Posts Tagged ‘hope’

From Black and White to Shades of “Grey”: Does being left at the altar mean the end of a relationship?

Wedding Bouquet by Rosen Georgiev/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wedding Bouquet by Rosen Georgiev/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A certain popular television series got me thinking tonight. When do you know it’s right to join your life to another? To add him or her to your hub of your community? To allow him or her access to your other communities?

When do you know it’s right to become married?

I say “become married” rather than “get married” because I do not believe that marriage is something you acquire. Achieve, perhaps, grow into, most certainly, but pick up like eggs and milk from the corner store? No.

Also, I believe it is possible to become married without having a wedding. If you throw the law out of it (which it should be), and if you throw out definitions using variations of the same word (sloppy), then we see the third definition in Merriam-Webster as being:

An intimate or close union

Which is entirely possible to develop without celebrating it, without publicly stated vows, without rings or things or kitchen sinks…

Now, I am not discounting the importance of weddings. I do not believe that in general they are frivolous affairs which change nothing in any relationship. I believe they can be quite transformative, but that every wedding may not necessarily be so.

I’m simply questioning the all-encompassing significance our society places on the altar. Is it truly necessary to have a wedding in order to enter that state of intimate union with another?

And, as in the case of our fine characters who inspired this line of thought, can a relationship survive one of the two not making it to the altar? How devastating to the relationship must it be?

I can understand that to the individual left waiting it must be a tremendous blow to the ego, and to your faith and trust in the other person, and that latter part necessitates that it must affect the relationship – but must it be devastating?

An intimate or close union. Union. That requires two people, two wants, two needs, two schedules, and two perspectives to consider.

And I believe one can be entirely ready for a marriage, for an intimate union, for a partnership of that magnitude, and yet, not be ready for a wedding.

Obviously communication is key, but if you are planning a wedding (and hopefully the after-wedding) with a person, and you show up on the day, brimming with certainty and anticipation and a certain amount of trepidation… and that person simply doesn’t arrive… Does it change who he or she is? Does it change who he or she is to you? Does it change what you want from/with him or her? Do you stop loving him and wanting her and needing him or her?

Or can you accept that it happened and move on and still be with him or her?

Is that too much? Is it an act devoid of self-respect to stay on? To continue the relationship after inconsideration and perceived rejection and (typically) intimate public humiliation?

Obviously, one cannot know until one is in such a position, but I can tell you what I hope from myself, and my partners:

Perhaps I am too romantic. Perhaps I was raised by parents who demonstrated such unconditional love that I can’t imagine any singular act on it’s own changing that type of bond.

But that’s just it.

“I love you forever” doesn’t come with caveats. Unless you put them there.

Perhaps it’s the divorced child in me, but I’ve had enough of secrets and ifs and situational relationships. A marriage is not the place for them. Not for me, anyhow. By the time I’m looking down an aisle (or trail, or path, or ribbon, or slip’n’slide – whatever we set up), I would hope that I am already considering that person waiting for me to be my partner, and for I to be his or hers. We would already be family. Our marriage would already have begun, and would not be solely dependent on a wedding happening that hour, that day, or at all.

You shouldn’t have to say “I’ll have an intimate union with you, only after we sign documents/speak vows/party with family,” it should be a process. An ongoing ever-evolving process. I hope I wake up everyday from the moment I know that person to be part of my family and think to myself “Today, I marry you” whether there’s a wedding or not.

What do you hope for in such an experience? Please share your story below.

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Finding Castles in the Air…

Castles in the Air

strange cloud shape by uair01, Creative Commons License

I want to waltz under the stars in Paris. I want to sing with a jazz band in New Orleans. I want to swim with dolphins. I want to eat at a really good restaurant in New York City. I want to photograph architecture in Quebec City. I want to make a feast at midnight in my own kitchen, in my own home…

I ‘d cook Cornish Game Hens, and asparagus with orange juice, and two kinds of potatoes, and lime soup, and chocolate pudding, and fruit salad with berries and mint and basil and a syrupy vinaigrette. I’d have a plain mixed greens salad with a simple lemon juice and mustard dressing, garlicky toasted baguette slices and possibly some kind of cheese fondue. Blueberry tarts and dinner rolls, and if someone was there to join me, I’d make them steak or ribs if they’d enjoy them…

I’d like to see a polar bear with my own eyes. In the wild, not in a zoo. And to sit around a campfire in the Serengeti.

I’d like to hear a story, older than written language, told by someone who knows it’s soul. Where are the storytellers today? I want to hold a child in my arms.

I want to sleep. Warm, and safe, and protected. In the wide open world, next to the surf of an ocean.

I want to buy furniture, rugs that don’t match the tapestries, tables without chairs, and make them all play nicely together.

I’d like to be joined.

I want to stand on a corner and  hail a cab. I’d like to stop traffic as I crossed a street. I want to learn to whistle with my fingers…

I want to remember how to make castles in the air again, this time without the walls. To hope against hope…

To dream.

I’d like to lead a revolution. I want to be a part of a change that I believe is good, and necessary, that will better the lives of those who come after, in the long run. I want to be part of the marathon, not a marathon, the marathon…

I’m not done yet.

Choices and First Impressions

Hands Creating A Star by creativedoxfoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Hands Creating A Star” courtesy of creativedoxfoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

OK, so clearly if you look at the blogs I follow, without visiting those sites, you can assume that I am a hopeless romantic, with a desperate, perhaps obsessive need to marry and procreate, chasing all things stereo-typically feminine, relationships, home, children…

Would it surprise you to know then that I’m actually quite the pessimist romantically? Or that, contrarily, in no way do I feel like if I don’t get married and have children my life will be unfulfilled and signify nothing in the grand scheme.

See if you actually visit these blogs – and you should, these are sassy, smart, strong women, did I mention the sass? If you actually visit these blogs, you will find these talented writers show their battle scars proudly, and openly discuss choices – and how it’s not really about the choice you make, it’s about making the choice, and knowing that there are other choices that could have been made, that others will take, that it’s about humanity and figuring it out and embracing the mess, and feeling the pain, and creating your world through your choices. And building your community. It’s about finding people who support your choices and who will push you to make the choices that are right for you.

So. Pessimist me reads wedding blogs because like Meg says, it’s about hope. And growing up. And pessimist me reads mommy-blogs because they’re about struggle and innocence and growing up and the funny things kids do and about how mommies don’t stop being people just because they created people. And they help me work through my issues with my own mom.

What I’ve learned in my years of blog reading (and yes, I’ve read all the archives of 7 out of 9 of these blogs and I’m working on the other two), is that just as I like my Adam Sandler with some Drew Barrymore, I like my oh-my-goodness-love with a little bit of reality. I like my tragedy with a lot of existential irony. I like my comedy with some poignant revelations to the bigger truth of human existence. And I like it all with wit and conversation.

That is what they offer. That is what I’m trying to build here. That is what I’m bringing into my life, and putting out to the universe, because as people we don’t always look beyond ourselves to consider the other choices out there. We don’t always take the time to laugh at ourselves. To think about what we believe, and why. To look back on what we told the world we believed and say, “Now, I’ve changed. I’ve tweaked, I’ve grown, I find this to be true for me now.”

Because I am still growing up. And these people, I choose them as part of my community as I continue to grow into who I will one day become.

A Celebration!

Fireworks by kornnphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Fireworks by kornnphoto/Freedigitalphotos.net

So after 25 years of divorce my mother’s side and my father’s side are destined to collide.

My graduation went smoothly, seemingly, so did my sister’s graduations. But then my sister got inducted into the hall of fame for her alma mater while my mother was in Europe. And so, my aunt and uncle stood in for my mother…

I went with my father, knowing they would be there, warning him they would be there. He seemed unfazed.

Stuck in a gym full of people milling about, no direction to their movements, the air growing steadily warmer from their jacketed bodies, with my silent father, as we scan the crowd for mines… Also known as my mother’s sister and her husband. Praying that when we found them my sister wouldn’t be with them so that I wouldn’t have to go and greet them while my father stood his ground, silent.

And people wonder why I’m wary of weddings or births or funerals…

Don’t get me wrong, I love my father. He may actually be the best man I’ve ever known. But that stubborn streak that allows me to hold grudges?? Yeah, totally got that from him.

See my mother wanted a divorce. So my father gave her one. And then her family ceased to address his existence. With the exception of my Grannie and Auntie B, all has been silent on the western front for twenty odd years.

In my mother’s world, she and my father could just get along. They could sit together at my sister’s tournaments, they could plan weddings and share expenses, they could have a drink, or at least be sociable when they meet in public forums… Heck, sometimes I think she wants joint Christmas mornings!

In my father’s world, well, there are a lot of things he’s like to say to her, I’m sure. So for the safety and sanity of all, unless it specifically has to do with my sister or I, he’s keeping his d*mn mouth shut and avoiding contact at all costs.

So of course we run into my aunt and uncle. And of course, coming from my mother’s world, they greet my father with an air of convention and restraint (or strained convention?) and he mutters “yeah…” as he passes them to see an old colleague who happened to coach at my sister’s school.

Not the most graceful, I know. He’s not perfect. But in his defence, what we’re they really expecting? You ignore someone who was once part of your family, your intimate community, for 25 years and just because you’re in the same room as him, that’s supposed to change and he’s supposed to be fine with it?

Meg & Co. over at apracticalwedding.com talk a lot about how people aren’t necessarily going to change their behaviour just because you have a special event going on. The best that can be asked for is a modicum of civility or avoidance on the day. After all they’re here to celebrate and support one or two people, not to mend fences or rehash old grudges.

I mean it’d be nice if a wedding or graduation or fancy dinner did spur some mending of fences, but it’s unrealistic to assume that it can happen on the day. If necessary, action should be taken beforehand, I believe, so that things go more smoothly and everyone knows what to expect.

In this case, my aunt expected civility and my father expected avoidance… I think my father was basing his expectations on history, and my aunt was basing her expectations on the mystical dogma of society… which if she actually knew my father at all, is a laughable assumption.

Now, who’s dreading her mother’s return from Europe, and the upcoming familial hell known as Thanksgiving???

The Unspoken…

"Cemetery" by njaj/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Cemetery” courtesy of njaj/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

OK. It’s been awhile. Clearly, this journaling thing is more difficult than it used to be. Especially when you need a working computer and an internet connection to get it done. But I digress…

Here, we discuss communities. How to build them, where to find them, how to keep them, when to let them go…. But what do you do when someone elects to leave your community?

Whether it’s because of a fight, a divorce, or the slow continental shift of growing apart – it’s never easy. But at least in those instances you get the choice to work at the relationship, to continue to include them in your community, or to let them gracefully exit.

What about when that choice is taken from you? When someone elects to leave your community… permanently?

Suicide.

There. I said it.

For many this is an unfathomable concept, and when someone chooses this path to leave you, it can feel like a personal assault on reason. When you can never imagine taking this path, never have considered it, the idea that someone you love, admire, and respect choosing it is irreconcilable with your image of that person.

For those of us (and yes, I’m coming out and including myself here) who have considered the dark and shady path… well, things are less black and white. Not easier, necessarily. Just grey-er. Muddier. Murkier… yes, I like murkier.

My story (the not-so-short version): I was a smart kid. Too smart, fairly sensitive to the approval of authority figures, and frankly, I never quite fit in most places. I was that dreamy kid who’d rather spend recess reading or making shapes of clouds or imagining I was Kate from The Perilous Gard…. (Elizabeth Marie Pope, thank you for your story by the way) I was not an athlete, at least not on land (man, can I swim, and I am almost certain I can fly). My entire family is made up of athletes. Competitive athletes. National calibre athletes. Of land, water, and (possibly) air. My mother is sociable, and I am sure she had this fantastic image of her popular, athletic daughters surrounding her and going on shopping sprees and asking her for advice, and working out with her…. and well, that never happened. At least, not willingly on my part.

So I was thirteen, I was angry, and convinced that my mother loved my sister more than me. I wrote an angry, honest letter and hid it under my mattress. I felt unloved, but mostly, unnoticed. Unseen for the unique things I could bring to life, to our family, to a community. Would anyone notice if I just left? If I ran away and lived somewhere where they couldn’t find me and make me feel not good enough anymore? (I was thirteen and dramatic… seriously dramatic) What would happen if I died? Would they mourn? Would they see me then?

Then my father found my letter. And read it. And talked to me about it. See, in my emotional turmoil of puberty and despair and low self-esteem, I had neglected to think about him. My beautiful, fantastic, smart, capable, loving father, who raised my sister and I on his own. Who loved me. Always. And made sure that I knew it. Who celebrated my interests and listened to my stories and encouraged me without making me feel ashamed. He would be destroyed if I left; he would be utterly and completely destroyed if I died. Especially if I chose to die.

So, I cried. And I focused on life, and the pursuits I loved, and anytime those lonely, tenacious tendrils of darkness reached out for me, I thought of him. And knew I was loved, and that I couldn’t destroy someone who loved me.

Then in high school one of my fellows hanged himself. And the principal announced it over the PA that he had passed away. And I was angry. Enraged. No physically healthy teenager passes away. Suicide is violent. It is a wrathful tear in the fabric of life, of the community consciousness, not to mention of the mind and spirit of the victim himself.

Yes, I say victim of suicide. Because while I had my devoted father to pull me back from the brink, he somehow didn’t. I’m sure his parents loved him, I know his friends cared, why was that not enough? Why in those moments, days, weeks, before tying the noose did nobody spring to his mind that he knew would be destroyed if he left them? Why did I have a visceral link to life, an umbilical cord tethering me here, and he did not? Why, in his world, was there no one?

Just to be clear, I’m sure if people had known what he was about to do they would have risen up en masse to stop him. I am sure of that in almost any suicide.

My point is that, in this boys pain, in his world, the place where he existed (yes, I’ve gone a little Descartes, try to keep up), he believed he had no one. No one who would stop him. No one who saw him. So he would show them. I believe suicide is at once a martyr-like attempt to remove oneself from troubling those around oneself, from taking up space when one is so clearly not wanted, and a grand performance. If people don’t see you, fine, they won’t have to look around you for much longer, but you’ll leave them an image they’ll never forget.

People have called it selfish, and I can understand that perspective. It is certainly self-indulgent. But I think most people who go through with it, have convinced themselves that they are doing their community a favour.

So, murky. Yeah.

Now, in my late twenties, I am faced with suicide again. This time it is not someone I know. But someone I am close to has just lost a relative. A relative who had kids, no less.

I’m wise enough to keep my murky opinions to myself, at least while wounds are still fresh. But how do you comfort a family through this?

My friend is desperately trying to rationalize the unfathomable. For he is one of those aforementioned people for whom this thought is not only not an option, but I don’t think it’s ever come up. And now he’s faced with trying to understand it. Trying to reconcile that dear relative who took him aside to show him a corner of the world, that really cool guy that he wanted to grow up to be just exactly like, that husband, that father, that uncle… this volunteer corpse.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Let’s talk about the unspoken… Surviving suicide. Those who have thought and not attempted, those who have attempted and (thankfully, ironically) failed, those who have survived those who attempted and (ironically, disastrously) succeeded, welcome. How did you get through it?

Student living and me.

Just life. But through the eyes of a Blue-eyed History student.

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