Cold water and gentle cycle, lay flat to dry.

I think I’ve learned more life lessons since graduating college in May than I did throughout the past four years in school. Maybe not more lessons, but harder ones. For example, how do you deal with being alone when everyone around you seems to be pairing off? How do you move home and form new friendships, a new job, a new life? How do you reform into family living after being on your own for so long?

All these things and more have been pounding on my chest and trying to make me feel them more deeply and to, finally, deal with them. I’ve been trying to learn from a distance. To stand quietly in the corner and slowly slip in gracefully to this new space I’ve acquired. However the realization that is coming over me says that this is just about as possible as getting used to the cold, cold water by standing beside, in your winter coat, with just a pinky toe in the pool. The most frightening life lesson that I’m finding I must one day jump into, is this:

People cannot always love you the way you need to be loved. 

Even now as I try to write this blog post, I am struggling for words to explain this lesson that I still cannot fully understand.

I’ve said before that I believe one of man’s main desires and vital needs is to be understood. Why was language created? Yes, to communicate in order to complete tasks more easily, but also to express oneself. Why poetry? Why theatre? Why lyrics and song? Why music itself for that matter, but to convey a specific emotion. We yearn to express ourselves and to be understood. The next part of that desire is to then, of course, be accepted as we are.

As we go through seasons in life, we will need different things from those closest to us. Sympathy, gentleness, a helping hand, encouragement, tough love, criticism, etc. Different seasons call for different forms of love from those around us. But sometimes, even those closest to you will be unable to love you the way you need.

I’m learning that there are many reasons that people cannot always love us how we long to be loved. Whether that be misunderstanding, disagreeing, ignoring, or simply being ignorant to the fact that we indeed do need to be loved, people fail. And it’s painful. I find that familiar heaviness on my chest when I think of the people I might have been unable to love the way they needed me to.

The truth is, I don’t understand why someone like a mother, a father, a friend or brother cannot look at you and see through your bones to understand at those depths what you really need. I can’t understand why, even when you speak plain English (or whatever you speak) and tell them exactly what you need, they can’t deliver. Why they misunderstand you, or ignore you, or are deaf to the fact that you’re calling out to them.

Truth be told, most of the time these days I feel like this gray, wool sweater I own. One that needs to be washed with cold water, on the gentle cycle, and then be laid flat to dry. One that is almost not worth the work to keep it.

It’s something that my heavy boots are trudging through, and I long to make it to the other side.

I’ll hold a picnic when I find the answers. I’ll bring the crackers and you bring the watermelon?


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