Renewal Eleven : It Is Difficult To See That One Cannot See

And then there’s the personal life–again.

My former lady friend’s young son visited me recently, staying overnight. I had been nervous about it and wasn’t exactly sure why. I suppose it was because of the reminder.

He seemed very happy about it all, forgoing television in favor of talking, bowling, and going on a night walk and climbing on all the rocks on the land. The talking part was his suggestion, and was kind of a surprise. It was not the first.

We decided to talk a bit while driving the 30 minutes to the bowling alley. The conversation was such that I had to pull over, the nervous energy I had prior to his arrival coalesced into a stomach hit by a baseball bat.

I do not consider it important to go into the specific details of our talk, it is not my intention to create hierarchies or to cast anyone, including myself in a bad light. It is my intention to cast some light on relationships, whether they are personal or business.

So, the upshot of this is that the process of shedding light and not creating shadows is a delicate balance. And it is important to remember that this is my view and therefore one side of the coin.

By most standards of a breakup, this one was nasty only in the sense that it was hard, at least for me. Yes, there were some sharp words and some strange and self-serving behaviors. But she and I were not married, had no children together, and were not tied economically. Nonetheless, I’m very slow at getting involved and very slow in getting over that involvement–at least the pervasive emotional connections. In the long run, I will move on, but the very real feelings that brought the three women in my life into a daily weave will last a lifetime. It has always been thus and will likely remain that way. Breakups will not change that.

For me, she had represented a renewal (as had my two former loves in their own way). I was told that it was the same for her (as my two former loves had also stated). Indeed, there was much magic in the beginning. And indeed there were problems. I love the magic and I feel I can deal with the problems. The first part has not, nor is it likely to change. The second part, while mostly true, consumes way too much energy.

Energetic, sociable, intuitive, full of laughter, playfulness, and mirth, she also seemed stalked by demons. When push came to shove, she just had trouble knowing who she really was and she could not seem to make a decision that worked for her–either because she sabotaged it or didn’t figure it out correctly to begin with.

Now, I’m no angel–I seem to require alone time (though one thing I appreciate is the ability to be alone with the one I love) and I have the notion that I’m not directly responsible for other adults, even if I may be responsible to them.

Yes, we can help each other, but I’m not a relationship janitor.

Okay, I do like to fix problems if I can, but I do not believe in life on a hamster wheel; I fix, someone else breaks, I fix, it gets broken again, and so on.

In this case, she came into our relationship with a cargo ship full of problems, from economics, to kids, to her own broken relationships, to personal ups and downs. Her byline was that this was not mine to fix, we would just be together, she liked the way I thought and I could help in strategies, but other than that, she believed in making her own way.

But the reality was not that at all. And I believe that she did not know that, believing her own mantra.

Eventually, I became the bad guy because I would not take on her problems. To her, if we were together, we were together and that meant sharing everything.

Right or wrong, I didn’t get it.

If I gave her what I had, it would indeed strengthen her position, but what she brought to the table was a need to be pulled out of her addiction to creating problems in her life. For me, helping is one thing, being a continual savior is quite another.

This seemed especially true to me because she still hadn’t learned how to keep from falling into holes, a skill I deemed necessary for a successful, long-term relationship. If that skill was in place, all we had to do was form a strategy, I reasoned. If she could take a different road, she would quit falling into holes and eventually, with help, would dig herself out of the ones she was in–after all, she was a professional, made good enough money, and certainly had the promise of more to come. Regarding her children, she knew that they required attention, that it would be tough, but she was capable if she set her mind to it. Besides, I had parenting skills and could help, even if I wouldn’t hurl myself into any black holes.

All right, the short story is that there is no fury like a woman scorned, and scorned can be a perceptual issue as well as an empirical one.

At the bottom of this pit was the problem with the “we.” However, in interpersonal relationships, it is very easy to confuse the “we” with the “I” or the “you.”

At times, a big part of her complaint was that I was too critical and that she just couldn’t be what I wanted. This struck me as self-serving since her original position was that she wanted to break her patterns and quit creating continual problems in her life. What she had trouble with was being what she wanted to be, it was not about me except that I represented the brick wall she kept ramming into as she tried to learn.

This was and is not a criticism of her, she is free to be her.

This was and is not a criticism about me, I am free to be me.

The problem was that the “we” was not going together. When information about the facts or the perceptions of “we” are misfiled as information about the “I” or the “you,” even more trouble will surely follow.

Finally, I couldn’t take being misfiled as the bad guy and I couldn’t take the contradictions and I need scorn like I need another row of toes, so, as I said previously, the relationship had to end, the “we” just wasn’t.

Somehow, her son seemed to know this–indeed he had some facts at his disposal, ones I was not aware of. And, as can be the case with 11-year-old boys, especially ones not so happy at the moment with their mothers, he popped right off with some of his own views and questions about the past and the present. It did not seem to me a behavior to get my attention or to get on my side for his own benefit. He seemed honest and thoughtful, and concerned.

An 11-year-old child. He had said some things to me before that were way beyond what one would think he should know, sort of like he temporarily fast-forwarded into a wise adult-person. This time he again seemed to morph into an old wise one.

He cried and I sighed.

Did his mother know about his feelings, I asked?

No, he was just putting two and two together.

I told him that he should consider that his mother was a person and not just a mother. People made mistakes and sometimes trouble followed. I told him that maybe it was all for the best and that time would tell what was true or not.

He said he knew that and for now was just going to forget it.

He is quite a character and I admit an affection for him, but he seemed to carry so much, and that did not seem right for one so young. But then he has his journey, the same as the rest of us.

One of the problems in human sense-making is the inability to distinguish between facts and interpretations, standing, I think, as one of human kind’s great creative chasms.

For instance, just because someone gets up from their couch and goes to the refrigerator does not necessarily mean they are hungry. That would be an interpretation. Hungry might exist in the world of probabilities, but it is not a determination. What can be determined is that they went to the refrigerator.

I am speculating that this broad interpretation–the process of creating answers to why questions and then, through some sort of cognitive alchemy, transforming those answers into facts (the misfiling syndrome mentioned above), is one of the primary reasons humans get into relationship trouble (any kind of relationship). I observe that we do this to ourselves as well as to others. We do it to our stuff (e.g., to a flat tire: “What’s wrong with this stupid tire, why me?”), we do it with God and the devil, with philosophy, with anything and nothing. This is an interesting way to create trouble and say it is evidence of a fact. Speculation has its place, but not when we create a probability spectrum and call it a dead-bang fact.

Well, it is a fact that I feel sad and hurt, but it is also a fact that I don’t know where sad and hurt reside exactly, any more than I know exactly where love resides. That tension in my gut has a strange familiarity to it, but somehow remains elusive. So is it a fact that all of this is perception?


This is not just about another broken relationship, but about patterns. And, like it or not, it is not just about other people’s patterns.

I don’t believe things occur by chance and I do believe that there are all kinds of soul mates, including ones that come together because they both have something to learn from the other.

That brings me to why I was involved in another relationship that ran off a cliff. It was a different woman, indeed, and a different me–as Deepak Chopra said, one cannot put the same toe in the same water twice. But there was something all too familiar about the process, and I am feeling a bit like a relationship lemming at this point.

She may be gone, but I’m not. Her problems are out of my sphere, but mine are not. It is not just her pattern that was weird, but what are my patterns? I could spend time blaming and citing empirical facts, but that would obscure why I was involved. Clearly it is not just someone else that needs to learn.

Renewal is sometimes very elusive. And it is certainly odd how one cannot see that they cannot see.

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