I could tell you the exact moment my marriage ended. I could tell you the exact moment it started to end. Not the hours and minutes on the clock, but the moments, the circumstances. And those two moments are separated by years. I could tell you, but I won’t. Not today.
I could tell you, but why? Why do I keep having the urge to rehash events that are now years in the past? After she moved out, I spent months analyzing things in my mind. It filled the free thoughts of my waking hours. Why?
Human beings love stories. Narrative is how we structure our understanding of the world, our lives and ourselves. And I had to have a story to understand how I had grown up believing in true love and lifelong commitment, yet had fallen short of that.
We are as driven to listen to stories as we are to tell them. We long to understand, to know cause and effect, and know the essence of the people around us. The stories a person chooses to believe, and the subset of stories that they choose to tell, are one way to define who someone is. We learn who they want us to think they are, and maybe a little about who they really think they are. And we decide how much of that we really believe ourselves. Then, they get to live for us through a filter of those beliefs and stories.
It’s a powerful instinct, and it serves at least two purposes that help make humans successful as a species. First, it transmits knowledge about how to live and what mistakes to avoid. Most of us don’t listen too well to that, though, until we’ve made the same mistakes ourselves. But still, maybe it helps us recognize our blunders sooner. Second, it provides the threads that make up the social fabric, allowing us to predict who we can count on, and for what.
I think I find myself thinking about these things today because my life would be different with a partner. It would be easier if, when I felt weak or exhausted, there was someone who could be here for my son while I got some rest. Instead, I have to struggle through as best I can, even though it makes it that much harder to get better, and to get through the next day.
My ex has my son for the night. I get to sleep late in the morning. I get to rest. This morning was hard, because the things he wanted to do were tiring. Fortunately, he had friends come over in the afternoon, and they kept busy without much need for attention from me. It’s getting easier as he gets older, but it’s still almost all I can do to keep up.
Yet, at the end of the day, it was still a good day. I made it. Cheated the Devil out of one more day. (Nod to redjeep. ;) Still flying. It’s not much. But it’s enough.