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To be consumed:
    By work.
    By romance.
    By another person.
I remember
Looking for a job:
Afraid of being stuck
In "just a job",
I sought and found
One that would consume me.
I was there
For fifteen years
Before I thought to ask,
"Is being consumed
What I really want?"
Is the one-word
Description of me
That most of my friends
Would agree is a fit.
When there was a job to do
Or a friend in need
I never gave a second thought
To the risk of being consumed.
When friends of mine
Worked through strong emotions
I was right there with them.
It bothered me
Deeply and subtly
That not enough others
Would do the same for me.
I became fearful that
Nobody valued me enough
To risk being consumed
By a relationship with me.
The fear of being consumed:
I've only recently realized
Is a much bigger issue
For other people
Than it has been for me.
Not some hidden failing of mine,
Or some secret malice of theirs,
It's a differing viewpoint
That has been the motivation
All this time.
To be consumed:
    I guess I've pursued it.
    While others ran from it.
It does seem that
So many failed relationships
Were a struggle
Over being consumed.
I've been demanding
That the other person join in
And get consumed.
But relationships are
About give and take
Not about being consumed.
Relationships are
A rich, beautiful, complex space,
Where trust, interest, and intensity
Are all factors.
Knowing that it's about viewpoint,
Not about you, and not about me,
I can frame
    A conversation
    A negotiation
    A participation
    A satisfaction.
At last I transcend
My old, limiting, viewpoint
Centered on being consumed.

28 February 2002

by Bill Cattey