Have you ever broken someone’s heart? Have you seen someone breakdown in sorrow because of your actions and not realised it? Have you missed a beat in a relationship and just kept ticking like it never happened? I have.
Adele’s new song Hello has brought back memories of it like a storm. Life is as full of regrets as it is full of remembrances. The regrets fade but they never disappear. They are often stored in that Pandora’s box, waiting to open up and catch you unawares.
I broke a boy’s heart once. He was full of adolescent love for me, which ran deeper than just raging hormones. And so was I. Or so I thought. Until the day someone more special came along. And that’s it. I left him and broke his heart. I saw his despair, but in my juvenile hedonism of this new-found love, I didn’t feel his sorrow.
This has haunted me in unexpected ways over the years. Guided by the gentle encouragement from my husband, I made a few attempts to reconcile with him over the years (now that we have social media, it’s hardly difficult), but he hasn’t accepted my efforts. The sad truth is that we were great friends. We were always good friends first and then partners. The loss of that friendship is my deepest regret. I wish I had been kinder and more graceful in my exit from this partnership.
In the years since, I have learnt that relationships are more fragile than they appear. The unpredictability of how tomorrow may turn out to be and the numerous probabilities of happenstance are the two main factors that keep relationships fragile. It’s as if God needs to test the bricks he is making in his kiln by throwing them against the earth just to see if they shatters or stay in one piece…again and again.
But my question to you is – do relationships break off overnight? Can bonds developed over months and years be so weak that within a matter of days, we don’t want to see or know each other anymore? I see around me numerous examples that would imply this on the face of it – brothers never speak to each other again over a family property dispute; partners walk away from marriages that are decades old over a one-night affair.
When were the seeds of discontent sown? Immediately, in the present situation? I think not.
Just like our body gives us signs before a big sickness comes our way, I think relationships give us signals that things are not working out, much before the ‘turning point’. When I think back on why I broke off with this boy, I remember the times he kept me waiting for him for hours and how that slowly peeled away my self-esteem. I remembered the distance I felt from him when he didn’t return my calls and how lonely that made me feel. I remember how far he lived from me and how difficult it was for us to meet. I remember thinking things and then choosing not to share them with him, for he would not hear. I remember trying to please him. Trying to sound attentive and interested in his hobbies, even when I was not. The pressure I put on this relationship is what I couldn’t stand eventually.
We humans are so selfishly geared towards our own happiness that when something seems to be a hurdle in it’s way, we want it to go away…now, especially when something else more attractive is just on the horizon. As long as the inner restlessness persists, we won’t stop to ponder on the morality, the delivery and the consequences of our immediate actions.
These are often the moments where an adherence to our personal code of conduct is most needed. With a little more grace, I may have been able to forgive him then and there and with compassion, moved on from this relationship.
I sometimes see him.
When I see him, he averts his eyes and pretends he didn’t notice me.
I respect that. 15 years of marriage to one man has taught me the value of keeping a distance when needed and protecting the other person’s intentions.
What do I feel when I see him? Tender-hearted- like one does when you see an old friend; slightly embarrassed- as I recollect our last memories together; but mostly hopeful – as I look at him searchingly for something…forgiveness?
I will probably carry this with me to another life. Maybe I am meant to make it up to him in another lifetime. In this one, I am committed. The only saving grace is to see him happy and know that he has moved on.
So, hello from the outside. At least I can say I have tried. Thanks Adele.