Grateful for Grace

Words, searching for words. Take time and space.
Words, finding the right words. Thank you for asking.
Words, trapped by words. Let us be free.
Words, always the wrong words. For next time; hope.

Living alone has taught me many things, and I am writing another “On such and such thought from Bangkok” post, about privilege, luxury, aesthetics, loneliness, trying to be ordinary in a world that demands exceptionalism. But today I want to write down thanks for the grace of the people in my life.

There are many ways to live life, to balance caring for the ones we love, and protecting ourselves. Some people cut their loses, and they are happier for it. I have no such strength, and can only sleep if I endure. Enduring is enough, usually; it moves people when they forget their own strength, and gives me a sense of motion when I am thoroughly stuck. It has shaped so many of my relationships with imperfect people, myself included. But it’s a fine line, between the light touch of holding space for someone to walk their own path knowing they have safety to fall back into, and the heavy hand of imposing one’s will onto other to live out my own dreams. I like to think I know how to walk this line, but that’s just wishful thinking. If I am honest, I cross this line more often than I care to admit, and am apt to carry on like a petulant child, with the self-righteousness of a rich white man donating some petty portion of his slave-powered wealth, then expecting a standing ovation for mostly selfish actions to assuage my guilt. Enduring is a selfish way of hurting, of denying disappointment; it’s stubbornness of the most annoying variety. No one wants to be the villain in their own stories, so we say sorry for ourselves and politely demand forgiveness. No one wants an unflattering version of themselves living the memories of people we once cherished, so we rewrite the stories and demand validation of this sanitised truth. People call this strength and maturity, or taking control of one’s life; but it is the exact opposite.

I am lucky, that when I love, the people around me are usually better for it; but those victories are not mine to keep, nor are the failures mine to bear. I am still learning to separating the sincere wishes from the selfish insistences – to hold in the unkind, to let those desires live and die inside of me; whilst giving voice and flight to my sincerity, to allow myself to care as my heart was born to do and has been taught to do. I won’t stop caring to save myself, and I hope I will never decide someone unworthy of my care; though I must recognise when I am powerless to express that affection. Luckily, I have friends and family who believe in my goodness, who let me cry out my frustrations at stupid hours of the morning, who don’t hold my imperfect words against me. I am grateful that I have friends who struggle with the same desires to love and to care, without tying their selves to the consequences of showing love and loyalty. I could not be who I am today, if I did not have them to inspire me.

There are many times where I have been shamed for caring, where I have been told that my disappointments are of my own creation, that I should not have invested myself so much. These are expressions of love, desires to protect me from the caprice of the world, sincere wishes that I should not have to endure unnecessary hurt. They are carefully crafted letters of care from people who have made islands of themselves – people I cherish, but cannot fully understand; people who refuse to feel anger, to indulge in passion, to remain connected with mortal struggles, who strive to be above and outside the “trivialities” of the human experience. But, I refuse to accept that we should live as islands, even if we must accept that we are thoroughly alone in this world; that relying on friends and family can only lead to weakness and derision, even if these crossings of fate lead to heartbreaks more vivid than we alone could imagine; that we should keep ourselves small by avoiding the burdens of compassion and unselfish love, even if I risk being crushed. I am growing stronger, wiser, and more humble each day, pushing the limits of what I am capable of giving; and I am eternally grateful that I can retreat into the love of my friends and family when I stretch myself too far, or just make a proper mess of things.

To everyone who has been there for me, who has loved me despite me, who believes in second chances, who trusts I am better than my worst days, thank you. I hope I have been able to return your grace in some small measure; but if I have failed, please take what you need and leave the disappointments to be buried with time. xx

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