I actually started this a while back from a different angle. I may add those parts in as serial installments at some time as I feel this is an ongoing subject that needs some serious pondering. So, aside from that little introduction, on with the piece.
Communication has become a misnomer in our society anymore. We are dysfunctional, divided and biased without full information. The news has been reduced to short feeds on our phones, quarter paragraphs on the websites and sound bites on the television. We connect, arrange and break up through the safety screen. This makes it so easy to not have to deal with the messy interaction of emotions, self-reflection, or taking of responsibility for our actions and seeing the possible destruction our actions have caused.
Case in point. I just had a multi-year relationship end via a 3 paragraph e-mail. No in person discussion, no voice talk. Just a simple safe e-mail, where the other party didn’t have to deal with the pain that was caused as a result of their decision. The reason for it was because I had the audacity to get angry that they had made plans to have friends out on my birthday weekend almost 2 months ago and I only find out the week before my birthday. Yet, I am in the wrong. I am abusive because I say it is thoughtless and disrespectful to not speak of this well in advance. I’m not even worthy of a phone call for this. Just an e-mail so they can have the last word and walk away from the wreckage without a single look back.It is like I was a file on their computer that had been sitting around for too long and simply swept into the recycle bin during the latest housekeeping. I wonder how many of us now find ourselves sent out for recycling?
The saddest part of this is that it could have been handled so very differently. Communicating early on, accepting it could get a bit emotional and messy, but that is part of life. I believe this had more to do with his inability to find the contract work he needed to make the trips out since he retired. Something I had even asked him about on occasion and was told that wasn’t the case. I have known it would come to an end at some point because of his retiring in another state. So, I wonder how much of this was needing to create a situation rather than admit I was right and he had failed to find the jobs he was so certain he would get. The truth is, it wouldn’t have made him any less in my eyes, it’s just how things are sometimes. I would have been hurt. Maybe angry for a little bit. But it, at least, would have been something I had both been expecting and could live with. It would have changed the relationship. Granted, it would have taken some time to get used to, but when you care for people, you work through things. You find ways. You fight for the relationships that have meaning. They don’t come along very often. You don’t just sweep them into the trash because you made promises you can’t keep. Because its easier to throw it in the trash rather than ride out the storm. So you shatter what could have been reformed a bit with a little patience and real communication.
Were this an isolated incident, it would be one thing. But it isn’t. People talk through screens, make plans through them, organize and create their lives through them. They are the greatest hiding devices in the world. You can be anyone you want to be, say anything you want to say. Hell, even the man in the white house shoots out angry tweets at anyone that displeases him that day. The sad truth is that is how he got there in the first place. So, it is no wonder that it has become the common way we deal with our lives. Nor is it any wonder that we don’t understand why things are the way they are. One of the more ironic things is the fact that he and I used to make comments about other people conducting their lives, breaking up, etc., via their phones or other electronic devices, what cowards they were to not handle such things face to face. And yet, he also chose the coward’s way out.
We cannot as individuals or as a society build bridges if we remain behind a safety screen. If we stand in a place where we believe that we can do what we want without taking anyone else’s feelings or expectations into consideration. Alliances, friendships and all relationships are complicated workings. They don’t always run the way we want them to. But, if we step from behind the safety screens, we may find that there was more worth saving than we thought. And in the interim, it shall be a very sad birthday this year.
September 9, 2017