Tag Archives: love

In Memoriam…

Fifteen years ago… has it really been 15? The world lost a bright spirit, but I suspect he might linger and visit…

Danny Potter was a monumental person. I do not say that metaphorically. I mean it. He was, in his health, 6’4″ and weighed quite a few hundred pounds. The double-headed dragon torque that he always wore around his wrist was loose on my bicep, and I speculate I could have worn it as a collar torque. But the biggest part of Danny was the heart.

Danny never met a stranger. He was a beloved brother, uncle, son, and friend. He had an unmeasurable intellect that he fed on a constant diet of literature and history. However, he devoted his time and his care to work with those at the very opposite end of that spectrum at the Green Valley institute for intellectually disabled. And they loved him (and he them) as much as we all did.

Danny was a poet and a druidic scholar in the true sense of the word. He was the teller of stories and a great listener who absorbed information like a sponge. He remained always curious. He was a great lover of history, especially of the Appalachian and Northeast Tennessee area where he lived and grew. He was a proud member of Clan Colquhoun (no, it’s not pronounced precisely as it looks… it’s Cul-hoon). He celebrated his Scottish heritage and founded a Celtic Festival that ran for many years with displays, music, and historical reenactment. Danny did much (if not all) of the work himself, signing on vendors, displays, and musical acts. (After his passing, it took a committee to do what he did single-handedly for so long).

Danny’s house was quite literally filled with books. They filled the den from floor to ceiling all around the room. Many evenings, I sat on couch or floor (depending on the number of us visiting) talking about topics that could range from archeology to zoology and all points in between, but mostly… tales of the mystical and fantastic and stories of the hills. Danny loved this season. He saw Samhain in the old Celtic sense of a new year and a thin veil and a time of marvelous opportunity.

Danny had a way of pulling people together. He could find something beautiful or valuable in every soul he touched. Recently his nephew and I were talking about how Danny’s web continues, even 15 years later, to draw us together and remind us of the connections we share. It seems that he will always been nudging me in the shoulder to keep that web spinning and shining.

He was gone too soon. At only 50 years, the world lost his physical presence. However, Danny never expected us to grieve him. He expected us to celebrate. In 2003, Danny left this plane, the time as close to midnight October 31-November 1 as could be determined. At his memorial service, his wishes were read.  He told all of us not to grieve the body that he was ready to leave and had served it’s purpose. He reminded us that he might visit from time to time, and he asked that at this time of year, we  put out two fingers of Scotch as a rememberance…. “Remember, I have very large fingers.”

And thus, my post, these 15 years later… Every year, my husband and I place two fingers of Scotch out on the back porch before midnight on Halloween… for Danny… It is always gone in the morning.

I will always miss my friend, but I like to think that I do my best to live as he would have wanted me to do, making connections, seeing beauty in each day and each soul that enters that web that Danny continues to spin for me. I see him in the people who loved and continue to love him. I hear him remind me to look around me for that which is good and true, and to always stay curious…

In memory of Danny Potter, 1953-2003.

Respect the One that Brung ya…

So, aside from the attrocious grammar and ignorance of verb tense, the phrase itself is an old one that you may or may not have heard before. It goes back to a bygone era, but the concept holds true today… in a sense. Let me preach on it…

The time was that when you chose to be with someone, whether that be for the evening or for a longer term, it meant something. It meant that you would take that opportunity to spend the time indicated to interact with them. Sometimes that might mean with social activity; sometimes mutually enjoying a form of entertainment. For those longer term endeavors it meant that there might be multiple opportunities to interact exclusively or mutually within social context. The point being that when an individual made a choice of their own volition to be with another, they had the consideration to attend to that person.

Over time, those old traditions or manners have faded. Many might consider that these antiquated expectations have no place in an independent, modern, emancipated world. I don’t agree. That may surprise a lot of readers, especially those who know me best and longest, but hear me out. I am a strong proponent of individual rights and standing up for what is right and honest. Believe it or not, these philosophies are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

I have observed a good deal of human behavior in the past… well, we’ll not disclose the precise amount of years, suffice to say it’s been more than a few decades. One of the things that I find repellant, if not truly repugnant is bullying. What I have found is that due to the advent of the modern romantic comedy, many people have a problem differentiating between playful banter and public degradation… by most interpretations, bullying blandishments. Due to the magic of film and television, we are made privy to interactions and conversations that would… and should… have been between two people instead of a public display.

Picture a meet cute between a couple of feisty, not unattractive people. Due to the circumstances of the sincronicity that brings them together, they are placed in antagonistic positions; be it vying for the same taxi or the same employment position. They verbally spar, and we love the witty repartee… because we are behind the camera. Ultimately, that antagonism provides energy and passion that will become angrily shouted affection, followed by professions of love… and scene!

Let’s try another. Spouse enters domicile and announces his/her presence. Their partner appears with look of chagrin and disheveled appearance. Dialog and interaction leading to discomfiture on one part, frustration on the other, and vague threats of sending said partner “to the moon” accompanied by a raised fist and followed by a laugh track…

How about this? Single, but involved individual in a live-in, long term committed relationship finds themselves consistently frustrated by their partner’s habits/lack of attention/too much attention to others… goes out with a trusted friend and spills their guts about every flaw and perceived injury. The friend is supportive. They spend hours of advice-giving and shot drinking. It is all very empowering. It shows the importance of a support network.

What is my point? These are all manufactured and artistically created situations.

I’m going to take the second scenario first. For anyone with a knowledge of classic television, The Honeymooners had very recognizable tableaux. The audiences of the day laughed at the implied spousal abuse threats. Why? Mostly because many of the viewers never believed Ralph would hit her, and at the end of every episode, Ralph kissed Alice. No one at that time thought about the “comedy” show as being a representative of abusive relationships. At the time the show was filmed, spousal abuse and the horror it can be were secret sufferings of untold numbers of people. What went on inside the home was private and nobody’s business… thankfully, that attitude has changed somewhat with the intervening years, though the real horror is still all too prevalent. See below for links and organizations that can help.

With the traditional romcom banter, we’ve all been programmed to see the end game of the situation with passionate acknowledgement of the attraction they fought from their first meeting. We’ve been taught to see it as cute and witty and passionate. But let’s take a look at those caustic remarks flung by opposing parties in front an audience. In the Hollywood version, it is funny. No one has their feelings hurt terribly. But we’re not talking about a live studio audience or the invisible observer of the silver screen. We are talking right out there in public with actual people that you might actually see again in other aspects of your life. Does that change the story? Does the embarrassment of having someone point out your flaws and shortcomings in the middle of a café or office feel different than what we imagine for the characters on the screen?

Last, but not least, is that coffee shop dish with friend or friends. Besties and supportive friends are awesome when you are getting your groove back, but once you’ve given them all the grimy details of the bad guy/gal in your life, it may be super hard for them to see that person in any other way. Intentionally or not, the protagonist/story teller has brought one or more other people into the intimacy of the relationship. Given the impact of technology in the lives of many people in society, that number can be multiplied exponentially when folks tend to vent on one or more of their social media venues… warning, that includes “vaguebooking” because most of your friends will know to whom you are referring. Do yourself and your relationship a favor and leave off the character assassinations if you aren’t ready or intending to walk.

I can feel the judgment boiling off of my people out there saying “You need support! You shouldn’t have to keep secrets! You shouldn’t project facades…” Yeah, all of it, but I’m decidedly not talking about abusive situations, for which the answer is to get to safety (and absolutely positively reach out for help in those situations, see the links below). I’m not talking about ignoring something that should change, for which the answer is to work in concert with your partner. I’m talking about respecting a person that you chose to spend time with, whether that time was a few hours or a few decades. I’m talking about not degrading them or humiliating them in a public venue and to your friends and family. I’m talking about setting an example in your own behavior for 1) how you might like to be treated and respected, and 2) how you feel others should consider and behave towards that individual. Whether we realize it or not, how we treat our significant other (and how we talk about them) cues our friends and others around us to act in kind, and displays outwardly how they will be permitted to treat that person. When you disrespect your partner vividly and hurtfully in public, it opens the door for everyone else to consider them with the same disregard and flagrant disrespect. It plays up like the mob mentality that says “Hey, her man (or woman) treats her like crap, she must be crap. We don’t have to be respectful.” It may seem like I’m blowing it out of proportion, but just observe sometime how behaviors change depending on how the S.O. of any individual treats them in a group or public setting.

So what does that mean? Does it mean that we all have to show devotion to anyone we decide to go out for coffee with? No, but respect is not devotion. On a date (be it first or perhaps even further along the line where things are still casual, and there is no serious risk of harm involved), perhaps the chemistry is just not there. End it as civilly as possible. No harm, no foul. If you truly just can’t stomach one more second, consider how to curtail the event without creating more drama than is absolutely necessary. If the guy (or gal) deserves a glass of chianti in the lap, so be it, but that should be the exception, not the rule. In a longer term relationship, recognize the difference between gentle ribbing and hurtful humiliation in front of other people. What looks cute on a movie or television screen might be pretty uncomfortable before the live and quite real audience of friends or acquaintances.

And… if you truly care about the person and the relationship and want it to work out, be careful how you “vent” to friends and family. Should you choose to stay together and work on things, it may be exceedingly difficult for those friends and family members to see the monster you painted so vividly in a more charitable light. The bottom line is that if you don’t want to be with the person in question, then don’t be. Do them the courtesy and show them the respect of letting them go so that they might be with someone who might have more, or different, feelings for them; and you can move on to someone to whom you might be better suited. And one last thing… if you do find that your better suited is someone other than the one you are with, close that former chapter before opening the new one. In the end, self-respect is a valuable commodity, and treating others with disrespect often leads to a lack of respect for self as well. So, in the end, the one that “brung ya” is you. Have some respect for yourself.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline – http://www.thehotline.org/

Crisis Textline – http://www.crisistextline.org/   Text “GO” to 741741

Advocates Against Family Violence – https://aafvhope.org/

Newsome, T. 7 Ways You’re Disrespecting your Partner Without Realizing It. (January, 2016). Bustle. https://www.bustle.com/articles/133567-7-ways-youre-disrespecting-your-partner-without-realizing

Does My Two-Way Street have PotHoles and a Roadblock?

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The adage is that love is a two-way street. Along the same lines are other fairy tales like relationships are 50-50 and “give and take.” It isn’t that I want to dispel all the warm fuzziness of the dreams woven in childhood bedtime stories or the glamour if Hollywood… Ok, I wouldn’t complain if a few of those hoary chestnuts were tossed onto the sacrificial pyre.

And… I am well aware that this intro just reeks of bitterness and forlorn dreams. Not so melodramatic, I assure you. I just have spent a good many hours and brain cells in the contemplation of what ratio of energy contribution defines a healthy (and happy) relationship. Not only the romantic variety, though. Friendships, partnerships, work “marriages,” roommates, and other categories also share some of the same traits, though perhaps not the fringe benefits of the love match.

The truth is that Disney, Hollywood, and a good many of the romantic writers of literary renown have done a great disservice to us all. They painted a picture of true love and love at first sight and love that conquers all challenges and… Yeah, I’m going into insulin shock with a touch of nausea. There are no relationships and no LOVE that can thrive without effort. Finding the “love of your life” is not the finish line. It’s the starting line. Oh, I know. We have all been exposed to the tales of great love and romance. The problem with those tales? They end when guy gets girl… Or vice versa. True story. We are drawn in by the drama and adventure while our protagonists struggle against monsters, societal norms, and odds. We cheer and feel the gladness I our hearts that true heart won fair lady… Or contrary wise that a prince can see beauty past the acceptable constructs of the day. So endeth the tale… Um, really? We never actually see what happens when Prince Charming and Princess Whatnot settle into connubial bliss. When life with its brilliantly mundane aspects comes to rest upon the weary adventurers, how does life and love without constant struggle, adrenaline, and pheromones work out for our protagonists? When Charming forgets to put his socks in the hamper, or he leaves the toilet seat up; and Whatnot is tired and cranky or possibly OTR (on the rag), what becomes of our young lovers in their quest for happiness?

There are too many people out there who have some very inaccurate beliefs about what relationships are about. It leads to some really unhealthy thinking and behaving, like adhering to the romance of hardship making bonds stronger and isolation from the rest of the world to be ensconced in the cocoon of love with your one and only… *hack* Sorry, hairball. A large percentage of divorces (and murders, I understand) are incited by financial issues. Working together through the tough times might develop a sense of partnership, but the stress of trying to make ends meet and meeting financial responsibilities has destroyed many a blissful love match.

As for the “all we need is love and each other” thing… no. How about no? Aw, hell no. Human beings are social creatures. The idea of being on a desert isle with only one person for companionship sounds like heaven to those who have been brainwashed by the mass media and romance novels, but that’s not how it works people. As social creatures, we need the interaction and experiences gained from our environments and peers to spark our creativity and original thinking. A relationship where there is no interaction outside the dyadic bubble gets old in a big hurry.

No relationship is equal all of the time; not a partnership, friendship, or marriage. People are different. Circumstances change. The needs of any individual shift with changing circumstances. So, while one partner may do the heavy lifting sometimes, the rest of the time, the other partner may need to step in and carry more of the load. The metaphor sounds very physical, but the truth is emotional heavy lifting can be a larger part of the job, and that job can get passed around like a hot potato… or one partner may end up carrying around that load for a longer time. Carrying the weight of responsibility or emotions requires energy. Doing it for too long, like literal physical weight bearing, can be exhausting. When all the energy is used up to carry the load, there isn’t anything left for the fun stuff. At some point, the person that has been bearing all the weight may have nothing left at all.

All these metaphors are really spinning into a negative scenario that isn’t really my intent. During our lives we will have opportunity to be both givers and takers. Healthy relationships are based on a balance of those behaviors. When things get out of balance, when the takers become perpetual users, and the givers become martyrs; the relationship suffers and can ultimately die. Every partner in any relationship can and should examine their role to see whether they are the imbalance that is sucking the life and energy out of their relationship. Take the opportunity to make a change and revitalize those relationships by bringing things back into balance. Repair some of those potholes and get traffic flowing both ways again.