Words and Beliefs

I’ve been telling a lot of people about the breakup, and I’ve been using the word “separated.” But I’m pretty sure when James tells people he says we are “getting divorced.” I guess this makes sense, because he is the one looking into filing, pursuing the legal end. I don’t think it will seem real to me until I see some paperwork or a lawyer or something.

Maybe the word bothers me a little bit, and maybe I am having some trouble with the finality of the term. But mostly it’s because divorce is what he wants. I don’t want to say it first because it has never been my desire for myself. And until someone makes it more concrete, it won’t seem quite real to me.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite clear to me that there is no longer a romantic relationship between us. I’m not saying that our marriage still works, or even that divorce is the wrong choice. But with the lack of information I’m working with here, I can’t say that it’s the right one either. I wish James could talk to me about how he’s feeling. But if he could, maybe all our problems would be solved.

I hope I don’t seem cold. Reading over this, it all sounds very calculated and thought-out, which it is, of course. That’s how I am when I write. That’s why I write, on some level. It helps me realize all the little thoughts I’m having and put them into some sort of context. It helps me process things, and work through the feelings.

….

I’m not doing too badly.

I feel bad for not feeling worse. I’ve told a lot of people recently and I keep being reminded by their reactions that breakups destroy people. If I’m doing all right, does that mean that my love somehow wasn’t real enough or deep enough? But love is not a destructive force. There are a lot of things that come with it that can be destructive. It’s not in my nature to be angry, jealous, vengeful, or depressed, and I see no reason to cultivate these things in myself. If all I have in me is love, why shouldn’t I be happy?

Of course I am also bewildered and sad. But what is life without sadness? For me, sadness has always had a certain aesthetic appeal. It’s beautiful. I’ve spent so much of my life absorbed in one fiction or another that it’s given me the ability to step back from my own life when I need to, and it is as if it is no more than a well-loved book that always makes me cry. This doesn’t worry me. As I said before, what would worry me is if I didn’t cry at all. As I see it, all this step back does is give me a chance to gain perspective without the intervening time most people require.

Another thing that would worry me is if I withdrew from my other social relationships. If anything I’m putting more effort into them. Of course, as a recovering Aspie, I’m not generally the one who initiates contact in any case. But I’ve been talking to my sister when she’s around, participating in board game night, and accepting the invitations I get. I connected with a lot of people at the reunion this past weekeknd. I’ve even called a couple of people! This is indeed an unusual amount of effort for me. I’ve never gotten over my fear of telephones. There just isn’t enough information about the other person’s state of mind for me to have any confidence in my conversational skills.

It’s really important to me that people feel like they can still talk to me, either as if nothing’s happened or to indulge their curiosity and bombard me with questions. Any kind of conversation is going to help reassure me that I haven’t failed at being a good human. Also, we’re not dividing up our friends at all. Our friends are too important to both of us. There is a pretty minimal level of wierdness, at least on my part, about being together in a social context, so definitely invite us both to things.

….

I don’t like the idea of owning people. I don’t like forcing people to do things they don’t want to do. When people talk about James being mine and the possibility of him being stolen, it makes me quite uncomfortable because he is not a thing. And the moment he stopped wanting to be mine he stopped being mine. In my worldview there is no other way to see it. A one-sided relationship is a totally meaningless illusion.

I don’t want responsibility for somebody else’s happiness. Because in truth I have no control over it. All I can do is be kind to people, and take the opportunities I see to facilitate their happiness. I take responsibility for my own happiness, and that is how I like it, because that at least I have some control over.

The thing I really dislike about my relationship with James is that he took responsibility for my happiness on himself. He could not bring himself to do the things he needed to do for the sake of his happiness, instead prioritizing mine. In the process, he withheld any information that would have helped me to make him happy.

A relationship is not supposed to be such a heavy responsibility. I’m happy to facilitate anyone’s happiness if they let me know how I can do that, and all I want is someone who will do the same for me, when they’re not busy taking care of themselves. I want someone who understands that I have two feet and I am not afraid to use them when necessary.

I don’t mean to discount the Swedenborgian ideals of loving something outside oneself, or a married couple ultimately becoming one angel. But I guess it seems to me that people forget that becoming an angel is just as important as, maybe more important than becoming one. If we don’t get the things we need and learn to be happy, we will never be angelic. And if we can’t communicate our experiences and needs to each other, we can never function as one. Trying to function as one beyond our capacity to do so will only lead to tragedy.

(Yes, I was raised in a strange little religion. It’s similar to other forms of Christianity, only it encourages reasoning, questioning your faith and falling in love as essential elements of life. Also everyone has a chance of getting into heaven. I think it’s generally pretty great.)

Anyway, the point is, it’s not bad to try to grow beyond your imperfections, but just about the worst thing you can do is conceal those imperfections, especially from yourself and anyone you want to be truly close to.

And yes, James is going to date other people and it will make me feel jealous. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve done anything wrong. In fact, if they can successfully facilitate James’s happiness, that is wonderful. I wish he could have been happy with me, but he was not. I hope somebody has more luck because I have no idea how to go about it.
….

Well, I didn’t set out to get all religious on this blog, but some events inevitably lead to a consideration of one’s moral beliefs and the influences thereupon. I was raised Swedenborgian, and will usually identify as such, although I also relate to Buddhist, Agnostic, and Baha’i. One of the greatest things about Swedenborgianism is it recognizes the merits and validity of other religions. Most of them contain the necessary tools for getting to heaven, so when I don’t find the tool I’m looking for in the Bible or Swedenborg’s writings, I feel quite comfortable going and looking in someone else’s toolbox. As long as I’m not using those tools to justify doing something I believe in my own heart and mind to be wrong, it’s cool.

I hesitate to call myself Buddhist when I don’t believe in the concept of physical rebirth, but I do believe in a cyclical journey which approaches perfection. I eat meat, but I believe in reducing the harm one does to other beings. I’ve agonized over this at times, when I consider how useful the tools of Buddhism have been in my life. But I genuinely believe that my eating meat increases my well-being and my usefulness to those around me more than it contributes to suffering. This is a position I have put a lot of thought and experimentation into. I feed my body what makes it healthy. It is a delicate balance which has taken decades to achieve and which I don’t care to change too significantly. And although some practices used in the production of meat are less than exemplary, it is a more complex issue with too many factors to count. For example, one cannot discount the suffering caused by GMO soybeans and the associated corporate pressures. No food is truly victimless.

I believe in most of the Swedenborgian teachings, but there are things in those books that I question too. Mostly they are in the area of romantic relationships. Swedenborg provides a blueprint for the perfect marriage, and suggestions on how to go about getting one sort of like it. But this too is a more complex issue in an imperfect world. Sometimes we have to trade the ideal for something that works better on a practical level. It may not allow us to feel self-righteous about following the rules, but it makes life better for everyone. And to me that means it is the right choice.

Ultimately all of us are just doing the best we can, in a world that is a sea of answers, but no certain answers.

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