Tuesday, February 6, 2007

What I Wish (If I may be so bold)

"Things do not change. We change." - Henry David Thoreau

This morning I am a bit sad. There's no physical reason - the sun is shining, the leaves are swaying and casting a lovely shadow on my fence...

Every once in awhile this happens, mostly when I know that others are hurting and I'm not sure what to do. Anger, betrayal, and most of all, hurt, are difficult emotions to leave behind. It's hard to realize that certain things can't be changed, and be able to (and I hate to put it this way) "move on" with life. It hurts when I feel that others are stuck with the memory of past hurts, past wrongs that others have committed against them, and some that they have committed against others.

One thing I have come firmly to believe is that there is a balance to what happens in relationships; in other words, there's always two sides to the story. To use an example, it would be really hard for me to be domineering if the person with whom I was in a relationship didn't allow me to continue being domineering. Relationships (romantic and otherwise) are systems of behavior. We are constantly adjusting and readjusting based on the other person's moves. Eventually, as the science shows us, we sometimes "ossify" into particular ways of seeing ourselves and others within our relationships - we've repeated the behavior long enough, and gotten enough positive reinforcement, that we've become the person that we've acted out for so long.

The important part is that, like with all social situations, it takes more than one person to create the reality.

This is a difficult fact to face, but I actually find it comforting because it gives me more power. No longer do I fall in the trap of blaming somebody else for what happens to me, for we have created it together. I know that people will read this and think up myriads of counter-examples, like a cheating spouse. But there again, there is either something in the relationship that encouraged the cheater to seek succor from another source, or there was another dynamic between the two partners that allowed infidelity to creep in.*

Taking power over our lives is immensely important for both men and women, and what I wish all of us would have the courage to do. At that point, perhaps the bitterness, anger, and distrust will simply fall away because we will have given ourselves such an important gift - our lives.

In the meantime, I will try to let my sadness go, and realize that experience is the best teacher. No amount of science or wisdom from others can help heal anger, hurt, and bitterness...they can provide guidelines, but in the end, it's the self that heals itself. So I'll content myself to be a friend, as Thoreau says:

"The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend."

*I'm speaking here of relationships between normal, healthy individuals, who aren't impaired by mental illness or psychopathy.


TDEC said...

Hm, I don't exactly agree with you on this one. While I see what you mean in terms of sharing responsibility in a realtionship, I do believe that there are circumstances where that shared responsibility does not excuse the wrongdoing. A person who cheats is inflicting a harm that is not in proportion to whatever the other partner might be doing wrong, and he or she is not handling the problem in a way that could ever be useful. A person who beats their partner is never justified, no matter how they might have been provoked.

What I am saying here is that I know what you mean, but that there are many things for which the "wronged" partner's responsibility is so vastly outweighed by wrong that, while there may be lessons to be learnt, their guilt in the matter is not worth considering.

Practicing Idealist said...

TDEC, I agree with you that shared responsibility doesn't excuse wrongdoing, especially in cases where there is some type of abuse being inflicted on one (or both) of the partners. And I would probably classify an abusive partner as someone who fits into my footnoted category of mentally unstable people.

However, I still firmly believe that an abuser cannot continue to abuse another person if that person is not present (and here I'm not talking about spouses who leave their abusive husbands and then get stalked by the abuser - again, the abuser is obviously mentlaly impaired). Ultimately, situations can only remain real if both players are willing to continue playing. There are always psychological proclivities towards acting in one way or another, but the social reality is created by the partners, and can be destroyed by the partners as well.

TDEC said...

Thanks for clarifying. I assumed we were on the same page, but do think it is worth being elaborating on.