We All Should Demand Vivaldi (or, How to Quit Someone)
“I’m afraid I can’t live without her.”
I’m not sure what my face looked like after I heard a friend say those words while she was stretched out on my couch, but I’m sure I had eyes the size of saucers and probably shoved a crunchy/salty snack in my pie-hole so I wouldn’t scream something like, “THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU.”
Once composure again befell my overly fabulous self, I felt something like, “Shit man...I know that feeling…” escape my lips. That’s all there really is to say. We’ve all been there.
I know the pain of feeling like I couldn’t possibly live without something. Shedding an addiction is hard and it actually hurts sometimes.
But it’s the Someones that hurt more.
Well, I say that...I guess I don’t know if Someones hurt more than quitting anything else. I’ve never been addicted to drugs.
I’ve never even tried #drugs, mom, put your phone down and stop texting me.
Also, don’t text me and ask me what a hashtag is.
It’s also not drugs.
I just mean that I have had many addictions: Netflix, my thoughts, superstitions, sugar, booze (in many ways we consider “normal”), DeFazio’s pepperoni pizza, DeFazio’s pistachio gelato, washing my hands during flu season, DDR, Gal Gadot, the smell of frankincense around Christmas, memes, Chinese food in general, and people.
People. Someones. They’re the worst.
It’s too depressing to reflect on the innumerable occasions when I’ve been in a relationship with someone and the other person didn’t know (#TheStruggle), so - stay with me here - let’s talk about classical music, shall we?
This is where Vivaldi comes in, stage left.
See the thing is, music, especially from composers like Vivaldi, has a way of articulating emotions for me when I don’t have the words or the energy to do anything other than breathe.
Vivaldi, by the way, is exactly what I now demand out of the people in my life. Let me explain:
So say you meet someone.
(Picture it...Sicily, 1922…)
And although you’ve known them for a scalding hot minute, you’re sort of surprised by how it seems that they’ve been there all along. They sort of just fit in a place in your little cold, black heart that you didn’t know had been vacant. Or at least they fit into the second place in your most recent calls. It’s weird how that happens. You wake up one day, and boom, there you are looking at someone you barely know, but somehow, weirdly, seem to have had a love for your whole life. Humph.
This is where you should start asking some questions. Are they an amazingly constructed Vivaldi movement, or are they a Toby Keith song? Not that there’s anything wrong with Toby Keith, but which one is going to last a lifetime?
If you’re like me (and I can almost guarantee, in this case, you’re not) you’ve found that you can only describe this person as the most perfect rendition of Vivaldi’s Siciliano in D Minor.
They’re deep and complex and sweet and sad and romantic and moody and full of a well masked passion heard through a thinly veiled longing.
Some movements and the people they resemble are just simple in their beauty, aren’t they? The organization of their notes gives an intense delivery to keep the illusion up that the torrent river of chaotic emotions is well controlled. With the main aspects of their personalities, like the violin in Siciliano, so obvious with intentional isolation, so fiercely and stubbornly independent, leaving the accompaniment sounding like it’s almost struggling to keep up.
This person of yours, like Vivaldi’s movement is honest and straightforward in that, although complex, it’s not necessarily complicated. It is exactly what it presents itself to be. Always.
You knew when you turned on your little ePod shuffle exactly what you were getting yourself into. Vivaldi has been telling us what his movements are all about since Christ had Moon Boots.
Now granted, the piece that perfectly describes said person may not be what they want to be. They probably want to be Concerto for Strings and Continuo in D Minor, RV 128: I. Largo. Or, God help them, The Four Seasons: Concerto No. 1 in E “Spring”: II. Largo e pianissimo sempre.
Of course they do. We all do, obviously.
<Congratulations, you made it through the part that doesn’t make sense.>
The point really is that like when I listen to Vivaldi’s compositions, no matter how far off the page he goes, no matter how many times he insists on writing concertos for the freaking flute (God I hate the flute), there’s a comfort that I know exactly where he’ll land. The movement/piece/f-ing song always ends up exactly where it needs to be.
It’s something to do with The Circle of Fifths, and no one really understands what that is, so it doesn't matter.
What matters is that in music, especially Vivaldi, we have faith that there will be a resolution - a peace, if you will - by the end. We can go on this wild ride and have all the feels, but we know that even in the 1700s Homie-V could sense that we’d be laying in bed with a cup of tea (read: half of a DeFazio’s hangover cake) and need to sort out our emotions through a gaggle of violins and a harpsichord. And that by the end we’ll need to feel all of the notes make sense.
The beautiful and complex and weirdly satisfying relationship you have with Vivaldi’s movement is as hard to understand and as frustrating at times as reading this stupid blog. They might not hear what we do, and they may not be ready to move on to the next movement. But that’s not the point. Your attention and effort is well placed because you’ll know it’ll all iron itself out in the end.
The question becomes whether you’re addicted to someone who is more like a bad country song than Vivaldi. But even if just being near them may be eroding your insides like you’ve eaten a big handful of glass shards, eventually there will be peace. The trick is to break the habit of them.
And habits are just thoughts.
Gurrrrrllllll I know all about how to break that like I’m takin’ a break with a big ol’ Kit Kat bar.
I think it’s safe to say that as addicted as I have been to my thoughts, and felt like I’d be lost without them, the bigger issue was that I didn’t want to be left alone with them.
Being alone with yourself is terrifying. It’s not loneliness or being alone itself, it’s the thoughts that get ya.
It’s an itchiness.
For a lot of us it’s an overwhelming feeling of isolation, and it’s really worrisome. It’s like FOMO on the growth hormones baseball players say they don’t use.
There are some of us, though, that have this overwhelming feeling of abandonment when we’re alone with ourselves. Feeling abandoned is one of those things that is almost indescribably painful, isn’t it? There are few experiences in life that can leave us feeling simultaneously hollow and overflowing with a sadness that makes us ache all over.
We may say we like being alone because we get frustrated and disappointed easily (and don’t forget about those twenty-year-old trust issues), but when push comes to shove we find ourselves clinging tighter than ever to the Someones that have perpetuated the addiction loop.
When it comes to kicking a person as a habit, there are some things to remember. Safety first.
First thing to remember is that sometimes it’s easier when the other person is objectively awful. Sometimes we stay with them anyway.
Sometimes it takes really understanding that someone may be doing the best they can with what they have, and it still may not be enough. They may say they love you, you might even believe it, but they simply might not be able to give you the things you need.
And that’s ok.
And that’s hard.
The second thing to remember is the difference between unconditional love and unboundaried love. They are not the same thing.
<Look it. I know I’m really pushing it with you today, but just stay with me because I’ve made this up and I am significantly under qualified to make such declarations, but I sort of feel like I’m on to something.>
So, unconditional love looks something like helping out when when someone has screwed up. We can dust them off, prop them up, and maybe give them a sandwich. We don’t have conditions to our love, but there may also be times when we need to set boundaries. “Ya done screwed up again, Mavis, I love you, and you don’t need to be better for me to love you...but I also can’t allow you to keep doing what you’re doing without a consequence.”
This happened when my niece Zoie at the last bite of cotton candy at Disney on Ice. I love her without hesitation or condition, but she’s going to be sold on the black market if she ever does that again.
Unboundaried love is a horse of a different color entirely. That is when you would give the shirt off your back - you’d give all of your money and time and energy and love to another without any room for your limits or emotional well-being….but there are conditions. That’s when you’d buy Mavis a refrigerator just because she mentioned in passing that she wanted a bigger one, but she freaking better hire a skywriter declaring her love for you, or else. (<-----things I have actually done in a former life. Sorry, Shel.)
Unboundaried love is Catholic grandma guilt.
Unboundaried love is one where our words and actions have a motive and an agenda. It’s less than wholehearted. It usually feels gross. It’s the kind of love that keeps us looking at our phone waiting to hear what an amazing person we are. This is the addicting stuff. A hit of that affirmation is all it takes to keep us going...and the crash from not being validated is a steep and painful fall.
So ask yourself this: is your Someone giving you their unconditional love, or their unboundaried love?
Which one are you giving them?
Maybe part of the problem is that the person you’re addicted to is looking at you like you’re some prize to be won. That you’re a thing to be had. A trophy after all of the effort and pain they think they’ve sacrificed and been burdened by. They will do anything to get you to stay, but it better be worth it in the end.
Is that love? Or is it a fear of losing their addiction too?
What if it could be easier? What if the fall from the crumbling edge you are so desperately holding on to with your fingernails wasn’t as bad as you think? Or what if it is, but you could get up faster than you believed?
What I told you that it was ok that you want to laugh more? What if you could live with ease knowing that you could depend on someone for once? What if I told you that you deserved having someone who made you want to be a better version of yourself?
What if I gave you the permission to stop looking at the end of your weird codependency (read: relationship) as a failure. That’s what we all think when a relationship ends, isn’t it? That we failed? And, damn it, we’re Americans. We don’t *do* failure. Shit, even in school if we bombed a test, we were taught to ask for extra credit or somehow beg for a different grade. There’s no room to learn from failing. There is absolutely no allowance to see the end of something as the springboard into growth.
We hoard our relationships like we hoard all the other crap in our lives. We’re consumed with having the newest and best, but terrified to let go of the used and worn.
If you think I’m talking to you, I am, by the way. And I’ve actually been talking to myself this whole time (as one does).
We question ourselves right back into the unhealthy Someone over and over again. We just need to be sure that we didn’t cause the problem. That we didn’t let them, or our families, down.
We question whether we gave the Someone all we could. And whether we didn’t just fail at a relationship, that we failed the person - that we failed at commitment.
Now that I’ve confused us all, and sort of berated us for just living our damn lives, what do we do?
The next right thing.
That’s what Glennon Doyle Melton calls it (she’s so great, read everything she’s ever written).
Just wake up, ignore the intrusive and racing thoughts, because they’re going to be there whether you asked them to hang around or not, and put on your little boxer briefs, and brush your teeth.
Just the next right thing.
Sometimes the next right thing is not pretty. Sometimes it’s really messy. And sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error. Sometimes that trial and error are other Someones until you find all the things you deserve all wrapped up in one Someone.
That’s when Someone becomes your Person.
But the first thing you need to do is stop “What if’fing” all over the place, and just do the one next right thing, and then demand that your next Someone is a little more Vivaldi-esque.
You can do this, man. Look at all of the hard things you’ve done. You’ve just read over 2,300 words. That’s something. Thank you for your service.
So...what’s your next right thing?