So a little over a year ago, I began composing a list of "requirements" for a potential romantic partner. A reminder, before putting on the hormone-goggles, of what is important to me in a relationship and in a person I want to share even just a part of my life with.
The good news - and not the subject of this blog post - is that my new love not only meets, but she exceeds these requirements. By far! In fact, every once in awhile she'll do something surprising that makes me say, "Y'know, that should have been on my list, too..."
But she is not what this post is about.
The list was a combination of practical matters, values, and attitudes towards life. In hindsight some of the "practical matters" were really just examples of a larger quality - an ability to be flexible, for example, rather than rigid specific requirements in and of themselves.
But one of the qualities I am beginning to realize I need from more than just my romantic partner.
I recognize we all feel blue sometimes - I felt depressed for a considerable amount of the last three and a half years - and we all have things that don't go the way that we'd like. We all have room for complaint. But what I need in my life, and need to surround myself, are people who have room for happiness. This doesn't mean someone who is bubbly and happy all the time - because let's face it, often those people we want to shoot* - but someone who despite everything that might seem to go wrong, will still allow themselves to be happy. To recognize life's blessings and be grateful for what he or she has and not simply what might seem to be missing.
I want the people I care about to experience happiness - I want them to just be happy - but I recognize that while I can make someone happy (for a moment), as a general rule, I can't if they won't allow themselves to be. I spent too much time and energy trying to create an environment in which the ex-wife could feel happy and secure, but it never worked because she wouldn't allow herself to be happy.
The great news is that my new love allows herself to be happy. In fact she's currently one of those bubbly people who is happy all the time! And I love that about her. It isn't that her life is perfect - from an objective standpoint, it's not, she has challenges - but she is happy with what she has, and that makes it perfect. I am very blessed. Having someone to share my life with who can allow themselves to be happy is essential for me.
And now, I have come to realize, it is essential to me for more than just my romantic partner. It is also important for me to see and have in the people with whom I surround myself. You can whine, you can cry on my shoulder, you can be having a crappy time of it in life and tell me about it. But if you can't also accept the inverse, the possibility of being happy, the possibility of being blessed, of noticing that the cup isn't JUST half empty, then I am going to start to keep my distance from you. I don't need you to be happy all the time. I don't need you to be happy. But I need you to recognize the possibility of happy - and if you can't, you have my compassion, you can have my time during crisis, but you can't have my continued presence on a regular basis in your life. I need more from you. You should want more for you. And until then... I wish you only the best.
If I were to have a resolution, I guess, for the New Year, this would be it.. to surround myself with people who allow for the possibility of being happy.
* I admit in light of current events, this is perhaps not the most sensitive expression, and yet... I mean it is as an expression, not as any literal desire or interest in TRULY ...