Sunday, January 23, 2005

Gathering the Why

I’ve had a long, weird night, kids, and then I was awoken by a wrong number calling my house at 3:30 a.m. and have been up since.

Normally, after some effort, I would have gotten back to sleep, but tonight I’m left awake, thinking about the connections we have with one another and how fragile they can really be.

I’m not writing about my own marriage here, I promise, but some things I’ve heard tonight in conjuction with a movie I saw have left me thinking about divorces and firings and the similarities there.

The CSO, who knows a lot about corporate things, reports that because of lawsuits it is now a common practice to “gather evidence” to justify a firing. So the fired person is offered at the firing a file of reasons they were fired.

And any divorced person knows a thousand reasons why they are divorced.

But like what we think of as a thousand different causes of death can be summed up as “cardiac arrest,” our reasons for firing and leaving all boil down to “I’ve lost faith in you.”

At what point do we give up on the connections we have, our employees, our spouses, and just start gathering evidence?

“When finding a replacement is easier than keeping them, “I suppose is one answer.

“When there’s a catastrophic event” is another, though I don’t think that’s actually very common.

Legally, as far as I know, every state is a right-to-work state when it comes to marriage. We can break up for any reason. But when there’s a divorce, (or a firing) the people around always want to know WHY.

One can take a judgemental view and assume it is just snoopishness, but that’s not really it to me, I don’t think. If someone is fired at my company, I want to know why so I can amend my own behavior. If they were fired for being late too often, I’ll be much more careful with my own timing, for example. If they impregnated the boss' wife, I can be relieved.

Tonight, my friend talked about leaving her husband, who has no idea this is coming. I’ve been mulling over what she had to say, tongue-across-a-mouth-sore-style, and I think that what has me doing that is that her reasons boiled down to “my husband is an inconsiderate, indecisive, pain in the ass.”

She’s right, I’m sure. Yet like the prosecutor on cross-examination, my mind wants to go “But was he this way when you married him? If so, why leave now?” I know this guy. To have met him is to know that sensitivity is not necessarily a real strong point. He has a romantic Don Quixote quality, but whether his Dulcinea is a believer likely doesn’t often occur.

So what makes that intolerable now? I actually do have some idea in her case, and I’m not saying her actions aren’t justified. They likely are. And even if they weren’t justified enough for me, that’s none of my business. This is a right-to-work state.

Probably in the end, my worry boils down to the fact that I am an inconsiderate, indecisive pain in the ass sometimes. My husband is, too. Will he be the one gathering evidence in ten years? Will I?

I am bemused that I find myself a bit resentful over my friend’s explanation. Couldn’t she come up with something BETTER? Couldn’t he have poisoned the cat? Or cheated on her and given her an STD? Or something?

Something catastrophic, something dramatic. Something that would give me the chance to sidle away from the idea, thinking to myself “But the CSO would NEVER do THAT…”

I do think that sparing our friends such pain, as well as justifying our already-decided-upon actions to ourselves, is why we gather the why.

But it must be an awful thing to have to do.



Psyton said...

I have had about 6 people in the past 6 years I just had to "get out of my life and move on"... often with a lot more drama than was probably prudent...

I can't think back to a time when I have successfully thrown down the gauntlet and go "I'm just gonna try not to interact with you if I can avoid it".. Now, that doesn't mean I wasn't passive-aggressive with the occasional "well, I'm just gonna have to take you off my IM list because whenever I initaite the conversation it degenerates into frothing gibbering tirades.. but feel free to call me when /you're/ feeling less pissy" moments.

I often get stuck in those interesting between states... where you are pretty much resolved that the person who has torn the social fabric and caused so much drama is not your friend anymore... and you just don't want them to call you with some "hey, what's up" attitude that will force you to prove it. Often tempted to pick up the phone and just say it so you can stop thinking about it.

I'm going to venture out there and say that as soon as one thinks they've figured out reasoning behind the many intricacies of their present human relationships... It will merely be a map of "where they've been, what they've tried, and what they can't stand ever again". Unfortunately, in the casual moments one has spent thinking about the issues they are having with a friend/lovor/parent/sibling.. They're perspective will have changed and make it impossible to place their old reasons on the present flailing friendship. Thus, I'm going to say that people demand "why" because they at least don't want to repeat their mistakes or curtail a nasty trend.

I think what scares me is that while I cannot apply old reasons to get me out of some fast-becoming icky relationship... I can apply the usual rationalization that kept me in it: "I've got to slow down and think through this before I make any hasty decisions"

Chalicechick said...

I was always terrible at breakups. I broke up with the CSO’s predecessor by, in an intimate moment, saying “We’re no good at that relationship stuff, let’s just do this…” and then just never calling again. He was bad about calling, so we didn’t talk for two months. By then he’d figured it out.

But I’ve gotten a lot more sympathy for my friend as I’ve thought over the situation and talked it over with her. Sometimes these things just happen.

IM lists are a nasty feature of modern breakups. For awhile when I was dating, I got a new IM name for each significant other. Then, when it was over, I just never logged in again.

Hmm… How are you defining “icky,” Psyton?


PeaceBang said...

I went to a workshop today at a seminary and someone asked me who I was and what I do. When I told her she said (with her back still to me,so friendly), "Oh, a *Unitarian!*"

Don't you get so tired of that kind of reaction? I just wanted to say it somewhere.

Psyton said...

"icky" is when I realize that as much as I really like a person, I am beginning to question their ability to give me what I want (and have repeatedly asked for) or to stop doing the thing I can't tolerate (and have repeatedly told them about).

It's the "well, people can change" thought that will be followed up within a couple of weeks by "but s/he's not".