Toxic Relationships Of Others
I'm in a unique space that puts me smack dab between my peers getting married remarried, divorced, and inhabiting spaces in between.
My friends are expanding their families and, to my surprise at how fast time flies, a couple of my slightly-older-than-me peers are experiencing the birth of their first grandchildren.
I'm seeing it all. Most important, I'm hearing it all. And it effects me.
It's about five years back and the state of affairs between people in my life and their spouses is somewhere between suspicious and completely broken.
I witness activities of cheating spouses--some of them engaging in multiple affairs outside of their marriages. I see what it looks like for people to feel entitled by their gender or position in life to side-pieces.
Divorces are beginning and settling. I'm hearing stories of betrayal, rejection, resentment, and disdain for human beings who used to be the source of so much bliss at one time.
Of those who aren't cheating or divorcing, there's growing pains. Some are deeply dissatisfied with who they've chosen as their life partner and are confiding in me. Relationships are being stretched to their limit. Patience, trust, and willpower are being tested.
I'm being encouraged by some of these people to skip marriage altogether. Fuck it. Just don't do it. It is a dark and miserable place. It will destroy you. Stay free.
It's all effecting me. It's making me second-guess whether I want marriage. I'm considering marriage alternatives. I'm losing a little faith in humanity. I'm questioning the point of marriage. The function of it. The dysfunction of it. I'm losing hope for what I want based on what I'm witnessing. I'm discouraged by the stories I hear.
Toxic relationships of others can be paralyzing in our own lives if we inhale the noxious fumes. At this time, one thing is clear, I'm in a toxic environment and I'm getting sick.
It got to be too much.
I'm a good listener, but I'm also susceptible to absorbing energy, good and bad. I was learning this lesson the hard way.
I was losing the wholeness of my vision, so to protect it, I insulated myself from other people's toxicity. I was there only for my closest, non-needy friends, but I didn't want to know any more details from anybody else. I cut it off. When the conversation started to go there, I found a way to wrap it up and escape.
It wasn't moral judgement or pity or the idea that anyone was a "bad person" that led me away from these conversations. It wasn't fear of what life with a spouse might be or any reluctance to face the possibility of hard times. It was a conscious decision to protect the wholeness of my vision. If one day I marry, challenges are sure to arise. I accept that. But if my vision of marriage is to be tarnished, let it be tarnished by own experiences and not the narratives of others.
Marriage is something that, at this moment in life, I want--to share my life and build something meaningful in partnership with another person. It's important for me to emphasize that qualifier--that marriage is something I want at this moment--because I may grow out of this desire the same way I've grown out of a lifetime of desires. I may grow out of it not for a lack of opportunity to experience it, but an evolution of own individuality. I allow room for change.
Even still, it's what I want as I sit here today.
My heart goes out to people around me struggling to keep their marriages (or integrity) intact, but I've long given up my listening ear. I learned that I have to guard my hope and optimism from the toxicity of others' relationships.
Photo credit: State Library Victoria Collections via CC Flickr