There's talk about that unicorn of emotions- that almost mythical-seeming spark that happens and connects us immediately with someone to a depth and intensity that others may not comprehend and that you certainly don't expect, since it rarely happens and since when it does you feel so excited you don't even know what to do with what you've found or how to function so that you can somehow make sure that you don't ever have to go without the amazing rush that comes over you when you are together.
It's that electric jolt that throws you literally off your feet sometimes, with giddiness and amazement, and makes you want to get closer and closer and learn everything you can about this new and rare creature. It can make you do things you never imagined- give you strength and newfound self-confidence, and cause you to laugh uncontrollably or stay up for days at a time without sleep just so you can absorb everything about this other person and the connection you feel in your mind, through lengthy conversations with your new tribe mate or just staring at all wall trying to make sense of it all.
It has knocked me over when I least expected it, like seeing that spark in a new friend and connecting like lightning hit me during a hug in an elevator with someone who I never ever wanted to have to let go. It's grabbed me from across a room at a community gathering when my eyes saw someone I'd never seen before and I recognized the spark in theirs, and zapped me upside down and sideways while I was sitting back to back with someone in a restaurant whose spark had been driving me batty for years. Each one of these connections were a shock to my system In different ways. One of them made me literally unable to get out of bed for days while I pondered what to do with this new intense feeling. One had me risking my reputation and tore up my marriage and still never worked out as I hoped it might. And the other was the most incredible, but short, romance story that keeps me warm inside when I'm struggling to deal with real life and I replay it often in my head for selfish entertainment when I need it most. Each one made me richer. (And each one eventually broke my heart into a zillion little pieces.)
Some people who have never experienced this depth of connection may think I just explained "falling in love," because our culture uses those intense descriptions for that scenario- connecting with someone and never letting them go. But this isn't just a love scenario- this is much more than that. Yes, there are immediate feelings of awe and attraction, but as it has been explained by psychologists and researcher, (and I've said myself in those few instances,) it's a connection at so many levels that others may never even comprehend. It's like finding water after crawling in a desert for years. It's like believing in Santa and the Easter Bunny and World Peace and all those fantastical things all over again, like you find that every amazing emotion and possibility you ever dreamed about is standing right there in the flesh. And then you get to revel in it, if only for a brief time.
A brief time? Yes, unfortunately sometimes (perhaps even every time...) those intense connections are doomed to only occur for short periods of time, spread out across the vast landscape of a gifted person's life. There are several reasons for this, that it's important we recognize them so that we don't fall into a trap that many do fall into- the trap of disappointment, disillusionment, and overwhelming sadness when we expect them to last forever and then we eventually have to go back to real life and we can't take them with us.
Whether the connection is a friendship or a romantic relationship, or some kind of blend between the two that's about to blow up into a full fledged love and burn you both up with it like a dragon, each of these rare and special situations has their own challenges alongside the wonderful emotions that envelop you in the beginning. In other words, nothing is perfect, and nothing lasts forever.
Sometimes these true peers can't possibly be our everything. And sometimes they seem to be, and then they aren't (which can be worse.)
Time and Distance
All the reasons we have to search for information about ourselves and this elusive notion of what gifted even means, are because we realize we are so different than others. Statistically, if giftedness occurs in only 3-5 percent of the whole population, finding someone you fit with at this level is even more rare when you add in all the different intensities and social quirks and our individual obsessive interests. So it's amazing to actually find someone whose traits so closely match yours. And this often does not happen in the same neighborhood, or same part of your city, or even possibly in your same state. So it is most likely that you will meet this amazing person who you never want to part from, and they will live hundred or thousands of miles away from you. This makes never parting a lot more difficult and adds to the roller coaster of emotions you are feeling.
I've spent many an hour contemplating moving to New Mexico where one of my amazing connections lives, and even planned some great trips to Kentucky and Washington State where my other former "true peer" type friends reside, all in the hopes of alleviating the empty feeling that seems even emptier after meeting someone who I thought filled my soul so completely.
But it isn't always possible. Knowing how busy my life is because of all the things I enjoy doing and learning and being and seeing, it is reasonable that the people I connect with at this kind of level are also very busy and lead active lives. No matter how many times you talk about how amazing your connection is and how much you want to see each other or tell each other everything about yourself and learn everything about them, it's likely someone is going to have to go do something other than concentrate solely on the other person at some point. And it's not always easy to keep those discussions going across all that distance, even if you can squeeze time in for visits on occasion. Life is busy, and friendships, even of that caliber, are hard to keep up. Think about how hard it is to schedule visits with your family members. It is even harder to find ways to schedule with another person who is just as busy and overcommitted as you are. You are both planets circling the sun at a high rate of speed, so finding a similar orbit is difficult.
I've spent many weeks and even months looking forward to a rare opportunity to see the few people I felt that connected to, and I was happy to see them when I could, but I was also heartbroken at how little time we actually could spend together. And when we finally had an incredible weekend of spending hours talking and laughing and hugging, real life seemed even more cruel when I had to jump back into the stream of obligations and promised engagements that I encounter each day.
And the issue of time expands into the concept of timing... Not every connection happens when it's feasible to see each other again at all, no matter how badly your heart aches to see them.
Even though it is likely you would move heaven and earth to be closer to each other, sometimes life commitments trump what we want for ourselves. Maybe it's family members who need your time and attention, like young children or aging parents. Or you are working on projects with dire implications to other people or the environment or the whole world.
Or, as is often the case, you aren't the only people trying to circle into each other's orbits. Often gifted people find other partners and friends to love when they are unaware of the intense connections that are possible with other intricately matched gifted souls. We fall in love with people we care about and who care about us; we settle down and have families and make plans and we often cannot, would not, should not or could not hurt the other people in our lives by abandoning them to pursue the new intensities after learning how deep our connections can be with someone else. We don't want to mess up our lives or change our futures, even if it's really tempting at the time.
So no matter how pure or true or deep our connection may be with our possible true peer who lives out in the world somewhere, we have to leave it out there and go back home. Because we care deeply about our other connections too. And because that's the world we already live in. And because even if we did want to go, change takes bravery and time and effort and sometimes we have to just go forward like robots in our real lives because we are happy enough... or at least we hope we can be.
And then there are those who pursue those connections anyway. They may have the freedom or the passion that won't let them be unless they try all they can to make it happen. They move heaven and earth so they can have more time with that person who fits so well into the space beside their own soul, and they can't stay away from the electric current that is running through them both. They may find every spare moment to call or text or email; they may find ways to fit in visits or even to move as close to them as they can. Or they may throw all the risk aside and continue to let the relationship dominate their thoughts full time.
I've had those moments of thinking I could make it all work like that. I've spent hours on the phone and flown hundreds of miles to show up at their door (or at least planned those trips even when they didn't work out like we imagined... But those are another story!) And I've considered all the ways I could change my life so that I could expand my time with them as much as humanely possible.
But look, I'm still living a life without a true peer now. That's because things don't always work out like we hope they might.
And when we think we have found the most amazing person in the world and we want that forever after happiness promised at the end of Disney movies and fairy tales, reality sets in.
And reality often is not just life obligations and other commitments getting in the way, many times it's personality issues too. What seems like an incredible match at first, often devolves into one of challenges. Balancing our own intensities with those of someone else, especially someone who is similar in their obsessions, is hard, to say the least. And it's even more difficult when you find you have not only similar hopes and dreams, but the same anxieties and fears too.
Someone who enjoys your every waking moment for a while, can become possessive or resentful of your time or your other interests. They may love your passion and talking and talking, until they want to get other things done and they don't know how to nicely extricate themselves from the pattern of late night discussions or constant contact you both once established. One of you is likely to want to escape to real life more than the other one, or have other connections you need to honor too, so your life has to go back to a more realistic life pattern. Inevitably, this great puzzle piece match up is likely to become a little unbalanced. And not everyone weathers storms well. Usually it's just you having doubts and wondering whether you were too intense or you did something stupid. But now it's both of you second guessing and worrying and stressing each other out.
And that can hurt. In little bits and pieces you start to wonder if perhaps you misjudged the depth of your connection. You may find enough things you don't agree on, or enough traits you wish you could change in your perfect match, that they seem less and less like the supernatural force they once were. They are human after all, and so are you. All those great things you wanted to do together start getting squished in your mind by all the reasons it won't work out, or the novelty of your plans start wearing off.
Or their significant other or other friends decide they hate you for taking up so much space in their loved ones' head or heart. And then you watch as the are slowly convinced that they shouldn't feel the way they do about you. And you wait for calls that don't come or invitations that never appear, and you notice the passion-filled discussions that you once had are tame or disjointed or not happening at all anymore.
And no one really knows what killed the spirit of it- was it time or a lack of true compatibility? Or did it just burn so bright at first that it didn't last as long?
Then what do you do when your true peer doesn't seem so true? How do you keep going when the embers fade but you've already seen the light? Do you walk back into the regular world with your regular friendships and loves and hope you can maintain some sense of normalcy?
It's hard to keep going with the day to day things when you've experienced the depth of an intense friendship or romance. Missing the relationship takes hold of your mind and everywhere you turn you see them there. Everything reminds you of what you no longer have. The phone that used to buzz with activity sits quiet. The stories you were saving up to tell each other during those future visits and late night pillow talks may never be told. And you can't even bear to look at the photos of you laughing, hugging, grinning, so you put them somewhere safe so someday you can look back on them and not be sad.
In order to move on, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. There are still other people in the world worth meeting, and you may find someone else who is able to give you the kind of friendship or relationship you are looking for. These intense connections are rare, but they aren't impossible to find. And once you found one and know what it feels like, you can find more. I was in my thirties before I found my first adult true peer friendship. But since then I've found a few more. And the more you meet, the more you see that even these intense relationships vary in so many ways. Eventually you will find someone who doesn't want to let you go, and you will have many future days of fun and laughter again.
2. It's ok to mourn friendships, especially these ones. Just as we go through grief when someone dies, losing a friendship also causes grief. Take time to miss the good times and to take care of yourself. There are good books about grief that may interest you. Dr. James T. Webb authored a book that is specifically about different types of grief that gifted people go through because of their intensities. It's called Searching for Meaning: Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment, and Hope. It is a great resource for dealing with all sorts of depressing situations. And don't feel silly asking for help. Talk to friends you can trust to pour your heart out to, or ask people to keep you company so you don't have to be alone. And if it feels overwhelming or goes on a long time (you can judge that, or others may tell you it may be lasting too long... And don't be mad if they do and you don't agree,) then consider seeing a professional who can help you conquer the existential depression. It's important to mourn, but also important to land on your feet.
3. Eventually the person you thought was a true peer and who let you down in some way will likely be back in your circle again. You may cross paths due to your common interests, you may just see them by chance, or one of you may reach back and invite the other back into some kind of working relationship or even a new kind of friendship. Don't write them off while emotions are high. They may end up being one of your closest allies or friends. I know this because even after a very sore broken heart, I became good friends again with the person I felt disappointed me the most. And now when I'm experiencing issues in my life and I doubt I'm ever going to find other amazing connections, I can call him and ask him for his advice or thoughts on the matter. Since he knows me and we spent many, many hours talking about our deepest thoughts and letting each other into our souls, his opinion is often the closest thing to truth. I would not trade knowing him for the world.
4. And finally, (speaking of "not trading knowing him,") it is important that you realize how special the relationship was in the first place and how lucky you were to have it at all. Some people don't know what that kind of intense friendship even feels like because they aren't wired in ways to ever see that many levels of connection. It may hurt like crazy to lose someone you loved and had such high hopes for, and sometimes you might wish you could turn back time and erase it all, just to avoid the heartache. But really, that was some amazing stuff, wasn't it? How could you ever really want to have gone through life without loving like that?
At some point you will hold those memories tightly in your heart and they will float you through other painful experiences. You loved and were loved. Someone saw you as so worthwhile that they stared at you in disbelief and asked themselves (out loud or in their minds,) over and over, "where did this person come from? Where have they been? And why did I get so lucky as to meet them?" And you know you thought those same things about them. That's pretty dang lucky. And pretty darn special. And you can keep that memory close because it's yours now, no matter how crazy or silly or sad it all got later. For a while, you had the universe in your soul. It isn't gone- it's still there. So embrace it. Don't let it feel less worthwhile just because it isn't the same anymore.
Life is crazy and unpredictable. It's hard and it's wonderful. And who would have thought that in that mess of a universe you would find someone who could see you so clearly, if only for a short while? You have experienced more than many people ever do. And you made it through one of the roughest parts of living- losing those you care about.
So pick yourself up and go forward knowing what that spark looks like- recognize that gleam in their eyes that pulled you in. And this time use the last experience to help you enter the chaos with a little more confidence and a lot more bravery. You will be ok. It happened, and you are a better person now for the whole experience. Good luck, and don't forget to raise your chin and smile. You never know when you will find yourself falling down that next incredible rabbit hole.
For another blog entry on the topic of gifted adult relationships, please check out my article, One True Peer, at http://oneworldgifted.weebly.com/blog/one-true-peer.