A Little Middle-Aged Perspective

I was perusing my Tumblr feed (eblalock99.tumblr.com) tonight, and I saw so many of posts waxing philosophical and poetic about breakups. These sound like young relationships, not marriages.

Breakups are Tough. by AbigailLarson

AbigailLarson; deviantart.com


Broken marriages don’t sound nearly as poetic or sentimental. They sound more … homicidal. It’s the difference between Twilight  and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

A friend of mine does not labor under the heartbreak of either.

She has, however, lost her entire family. It’s a heartbreak that seems to eclipse any other. In a year she went from heading a family of six, to it just being her husband and herself.

She will probably never see her beloved young children again for the rest of her life. Her parents are both dead. She has no siblings, no close cousins. She’s avoiding her in-laws because they’ve pretty much told her to shut up and move on. Her attendance at their family gatherings doesn’t amount to more than an audience member required to clap when the applause sign goes on.

Her husband grieves as badly as she does. Is her marriage strong? Or just stubborn?

Alone has taken on whole new meaning. It’s long past the time she can be cry on anyone’s shoulders; people are mostly tired of hearing about it, and frustrated that they can’t do anything. So, she pretends to have moved on. Some days she almost believes it.

Why am I tell you all this, besides the fact that it’s nearly 1:00 a.m. and I just can’t sleep?

I guess to give some perspective, some sense of scale to all the poetic, sentimental broken hearts out there. This is my perhaps too gentle way of saying “get a grip.”

Maybe that person was perfect for you. Maybe in a year you’ll be back together. Maybe in three years you will, as I did once, think back on that Perfect Potential Mate and tell yourself: “Oh thank God I dodged that bullet!” You’ll say that because you’re different; you like yourself better and you never would have become that person if you’d been with them.

Maybe you only liked them because they seemed to be someone you wanted to be. Now you’re something better.

Trust me … my foolish heart ached for one poor fool for years. One day I woke up and realized just how bad that relationship would have been. I am so happy nothing ever came of that. That man I thought could be compared to no other? Now I know – jeesh he was an idiot. A professionally accomplished idiot, but idiots piss me off no matter the specie.

With each broken relationship, a person learns (hopefully) how to build a better love the next time: a better you, a better them.

Lovers can be replaced. Spouses can be replaced.

Some connections cannot.

I know some families are dysfunctional beyond repair. I know that sometimes, we have to leave our families of origin behind to grow.

I’ve also seen, however, that just having them … just knowing that they are alive is sometimes a tremendous comfort. I know sometimes that dysfunction can heal; it did in mine.

Estrangement and death are entirely different forms of grief.

That’s when you learn the meaning of empty longing. My friend is past the point of the few sappy (but good) poems she wrote. She’s past looking to others for support.

To survive, she hardens herself when she can and is alone when she can’t. It’s a life she didn’t want, but one she must have to survive.

But I know she’s not past crying single every day. I know she wants to crawl in a hole until January, when Santa Claus and children’s shows are all over. I know she still misses her slightly narcissistic, brilliant mother who thought her daughter (my friend) could fly to the moon on wings if she’d tried. I know she even wishes she could talk to her alcoholic but no one-messes-with-my-little-girl father. But you can’t repair a relationship that ended in the grave.

All around her are only graves and memories, the ruins of a world she can never rebuild.


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