Love and Limitations: Relationship Lessons from the Field

Me and my colleagues getting our nails done!

Admist the client visits, operational costing, and process mapping, Kiva Fellows get to take some pretty amazing weekend escursions. Some of these trips take us to beautiful mountains, crystal blue volcanic lakes and still others take us to places impossible to imagine, until we’re there.

While watching the “Road Less Traveled” on Nat Geo the other night, the host said something, “To me travel is about people from two cultures meeting, both experiencing something together, going away fundamanetally changed.” which made me stop and think if it was true for me.

I came back with a pretty firm, “yeah,” although, I think the changes I experience are often sub-conscience, without a clear cut, “epiphany.” For me the “change” usually comes as a thought, an idea, a new way of looking at something that surfaces sometime down the line. For Example…my first exteneded stay abroad, London, 18 years old, conversation went somethign like this, Mary: “It’s so weird, watching all these people drive on the wrong side of the road.” Gavin: “I think you mean the opposite side of the road.” Mary: “Oh…yeah.” That day, I never would have guessed this simple exchange would pop-up time and again in my mind, reminding me that right and wrong are often just a case of different perceptions.

Steering Wheel on the "Opposite Side" (from USA)

But this past weekend, I traveled to a colleague’s homeland about an hour and thirty minutes away  from Phnom Penh with another colleague and had…”A Moment” (smallish epiphany).

I could not understand how I felt so loved.

Despite limited conversation and some miscommunications with my colleagues/friends and family members, there was a connection beyond words, logic and reason. There were smiles and laughs, and games, and meals, and “let me pay, no I’m paying!” and lot’s of “Are you ok’s?”

Which illustrated something I’ve read and philosphised about but never accepted into my heart – that there really are different types of love and relationships.

My expectations of relationships and people have often caused me a lot of disappointment. I want relationships to be and people to act in a cetain way, I sometimes look for things in friendships and “relationship relationships” that I’m just not going to find – perhaps because a person is just not capable of giving them or a variety of other reasons. When I act this way in my relationships I remind myself that, “I’m going to the hardware store for milk again!” The hardware store clearly does not sell milk and has no plans to sell it anytime in the future.

So this weekend has me wondering, “If I can hold the limitations of my Cambodian friendships, and at the same time hold this undeniable feeling of love for them, maybe I can do that in all my relationships. Maybe I can have different kinds of love in my life. Maybe I can let go of my need to judge limited relationships as imperfect, undullfilling, bad, or wrong because all of the things they can’t give me. Maybe I can look at what they can give me, “Love” through a simple human connection – a shared laugh, interest, or a experience. So the next time an Native English Speaker, who happens to be someone very close to me, asks me how the weather is/was (and I start to get all mad…. why are asking me this question again…who cares?),  I can just smile and think about what they are most likely saying, “I want to love and connect with you in a safe way.”

Love can look different than we expect

Posted by Mary Riedel, KF10 Cambodia,

Feel the love and conenect to a Kiva Borrower at Maxima.

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