Monday, 10 March 2014

Divorce is one hell of a mind-bender to me.

It's funny how I just wrote about commitment in relationships recently, and ever since then I have been thinking a lot about divorce.

A few people I know online or in real life are getting divorced. It terrifies me.

I think divorce does not terrify me if there was a problem with the relationship from the start, or if things become really bitter for whatever reason. For instance I know someone who actually broke up with the guy, found herself pregnant, they got married and had a troubled relationship for many years until they got divorced. In that case divorce seems like a kind of freedom from a bad situation.

But what really freaks me out is that I know people who have been with someone they love (loved?) deeply, for many MANY years - and suddenly after those many years something changed or happened and all of a sudden that life partner person, with whom you have extensive history, is no longer the person you want to be with.

I have heard of parents who have split up when their kids are in their late twenties. That blows my mind. All of that history an shared experience - nixed in an instant.  Did it not mean anything in the end? Or it did mean something but it is possible to move on from? Can you compartmentalise this stuff? You can see how much I am grappling to even understand how this is possible. My world would just not make sense if I did this.

This scares me so much because for me a huge part of bonding with all people is knowing someone a good length of time and shared history. I take a loooong time to warm up to people. It is an introvert thing. My brain needs to process x amount of information about a person before it feels comfortable that it knows the person, and similarly I seem to need to know someone for quite a long time before my brain feels that it is worth putting up the barriers I usually put up. After a longish time my brain says, ok, now it is worth it. This person is not just an aquaintance who will disappear. This person is going to be around and is worth putting all of your affections into. I guess all of my energy will go into that person, so my brain does not want to invest in someone who I just will not be very close to. Once time and history have been shared, I pretty much will love that person for life. No matter who you are, you are in.

I think that is why I always end up loving the people I work with so much. All of them. Because I spend so much time with them, am able to get to know them over a long time, and share a lot of history with them. I am aware how atypical this is because most people are very wary about friendships at work. I love all my colleagues and will forever! Personality clashes are not often an issue for me, as long as I have spent enought time with you!

The G man and I have shared nearly 14 years of history. If for some reason we split up - it would blow my mind. My life makes no sense without him there because we have all of that past stuff - it seems meaningless if we are not together. Does that make sense? I feel like if I lose him I will lose all of that history or at least render it senseless and empty. I can't describe how much it confuses me that people can walk away from such a long shared time and start anew. I think it is just not in my character.

I bond for life, and I mean LIFE. And yet, these divorces happen all the time. They can happen to anyone, even people like me who are convinced the person they are with is their ultimate person for life. And I also know that G is different to me and bonds in a different way - it is not so much about shared history and length of time for him. I feel that for him walking away from so many years of history would not be such a mind-bender. And that does not help my panic much either.

I think this is what they mean when they say relationships take work. Even when yours seems good it is no time to coast along and take things for granted. Ugh.


Damaria Senne said...

I also take a while before I call someone "friend." There are people I'm friendly with, but a friend... someone who comes into my home and watches me cook while we chat...that level of friendship takes time... and trust.....and it takes time for me to decide that the relationship is worth investing in.

But I bond very differently, in that, for me it is about feeling understood rather than the length of time.

I need to feel that you accept me as I am, and you don't see potential in me which you can realise through changes.

That kind of relationship where someone is constantly offering ways to make me "better" drives me nuts and those people don't last long in my life, no matter how well-meaning.

The challenge is that people grow/change and sometimes their expectations change too. For example, someone I was very close to became a born again Christian and our relationship dynamic changed. We both tried very hard to hold onto the relationship ( we had a history of over 15 years) but in the end, a day to day relationship was not possible because we were no longer on the same page.

We still care and are still in contact.. and there was never a big fight or resentments or anything, but I started censoring myself and over time we had less and less to talk about.

I miss my friend, but that kind of relationship is no longer possible with this person in the headspace /spiritual space they are in.

Louisa said...

Divorce is messy and painful no matter how you bond. Nobody gets married thinking that it won't be forever.

I once met a pastor who used to say that you should never get married to your soul mate. Because when soul mates marry they really can't live without each other, and if one dies the other usually dies soon after from a broken heart.

It sounds like a silly reason not to, to me.

po said...

Damaria it is really interesting how people bond differently and how different things are important in friendships. I never really thought about this until now. I petty much like and care for everyone I have known a long time. I find it weird that that is the only criterion!

Louisa - I am not really into the idea of soul mates - I think there are just good matches for people and we could probably have a good relationship with many people - but then I do feel like if my G man died then I would soon follow suite - so maybe it comes down to the same thing!

Damaria Senne said...

@louisa - I also think it's a silly reason not to. I'd rather be with my soul mate if such a thing exists, even if in the end it means I'd have a shorter lifespan if they die. As I've grown older, I've come to the realisation that I would rather be defined by the people I loved and had a positive influence on, rather than a length of time. Some people live longer but loved no one deeply and that, I think, is an existence, not living.

@po- the kind of loyalty you talk about is gold and the people in your life are fortunate to get it. especially because it is hardwon. I also think it is brave, because you invest your whole being into a relationship once you've worked out you can trust. So many people hold back out of fear, one foot in and another looking at the door, even when they enter into marriage.