Thursday, June 26, 2008

It Is ... I Am

I do not propose that it is right. I do not suggest that any other than myself agree, or (heaven forbid) join me in practice. I am not sure that I can even agree with myself. For I have been debating the topic for many years with no satisfactory resolution. It always returns to the statement that brought the question to light. The moment in which I had that “Aha!” experience. The speaker had no intention of enlightenment. She was not, in the least, interested in endowing me with any clarity of understanding. She was simply voicing a complaint. Lodging a a strong dissatisfaction. But what was revealed spawned my compulsion to apologize to my former wife, my daughter, my mother, and my siblings (all on different occasions, and in scattered settings.)

The crystallizing comment was in an exchange that went something like, “You treat me with consideration, respect, and generosity at all times and in all circumstances. Whether in public, or in our most intimate of moments.” To which I replied (in a somewhat bewildered state), “And this is what you are complaining about?” And she said, “Yes! Because you do the very same for complete strangers.”

And, for the first time in fifty years (my age at the time of this particular exchange between myself, and the last woman with whom I have had any sort of relationship), I understood the nature of what has been a point of contention between myself and the world in which I live. Everyone wants to possess an exclusive ‘franchise’ on some element or elements of my Being. And I have never held that I own my Self. I have always had the deepest core conviction that I belong to a world that I am placed in for reasons and purposes that are not my own to determine or capitalize on. Hence I have no right to grant ‘franchises’ to anyone else for what I do not own. Namely … Me.

So, this woman who faced, me with her statement of frustrated displeasure, was telling me that she could not find satisfaction in, nor did she feel any degree of ‘special-ness’ in, my consideration of her pleasure, her comfort, her preference, ahead of my own. For she saw me grant the same to complete strangers who had offered none of the considerations that she had presented to me. So, she naturally surmised, what value was there in her offerings when all that she received in return was just what a passing stranger was granted (with obvious physical intimacies excluded.) She was not (in ‘a word’) “special,” in her estimation.

And this is what my siblings had been trying to express for all of those years. They resented my being the “Mister Popular” in school … the wonderful One who they each had to endure comparisons to as they followed me through all of the same schools … whilst (in their eyes … which is fair and reasonable … for this is how we all perceive our personal worlds) I thought myself “too good” for them when I returned home each day. They had no more understanding than I did, that I was a severe introvert who laboured under the impediment of chronic chemical depression. Neither they nor I knew that my withdrawal into my shell of playing the Blues on my cornet … alone and isolated … was my inner Self trying to find relief from exhaustion and weariness after a day of giving away all of Me to a world that was starved for someone to listen and care.

My family, then, and into my future relationships with spouse and children, just saw what was evident on the surface. What was evidenced in that statement by that one Person who summarized it all in her declaration that she did not feel special. That she received what everyone else received of Me. Hence, when I experienced my ‘enlightenment,’ I went to them all, and apologized for what they struggled with due to my lack of previous awareness and understanding.

I do not write of these things for any purpose other than to see it all in print … and garner some better acceptance of Me for my Self. I ask for no suggestion, nor validation. For none is necessary. I is who I is. And at sixty-two years of habituating Me … I have not even the most remote inclination to Be other than who I am. But it does make it easier to be that “Me” when I can see this written down. When I can acknowledge what has churned around inside for all of these decades and scores of years. It makes it clearer, to my understanding, why I am without a “Significant Other” in my life. For, when I consider all that I have presented here, it is clear that it would take quite a rare and unusual Individual to enjoy and rest comfortably in her “special-ness” without jealousies and insecurities born of my generosity of Self with the world. And, quite honestly, I have no expectation of ever discovering anyone secure enough in her Self, and intuitively insightful enough to know her ’franchise’ to that part of Me that is not available to my world. And I am, for the most part, comfortable with that.

So, there you go. There you have a totally Self-centered and Self-focused bit of insight into who this John-Michael creature is. I could have just filed it away for my own reflection … but you now know that why I can’t be comfortable with that. For, once again, I am compelled, by Life, to put it out there for whomever Life directs to it … for their benefit or use. That is, as it has always been, why I am. This is what I inhale and exhale for. To make available to You (if you are that One for whom this bit of introspection is for) some encouragement … some understanding … some small glimmer of insight, that will let You know that Life is listening to your pleas for sustenance and support. That is, as it always has been in my personal journey, why I am on this lovely little orb. To, indeed, Be your faithful Friend, and constantly willing Servant. For YOU are, indeed, special … to Life.


lime said...

i mean this not to be judgmental in any way but i find it virtue when a person approaches everyone with such deep respect. i am assuming you bestowed upon this woman not only physical intimacies but emotional ones as well, confidences and the depths of your heart. maybe i am dense but it seems to me those confidences and intimacies are part of what would indicate specialness.

then again maybe i am just sensitized to receiving those sort of nonmaterial gifts because i feel their lack.

John-Michael said...

My experience has been that there are many who feel that any such openness to or responsiveness to any other than them, is taking something that they feel a proprietary right to and giving it to someone neither entitled nor worthy. The feeling communicated to me is that I have given away something that should have been the sole possession of the individual who feels a 'franchise right to exclusivity of attention. This conflict is not an isolated happening. I have dealt with it for all of my life (though I only became aware of the parameters of the conflict when I was confronted with the statement written about.)

I, obviously, have acquiesced to the right of these folks to their feelings. Hence ... I live alone (but embrace all of my world.) Having been made aware of the nature of the conflict ... I choose to follow my Heart's Voice.

Which sings "I love you Lime".

nitebyrd said...

I find it very discouraging that your former wife, siblings, etc. didn't feel special because YOU were part of their lives. A person such as yourself is so rare and wonderful they should have been joyful to be encompassed in your aura.

JM, don't give up hope in finding that special person. You can't be the only one who is so beautiful. Even skeptical me, refuses to believe that.

John-Michael said...

I appreciate Life's loving kindness in bringing a few rare Gems of sweet caring into my life, my Darling NiteByrd. For You, as one of those Few, do soften the void of yearning and bring a delightful Joy with You as a gift to my Being. I am so very grateful for all ... every scintilla ... of who you are. You bless me!

And I do love You.

CrazyCath said...

That is a very open and honest account of what has brought you to where you are. To be honest, I see both sides. I see how you would be exhausted and need to withdraw to some quiet time alone on returning home, and your need and desire to treat everyone equally.
I also understand the hurt of a perceived rejection, and the need to feel special in your partner's life. To not feel that is destroying.

It is very sad I think that you two could not find a way to communicate your feelings decades earlier, as I discern some fondness between you still, if you (both) would only acknowledge it. A great shame. But what's done is done.

I wish you peace and joy, and I say never say "never". Like nitebyrd, I think you will find that some one. There is some one for everyone.

John-Michael said...

I am so pleased in that i was able to convey both sides of "the coin" in this piece. For, you, Dear CathDaughter, have read it rightly. What would have enhanced each of the relationships would have been the recognition of and respect for the needs of each individual involved. Which is precisely why I write about our diverse and individual needs and requirements as frequently as I do. To point out the legitimacy of precisely what you have found in this bit.

Simply, that we can accommodate one another's needs only when we have an awareness of those needs. And none of us is able to communicate our needs to those who are 'Significants' in our lives, until we, ourselves, recognize who we are as individual Creations, and define what our particular requirements for healthy functioning are. To that end I am constantly offering various perspectives and views that might have some illuminating benefit for someone attempting to understand and respond, in a better way, to their lives and/or the lives of those around them.

Thank you for your validation of this, my most recent, effort to accomplish that task.

Lovingly ...

San said...

Part of the romance between two people is the feeling of being "special" in each others' eyes, little understandings between each other that are exclusive to the relationship. Just my two cents.

John-Michael said...

Your "two cents" is beyond comparable value, my Dear San. I am constantly enriched with each investment of your Self that you bless me with.

Lovingly ...

Mrs. C said...

Hello, John-Michael! I popped over to your blog from Casdok's place for a friendly visit. I was particularly struck by the idea that as an introvert, you'd be out in the world all day and using up all your energy in being kind to others, etc. Then you'd come home and need to recoup and find in doing so that it necessitated your not paying as much attention to family.

I have two autistic sons, so often I have to structure their environment so that these times of regrouping thoughts or preparing for what's ahead are in the schedule. Sometimes I wonder if autism is really just severe introversion in various ways, but I'm not in the medical field, etc... that's just me chatting with you.

I used to live in Tampa, too, and my husband D used to work for GTE in Temple Terrace. That was over 11 years ago, though.

John-Michael said...

Ah! So you do see the reason for my feeling it necessary to go to those affected by my struggles with balance in my away-from, and at-home behaviors. My former spouse found the apology unnecessary ... inasmuch as she enjoyed my away-from-home involvements to her liking ... as did my daughter. My siblings found the insight helpful ... and we are all quite close now.

I am pleased, Mrs. C, that I communicated that point. And, I am sure that you can recognize, to some degree, why I then modified my attitude toward commitments (away from home) (after this realization), to allow for a more comfortable at-home life. Alas, it seems that the majority of those who I meet, are far more interested in a relationship with someone who is, indeed, actively involved with and popular in social circles ... and less intimate and involved at home.

This fits, of course, with the definition of personality/temperament types who are in the vast majority of the population. They (as was true with my former spouse) are disinclined to intimacy ... and more interested in social imagery and station. But, at least, I now am aware of the dynamics at play. And more comfortable with my own innate abilities and inclinations.

I now have the enjoyable ability to 'budget' my emotional energies. Life is so much more fun now!

Anonymous said...

John-Michael you just stay who you are (onto your own self be true)I think thats how it goes. You can't be who you are not. Being special to another just one other is a wonderful gift I agree BUT each of us is special to you in our own way. I don't believe that takes specialness away from a partner or family member.You see goodness & specialness in each person who crosses your path. You are anything but self centered. A true giver of love & encouragement very rare in this world. Any woman should feel blessed to have that type of man in her life.

Anonymous said...


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