When Love Turns to Stone

walking-away

photo by unknown; c/o Unsplash.com 2017

This comes down primarily to the male perspective, at least as it unfolds on the page from this writer’s ‘pen’. I ponder about truth and consequences when I dig deep down inside for reasons that beautiful relationships so often take a wrong turn in the highway and get lost in a haze of confusion and indifference.

I speak not just from my own perspective or life and relationship experiences, rather, for the great many who go through life consumed with a passion of the heart, a relationship which blossoms into something quite extraordinary, often for years, before inevitably doing an about face and a crash and burn. I know what many are thinking already through the foregoing; another sloppy castration of life on the relationship merry-go-round, a boo hoo all over the keyboard of like-turns-love in the song of anger and hostility. Not so.

I’ve lived through close to six decades of life thus far and one thing seems shockingly clear and not only from a statistical standpoint; one out of every two marriages today will end in divorce. That statistical average has been around for some time now yet steadily creeps upward while healthy relationships turn sour and nosedive into a spiral of smoldering wreckage on the runway of life.

Are we predisposed on a crash course regardless of whether our relationship and living arrangements flow through vows before God and witness or a mere arm’s length pronouncement of deep devotion in the heat of passion and the ultimate common law cohabitation that more informally ensues?

It all begins with awkward chats in the classroom or library, the heart sounds of early connection while shuffling across the dance floor with subtle moves of intertwined jigsaw puzzle bonding which stirs a warm sensation. Or maybe it’s the ultimate fixation on the sweet young lady tending to administrative tasks at the office, an interoffice romance budding despite the pretentious and desperate warning of fellow workmates to stand clear.

Regardless of where it is, perhaps the very first, revealing and undeniably stimulating sparks fly between both the parties to the attraction suddenly making first and prolonged eye contact that speaks a thousand words without a single audible syllable uttered. Broad smiles and facial blushing meet sweaty palms and more awkward glances.

Eventually, as nerve rises to the occasion and the core chemistry feels right, one asks the other if he or she would like to step out for a coffee and donut together, a glass of wine and cheese. If the occasion progresses comfortably perhaps there is the suggestion of a full course dinner to round out a lovely evening together.

Ultimately, if not on first ‘stepping out’, soon thereafter a warm and fuzzy ‘likeness’ begins to smolder deep down, somewhere quite near where the heart resides. Heartbeats hasten as we catch a welcome glance from the other that spells a quickly blossoming friendship that could fuel a Saturn rocket clear beyond the far side of its namesake planet.

Ultimately hands will touch. It will signal subtle permissions or acknowledgments that the time is right for advancing to respectful yet more significantly meaningful engagement, moving closer together, voices lowering as though the privacy of impending intimacy in the discussion were preferred. Knees may nudge together beneath the ornately dressed table. There is an instant, not well-defined, which occurs somewhere along this posturing of connection that is now swiftly graduating both to a level of new awareness and impending responsibility.

A relationship has been gently nurtured and has hopefully burgeoned into yet another phase that takes both parties well beyond simple infatuations and their minds race now to examine every detail, decipher each other’s comments and inhale the subtle nuances of body language, eye contact and other gentle maneuvers which finally signal that the door is now ajar for he and she (or he and he or she and she etc. etc.) to consider the next step once at least a couple of meaningful outings has concluded. (Point well taken here to knock off the run-on sentences!)

We sit or walk together for hours, countless hours chatting up a two-way conversation which usually summarizes our likes and dislikes, our personal and career aspirations, our beloved family members who have got us this far in life. Perhaps then is a good time to gently nudge mom’s second cousin Marianne who is horribly pretentious and judgemental who will insist on a meeting, invariably to satisfy her overt curiosity the newfound love interest who is preoccupying her nephew’s every hour…Good Lord, when she pronounces: “Why he even dreams about you dearest!” Oh brother, Aunty, please do beg away to tend to those nasty intestinal cramps and gnarled toenails, please.

Well, the passion grows and burgeons into a full-fledged desire to make this relationship advance to ever-higher levels of testing and assurance through the steamy bliss that would be the physical intimacy, the ultimate tie that binds. If all goes as anticipated, that sultry union seals the deal with a kiss, the full-fledged desire to share a long-term relationship, or as otherwise has been predetermined in advance. 

Love, passion and a powerful sense of attachment and bonding emerge as the newly refined state of endearment. The love is beyond words, the sex crazy spellbinding, respect and admiration literally transforming two lovers into a new entity of commitment through a sense of longing for being together constantly and the ultimate plans of cohabitating in an apartment or house together.

Love, passion and a powerful sense of attachment and bonding emerge as the newly refined state of endearment. The love is beyond words, the sex crazy spellbinding, respect and admiration literally transforming two lovers into a new entity of commitment through a sense of longing for being together constantly and the ultimate plans of cohabitating in an apartment or house together.

Months and years pass and while love flourishes and blossoms newly budding romantic and endearing sentiments and the desire to do new things together, to find happy middle ground when it comes to financial decisions, food purchases, vehicle purchases, travel together, dinners with family and relatives and ultimately, perhaps, a more formal decision to recognize the relationship through wedding vows…or simply to continue to live and share together in blissful common law or some such thing.

Ever more significant is the decision about whether to introduce children to a newly formulated family entity or remain together without children for any number of reasons whether personal preference, medical complication, age, affordability and so on. Life continues to be good, happy, seemingly sound in every conceivable way.

No relationship is absolutely perfect, flawless and without periodic misunderstanding. Sometimes, disagreements go deeper than the surface and demand closer, more logically methodical conversation and meeting of minds somewhere ideally near the middle ground where both of you can relax and accept through mutual compromise.

That kind of dialogue and being able to work things out when the road gets bumpy is essential. It cannot be simply a superficial give and take on the surface of the issue. We have to take the time and energy to make sure that we have explored different perspectives, channeled any misconceptions tidily into a reconciliation file of our minds and hearts which speaks loudly that we are cool with our eventual decision and can happily live by it moving forward.

As we all know living with another person means a lot of decisions; who cleans, who does laundry, who does repairs, who shovels the snow from the porch, steps, driveway, and sidewalk? Who handles tax returns, banking, payment of bills? Should we bring a pet home and into our busy lives?

Life’s demands compound, we age, we fall under increasingly stressful situations at the office and at home. Health issues may at some point come into play, perhaps serious enough to frustrate and exacerbate continuance of life as we know it, we change jobs to advance our careers or startup a new business venture as we move into a new and challenging phase of our professional lives. Pressures mount as greater expenses are frequently incurred or invested, staff headaches raise their ugly heads, we struggle with growing pains and added pressures. Suddenly the romance of it all, the new career moves, business endeavor, a new car or home acquisition and more sophisticated travel is desired.

Pressures mount as greater expenses are frequently incurred or invested, staff headaches raise their ugly heads, we struggle with growing pains and added pressures. Suddenly the romance of it all, the new career moves, business endeavor, a new car or home acquisition and more sophisticated travel is desired.

As if all of those challenges were not enough, now we begin to experience and deal with serious family health issues; our parent(s) are elderly and failing, becoming infirm and needing more and more personalized medical and living assistance. Tragically, one parent passes away prematurely leaving their surviving spouse struggling desperately to maintain an existence in a world where they depended on the other to work day in and day out.

Interfamilial differences develop and issues such as division of assets from an estate become a battleground of distrust and resentment. Lawyers get involved and families disengage. Fatigue between our loved ones wears them down, bit by bit, day after day. The business, while holding its own, is blindsided by a failing economy, rising taxes and fuel costs and so much more. The happy go lucky lifestyle slowly ebbs away, being squeezed like a boa constrictor coiling and recoiling around its victim, tightening their hold and ultimate deadly consumption.

It all sounds rather dramatic but it happens to someone, to a couple, to a family everywhere. Tension and arguments will ensue. The business owner strains under the pressure of keeping his/her business afloat and developing while the other partner waits silently in the wings feeling a sense of passing indifference toward he or she and toward each other. A distance gradually widens the gap and feelings run raw and frayed. One is reluctant to vocalize what is tearing them up inside. The neglect and anguish are choking, backing them into a corner, passively biding time, waiting for a turning point which may or may not ever be realized again.

Lifestyle has been fully comprised as personal finances get choked off severely during the business downturn. Every aspect of life as the couple knew it is turned inside out, reduced to memory as those things he and she can no longer enjoy until a time, if and when, things turn around. The silence and anger are stifling, prohibitive and risky at such a sensitive time. The conversation becomes reflex and often hastily blurted out, meaningless except to concede or pass decisions to the other partner.

Isolation builds walls and while one partner is consumed in a home or office environment day and night, struggling to breath fresh life into the business, while the other partner languishes in the boredom of restriction and meaningless distraction to while away the days without purpose.

We can see here just where this relationship is heading. The two partners are on a dangerous crash course, spiraling helplessly into that ultimate and dreaded destruction. The two languish in the sustained hardships, the lost communication, the love and intimacy they once cherished. It is desperate, hurtful, agonizing and neither partner wants to concede defeat. They cannot let the ship list far enough to take on water and sink into the depths of the cold and darkness of their new realities.

One is secretly contemplating walking away or starting a new relationship with someone he or she has met. The emotional pain for both partners is crushing and they simultaneously deliver the final blow that calls an end to their relationship, their marriage, their love and caring for each other indefinitely.

How many silent tears fell upon the pillow night after night, one crying themselves to sleep while the other burdens over a sea of paper and computer tasks that ties him or her to the desk chair like overpowering restraints. It is a desperate feeling, the prospect and living out life without that partner in the other room, knowing that their disconnect cannot go on.

How could they possibly allow this crushing and devastating situation to continue, unaddressed, ignored and avoided? How could they have let their own relationship dissolve into a puddle of nothingness? And how, in the now, can they verbally and emotionally begin to hurt each other through irreversible comments that will tear them apart?

What we had was so good, so right, so beautifully right. How can one or both just turn their backs and walk away? Tears and anguish, always silent tears. After all those years of building and loving the journey, it turned into nothing more than bitterness, sadness, utter disbelief and the pain of recognizing the finality.

You implore in your own mind that “I loved you more than life itself…and you I.” How can it possibly be over? When in the name of God did our love turn to stone? Our heart sounds were silenced, our lifelong dreams crushed under the weight of living, surviving.

Love nurtures and sustains us. It blesses our being with the knowledge and purpose to persevere for the sake of each other. Tears begin to fall….

A large, dark void engulfs us, chokes off our breathing, makes the falling tears sear at our eyes as a burning flame. Our heartbeat rapidly accelerates. Our breath draws shallow and labored. Anxiety clings to every nerve ending, signaling that the runaway train has left the track.

I want to call out her name yet the words will never escape my cracked and weeping lips. We pledged eternal love…to each other, over and over. It was forever, for us, for our future! How can we just walk away after so many years together? Why? Why now…just a little longer. You’ll see.

Startled, I jolt to the realization that I was distracted, drifting. I swing the office door open and call out her name, loudly, beseeching. There is no answer save the soft click of the door latch as she turns and walks away.

Trembling, I lower myself back down to my chair. My world was crumbling and helpless, or unwilling, I remained prone and in complete and utter silence. A vehicle’s engine started up just outside the front door. Wheels rolled across the pavement, slowly, then stopped.

I rose to hasten to the front bedroom window. She fed her luggage and bags into the trunk, closed it and eased herself down into the front seat and closed the door. Emotionless, she never looked back, not once.

Tears again welled, my vision blurred. My face felt moist, streaked with the lashes of unanswered weeping. What can I do to turn this around? What could I have done differently? What have I done? I tried so desperately hard and though I had an exciting turnaround in my business forthcoming it had no bearing on this outcome, this dark void, this voiceless, unrelinquished leaving.

When last did I say “I love you” and when did it cease to mean a thing?

When will it be too late for you? When will forever be renounced without warning? When will your heart and soul turn to stone? When your voice falls deathly into silence, then is where she turns and walks away…

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