Once upon a time, a long time ago, a very wise and dear friend said to me that the relationship you have with someone is the one you HAVE, not the one you wish you had, would like to build, hope to have one day, but the one you have RIGHT NOW. I think many of us tend to live in the future, and in our hopes and dreams (and who can blame us. sometimes whatever we’re dealing with right now is so tough that the only thing that gives us hope is dreaming that things will change and be different). This friend said it to me when I was dealing with a difficult relationship/marriage, and I kept thinking ”If Only” this or that would change, or if I just hung on a little longer, or if we just understood each other better, or if I could just be more patient or more what he wanted, or he what I wanted, then everything would work out fine and we’d have the relationship we wanted and felt we deserved, and had both been waiting for. And maybe sometimes that’s true, but she pointed out to me, that the difficult relationship we had was EXACTLY the one we’d had since the beginning, and none of our problems had changed. I was sure it would get better one day. And eventually, we both gave up, and you know what? She was absolutely right, the relationship I had with him was exactly the same from beginning to end. That was the relationship we had, and it was never good.
I still forget her wise advice sometimes and find myself fantasizing about people/men, that after things calm down in his life, or his children do x or y, or his ex wife or current wife turns into a different person, or he does… Or that people will become more compassionate or understanding about me. And then I remember my friend Julie’s words to me, about the relationship we have being the one we have in reality, not the one we wish for or think/hope it will become one day. Her words were a real dose of reality for me. And in fact, every difficult relationship I’ve ever had stayed the same (or got worse) for exactly the same reasons it didn’t work in the first place. Whatever those component parts are (or personality traits in one or both of you) that make it not work are the givens in the relationship and they don’t change. I have done some serious wishing and hoping in relationships, and sometimes hung on for years thinking things would improve, but in the end, when I walked away, or they did, we had the same inadequate dysfunctional relationship we had in the very beginning. It took me a long time to learn that lesson and realize how true Julie’s words were.
I haven’t thought about it in a while, or had reason to, and then today I remembered Julie’s words, not for a sad reason, but a pleasant one for a change. I was thinking about a dear friend whom I’ve enjoyed spending time with and what a great time we’ve had together, just doing fun things, shopping, eating, walking, cooking, talking, sharing views about life and the world, and what an enormous pleasure it has been every time we spend time together. And I suddenly realized that Julie’s words are apt not just for bad relationships, but for good ones, and maybe even for friendships as well as relationships of all kinds. The relationship you have with that person is the one you HAVE, not the one you wish for. It makes relationships in all forms a real gift. And what a joy to spend time with someone who likes you, respects you, enjoys you, admires you, just as you admire them and enjoy spending time with them. What a pleasure not to be picked on, criticized, pushed and pulled and ‘beaten up’ emotionally for everything they think you should be and they wish you were, but instead what a joy to be with someone who likes/ loves you just as you are, and you feel the same way about them. Whether it is a romantic relationship, a friendship, or a family relationship, I can’t think of anything better. So as I thought about it, I was reminded today that the relationship you have with someone is truly the one you have. And with luck, that relationship is just the way you both want it to be. What a gift!!! Thinking about it today made me grateful to my wise friend Julie yet again. Her words to me were an enormous gift.