10 January 2017

I'm Sorry for That

"The Myth of Sisyphus," by Nicci Bedson

I've been itching for a bit to put down in writing a little more after my initial post on divorce. Today I was inspired to do so when I read a post from a young evangelical who has walked a similar path. His stakes are no doubt higher (=greater courage)—not least with respect to keeping up appearances—so I figured I could at least shake some of my journaling out these past three years and see what sticks, without (I hope) succumbing to questionable motivations, as the aforementioned poster warns against when going public in this particular context. Being a feeler first, and a thinker second, I realize how distasteful this may be to whole swaths of what little readership I have. C'est la vie.

I was struck some time ago prior to his death a quote I'd heard Robin Williams say in World's Greatest Dad:
I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel alone.
It succinctly summarized how I'd been feeling for so long, feelings that I'd previously found in the lyrical sentiment penned by Ben Folds back in the mid-90s:
Now that I've found someone,
I'm feeling more alone,
than I ever have before.
She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly. . . .
For the moment we're alone.
She's alone, and I'm alone.
Now I know it.
I can handle being alone—defined among the single crowd in terms of the absence of a monogamous, marital relationship—in contrast to being lonely. That's a healthy place to be. But handling the feeling of neglect and abandonment—as if you don't exist—from someone you've covenanted to love, that's well-nigh unbearable. I can see how it leads one to consider whether or not to live now, in reality (whether it be suicide or simply checking out), as "the only really serious philosophical question," as Camus suggested.

If you're the praying type, then one perhaps valuable prayer during times like these would be that God empower you to be freed from the need you feel for that other in the face of unrequited love. This isn't to suggest a desire to lose the ability to love deeply, to trust recklessly; you just want to be freed from having that other be the object of that love and trust.

It's okay to let go.

Now, I don't think it's unhealthy to be wrapped-up in another person (i.e., co-dependent in a very specific sense), insofar as one's identity (in Christ, for the Christian) isn't swallowed up in the process. Loving God with all one's heart, soul, mind and strength is a matter of priority, not a matter of exclusivity. I'm reminded in this that there is a place for speaking of God's love and trust as "risky"—risky in the sense that whenever a person opens him- or herself up to love and trust another, he or she runs the risk of it being unrequited. In some small way (given the parts we've all played in our own relational implosions), then, each of us who has had our deep love and affection and reckless trust betrayed, unrequited or used, taste the hurt, sadness and remorse that the covenant God feels in the face of the countless betrayals he has experienced at the hands of those to whom he has given everything.

In line with my penchant for unoriginality, I'll leave these thoughts here by commending a particular way to let go. I understand very well that many times it doesn't go in such a way that allows for this kind of parting (mine did not). At any rate, here's Theodore's last letter to Catherine for your inspiration:
Dear _____,

I'm sitting here thinking about all the things I wanted to apologize to you for. All the pain we caused each other. Everything I put on you. Everything I needed you to be or needed you to say.

I'm sorry for that.

I'll always love you because we grew up together. You helped make me who I am. I just wanted you to know that there will be a piece of you in me always, and I'm grateful for that.

Whatever someone you become, wherever you are in the world, I'm sending you love. You're my friend till the end.



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