That’s harsh but a reality which will hit many post the pandemic. I come to realize this of our relationships when some experiences flood my mind when locked down and isolated at home.
It’s based on my observations and experiences of the time before, during and after one of my dear friends fight with cancer. When she was told after numerous failed attempts to first effectively diagnose and then treat her condition that her chances of survival were limited her husband was devastated. She was given at the most 4 months to live. This happened in 1989 when treatment options in Hyderabad were limited.
Then the best – and the worst – thing happened. After she was moved from Hyderabad to Mumbai to be treated at the Tata Memorial, she was delivered from a death sentence to remarkable health. Within six months, you wouldn’t have guessed that she had cancer and was on the verge of dying. But, now her relationship was quite ill. Her husband started to feel smothered and possessed; and complained that the passion was gone. His experience was not surprising in relationships that are formed when one partner is quite ill and thought to be headed toward the end of life.
She confronted her husband. “You were prepared to love, care and honor me, to be my husband until death do us part – but apparently only if I was going to die in four months. Well I didn’t die, and now this is real relationship, a real marriage for life. Now that there is no death sentence hanging over me, we are left with our day to day commitments, the usual problems everyone deals with. I’m happy that I have been given the gift of life. You act as though you have been given a life sentence”
Apparently when confronted with the reality, her husband was able to realize that it was easier to commit to loss. He was able to see that it was one thing to be the hero, the man who came at the end of her life, and quite another to be her husband when she was going to live.
Most of us like to be a part of such fairy-tales and fantasies. Of being a hero for someone and getting a sense of satisfaction that we could do something for someone.
All those who are pouring their elderly parents, children, family and friends with loads of attention, care and empathy have to realize that these very people would have been a pain in the past when they demanded your undivided attention and care. You would have tried to run away from them and kept asking for solitude and ‘me time’. Complained that they just don’t understand that you have a life too and they are taking away or asking too much of you to be there for them all the time. It is true in marriages as well isn’t it? Particularly those who got into fairy tale weddings after intense and passionate time of courtship.
Post the lock-down and in the future, most will be hit with the same reality of life. You must realize the fact that in all this sudden outpouring of care and empathy, what were you trying to fix? Isn’t it the same when you find the very politicians you despised suddenly showing enormous sense of charity; those who never did volunteering suddenly posting pictures of their charity and volunteering work on social media?
Each one of us have to think deeply. What are we trying to fix? Is it someone else or ourselves.
If you feel you are incomplete, not happy and comfortable with yourselves, or are not loved; you tend to seek avenues outside of yourself to satisfy that need for completeness. You will continue seeking out for those who are dying! – though not always literally.
Relationships offer us the biggest opportunities for learning lessons in life, for discovering who we are, what we fear, where our power comes from, and the meaning of true compassion and love. The idea that relationships are great learning opportunities may seem odd at first, because we know that they can be frustrating, challenging, even heartbreaking experiences. But they can also be, and often are, our greatest opportunities to learn, grow, love and be loved.
ARE YOU THE ONE WHO JUST CARES CAUSE SOMEONE IS DYING?