As the news of our separation begins to spread, I have had a number of conversations with friends who have expressed unhappiness with their relationships.
"Oh, God, I would love to leave my husband, but I'm terrified of being alone. I just can't handle it. But I would leave, if I could...I really would. He's driving me crazy. You are so brave. I wish I could do it. You're doing it for all of us."
First of all, let me say I am not brave. I was up last night at 3 a.m. with a bad headache, praying for pain relief and the ability to fall back to sleep. And a lottery win.
Is anybody happy? Let's start with the definition:
1 Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. 2. Fortunate. 3. (of words or behavior) very suitable, pleasing.
Unless you are clinically depressed, or dealing with a serious crisis, I think most people show pleasure or contentment some of the time. Fortunate? A lot of us who don't have jobs now are not feeling fortunate and that is clearly putting a strain on relationships. I would bet that the divorce rate is up right now.
I do know some couples who have the kind of relationship I would like to have. Here's the story of one of them.
"A" was married rather young, around 26, to a man, "P" who she met at work. He was (is) seven years older than she is and he was either married or separating from his first wife. They seemed to be so suited to each other, A & P, they had very similar backgrounds, the same sense of humor, they almost looked like brother and sister. I remember at one of A's birthday parties, P made a toast that was so loving, I felt a bit envious. They had two kids, two years apart, and when the kids were young, they moved from the city to the suburbs. This did not please A, but she felt she had no choice, since P was a control freak.
P traveled often for his work and I remember being a little surprised whenever A said, "Yay! I'm so happy when he's away!" Steve traveled too and though I enjoyed having the time with Zoe, I did miss him.
One summer everything pretty much imploded between A & P. A had an affair. When it turned out that P had already had one, with one of their close friends, it became clear that the relationship was over. They lived together for a time in that War of the Roses way, but once they sold the house, A began a new life that included dating. She also found a good job, it didn't pay too well, but she enjoyed it. Her two kids, ten and twelve at the time of the divorce, were definitely struggling and it was a bad time for A, who had very little support from her family.
She put herself on a few dating websites and proceeded to go out with pretty much every decent guy in the tri-state area. She slept with a few and tried hard to find a little bit of happiness where she could.
Then one day, a few years into her new life, she told me she saw a guy (L) on-line who seemed thoughtful and attractive. He was wearing a baseball cap in his photo that had the letters of her favorite radio station. After a few emails back and forth, L requested that they meet, since most of the time when you are face to face, you realize that there's no way you're going to like this person.
So they met. And that didn't happen. They liked each other. Immediately. I remember A saying, "I like this guy....but he's so different from anyone I've ever dated."
And one of her friends, it might have been me, said, "And is that such a bad thing?"
Clearly it wasn't. They fell in love and although it wasn't easy, they both have two kids and bringing together two families is always a challenge...and they both have difficult ex's...despite all that, it worked out. Brilliantly.
In Yiddish the word "beshert" means soul mate. A & L are soul mates and it is a pleasure to know them and witness their love. I am so happy for both of them and I hope someday that I may be fortunate enough to meet my beshert.
In the meantime, I'm just going to try to be happy and get through the nights. And I think I'll go buy myself a big bottle of Advil and a few lottery tickets.