Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Death, education and love

I want to respond to a comment from the inspirational ultra marathoner, Olga:

One day I hope to find someone to be happy with. Right now I keep asking same question: I broke my husband's heart by telling him we need to split, and I have no regrets. The thing is, we never were friends. We were lovers, parents to our kids, co-workers...but never friends, never much to agree upon, to share an opinion about. Now seems like the whole "home-country" world is blaming - it is always a woman's fault for not been able to "bend" and keep the marriage. It is ok for a guy to see other women, yell, give commands, make decisions. It is not ok for a woman to step away from it, especially if the kids are involved. Looking back at SR's blog when his wife just left him - it feels miserable for him then. But it lead him to you. I have one of my best friends who left her ex-husband, and her new husband was left by his wife. Both men (ex and new) were basically dumped. Both had gone through pain of adjusting. Both happy now. How can I show the way to my husband that he will be happy one day, if he just lets go right now?

Dear Olga,
This is a difficult, complex question and I love it. I can tell we are going through similar things with our ex-husbands, despite having different types of relationships with them.

I 'm thinking back to the book Anna Karenina. In the book Anna left her husband to be with someone she had fallen madly in love with. I remember being so happy for her in the book and I so badly wanted to feel love as strongly as she did. But in the end, everything goes wrong for Anna. Her life falls apart and eventually she is hit by a train and killed. What a terrible ending. Tolstoy is a great author and a deep thinker. But in the end, the point of the book was that women will eventually regret leaving their husbands. I was so angry at the end of the book and was amazed at how strongly I disagreed with Tolstoy. My ex-husband had also read the book and how poignant it was that he agreed with Tolstoy and not me.

The reason I bring this up is, Olga, we live in a a society of guilt. And then add to this the all-too-prevalent belief that women should be subordinate to men. I spent much of my young adulthood living in France, and the belief that women are intellectually and emotionally inferior to men is still evident even today. One of the most influential thinkers in France was Jean Jacques Rousseau (a sexy name I'll admit), who did not believe the French government should waste money educating women. And I think this goes a long way to prevent healthy relationships between men and women.

So we have two big issues to deal with in terms of other people judging our lives from the outside. And then there is the even bigger issue of hurting someone we cared about.

But I'm telling you Olga that we are lucky. We are educated, self-assured women and we have been encouraged to value our own ideas. I do believe that only women who have this can find truly mutual love. And, of course, you need to find the right man. But if you keep your eyes and heart open, Olga, I truly believe you will find him. And it will be so worth the wait!

The other thing I will add is that guilt is an unhealthy emotion. It is as unhealthy as any disease. And probably as unhealthy as jealously. I can tell you realize this, though, since you don't have regrets. We have to realize when we have the power to make someone's life better and when we don't. And when we don't, we need to focus on what we can do. So you ask how you can show your husband the way to be happy again, and I honestly don't think you can (or should feel like you need to). Our exes need to find happiness again on their own, and when they do, they will be much better off for it.

3 comments:

olga said...

Girl, dear, this is better than therapy:) You put in words many thoughts some of my friends try to say - the thing is, I feel things better when theyr are written (Tolstoy including). Society of guilt and society of men...and everybody stepping outside of a circle is banned from it. I have no regrets for breaking up, however, I do for hurting a human beeing, especially one I was so close to for so many years. When we had to go through seminars for our son's boarding school back last summer, it talked about ceasing the guilt out of vocabulary same as you do. Habits are hard to cease, just as addictions. It requires time and probably some kind of help. I hope I'll keep making small steps towards recovery. Thanks, Girl. I knew there was a reason I followed you Guy's blog:) Who knew where it would have lead me here?

Tracizzle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sea legs girl said...

Olga, It is so nice of you to write all that and be so open. Trust me, it's therapeutic for me, too, to get my feelings out in words, and hear from someone with a similar experience.