Tuesday, July 11, 2006

If You Love Something, Never Let It Out of Your Goddamned Sight

I'm easy to love, and almost impossible to live with.

I know this to be true because I've heard it from virtually every woman unlucky enough to have had her life intertwined with mine for any length of time. Literally -- the same words, phrased exactly the same way, spoken at just about the same point in each relationship; it's the interpersonal equivalent of the first chords of Starship Trooper at a Yes concert -- when you hear them, you know the show's just about over.

Being a somewhat selfish jackass, I admit that there's truth to the fact that I've never been much good at relationships. Most of mine -- those of any note at least -- have typically involved months of tumult and torture, culminating in the hurling of small appliances at one another. I used to joke that all of my bad relationships seem to have only one thing in common: me.

Thankfully, my wife Jayne is a patient woman -- which is an understatement along the lines of saying that the casting of Sofia Coppola in The Godfather III was a bad idea. She puts up with a lot, and I know that there are plenty of women out there who don't envy her -- essentially every woman who knows me -- but due in large part to her steadiness and resolve, I've become a better man, a better partner and a better all-around person. At some point during our relationship, our passionate insanity dialed-down to something even more wonderful: passionate sanity. We work together as a team, which may seem common and mundane for most adults, but is in fact a task which borders on the spectacular when it's being done by a couple which is made up of 50% retard.

I still have my issues however, the most prevalent of which is the occasional crippling belief that she'll walk out the door and never come back. Psychologists would refer to this as a fear of abandonment; I look at it more as the fear of the wiser half of my relationship finally coming to its senses. I have no obvious reason to be as concerned as I am about this; it's not like my wife has begun quietly separating her CDs from mine. On the contrary, she seems highly adept at reading this feeling in me, and usually throws in an extra hug or cuddle to reassure me when she notices it coming on.

So why the worry?

I have a friend -- a woman -- who recently traveled overseas for a couple of months on business. She's currently involved in a relationship here in the states, and when she left, her boyfriend kissed her goodbye and more than likely thought little of it beyond that. They were together. They were in love. That wasn't going to change.

Only it did.

The experience altered her -- opened her eyes so to speak. The woman who returned is far more complex and multi-dimensional than the one who left, and whether he understands it or not, her boyfriend may not fit into the picture anymore. The best analogy I can think of is Einstein's belief that if you achieved light-speed, you could see the universe in an instant -- the same instant which would leave the world you departed from, and returned to, completely unchanged. The problem of course is that the person left behind -- the one who never achieved that level of experience with her -- now seems like someone from her very distant past. He knows nothing about her anymore. To put it in simple terms: she outgrew him.

Here's a question though: have you ever heard of a man saying that he's outgrown a woman? I'm sure it's happened, but for the most part, this particular sentiment seems to be a "woman thing." I don't doubt that those who base their assumptions about men on what they've seen on Everybody Loves Raymond would say that the answer is simple: men aren't constantly growing. They reach a plateau, generally in about the sixth grade, then stop. I'd love nothing more than to refute this kind of thinking, but everytime I see the commercial for Bud Light's "Man Laws," or walk by an issue of Maxim on the newsstand, or see a TV ad for Girls Gone Wild I just shake my head and accept the fact that I don't have a goddamned leg to stand on. The deck's pretty well stacked against me by my own kind.

If that assumption is true though -- that women seem to grow, and revel in the experience of growth -- then can any relationship ever be secure? As far as I know, my friend's boyfriend did everything right -- at least to the best of his ability. He supported her in her journey. He remained confident in their committment. He was, for lack of a better word, himself. Now, possibly without his knowledge and through seemingly no fault of his own, his relationship with the person he loves has struck an iceberg and is slowly -- almost imperceptably -- sinking. If the other half of his relationship has already made the decision to leave, there isn't a thing he can do about it.

It will end one of two ways: she'll simply walk out, which will leave him stunned, or she'll begin to pick fights over the kinds of issues which were once completely innocuous -- at least before the secret meeting-of-one was held, and the final solution was decided on. Either way, the result will be the same. Another unfortunate fact is that I, and no doubt others, probably know more about this poor guy's eventual fate than he does. I feel sorry for him, and that feeling extends almost completely from the fact that I wouldn't want to be him -- or maybe because I have been him.

I've been warned throughout my life many times and in many ways of the importance of showing support for your partner's endeavors; have faith they say, and believe in the strength of your relationship. I've been told that to hold on to something, or someone, too tightly will only lead to disaster. But is the fear of your loved one simply moving beyond you really that impossible to fathom?

I realize that little in life is certain -- death, taxes, bad films from Michael Bay -- but if the one you love can outgrow you with any new experience, at what point can you stop being afraid?

At what point can I stop being afraid?


VOTAR said...

Go see that god-awful Pirates movie...not to see that movie, but to see the TRAILER for the NEXT MICHAEL BAY MOVIE, due out next year. I won't give it away, suffice to say when the trailer finally stops teasing the audience, with strange short snippets of film narrated by that-guy-with-the-deep-voice, and reveals what Mr. Bay has in store for us next summer, I literally fell out of my seat laughing, as did everyone in the theatre.

As will you Chez.

Oh and yeah a shame about your friend. Is the soon-to-be-single girlfriend cute?

doctor robert ibach said...

that's an all-too-familiar story. something to incorporate into my list of philosophical thoughts. if i come up with anything i'll let you know, but due to the nature of philosophy, the chances of coming up with anything useful are slim to none.

doctor robert ibach said...

oh yeah, and...

be afraid. be very afraid. O_o

alicia said...

Seems like this used to happen to American women--when they were predestined to be housewives while their husbands had engaging careers in the outside world. (Or maybe it had more to do with their secretary's hot ass.)

I have a little theory that now that so much of our adult lives is spent on personal growth, we might accidently be outgrowing life-long monogamy. What are the odds that two people will head in enough of the same direction over the course of 50 years that they'll still be in the same country at the end of it?

Course, I'll be terribly disappointed if the boyfriend and I don't end up retiring together, so I hope either my theory is wrong or only applies to other people.

Jayne said...

a friend wrote this to me earlier after reading this entry:
"what I think is crazy/sad is that its not a man/woman issue its an issue of how we raise men vs how we raise women - its ok for women to do self-actualizing but if a dude goes after it he's gotta have mad confidence to get through the haggling that comes with it.. maybe at no point in time should anyone male or female accept a stunt in growth so that we can all do our best to stay close in our relationships.. "

Obsute Lautrec said...


Now I remember-- several posts ago you deigned yourself a movie buff-- and I wanted to soooo call you on it because I remember you admitting to me that you had NEVER seen this one movie. But I forgot what movie it was (gives you a clue as to the movie) until I read this post.




Super Troopers

The night you admitted that fact to me you ceased to be human in my mind--at least the type of human who can claim movie afficionado-ism. Finally!

Oh yeah, and Jayne ain't goin nowhere. No one sings Alice In Chains like you do.

Chez said...

You know Drew, you're right... I admitted that I had never seen Super Troopers. And you of course have a perfectly clear memory of that because that was the night you were completely fucked-up... that night which keeps happening over and over again.

In other words, I have no idea what the hell you're talking about. Of course I've fucking seen Super Troopers. I never said anything of the sort to you.

Or as Farva would say, "Oh shit! I got you good you fucker!"

musashi270 said...

You have found the bittersweet lining. When you have something that good there is always something to be afraid of: Did I put the seat down? Will she realize that I can't stand all these foreign movies? Then, when you get past all that, there is always the external: disease, the way people drive in (insert locale here), icy sidewalks, etc. You just have to let it be a reminder of what a good thing you have found.

Anonymous said...

at what point can you stop being afraid?

i think you can stop being afraid whenever you really want to.

maybe all it takes it the acceptance that there are no guarantees, that it is entirely possible that you may end up growing old alone...well, not maybe ALONE, 'cause you'll probably have some friends and family around (unless you're a complete asshole)...but alone in the sense that the special someone, the lover, the mate, may not be there...

and it might not only be that they'll walk out the door. people die, you know. there's no guarantee that you're gonna go first.

maybe it's true what my dad told me once: never give 100% of yourself to someone because, if that person goes, or if you have to bury them, then you have nothing left...

maybe...just maybe...if you can accept all that, and be at peace with it...you'll be able to appreciate what you have while you have it...

don't know, of course, if any of this is true...just musings inspired by your (courageously honest) blog posting...

Anonymous said...

I think that's it- that's the answer. You just have to accept the fact that it's possible that the one you love might leave, and in many cases probably will at some point, and just enjoy them while you have them. That, to me, is a very attractive quality. If you're going to waste the entire time that we have together worrying about what's going to drive or pull me away from you, then it's not worth it.

Insecurity is one of the least attractive qualities out there, and it WILL drive someone away. Why risk that? Be the best person that you can be, continue to grow as a person, and if you grow apart, so be it. But don't be the one who is stagnant.

buzz said...

Thanks, dude! Now you've got me thinking about when MY wife will come to her senses! I've bookmarked your page to monitor your fate and/or contribute anything useful should I stumble across the lost mine of enlightenment or something like that!

Anonymous said...

Super color scheme, I like it! Good job. Go on.

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