Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Evolution of Understanding

Often, in any situation where things get really screwed up (like what's happening between Riin and I now), I often wonder what I'd do with a time machine. If I could go back in time to before this mess happened and give advice to Riin on how to handle or avoid it, what would I say?

The irony is, when I thought about it, it occurred to me... even if I had a time machine, if I ran into Riin in the past, I probably would tell her to do exactly what she's been doing.

Yes. That's right. I would have told her to put me through all this. Not that I would have advised her to leave me per se. What I would have advised her was to make me believe she was leaving me, even if she had to lie to do it. Why? Because breaking away from me completely was probably the only way I was ever going to gain enough distance to see what she was trying so hard to tell me.

I was looking through my postings over the last few days and realized that my feelings about, and understanding of, this situation has gone through quite an evolution.

First, I Think I'll Eat Some Cookies. This posting started life as a comment to Riin's original blog entry announcing our breakup. At that point, I was too consumed with the sense of unfairness of the situation and felt I had a right to voice my point of view. When Riin took the comment off her blog, I turned it into this blog entry. I was also desperately trying to reach her, E-mailing and talking to everyone I could think of I thought might be able to help me.

Because I was so caught up in how unjust I thought Riin was being, that posting basically just screamed, NO FAIR, NO FAIR, NO FAIR!!! The whole thing just kept chastising her because she wouldn't talk to me and she is giving up too soon. No wonder Riin didn't want to keep it on her blog. Who wants to be chastised in public on their own blog? :(

When I read the posting now, I can't help but feel bad about it. Not that it comes off as mean per se, but it doesn't say anything positive, either. It goes on and on and on about "I made this mistake and she made that one etc." I was so focussed on making my points that I didn't stop to think that shoving someone's mistakes in their face does not encourage constructive discussion. I know. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, collected the beenie baby...

In fairness to Riin, I wasn't thinking of her when I was thinking about all the times my mistakes were thrown in my face. I was thinking of experiences growing up. I love my uncle and my late grandmother, but they spent a lot more time telling me what was wrong with me than what was right. It got to the point where I eventually wouldn't show anything I did to Nana, particularly if I was proud of it, because I knew she'd just find fault with it...

So I can understand how she felt, and why she didn't want to keep my comments on her blog. In fact, if she was to tell me now that she wants me to take that blog posting down, I would do it without hesitation. In fact, the only reason I'm keeping it now is to keep the link to it in this posting live so people coming into this blog for the first time can see what I'm talking about. But if she asked me to take it down now, I would.

One interesting thing that appears in that entry, though. I said, "I don't think there's any hope of her moving here anymore." Even then, I think my mind was trying to tell me what the real problem was, but again I couldn't see it. I still thought that she didn't want to move to Canada because she was fighting with me. It never occurred to me that it might be the other way around... not at that point...

Anyway, the day after I wrote that posting, I saw Shut Up & Sing at the Cape Breton Island Film Series. It was all about the events that provided the genesis for Dixie Chicks' "I'm Not Ready to Make Nice." I'd heard the song on many occasions and always loved the melody, but it wasn't until I heard it in the movie, when my attention was focused directly on the song and its lyrics, that I realized how much the lyrics reminded me of this situation with Riin...

That provided the inspiration for my next posting, "It's Like The Dixie Chicks Said." In a way, the song provides the transition from my first level of understanding to the next. The song starts out talking about being pissed off and not being able to see past ones anger to "make nice." Then, the song asks the question: "Why can't you just get over it?" Riin asked me virtually the same question, so that got me pondering that.

When I started exploring my feelings, I realized that the main reason I can't get over Riin is because of how much I've evolved and improved as a person since I've known her. That's the point when I realized that that was what I should have been focusing on from the beginning. No one wants to stay in a relationship that's full of nothing but mistakes, but if a relationship actually benefits you, that's worth staying in.

So I started thinking about all the things that Riin has improved about herself with my encouragement and guidance. The tone of this posting from that point on was like night and day compared to the last one. I'd gone from talking about what was wrong with the relationship and finally started to talk about what was right with it.

I came away from that feeling pretty good, relatively speaking. I was (and still am) still miserable without Riin, but at least now I feel like, if and when she talks to me again, there is a way forward that might actually put us on the road to healing. That was a good feeling.

Then came the night when I was browsing Riin's blog and decided on a whim to click on her "100 Things" list and I saw the statement she made about how she doesn't want to move to Canada because, however she felt about the United States, "after living [in Ann Arbor] for 19 years, it’s home."

That hit me like a ton of bricks. My mood immediately crashed. That's what she tried to tell me that night, and I was too consumed in a forest fire of panic to hear what she was saying.

Normally, when Riin and I have a conflict over something that's been bothering her for a long time, I generally say to her, "Well, why didn't you just tell me?" Well, I can't tell her that this time. She did tell me... and I didn't hear her. :(

That is why I wouldn't change anything, at least up to this point, if I had a time machine. I needed the shock of all this to see the truth. As I've said, when there is a problem, I tend to grab on like a dog on a bone and won't let go until it's solved. In the process, sometimes I get so close to a situation that I can no longer see the big picture.

If I had a time machine, what I would do is tell Riin to leave me for a while then, when I'm ready, give us a chance. I won't say "another" chance, because that implies restoring our relationship to the way it was, including her plans to move to Canada. No. I would suggest she give us a chance to build a new relationship which is meant to be long distance. No more plans to move. Just enjoy each other's love and, when we have the chance, our company.

Of course, if I had a time machine, maybe I'd go back in time and warn myself about all this before it happens in the first place. I'd say to myself:

"She's going to tell you she doesn't want to move to Canada. It's not because she doesn't love you. It's just that, after 19 years of living in Ann Arbor, it's home to her now. I know this hurts you because I know you've been looking forward to her moving here, but remember that you never expected her to move in the beginning. Just because she's not moving doesn't mean she loves you any less. She doesn't have to live with you to love you."

If I didn't listen to myself, then I'd go back to Riin and tell her to pretend to leave me, then come back when I finally figured out the truth on my own.

If only the breakup were only a lie to smarten me up. I usually hate it when someone lies to me, but since there was no other way to teach me, that's one lie I would forgive...

Unfortunately, I don't have a time machine. I can't warn myself, and Riin meant it when she left me.

I would give anything right now to talk to her. I think mostly she left me because she thought, if she stayed with me, it meant she'd have to leave Ann Arbor. I wish so much I could tell her now she doesn't. I'll love her, and will always love her, whether she lives 2500 meters away, or 2500 kilometers way.

I know we can't be together forever,
Our worlds forever apart,
But I'm willing to wait by the gate to her world
For the strength of love in my heart.

I'll always be near that gate, Riin, waiting for you to visit... or waiting for my chance to visit you. In the times in between, my love, that special place in my heart for you, will always be here.

You know, when I think back, I realize that most of the stress that was causing me to lash out at you was over your move to Canada. Now that I've accepted the fact that you will not be moving, I no longer feel that stress. All my anger is gone. All I have left now is the pain in my soul. A piece of my soul is missing. It's the piece you took with you when you left.

I know you have no reason to trust me right now, but I'm reaching out to you. Please, let me help you heal your pain, just like I did three years ago when we met, and fell in love for the first time. Now that I'm free of my resentment and anger, I'm free to be the man you fell in love with again.

I'm not asking you to give me another chance. I'm asking you to give us a chance at a whole new relationship. Somehow, our old relationship became all about the move. It should have never been about the move. It should have been, as all good relationships are, about the love.

You don't have to leave home, Riin. Ann Arbor is your home. But, your heart also has a home... here in my heart, with me.

Your body is home... and your heart's home is all warm and ready for you, when it's ready to return...

I love you.

1 comment:

  1. Tom Frost Jr.9:18 PM

    As one who _has_ built a time machine and used it to travel a whole century into the past, I can tell you that the snow is the same on both sides.

    Oh - to those to whom I haven't properly introduced myself: I'm Tom Frost Jr., the unlaggable-to-the-distinction Captain of The Last Bike Ride Out of the 20th Century. ("Cyclist Rides Back in Time, Carries Document from 19th Century into 20th and 21st Centuries" is what the 100%-true headline said.) I think you'll find my time-traveling iron steed's backwards-in-time tracks (the Einstein-defiance of which seemed to heat the Yukon up to double digits in January) to be the ones to the right in the "Gateway to the Past" photo at . However, time travel does not necessarily require that one start at so specific of a location on the space-time continuum. Rather, there are various ways of doing it. Watch this space for reports on my latest project, in which I've figured out how to get tomorrow's newspaper today.


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