One of the biggest questions I have asked myself over the years is what’s most important to me in my relationships, whether it’s with a partner or with friends. A long time ago that answer would have resided on the physical level, all because of addiction still running my life at the time. These days, not so much. What’s most important to me now resides more on the emotional level and most specifically, it’s to be heard, accepted, and unconditionally loved.
I used to ONLY look for partnerships and friendships with those I had serious attraction to. In all honesty, my whole world was once built upon nothing but physical attraction. What that translated to was that if I didn’t find you attractive, I tended not to see you. I feel very different from that nowadays. While I do have a partner and some friends whom I find attractive, I don’t specifically look for only that anymore. What I seek now are people I can connect with on an emotional level, because it’s the very thing I never had much of growing up.
Growing up, I wanted my parents to listen to me, especially on those difficult days. But my Dad was always so busy with work and my mother always so busy with her drinking that I really don’t remember ever having a healthy conversation with either where I truly felt heard, accepted, and unconditionally loved. The only person who ever took the time to really listen to me as a kid was a man with a hidden agenda that eventually molested me. Therefore, it’s an amazing blessing to me today when someone asks me what’s going on in my life and then truly listens to what I share, where when the sharing is done, I feel supported in just being simply heard.
This is precisely why I feel now that one of the best gifts anyone can offer me, partner, friend, or otherwise, is that of listening and offering non-judgmental love and non-biased support. Sometimes all a person really wants in life is just to have someone listen to them. Most people don’t know how to do this. They listen with judgment, thinking of what they need to offer as advice, tending to listen with a biased ear and using things like the Internet to find answers and solutions, hoping to fix the other person’s stuff, when sometimes the best level of support for anyone is just to listen, offering nothing, except silence and maybe words of encouragement afterwards, such as “I appreciate you sharing this with me and I love you.” It’s what I long for in my relationship with my partner and in each of my friendships as well, and it’s what I strive for personally in how I am with others too.
Presently, most of my sharing with others is about the brokenness I continue to face with my health and how frustrating my life has become because of it. Most don’t know how to handle this and get frustrated hearing me constantly talk about it when they ask how I’m doing. It’s why I sometimes I just say all’s good now and listen to them instead about what’s going on in their life. Because when I tend to share about what I’m going through for the millionth time, most end up judging me that I’m not doing enough, that I’m wallowing in my pain with self-pity, that there’s others worse off out there, and that they have a solution I should try. None of this ever makes me feel better. All of that reminds me of how it was as a kid. My friend Cedric is the only one in my life who really does an incredible job listening without bias and judgment and I always feel so much better after receiving his unconditional love through that. I have no idea how long my suffering will last and I’m doing my best to work through it and accept it, which is why having people in my life to listen to my pain, even if it’s all I have to share, means more to me than anyone will ever know.
So, what’s most important to me today in all my relationships? It’s to develop emotional connections with others, where I’m heard, loved, and accepted, just as I am, where I’m not given advice or guidance, or judged after sharing, and where the only thing that matters afterwards is letting each other know how much they’re loved unconditionally, including all flaws and imperfections, and everything in between.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson