"I am a permeable membrane. If I love you, you can have everything. You can have my time, my devotion, my money, my family, my dog, my dog’s money, my dog’s time –everything. If I love you, I will protect you from your own insecurity. I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you never actually cultivated in yourself. I will give you the sun and the moon and if they are not available I will give you a sun check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more until I am exhausted and depleted." -Eat, Pray, Love
I read Eat, Pray, Love this summer and loved it. When I came across this quote I had to go back and read it at least 5 times. That’s me. Or was me, I should say.
I’ll go ahead and be super candid with you for a moment. I have an interesting dating history. It hasn't necessarily included many people, but it's...interesting. When I think about it too much it starts to become a movie I saw, but no. It's mine.
There was this boy. For dignity sake, let’s call him Dave. I was in love with Dave from the time I knew how to comprehend that it was possible for a girl to like a boy, there isn't really a time I can remember not loving him. As time went on, this “infatuation” grew, and I found myself actually in love with a boy who I knew would most likely never see me as more then a girl he’s know since he was in diapers.
For some reason, I gave Dave my heart, regardless of if he wanted it or not. I can look back on this now and see that it was absolutely God’s way of protecting my heart from the otherwise destructive and straight up awful dating decisions I was making at the time. But I was in love (My best friend Ashley is probably laughing so hard she can barely stand it right now). Completely consumed by the idea of spending the rest of my life with Dave, I was more then willing to give him everything and anything at the drop of a hat. Not healthy.
But this was the idea of love that I grew up with, loving Dave. That love meant being the permeable membrane, giving that someone all of you. I was willing to become whatever I needed to become in order for Dave to finally look at me the way I was wishing him to. I was addicted not only to being in love, but I was addicted to the person I was in love with. It never clicked for me that retaining who you are and not becoming a doormat are vital to the phenomenon that is love. (Sidenote: my parents gave me incredibly examples of what it meant to love someone, both by loving each other and by loving me. I, apparently, just decided to ignore it.)
I eventually grew up and out of love with Dave, although he is a friend I still cherish, and I am thankful for the role he played in unknowingly protecting my heart. But I still had this warped view of what love was, completely void of boundaries and self-preservation. This distorted definition of love found its way into my friendships. I am a friend built for the ages. My ability to be a friend is something I actually pride myself in, and that I know I tend to do quite well (not perfectly, by any means). But even when you're being a great friend to someone, you've still got to have boundaries, dangit! If you don't, you find yourself contorted into this uncomfortable position that isn't you and it hurts and you're confused on how you got there. You trust people indefinitely with no measure of when it stops. You watch people stab you in the back, you pull out the knife, give it back, and smilingly say "please sir, I'd like some more".
After a while, I fell in love with someone who actually loved me back. And it was wonderous. At first. Without going through the ins and outs of it all, things went sour. I became an addict again. He had his own crap. I got bitter, he got bitter, and I had, yet again, become the permeable membrane.
Insert breakup here.
In the two months following our breakup, I experienced the closeness of God like I had never thought possible (I think it's pretty evident by the blog entries in that period of time from June to August, if you're interested). I finally let Jesus start to redefine love by His standards. That yes, love is patient, but it's not a doormat. Yes, love is not proud, but it's got some self-worth, for crying out loud. It was a lot of time just Jesus and me, and it rocked. He built me up in places that I desperately needed renovation, He tore down walls that prevented me from truly living, and He knocked me off my high horse about some things I was cockily sure that I had down pat.
Insert getting back together with ex-boyfriend here.
Life's so good with a restored interpretation of love. Life's good not being an addict anymore, because love's got it's own ups and downs, for sure. You actually have your own life and personality, fancy that! You stop defining yourself by the person you're dating or who's your bff, and you walk through life as your own being.
Now, instead of dragging each other back because we're hanging onto one another or we're bitter, I get to run the race next to the people in my life. I get to sprint full-force towards the glory of the Savior, hold my own, be only His, and I get to do it with the people I love right there with me, holding their own.
I am no longer the permeable membrane.
& I'm one step closer to being