Thursday, January 22, 2009

Side Effects of Love

Been feeling goth lately, craving to hear dark and gloomy/angry music. I guess it's the time of year. It makes me want to wear black and smoke cigarettes and be all existential. Was trawling YouTube for the music of my youth yesterday and found the ultimate combination of Country heartwrench and goth gloom - Sisters of Mercy meets Dolly Parton!

Another thing that's casting a pall over my frame of mind is memories of court earlier this week. A good friend of mine is going through custody hearings with her ex-husband over their two children. It really put things in perspective for me. I remember back in the day when they first got together, and how it seemed like such a great relationship. It wasn't perfect but it looked to me like they got through their differences in a mature and loving way. I was moved by how calm and sure and supportive he was during her labor with their first child. She cried when the pains came and he held her hand and said "Just think baby, when this is over you won't be pregnant any more." They both seemed to groove on family life.

Fast forward a number of years, and they're both sitting in court with stress visible on their faces. They've got new loves sitting behind them in the benches, and two kids waiting outside the courtroom. All that's a lot to manage. It's been a harrowing time for them. It's possible that if they'd gotten regular marriage counseling early on, and if they'd each gotten some individual counseling too, maybe all this could have been avoided. But parents in young families become so isolated - there's never the money or the time for that kind of thing, and it's not culturally supported. It's easier to pick up a cocaine or prescription drug habit to cope. And to numb yourself to the fact that your life is losing its juice and spiraling out of control. Family life is a lot more difficult than anyone appreciates.

I've seen a lot of court cases, have witnessed how rattled some people get when they take the stand, so you'd think I'd be able to stop that from happening to me. But you take that oath and sit in that chair next to the judge and the mean-faced attorney cross-examines you and you quickly develop a case of Alzheimer's with a touch of straight-up brain damage, stumbling over questions like how often have you seen so and so since such and such. It sucks.

I felt almost physical pain in listening to testimony from both sides. How did it come to this? When you first fall in love, you feel so lucky. You have total faith that the luck will not abandon you, that this love is sanctioned by fate. You have children, and feel determination that you will provide the completely safe and solid environment it will take to give them the childhood you didn't have. You see the wreckage of broken hearts and families all around you, in your own childhood, in your friends and on the news, but you think you can stop it from happening to you. And when it starts to, you become something far, far from your best self.

Thoughts about this subject create the conditions for internal/spiritual gloom. I just wish the best for all the parties involved.

No comments: