Like Edith Piaf, I do not regret a thing - I have had a very fortunate
life and see each of my relationships as a gift. Four key relationships
stand out. The first was at school where I met my 'best friend'. We met
at thirteen, and were together for seven years - the period when we were
beginning to go out into the world independently. We kept each other company
throughout this whole ordeal and talked for hours to reach our logical
conclusions about the things we were experiencing. We shared absolutely
every aspect of our lives - philosophy, life, the cosmos, girls... we
had such a lot of fun, and life was never boring or lonely.
We played a large part in forming each other too. Together we decided
that God and religion didn't make sense, and that everyone who talked
about it was crazy. Together we decided that drugs would be worth trying,
and subsequently that they were good. We also became vegetarians together.
We both went to India after school. Someone there suggested that our close
friendship, which had given us so much joy and companionship, might not
be the best thing for us. I rejected this view as nonsense, and we worked
out our new philosophical theory: one should never have an opinion about
what someone else is doing, as one can never know more about somebody
else than they know themselves. I have since revised this theory.
We are still the best of friends, only our lives have gone different ways,
separated by geography and commitments. I think this is a much better
situation; while certain friends can help us grow, as he undoubtedly did,
there comes a point when the friendship seems to take on a value above
all else. Then it becomes exclusive, selfish and a block to our inner
freedom, manifested by a lack of personal growth. Life took me to a new
city where I had no friends. This, combined with the feeling of loss through
not being with my best friend, left me feeling very, very lonely. I took
up smoking, and was soon going out with a girl from my class. We enjoyed
each other's company and found each other attractive. It was soon obvious
that I had only started going out with her because then I didn't feel
so lonely, when in fact I still was. My problems lay within me and were
not due to my situation. I had to finish the relationship immediately,
as I couldn't live a lie. This was a very difficult time, as she relied
on me a lot as a friend, particularly when she had trouble with clinical
depression. She took it all quite badly despite my attempts to be nice,
and it was only about a year and a half later that we were able to have
an almost normal conversation.
We had just been using each other to fulfil our needs at the time, and
much as we cared for each other, I do not feel that love ever came into
the equation. Lust and loneliness left little leeway for love.
After some time I experienced a totally different kind of friendship.
I had learned more to stand on my own two feet and to depend less on the
opinion of others. My new friend was the same, so much so that he was
prepared to tell me quite honestly where he felt I was going wrong in
life. He had a different view on drugs to my friend in school and was
not afraid to tell me. This was not much fun, nor did it seem like friendship
at the time, but if this kind of challenging friendship is handled sensitively,
it can become a cornerstone of the mysterious thing we call love.
The final friendship is the one I have with my present girlfriend. I find
this the most remarkable of all. My life was full and fun and I was not
looking for love, but she says she had felt for some time that I was the
right person for her. I only realised this afterwards.
We live very far apart, which is not such fun, but is quite healthy for
us, as it means we still have space to grow as individuals, and we don't
get caught in the trap of staying together because it is comfortable.
Many times we have asked each other and ourselves if we are meant to be
together. We both strongly believe that God has a plan for our lives,
including whether we should remain single, or whom we are meant to be
with. We are both committed to living according to this idea, so we have
our most important aims in common. This, I hope, makes us forward- and
outward- looking in our relationship, and we try not to be selfishly looking
at ourselves above all else. It certainly makes the relationship much
stronger and deeper.
However, living this kind of life has not proven easy, particularly in
two areas. Firstly, it is very hard to be prepared to give it all up if
I feel it is not God's will for us to be together. I always have to be
open to this possibility, but more and more I get the sense that we have
been given something sacred. The second difficulty is the question of
purity. In a loving relationship between a man and a woman, what is pure?
Again, I have found that the only way to be sure is to be totally obedient
to the thought that God or the inner voice gives me. These have always
coincided with the thoughts of my girlfriend, and although we have been
scared to say the things we deeply feel are right, it has always worked
out for the best. Through this process we have learned a lot about what
it means to be pure and to respect our own, as well as each other's bodies
and hearts. This has also meant that we are free to be the people we are
supposed to be.