Sunday, January 25, 2009

Love and Money- The Real Connection

Love love love. Why is everyone around me talking about love? Falling in love, staying in love, figuring out if it is really love, love and sex, sex and no is on the tip of everyone's tongues. That and the economy. Is it because they are both a gamble? Unpredictable, maybe unstable. When it's good, ohhh, it's good. When it's bad, oh damn, that shit will break you if you ain't careful. Both can be quite the ride. And I think in both cases, in the end, we want something that will last. Sure, the roller coaster can be great...exciting, new, butterflies in abundance. But it can also be devastating when and if it falls apart and the instability of the ride can shake everything else in your life up. Literally, it can be almost impossible to hold everything else in tact when love or money falls apart. I have done the unstable tract for both. I've waited tables and watched each night on the floor turn into a guessing game of who was going to actually tip me or how many tables I would get, heart racing in hopes that I'd make enough to cover the rent. I have dated the ever so mysterious or commitment phobic or just plain tortured soul who could give me a taste of what I wanted, but in the end never really put himself out there so I never really had something I could count on and have mutual love. Mutual respect. This is true in love and work- without mutual respect, the relationship is doomed and it's only a matter of time for things to fall apart.

Having experienced bad versions of both, what have I learned? Well, for starters, I am too old for bullshit. In the case of love and work (money), I don't like to be deceived, I don't like things sugar coated, I don't like be taken for granted. I'm a valuable commodity and therefore should be treated as such. I have a lot to offer, I have a lot to give. I should not only be giving, but getting my needs met in return. Whether it is a job interview, an audition, or a first date, we so often forget that in the midst of selling our strong suits, we should also be carefully deciding if the potential employer or lover is really a fit for us. We sometimes fail to ask the tough questions and really examine if this going to be good fit over time. Yes, it is true that sometimes we just want a part-time job or a part-time, short-term love. Nothing wrong with that if indeed that is what you want and need at the time. But if you really want a fit that is going to feed you in the most important way of all, that being your spirit, you need to start from a place of self-love.

If you come from a place of self-love, you have standards. You command self-respect. You have values and boundaries and will be damned if anyone is going to cross them or step on your toes. You can't fathom working for a boss who will continually make you work overtime and miss out on family vacations and holidays. You can't be with a lover who never says thank you, who tries to play you, who takes your love and manipulates you because they know you really care. You can't and won't work for or love anyone who doesn't see you as the beautiful soul that you are, who doesn't see your talents, your heart, and applaud them. You know that although the other party is important and valuable, without you there would be no them. The nature of relationship is partnership. One person can not be in charge of holding it down alone.
Have I allowed myself to be disrespected? Yes. I have done things in the name of money and love that I nod my head at in disbelief. I can remember working 2 waitressing jobs and teaching to make ends meet, and I can still remember coming into work at one of my waitressing jobs with fear in my stomach each and every time because I knew my boss was going to pick me apart the entire evening. But I needed money. What I really needed was a little more self-love. As for love, well, I got stories for days. One of my failed attempts was with a man who just kept saying he wasn't ready, wasn't ready, then starting dating someone else and me at the same time, and just kept saying he needed to figure it out..a little more time please? And I gave him time, about a year that I can't ever get back, and all the love this little heart of mine could give. I don't blame him for taking my love. I don't blame my employer for keeping me on. Why would they give up a good thing? In both situations, I lowered by standards, I did not respect myself, I did not practice self-love. I was just focused on what I thought they could give me. One could give me love. One could give me money. If I just did it right, whatever it was, I thought I could get the prize. Somehow I forgot that I was a prize to be had and if I couldn't get my needs met with them, I could take this 5'3" prize somewhere else and make it happen.

I compromised too much and in the end I was left with nothing. The employer eventually let me go just a handful of hours before my next shift because of my "schedule" constraints- the truth was that there were girls there who were sleeping with the managers and got moved up, got my old shifts. When I finally had enough and asked him where things were really going, the lover eventually told me that he valued the other woman's feelings more than mine, that he had more "allegiance" to her, and that he still hadn't decided if he wanted to be with me or her yet...maybe he would know more in 6 months time when she moved back into town. Wow. What a slap in the face. Wait another 6 months for a guy who had that little regard for me? No way.

In the end, I'm glad I had those experiences, the times that I let my boundaries be stomped on, my heart get broken, and my spirit get beaten because I came out much stronger. I now know the difference between a relationship that honors you, makes you better, challenges you and one that sucks you dry. This is true in love and work. I also learned that eventually, what is not serving you will fall away. You can only ignore the writing on the wall for so long. You might stay put out of fear, but eventually, if you don't make a move, the Universe will gently or not so gently push you on and out. This might mean you get laid off, fired, dumped, cheated on and catch the individual red handed. This might most likely cause you to lose your head for a moment, cry, scream, or get numb. But hopefully sooner than later, you will see that this was how it had to be to lead you to something or someone better. If you are not being respected and if you are not practicing self-love, your situation cannot go on as it is. Something has to change or someone has to walk away. What lies in darkness must come to light. Never fails.

I am unfortunately watching folks around me lose their jobs. I am watching relationships break apart. I might lose my job as well, and my last real attempt at love was a messy disaster. But what are we all doing? We are keeping our options open. We are opening our eyes to the possibilities in front of us. We are in full acknowledgement that, although it is scary and unstable, a new path is far better than a beaten one straight to nowhere or one filled with resentment and sadness. I find that exciting. I find that empowering. I am free to love and work and play. I am free to honor myself. As for love, well, who knows when I will I find someone who can match me and love me in just the way I have longed for. I remain hopeful, I believe in love, and have had some great experiences to show me love's potential. And at least I know that for now, when I crawl under the covers and I fall asleep alone, I am resting in the company of one who has a big, loving heart, who knows how to give freely, who can give and command mad respect, because for the first time in a long time, I know myself again, I got my priorities straight, and this makes for a restful slumber. The empty spot next to me is once again a highly coveted place.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh I love this post, and your whole blog!! I'm going to re-read this many times :)