line. Maybe it's just me, but when I think about attempting to pack up the kids, and hit the overcrowded, stuffy malls, to be assaulted with seventeen versions of tinny Christmas tunes, to wait in horrendously long lines only to over pay for some trinket that will be broken or lost within the year, and that will likely be 50% off on Boxing Day makes me think that this statement isn't too far off.  But, maybe that's where this play makes it's mark. We lose the spirit of Christmas putting pressure on ourselves, and our charity for the rest of mankind tends to go right out the window.  People in a store suddenly aren't people, but obstacles, and it's easy to begrudge anyone who is smiling.

Scrooge: What business has brought you here?
Spirit: Your welfare.
Scrooge: A night's unbroken rest, might aid my welfare.
Spirit: Your salvation then.

I've always liked this one too, though I can't confirm if it was in the  book, play or appeared only in the Muppet movie version, but this exchange stands out to me.  Maybe because it sounds like me. Leave me alone, let me be, I just need some sleep.  It's hard to recognize when you need to change, to take a deep look at yourself and pull out those things from the past, and present that are choking out your futureAs someone in the midst of change, it's not easy, or comfortable, and it hurts.  Lately, I've had to look at myself, and admit that I'm not right all the time, or justified in my actions.  That I treat people badly, especially people who are close to me.  Yet, I'm not past all hope. Sometimes change comes into your life as a force for good, for salvation it seems.    

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor. - Charles Dickens

The message of this story, to live our lives in love and kindness, in the Spirit of Christmas each and every day of the year, to set aside selfishness, and ignorance of the plight of others, and to love one another is profound.  I find it useful as a yearly reminder, that all of the blessings of this life come most importantly through the way we love other people. It's a standard I keep setting for myself.  A goal that no matter what comes my way, I will treat the people around me with dignity and kindness.  That I will never walk by someone who needs me, and believe that in some small way I can make a difference for other people. 

I wish I could touch on every bit of this story that has made an impact on me, but if I did, this post would end up far too long. So, I'll leave you with the last, and the very best.

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it through the year. I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.

Dedicated to all of those wonderful actors who bring this story to light as Edmonton's tradition, each year at the Citadel Theatre.

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He raped me. My friend, sweet and gentle, said it straight out like she was talking about the movie we'd seen not too long ago toget...