Grown-Up Goodies

I recently ran across a blog post by my friend, M., who discussed the finality of divorce and the harsh realities of breakups. M’s post was poignant, well-written and rather thought-provoking. Moreover, it fit well into my life and spoke accurately to the nuances we discover in our relationships as we grow older. The realities of breakups have a double burden for me: I’ve recently gone through [am going through?] one, and a couple very close to my hearts (we’ll call them R. and G.) are going through a … situation, if you will. I hesitate to use the term “divorce” in describing their current status, although it is potentially waffling on the edge of loveless marriage and divorce.

My current situation is one that I can’t really categorize, if I’m being honest with myself. It’s an interesting situation and one that I’m sure could better be discussed on a less public forum. I have decided to discuss it in an open manner, however, knowing (hoping?) that others have gone through situations such as this before. My ex (although his name has been strewn throughout this blog in the past, we will refer to him as ‘Mac’ so as to not have to use his name over and over in this context) and I decided to go our separate ways shortly before my departure for London. Knowing that we would be separated by a 5500 mile flight and an 8-hour time difference, we decided to give ourselves room voluntarily, rather than learn the hard way that long-distance relationships are difficult, if not impossible for types like us. Well, three months later, I find myself still exchanging emails and phone calls with Mac on a daily basis. As one of my London friends so aptly noted, “breaking up didn’t break [us] up.” It’s true. Being that we were such good friends and were effectively part of each other’s families, separating was not a simple task. Breaking up effectively caused us to change our facebook statuses to single and open ourselves up to meeting new people, but it did nothing to hinder our connection. Although I much like having daily conversations with Mac (he has been my best friend for a number of years, after all), I question whether a bond like that is the healthy way to end a relationship [is it better to rip the band-aid off or peel it off slowly?].  Does talking daily lead to an inherent assumption that things will be “back to normal” one day? Additionally, although we’ve both openly discussed the fact that we’re able to date other people, has this connection hindered our abilities to move forward for fear of hurting our “friendship”? If I stepped outside of our situation for a moment, I would likely say yes. Now, you may be asking, “if you and Mac are best friends and clearly love each other, why not just be together?” ‘Tis a valid question, and an answer might be easy to come by if my life weren’t so complex (read: complicated):

I have this ridiculous desire to succeed in life. For me, success is defined by incredible education and the independence derived therein, not by number of babies that I can produce. Unfortunately, there is this career/life dichotomy that’s not easily reconciled in the real world. Typically, one takes precedence over the other. If I choose the career path (the path I’m currently on), the family/relationship component has to fall into place accordingly. If I choose the family/relationship path (the “alternate” path, if you will), then my career will be the component to fall into place. Sadly, I don’t want to have to choose. I  don’t feel that letting my career “fall into place” does justice to the time and effort I have put into my education. On another front, I don’t want to sacrifice a solid relationship and family ties for my career. Seeing as how I have to choose, though, it seems as though my career and prospects have taken precedence. I don’t want to live my life in a limited world that will cause resentment down the road. For this reason, in conjunction with the fact that I’m not entirely sure whether I will be pursuing a PhD or a career that could place me in a foreign country, I feel that staying with Mac does us both an injustice. It’s not fair to keep someone hanging on, not knowing whether or not you’ll ever return. Alternately, it’s not fair for me to return for a relationship and then resent him later on. In conclusion: Why didn’t anyone ever teach us that relationships are so complex?!

After all the hardships involved in my breakup after three years of dating, my thoughts trail back to my friends, R. & G. who are going through a separation after 35 years of marriage. If you’ve been in a long-term relationship, you know how difficult it is to part with someone with whom you share so many memories. When Mac & I broke up, there was the process of moving my stuff out and separating our “assets” (a Wii, Wii fit board, miscellaneous kitchen appliances, etc.) which I found a bit daunting and oddly final. When R. & G. separate [in the future], they’ll have to deal with the real task of dividing assets: a house, cars, money and kids. Not that the kids will be divided, seeing as how they’re grown up, but still… the thought of splitting with someone after so many years is heart-breaking. At what point do you realize that the person you thought was your perfect match is not so perfect anymore? And, upon coming to that realization, how long until you move from the “this isn’t working” stage to the “let’s get divorced” stage? If I’m having problems fully moving on after three years, how do you move on after thirty-five years?! Is it possible to find someone and build a new relationship knowing that no relationship will ever come close the vast amount of time you’ve already spent with this other person?

Through my relationship with Mac, and through looking at R. & G.’s relationship, I have learned something: Relationships can’t be defined as successful only if they end in marriage and happily ever after. Relationships, whether one year or fifty years can be successful in and of themselves, for what they are. My time with Mac was full of amazing memories, incredible adventures and a number of learning experiences. I have learned what is important to me, as a person, and I have learned what I find important in a partner. Whether or not Mac and I get back together in the future, I know that it’s something I can always look back on with a sense of accomplishment. After all, if you could meet Mac, you’d know that putting up with his stubborn ass for three years is quite the feat.



5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Aman on December 1, 2009 at 2:22 AM

    Your friendly neighbourhood spell checker again. I got a PhD in long distance relationship (= marriage) after 7 years of research (=living in 2 different continents). My summary is what is embedded in your heart always rules over your rational Californian brain (yes I am severely biased in favour of anything that remotely relates to Calif.) at some point in life.


    • Hey friend! I think that’s such a valid point and it’s nice hearing it from someone who’s been in a similar situation. Though I have told myself time and time again that long-distance is too hard to overcome, it seems that we ARE overcoming it, whether that was our intention or not.

      BTW, SEVEN YEARS OF RESEARCH?! Maybe I’ll have to re-think that PhD! :)


      • Posted by Anonymous on December 1, 2009 at 4:47 PM

        Don’t even think of beating my record. They are not giving a Nobel in this


      • Posted by Aman on December 11, 2009 at 10:42 AM

        Was sad to see your status change… didnt want to comment on fb… as i said i know what it takes… so ill shed a tear.. remembering purely my times of ………


        • Hey friend! It wasn’t a new change… We’re both listed as single, but our relationship is the same (not easily categorized). I just didn’t have ANY relationship status listed before so I just listed it! All is good in Mac & Shan-land though :)

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