Friday, August 24, 2012

A Circle of Hospitality


"This being human is a guest house.  Every morning a new arrival."  Thank you Lydia and David for that lovely poem today.  So it has always seemed to me.

I awoke this morning still thinking about guesthouses.  I am so grateful for our life as guests in the world.  It has taught me things and freed me to live in friendship in a way I could never have enjoyed as the mistress of a house in any ordinary householding way.

I don't have friends the way most people have.  When a person remains close to me for long I become more aware of their independent existence, which is uncomfortable and confusing to me.  At a little distancewith acquaintances or strangersI experience people as continuous with myself, or myself as continuous with them.

But it is different in a guesthouse.  When people come to share the Conversation with us, then even though I see them far more closely than I would elsewhere, I experience no separateness between us.  We are all only souls then.  It is the same with those I know through the books we choose to have in our guesthouses.  In a way they too are here for the Conversation.

Probably the most famous guesthouse I know is Henry Thoreau's house at Walden Pond.  It is strange that I never enjoyed Walden until we moved into Innermost House, but then it came to life for me.   

Before then it was Thoreau's great friend Ralph Waldo Emerson whom we read, and through my husband I have known Emerson around the fire for thirty years.  He is almost the only person with whose outward history I am inwardly familiar.  

Emerson was established in the world by the the time he befriended the young Henry David Thoreau.  It was on Emerson's wooded land at Walden that Thoreau built his famous guesthouse.  My husband once read to me a very touching account of the two men's long and fruitful friendship, taken mostly from their writings, simply and appropriately entitled, My Friend, My Friend.

I don't think Thoreau ever expected to stay long at Waldenhe was a guest after alland the house was quickly built for the pleasure of it.  Still I understand that many people who see Thoreau's reconstructed house for the first time find it much less rustic than the pioneer cabin they expected.  It is not a pioneer cabin of course.  It is a guesthouse.

The Walden house was finished very much to the standard of many much larger New England houses of the timeshingle sided, sanded floor, brick fireplace, lath and plaster walls, great large windows.  It was a house for thinking and feeling, for reading and writing, for sitting by the fire and opening to the outdoors.  It was a guesthouse for solitude and friendship.

It is a lovely word when you think of it.  Guesthouse.  We who dwell in guesthouses know we are only guests of our friends in the world.  But when they call on us in our solitude for Conversation, then it is they who are our guests.  We are guests entertaining guests.  It is a circle of hospitality.
 
The people with whom we have shared our life are responsible householders by nature, and I have always appreciated the natural kinship we enjoy together.  I could no more wish to live in their houses than they could in mine, but we have always found ways to give something of what we have to each other. 

Most of all we have found ways to share a friendship of souls.  I have been fortunate to live a life of Conversation. This being human is a guesthouse.  Every morning a new arrival. 



54 comments:

  1. Would it be possible to have your husband comment on this issue?

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  2. I do very much enjoy each and every one of your posts, Diana. Thank you!

    You said, "I don't have friends the way most people have. When a person remains close to me for long I become more aware of their independent existence, which is uncomfortable and confusing to me. At a little distance—with acquaintances or strangers—I experience people as continuous with myself, or myself as continuous with them." When I read this I felt a sense of comfort. I too am a little like this and had thought it an oddity in myself, one of many, but now I see it can be viewed as a strength allowing the opportunity to commune with another. Yes, meeting someone for the first time, or as if for the first time, is a true gift.

    I love the thought of being a guest. A guest in the sense of treating the people and things around me with the care I would have in the space of another. Now I will go and make my bed... :)

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    1. About being a guest, Celeste, that is it exactly, I think. With this attitude, we can be guests at all times, even in our own homes. We are all just sojourners here, after all. People and things never really belong to us, but grace abounds toward each of us, and from each of us as well. Thank you.

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    2. Julie, I feel exactly the same way you do. I hear of so many people fighting over land/possessions, when in reality no one actually owns anything. Yes, we are just passing through and need to respect all things so that others can enjoy them, too.

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  3. I would love to hear more (from all friends here) about the this feeling of being uncomfortable and confused when you become more aware of people's independent existence. I am not sure I understand it well.

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  4. I don't have friends the way most people have, either. Separateness creeps in always and I am hard pressed to explain why. BUT, under the power of the Rukeyser Effect, I am obliged to take a crack at it. It seems to me that love is perfected in detachment--in live and let live. When attachment enters in, a feeling that binds one to a person, Then separateness ensues. While this seems to be the opposite of what we are led to believe, I actually Googled "Love and Detachment" earlier today and there are almost nine million entries pertaining to this. All of the world's great religions encourage detachment, after all.

    When we first meet someone, we are always amazed at how much we have in common. We are simpatico in every respect. We no sooner put our idea into words when our new friend expresses the same thing too. Lightning flashes between us!--and we are ONE. Our identities are the same. I think we let them go, because in reality, being One is more important than who each of us thinks he is. We are focusing upon similarities because we know we really are all the same. Right?

    How I love to hear the stories that people tell about themselves. There is no need to approve or disapprove or correct them. I am spellbound by the stories of my fellow travelers. Please, tell me more! I know just what you mean. I don't even care if you are making it up--it's a great story and you are such fun! THANK YOU for stopping with me today. Bless you for the Conversation.

    But separateness enters in. Folks are disinclined to simply let a thing BE, aren't they? It is awkward to me when, say, I do a little favor or give a small gift and immediately something is done for me in return as though it was now owed, you know? We must be "Even Steven". We must prove our love. And now we must be separate and unique mustn't we? Sigh.

    I don't feel that this is our true nature. I don't know where this attachment comes from, for it is certainly an attachment to our own selves and our own agendas rather than an attachment to our new friend. Do we desperately cling in order to create some obligation? Again, I don't know. I think of many of my Christian brothers and sisters. Jesus has come in to sup with them and given them a free gift--and they think they are now obligated to go out into the world and be horses-rear-ends for His sake to, in turn, obligate Him to bless them. They separate themselves from Him in doing this. (How long must He suffer us?) There are no strings attached between Him and us. It is a benevolent detachment. Oneness.

    I really do love you even if I don't get all up in your business. Fly! Be free little birds. I love how Diana appreciates everything each of us has to say and never offers us advice or asks for any either. In fact, this is what makes the Conversation we are having here work. No one presumes to advise. We GET each other without needing to HAVE each other.

    Louis, I don't know whether our stock has gone up today for my little rant...




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    1. er...entirely too long of a rant, I now see. My apologies.

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    2. No, Julie, not too long at all. Perfect explanation!

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    3. I think your "rant" is just perfect. I appreciate someone that speaks from the heart and in such familiar, everyday language. I especially agree with your take on Christianity and how it has so perverted the truth. I definately GET what you are saying!

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  6. Diana wrote: "I don't have friends the way most people have. When a person remains close to me for long I become more aware of their independent existence, which is uncomfortable and confusing to me. At a little distance—with acquaintances or strangers—I experience people as continuous with myself, or myself as continuous with them." Do you think, perhaps, that Diana feels this way because in the unique situation of IH conversations, larger philosophical questions may more typically be addressed (even though something 'personal' may be the initial starting point) and can be discussed as ideas rather than getting into the nitty-gritty details of mundane life? Ideas are perhaps more amorphous and easier to absorb into one's own consciousness. It's butting up against other people's resistances in everyday life that makes their independent existence more apparent and may be confusing to Diana who doesn't seem to operate that way.
    (This is the same comment that I deleted bove, but I had to correct a wrong punctuation mark that I noticed after I posted it. Sigh...)

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    1. Was it Ben Franklin that said, "familiarity breeds contempt"? Anyway, my take on Diana's approach (or reaction) to friendship is to stay more impersonal. Not as in aloofness, but by not allowing herself to be too far drawn into another person's life and personal drama in order to not be distracted from the life she chooses.

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    3. Thank for this, Sherry. In Kirsten's video about Innermost House, Diana stated that she is ALL FOR everyone in the world living the way they want to live, but that SHE would live as she wanted also. But to do so, she must remain firmly in her chosen life.

      It isn't just me who feels separation creeping into a friendship. The new friend becomes aware of just how different I really am and evidently becomes uncomfortable enough with my personal choices that the friend now has to persuade me to come around to their way of thinking and be as they are. It is as if I am an orange ("Bless my heart..."), but if I would only make the effort, I could by some force of my own will turn myself into a jalapeno pepper! Must I? No. I must not--and they must not drop their own dearly won lives to be more like me, either.

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    4. Pam, I agree with you about the big ideas being edifying and helpful. It is the small, nitty-gritty ideas that have a tendency to tear down. It may be that communication fails just here because each of us has been supplied with different tools for living. So, while I can readily see how to incorporate the big idea into my own experience--which is helpful, clearly my nuts-and-bolts were designed for a tinier project.

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    5. I think that when we meet someone new we can go beyond ourselves in order to create some sort of bridge, but it is not possible to make this extra effort for too long, so naturally we retreat to who we are able to be all the time. I think that is the way with me anyway. People think I've gone off them because being friendly doesn't come all that naturally to me.

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    6. Oh, I see what you mean, Katrina. I can see how this can apply to myself AND the new people that I am meeting. Really good point!

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  7. I can say a little about friendship, as I am coming to realize that friendship is close to the centre of my life. One of the things in life that most delights me is to be a friend to my friends. I love to be there for my friends - to hear their words, to help them learn and growing through offering my listening. I love to watch people grow in confidence and creativity. I can even wring some satisfaction from painful experiences of being there when they are struggling, struggling alongside them to stay present for them, to hold my belief in their ability to draw on the true power and creativity that only they can touch for themselves, until they are reaching that well again. It is a privilege to be there for someone who has found me trustworthy to accompany them in painful or joyful times. It is wonderful to know people to whom I can take my own struggles in the same confidence, that we might stumble and upste each other, but that we are held within a web of God's grace, each reaching for what is truest to us, and offering a hand to each other.

    What's perfect to me, I am beginning to see how it is different from Innermost House - in the reflections as I contemplate your Innermost life, Diana, it seems I am coming towards my own Innermost Life. I realize I love to invite people again and again to conversation. I love to hear what they have won through, what is challenging them now, and to take my own turn to speak about what I have found, and what I am reaching for. I take my place in developing long term relationships, and building the community that comes from knowing people deeply and for a long time - that is where the holy is for me at the moment.

    I was talking to a good friend recently and realized that for me simplicity is what enables this. When I am cutting back to what is real and necessary, I feel I have my feet on the ground. When I am working hard to feed the family until payday, or washing my laundry in a tub with my hands or feet as I sometimes do, I feel that I am touching the ground. That means I am able to stand more certainly in life, because I can be confident of my footing. For me, touching the earth in this way helps me make real connections with other people. It is not easy for me to connect with people who aren't also touching the ground in their own lives, although sometimes it happens. Touching the earth doesn't only have to be about simplicity in material things - it can also come through in simplicity of heart. Those who practice to be heartfelt and true to themselves and others, from the heart of themselves, are touching the earth in another way, and I can connect.

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    1. That last paragraph so resonates with me, Alice x

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    2. There does seem to be a similarity and a difference between your approach and Diana's approach to relationships -- although neither is more right than the other. Both of you seem to follow your heart and are simple in your needs. I am seeing in Diana a choice (necessity?) for a more cloistered life with just her husband as her family/best friend and you (and some of us here) have a wider circle of family/best friends whom you have a connection and close relationship with.

      Perhaps Diana's passion is that of a student, thirsty for information and understanding of "things" -- things we still want to hear more about! :) But her personality does not suit large gatherings and personal sharing -- And your gift/passion may be to mentor people in your community. You may be the kind of person who thrives in being surrounded by a large group of family and friends. I don't want to assume anything, I am just using your two personalities, at least the little that we know of them, as examples to show that there isn't one way to simple, truthful living.

      What I am hearing from your words, Alice, is that you feel most yourself when you focus your attention on the core necessities, which in your case includes lovingly providing for your family and friends in a way that is healthy and nourishing and self-less... as opposed to enabling self-sacrificing, or creating co-dependent relationships.

      Would you say that is true? And if so, do you feel you are successful at maintaining a healthy attachment/detachment from the people you mentor?

      I personally share the experience of being drawn to others who are heartfelt and "touching the earth".

      The size of our circle of friends can be one or many more. The question though is: do we give freely to our friends and they in turn share what is comfortable for them to share, with no expectations of the other -- no strings attached?

      I would like to suggest that both you and Diana (and the rest of us here as well) dictate the level of openness and closeness in your relationships but the more important relationship is with our self. I think you both 'get that'.

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    3. Yes, I definitely relate to 'healthy and nourishing' as an aim for relating. Successful at healthy attachment - I think so. I think part of the reason for my realization about focusing on the longer term in relationships is because it helps me relax about not always getting it right with someone. I seem to have found a way to a 'secure attachment style' in friendships, a lot of the time, thank goodness. I hope I don't get over-involved. The centrality of this stuff to me is a bit of a new discovery, I am just finding my way.

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  8. I do not attach readily to anybody, and am something of a cat that walks alone, but I find this enhances rather than impedes interaction - people like it because they feel the lack of clinging, that I am not asking anything of them. The only difficulty is that one to two hours is my absolute max for remaining comfortable in company - after that I crave solitude. Those friends who are so loving they stay for several hours and ignore hints designed to dislodge them, or begin enlarging on plans for how we can spend time more frequently and at greater length in each other's company, reduce me to such a level of meltdown that I have to try quite hard not to scream.
    I preferred the social systems of my childhood where interactions were structured by expectation and one knew how long a visit would likely be, and visitors understood from an invitation not only when to arrive but when they should therefore leave.

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    1. Oh, Ember, I could have written your post! In my family our level of holiday interactions (like Christmas or Thanksgiving) was limited to two and a half hours max. Being with people too long or being in a group of more than six people is very stressful to me and I can begin to feel myself get quieter and quieter and then start to withdraw if there are too many people or if we are together for too long. It's way too much overstimulation for me, and hanging out for longer than two hours begins to feel to me like work rather than pleasure. I am also uncomfortable when people 'drop in' without calling ahead first. I need time to mentally prepare myself to interact with others on a social level and an unexpected visit to me home, even by my own family members, makes me feel intruded upon.

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    2. dito, Ember and Pam :)

      - But I do accept and encourage people who thrive in groups (like my husband) to find and maintain their circle of friends. To each their own. -- Just let me not have to entertain them, eat on their schedule or attend functions I am not comfortable with.

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    3. Ember, how well you always express what I am thinking! " or begin enlarging on plans for how we can spend time more frequently and at greater length in each other's company, reduce me to such a level of meltdown that I have to try quite hard not to scream." Oh, indeed! I often find myself praying silently, in the words of Samuel Goldwyn: "If I could drop dead right now, I'd be the happiest man alive." Lord, please, kill me now. We are often polite to other folks at the expense of being rude to ourselves.

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    4. Julie, a couple of my favorite sayings that I say silently to myself when I've had too much of a 'good thing' (LOL!) are "Get the knife" or "Take me out back and shoot me NOW"...

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    5. It's great to hear you others talking about this. I struggle with it a lot, I haven't got to the point of allowing myself to limit contact with others as much as might suit me, but leading a work session at the community project I'm involved with, for example - after two hours or so I am often clumsy, well into sensory overload, unable to think clearly, and often unable to answer any question requiring thought.

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    6. Hahahaha! Pam, this must be kind of universal.

      Ember, I adore your little room!

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  9. Pam, I could have written your post!!!! lol Most of my visitors are close family and I am allowed to bow out when I reach my limit. They just continue on and that is great. Right now, they feel that I don't need to be alone too much and sometimes they are right, sometimes I feel smothered, and sometimes I just don't know what I want!

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    1. It must be difficult to manage your family needs during this emotionally challenging time. I feel for you!

      I have been working on establishing new boundaries in my relationships as well; boundaries that allow me to live more in the now, with less concern about making or keeping inflexible commitments.

      This a goal of mine: Choosing to do only what feels compelling and what makes my heart sing.

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    2. ... I would also like to mention that although I have high goals, I am a work in progress :)

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    3. Sherry, I often bow out of family gatherings early too, especially when my out-of-town children and their families come to visit and stay in my small ranch home that is best suited for two people! I quietly go into my bedroom while everyone else is sitting around watching TV or playing a board game and lose myself between the covers of a book or take a nap.

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    4. Many of us seem to feel this way. I have been planning our family home with the guest house that belongs to me. :)

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    5. Why do people think people shouldn't be alone when they've had a bereavement? This idea scares me stupid and makes me all the more determined to run away!

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    6. I know what you mean, Katrina. I will be needing to do my own thinking at such a time. Already, everyone in my world is telling me that I HAVE to do this, and I HAVE to do that when my husband passes away...They have him dead and cremated already, you see. Never mind that AT THIS TIME I might still be hoping for a way to make some tiny success of this marriage since I am in it--it is literally being insisted upon that I HAVE to immediately rush out and get a new husband when this one is gone. Really. Really? ANOTHER freaking husband? Never mind the fact that I am hoping to finally make the life for myself that I have always dreamed of...that is just silly, Julie. And never mind that I myself am ill and it is, barring a miracle of course, not likely that I will instantly be cured by his demise so that I can go out and set the world on fire with such damp matches as I have. (If I had some ham I would make a ham sandwich if I had some bread--hehe.) You won't believe this, but I had a friend advise me yesterday upon two excellent ways that I might murder my mean husband and get on with my life! Sheesh.

      Do they really think we will kill ourselves if they don't stand on top of us for every moment? Honestly, I am starting to see that the only thing liable to cause me to consider suicide is the fine well wishes of my local circle of friends! Run! Run away Katrina!

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  10. Hmm, yes. I also don't have friends as I see other people having friends. Part of this is because I've usually lived in rather isolated situations, but I think the bigger part is because I'm highly empathic, and become genuinely physically exhausted and emotionally overwhelmed when I spend much time in company. It's as if I experience other people's thoughts and emotions in my own body, and certainly I have often picked up information by osmosis that has proven to be correct and has my daughter believing that I'm psychic. I don't think so - I think I just have a hypersensitive receiving unit. After a long period with other people, I often literally crash - fall onto my bed and pass out cold for up to 17 hours without a drop of alcohol having crossed my lips!

    Diana says that when she gets too close to people, she starts experiencing them as separate from herself, rather than as a continuation of self, without barriers, so to speak. I prefer to keep others separate from myself, but for me this means not getting too close to them, for my own protection.

    Julie, you spoke of attachment and obligation; perhaps obligations, performed of free will, are a means of weaving attachment and social harmony? While I don't think we need to keep strict accountings, I find that I am often left feeling lonely, hungry, and cold, within my marriage. My spouse, as I've mentioned before, is Aspergian, and they are, in my opinion, emotionally colour-blind. He really likes it when I do things like phone him on a morning when he's starting a workshop (he gets really stressed-out when he has to teach), to wish him well, yet he never thinks to do this for me when I'm about to do something he knows I'm scared of. Whether I am drowning in grief, or elated, he will ignore it as long as possible, then verbally shrug it/me off as if I were a pesky fly. He has, however, said how much he appreciated the physical, mental, and emotional support I provided when his father was dying, and after the death. This has been very much HIS apartment and HIS garden, which has left me feeling like a cross between a lodger and a peon. Surely there is room for some healthy interdependence, some nurturing, some kindness, while maintaining our unique individual selves?

    Obviously there's some very gristly material here that needs a lot of chewing!

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  11. Suz, I recently read a terrific book that's on the New York Times bestseller list called Journal of Best Practices by David Finch. He has Asperger's and decided to keep a journal for himself of things he should do with/for his wife that he wouldn't normally think of doing because of his syndrome. Here's the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Journal-Best-Practices-Marriage/dp/1439189714/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346024508&sr=8-1&keywords=journal+of+best+practices+by+david+finch
    It was very helpful in understanding the actual differences in processing styles between someone with Asperger's and someone who does not. My 14 year old nephew has Asperger's and has such difficulty in understanding social cues and common behavioral responses that most of us take for granted. After reading the book, I swear, I wondered if I had some Aspergian tendencies too!

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    1. Thanks, Pam! I'll get the book and ask my spouse to read it.

      Asperger's is definitely a different way of viewing the world. My spouse's mother is almost certainly Aspergian, as she has all the same characteristics as my husband. My spouse is very selfish as well as Aspergian, and will never ever admit that he's in error. He usually just goes silent.

      Oops, gotta run; school yells!

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    2. Heh! I KNOW that guy. In the past, I believe they were called "Pixie Children" because of their sweet pixie-like features. My husband doesn't even LOOK like his other siblings. An earmark of them was that they seemed to have had no conscience. They were unable to read facial expressions or connect with the emotions of others. And they were highly stressed.

      My husband makes a lot of "moral rules" for himself that he never follows and the blame for this always falls upon someone else. (me.) He has never apologized in his life. No matter what I think I am talking about, he thinks I said something else. It's like the Twilight Zone. Before we married, his MOM told me that he would be stingy and selfish and mean--but I didn't believe her. His friends warned me also. What a dummy I have been.

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    3. Yikes - "seemed to have no conscience." I can relate to that - I was thinking of it as "no sense of honour or duty." Definitely emotionally stingy, selfish with time, not often actually mean, but often thoughtless and careless of the feelings of others.

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    4. I started to read the book "Journal of Best Practices", and am hovering between hysterical laughter and hysterical tears! Here's what the author says of himself:
      "persistent, intense preoccupations
      unusual rituals and behaviors
      impaired social-reasoning abilities
      clinical-strength egocentricity. All of which I have to an almost comically high degree."

      That's putting it MILDLY. And right now I don't know if I have even a smidgen of desire to try again - because I don't believe that my spouse has even a smidgen of desire to change. The way we live meets just about all of his needs, and I frankly don't think he loves/values me above his personal comfort.

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  12. Oh Suzi,I crash too. You are right, of course. Obligations performed out of generous free will are what real friendship is all about. However, the friendships I have had around here have seemed to hang upon the thread of ME doing something for someone that I am not even capable of. What I offer to do is not wanted. It is a mismatch. It seems we could still be friends if only there were no DEMANDS. I never ask for favors yet we cannot be friends unless I change myself over and do everything my "friend" wants. This is not a friendship, in my opinion. All of us have met people who suck the life out of us. I married one.

    I also feel like a cross between a lodger and a peon. You put that so well. I have an entirely too accommodating person and people pick up on that sort of thing in the same way that you experience the thoughts and emotions that others have. It is the same thing in reverse. I wonder if you have ever considered that your gift of empathy makes you transparent to others? While we all find your transparency refreshing and love you for it, there are those who certainly use it to take advantage of you. I am always shocked with myself when I realize that someone has used my good nature as a weapon against me--like: that dude knew just what to say to get me to do what he wanted--and I have gone to my own destruction smiling all the way. I am speaking here, of course, of my marriage. But if I were to "toughen up" I think I would become as cynical and bitter as he is. I would be myself no longer. No more smile.

    There are still women who were made to thrive within a good marriage, Who are not really equipped for the market place or for doing it all. Look at our Diana, how she blossoms. What a gift she is to so many because she has been nurtured by a fine man. I tremble to think what would have become of her if she had married who I did. Some of us here are Dianas too. Much of what we're discussing here really applies to the ultimate friendship of marriage. x My love you you, and my prayers, Suzi

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    1. You summed it up well, Ruth: "Much of what we're discussing here really applies to the ultimate friendship of marriage."

      Most of us need to look towards many people to each supply a part of what the Lorences have together.

      I wonder if I would want so much "me" time in my relationship if there was a better fit.

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    2. I just wanted to add: I am not sure I can sustain the amount of conversation with my husband that the Lorences do. It all sounds lovely in theory, but then I would find myself getting annoyed because my husband, who has an enviable memory and the desire to learn about everything, is often too quick to share and the conversation can often turn into a one-way college lecture .. it is frustrating to have a conversation with someone who's nickname is "know-it-all smartypants" :) (He is aware of this name and I am not the first one in the family to use it!) I am very open to learning.. but conversing with someone who has a little more humility would make the whole experience more enjoyable. I believe this is one of the reasons the Lorences are so successful at the art of Conversation.

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    3. Geez, I don't sound very hospitable, do I? And yet, people are drawn to me to be their sounding board (probably because they get to do most of the talking!) so I must mask it pretty well, I guess.

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    4. You're right, Julie, about the transparency! I'm very much better now at simply saying, No, I don't have the time; My energy levels are too low for me to take that on; Hmm, I don't think I want to do that; I have some doubts about the ethicality of lending you my notes! I've found that there are many fewer demands/requests.

      I totally get what you're saying about what you want to give not being on other people's wish lists, as they have preformed demands. I've boiled with inner resentment over both the demand that I pour myself into that mould, and over my weak-kneed pouring of myself! As you say, smiling all the way to destruction. It's been very difficult to get out of that habit and it would be dreadfully easy to slip back in.

      When I married my spouse, I had completely misread most of the signals, and it seems he misread mine. I said loudly and clearly, and even in writing, that what I wanted for our relationship was that both of us should be equal partners in a partnership of equals. I said I did not want to be a housewife or a traditional wife, as I'd done that and it sucked, bigtime. It took me 10 years to finally get onto my hind legs and start asserting myself. It took another 2 years for me to start stopping doing the things I said I wasn't going to and didn't want to! It meant lowering my standards and expectations to vanishing point...and that in itself is still a sore point in my heart. Sure, having no expectations cuts the disappointment factor, but I still have very valid needs and those go, often, unfulfilled because I can't do these nurturing things for myself. I don't think I'm a bottomless pit or unreasonably demanding! My daughter and sister, and a couple of friends, provide my emotional support and validation, so I no longer feel totally isolated and useless. Alack, they live far away, and sometimes I'd like some skin time, so to speak, rather than a face on Skype or kind words on my computer screen.

      What you say about the ultimate friendship of marriage is something wonderful and desirable. Being alone together, or living parallel lives under the same roof, just doesn't quite hit the spot.

      Love and prayers to you, dear Julie.

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    5. I have a wonderful husband, but I can really relate to what you're saying here Suzanne about needs and to you Leah: ("my husband, who has an enviable memory and the desire to learn about everything, is often too quick to share and the conversation can often turn into a one-way college lecture ") I'm starting to realise the things I do to defeat my own goals and see small signs of change though. It sounds a nightmare to live with someone with Asperges: tough one.

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  13. Such a lot of wonderful and thought-provoking comments.

    I like to try to meet friends and family without too much thought of our shared past so that I am totally present with who they are in that moment.

    Julie and Sherry, I too agree that we never really own things.

    Julie it's lovely that you mentioned Diana saying that "she is ALL FOR everyone in the world living the way they want to live, but that SHE would live as she wanted also." I think of this surprisingly often; it's so empowering. I find it all too easy to lose myself when around other people, so solitude is my friend and restorer.

    Well, it's getting late here on the east cost, so my wish for all is,

    "May this new night of rest
    Repair the wear of time
    And restore youth of heart
    For the adventure
    That awaits tomorrow."

    (John O'Donohue in To Bless the Space Between Us)

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    1. A beautiful piece, Celeste. Thank you.

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  14. Now, I think that all I really needed to say is that I have been in dire need of real Conversation. This circle of hospitality, this Conversation is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. I love it here. Thank you for your friendship, everyone.

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