Sunday, April 24, 2005

Staring into the sun

Someone I know is unfulfilled and unhappy in his marriage and he met someone else and wanted to explore being with her. It isn't that he doesn't love his wife, but he needs more than she can or is able to give him. The closer he got to the other woman the more he realized he wanted to be with her and find out what there was between them. He was afraid to tell his wife so he planned to meet the other woman secretly. They talked online and through emails, chat, IM and on the phone, but still they didn't meet in person, thinking that would be adultery. He was wrong. Adultery is as much a thought as the physical act of being together and being intimate. He was adulterous in his heart, according to current religious beliefs.

Finally, terrified of the consequences, he admitted the truth to his wife, that he was unfulfilled and wanted to be with the other woman, wanted to make love to her. His wife is unhappy and unfulfilled, too, and she told him to go be with the other woman...and he did. He still doesn't know whether or not he will end his marriage but at least he has a chance to find out what he has with the other woman, just as his wife is finding out what choices and chances she has outside of their marriage.

He earned my respect by being open and honest despite his fear. Had he not talked to his wife he wouldn't know she feels the same way he does: unfulfilled and unhappy. He and his wife love each other, but what they have is not enough. He has earned the right to complain.

Many people are unhappy in their relationships, but few are willing to admit it. Instead they snipe at their partners, hide their thoughts and feelings and generally make themselves and everyone around them miserable. They whine and complain to friends, spilling their pain in journals (paper and online), but never tell their partners because they're afraid of what might happen. To family and neighbors and the rest of the world they put on a happy face, wearing masks and acting a farce for the rest of the world. After all, if it looks good, it must be good -- like putting sweet frosting and decorations on a dung pie, but be careful when you take that first bite.

So many people prefer to wallow in misery or lies and subterfuge than admit they hate their lives. They would slice out strips of flesh and soul, bleeding and hurting, than tell someone, anyone what they want and need and admit they can't get it from their current partner. Instead they say it's complicated or they're waiting for the other person to make a move or they don't want to push. It's dishonest. They're living a lie and this is what they teach their children, all for the sake of appearances.

As far as I am concerned, you have forfeited the right to whine, complain and otherwise beg for attention. Until you're honest with yourself and everyone around you, until you quit pretending you're happy and everything is all right, you don't get to kvetch.

If you want to know how someone feels -- ask them.
If you are unhappy -- say something.
If you know where your happiness lies and what/who makes you smile -- reach out and take it.
If you prefer to wallow in pain -- shut up until you do something about it.

If half a life is all you want, you're welcome to it, but you haven't earned the right to whine unless you do something about to change your situation and choose a full and happy life. It's not complicated. You may have to split your possessions and find somewhere else to live. You might even have to give up seeing your children every day. You certainly will have to face your neighbors and family and the rest of the world and let them see the past few years they thought you were happy was all a lie, but what you get in return is an open and honest and much happier life.

However, if you are currently involved with someone other than your spouse or partner and you're dangling the other wo/man on the hook, have the decency to tell them that you prefer to live a lie and be unhappy than to be with them. If you're the wo/man dangling on the hook, ask the hard question, the one that will end the pain and give you a chance to heal and move on with your life: Are you going to leave your spouse and be with me?

Draw a line in the sand. If the other person won't cross it, turn and walk away. Yes, it will hurt, but the hurting will lessen with time. Stay and play the martyr and I guarantee the hurting will never go away. It's your choice. Keep cutting out strips of your soul or lay down the knife and give yourself a chance to heal.

No choice is still a choice.

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