When I was little I fully anticipated that the members of my family who were around my age would all grow up and become…something. Doctors, businesspeople, lawyers, teachers or actresses on stage or screen seemed possible to my ten year old mind. I recall sitting alone in our living room on our blue velvety floral sofa after school listening to some vinyl record of Debussy or some Italian opera on my father’s record player. I sat there, in the natural light from the large windows to my right, and drifted off into my mind to analyze them as individuals and explore the possibilities.
Sure enough, we did all grow up. One of us had cancer when he was young but he survived it thankfully and now is married with three kids.
Oh yes. I also knew (not just thought) we would all get married or find someone. Eventually.
I had a much harder time picturing my own future though. I wasn’t worried. I was excited actually. But I just couldn’t picture it for whatever reason. And that might have been fair because I am certainly not living the life I would have put together in my mind had I tried to imagine it back then.
At times in the last few years I’ve wondered if any of my family reads this blog. I have my suspicions but I won’t venture about them openly.
But I am one to intuit things. Many things.
And in saying that, I feel I should preface it by saying that while I sometimes feel the need to say things that are positive about myself, like “I’m good at playing the viola” I do not believe in giving one’s self compliments. Not unless it’s in self defense. I think it’s rude, a form of false self-esteem, and arrogant at best. Just an f.y.i.
But I do sense things.
And I bet my family would be shocked to learn all the things I’ve suspected would happen to them over the years. Yes, I do analyze all of you, if you’re reading this.
Of course, I love them. And of course they’re terribly fascinating people, just as we all are, but they also are my family so I take even more notice of them than the average person.
Truly, people fascinate me though. They always have. It’s one of the reasons I would love to finish my novels. I feel so moved by everyone’s unique wonder that I need a way to let it out and share what I see.
Recently I found out that one of my first cousins is separated from his wife of nearly a decade. And I hesitate to say this, but I am not surprised. Despite the lovely image they created I could tell something deep was fundamentally tearing them away from each other moment by moment. And I could sense that it was something neither of them had yet named but that it was tragic in its power to destroy. It was as if they were fighting the wars of life side by side but some force was between them, pushing them in different directions. And now, they are two souls yelling across the waters of a grand lake, on opposite sides. They are trying desperately to get each other’s attention and communicate but how does one have a decent conversation from across a big, enveloping, cold and muddy lake? It’s practically impossible.
How did it happen? Well, I’d bet it started with the simple fact that they were too much and too little alike. They had very different family cultures growing up, I surmise, and along with that very different expectations about life in general. They saw every little thing from different perspectives to start with. And while they likely saw the exact same thing in reality, their words and ways to describe it were not the same and they had equally unique reactions based on the part of it they focused on.
That’s certainly not their fault. That’s love sometimes. You find someone who sparks your curiousity and sends your heart into deep bouts of passion and desire based on their intrinsic beauty and the way they take everyday life and make it look and feel new with their view that they so graciously and wonderfully share with you one way or another. It’s like seeing a little bit of earth from heaven.
But then comes the gritty realities of living life together. And if you’re too different in your perspectives it can make the prospect of understanding each other seem like a painfully overwhelming demon to be conquered.
But I think my cousin and his wife are very similar too. They have some of the same inherent strengths and some of the same flaws. And they seem to actually both be longing to go in the same direction in life, but just on far apart parallel paths. Of course, where one of them might like making sushi and be quite good at it the other might try but be better at playing water polo. We all have different gifts. That’s human. Your significant other is likely to be better at something than you. But…the ways they experience struggle when they do and the way they thrive when they do looks pretty similar, at least to me. Their hearts are similar. They just manifest everything so differently and they didn’t come from the same place.
Now, that being said, I have no idea if they’ll divorce or not. I wouldn’t be shocked if they did. Some lakes are so deep and frightening that they can kill you if you’re not a good swimmer, or kill you even if you are. But who knows, one of them, both of them, or God might get a boat so they can sail towards each other. Some people may be just meant to be together.
We all have choices. Or do we? I think the answer is sometimes resoundingly yes and sometimes yes, but also no.
In marriage and other serious romantic relationships it often seems that one has to decide what’s worth it. You have to decide what’s really important. And you have to decide if the love you feel and felt for the other person is enough to make it worth it to stay. You have to do emotional math. You have to add all the good things, which all have their own weight and merit, and then measure them against the bad.
And hopefully, you’ll find that that person is home for your soul. In the best scenario you’ll find that despite your flaws and their flaws that there is some invisible thread of goodness, beauty and hope that holds you together and makes permanent departure or even too long a departure futile.
But if you let go and sense the end being inevitably near, I suppose it’s time to move on and do so as wisely and kindly as possible. There’s no need to hurt someone more who you were never really intended to be with in the first place.
There’s always a right answer too. There’s always the good answer. But finding it can be incredibly difficult. It can take years. It can take decades. It can take five minutes if you’re really fortunate. But it exists.
I hope they find it and I hope if you’re reading this and it speaks to you, that you do too.