There is no script

I think its probably just people when they cheat on other people, tell themselves that they're doing it because they have to, because there is fate involved, and whatever happened, you're better off and probably the person that you broke up with is better off, and this is the way it was meant to be. This is fate...The ex-partner is just collateral damage
~ from This American Life's "Infidelity" episode.

I believe in fate and destination, but so much of that lies in our own hands.
~ from "Give to Live" by Sammy Hagar

In the movies, there would be dramatic music, or the sound of a needle being dragged across a record. The camera would zoom in on the moment when she decided she did not want to remain married to me, that she no longer loved me.

I spent months trying to find out what that moment, or series of thoughts were that made it clear in her mind that divorce was the right decision. Through months of counseling sessions, I imagined that even if we didn't save the marriage, at least I would come to understand (if not believe) where she was coming from. That like the play Betrayal, we would walk back in time to that point where she turned away from me and our marriage. That by going through our history together, the pieces would start to fall into place. They did not.

J believed in fate, that things happen for a reason. I did not, and I think that bothered her on some level. When she said we were destined to find each other, to fall in love, to be together - I believed we were just very, very lucky. As I have stated elsewhere, I don't think there is a grand plan that guides or controls the thousand events and decisions in our lives. I don't think things "happen for a reason". Things happen, and people try to find reason.

I can't imagine that even those that believe in the "things happen for a reason" way of thinking, ascribe a grand plan to every bit of minutiae in their daily lives. You almost necessarily have to draw the line somewhere or you might go mad. I don't think anyone subscribes to the belief that every traffic signal has meaning. But if you get in an accident, or narrowly avoid one, maybe you will subscribe significance to the timing of the red light. But then it just seems a matter of convenience picking and choosing what things are significant. 20/20 hindsight and rewriting history.

J and I met when I was working at The Keg Restaurant. What were the fated things that happened to bring J and I together? My losing my job after college? That one restaurant called a couple days earlier than another? That she dated a brother of a friend of mine who worked at the restaurant? That she chose that camping trip, and I was still awake and helped her with her tent when she arrived? Do we go so far back as to say that her Mom's car accident several years earlier was part of the plan, since J may not have moved back to Washington state otherwise? Is it all those things?

I am not here to berate those that do think things happen for a reason, or to try to change your opinion. I think our personalities, talents and upbringing may predispose us to certain behaviors and influence our life decisions. There may be something nudging us along this river of life, after all. That when we stray away from our character, there are events or decisions that may guide us back. Who knows? But when people say the that "everything happens for a reason", I reflexively find it to be a lazy attempt to comfort another, or justify their own actions. It is one thing to try to find meaning in the seemingly random, but to chalk up something within your control as destiny - well it doesn't feel all that great to be on the other side of fate.

I am paraphrasing, because my point is not to publish our private communication, but J said in a letter something to the effect that she feels there is a great plan for us in the future, and that this was all just a necessary step. What she said was probably supposed to both comfort me, as well as justify her decision to divorce, but I found it insulting. It makes me feel that our marriage, and the decade we were together, was just a tough lesson we had to learn to find our true happiness. That there was nothing either of us could have done to avoid this.

And it seems a little too convenient - that what she called destiny has changed from us being together forever, to now us being destined for something/someone else. Some may argue that we are just not privy to the plan, and that every little thing, positive or negative, is part of the process. If that is the case, then saying x,y,z is our destiny also seems presumptuous, since we really have no clue what part this event/love/wrong turn will play in the grand scheme of things. Who are we to read tea leaves and interpret destiny on the fly?

What I do believe is, that though things don't happen for a reason, if you are wise you can find reason even in the blows to the gut life hands out. Lemonade from lemons, new insight from pain and failure, the chance of a new path when a door slams shut, etc. People who have lost a loved one have been inspired to do great things in their name. And so many have found new passion for life after (or while) battling an illness. But I can't imagine someone walking up and saying, "well, your son died for a reason" or "good thing you got cancer."

In my own life, I have found new insight into myself that I probably wouldn't have gleaned without help from counseling. But I don't think our marriage had to end to make this understanding possible. Because of the divorce, and the sale of our house, I have been in a position to help out some friends. I probably wouldn't have had this ability otherwise. But to think "well, I guess I got divorced for a reason" seems ludicrous. We are all just doing what we can, with what we have, and what has brought us here.

Right now, I am feeling ripped off, betrayed, and sure, a little bitter (though probably not as much as it sounds on paper). I don't believe that J cheated, but it still feels like she was unfaithful in a way. That she did not have enough faith in me or our marriage to speak openly and honestly, and that she left mentally long before she left physically. There are still times when I wonder how we could have had such different views of our relationship, and what being married meant.

My friend mentioned that he has seen divorced men become embittered against women and marriage, but this is not how I feel. I have faith in love, belief in marriage, even if I never find those things again.

The 90 day waiting period is up, and the divorce will likely be final a week from today. I have no idea what the future holds. I don't expect any answers to my lingering questions anymore, at least not from J. There won't be a movie-like close up to zoom in on those key turning points, or a tidy happy ending by the time the movie ends. The script won't be released sometime in the future so I can pour over the hidden plot twists that I missed the first time through, or look ahead at the chapters that haven't happened yet. And I don't think there is someone out there that I have now been released to find true happiness with.

But it could happen, and I have hope that it will. But I don't think it is destined. I think it will take love, effort, and more than a little luck. In the meantime, I will continue to try to create my own meaning with everything this life has brought.


matt said...

I find it odd that when people say "everything happens for a reason" implied is that the reason is a good and/or constructive one.

Sometimes things happen for bad reasons - it's up to us to try and bring something good out of it.

Post a Comment