she was the fix that he had to have, he was the habit she couldn't break; love started out with these feelings, true, then it became just a thing to make everything ends where it didn't start, ground ever shifting beneath our feet: theirs was a love that would never end, another stunning unforeseen defeat
Each step I hear (the water’s edge)
The reeds my hand must brush aside
What is this slow unchanging love
What were those tears (last night) you cried
I am the morning light and cold
The sun afraid (but still to come)
I am the morning silence gray
For you have gone and I
I am a king here with my brew:
A king who has no need of you.
When I can press my lips to this
What need of I for your lost kiss?
A castle I will call this bar:
My minions, come from near and far,
Are here to drink with me and know
That we can still be high when low,
And reign over each cup and crumb,
And give in to the cold and numb —
With this last chalice, we will toast
What we let go, but still
He thought her quite replaceable
So she was cast aside:
As he pursued some prize orchid
To satisfy his pride
But all the flowers he approached
Were priced out of his sight:
While she, carelessly cast aside
what do you really want?
i’m sure i do not know.
she stared out at the endless sea,
and watched the wavelets come and go
and as the summer turned a page,
the daylight dimmed as by a switch –
and love grew old, or maybe me —
i still cannot remember
And now we are just so much driftwood
Washed up on the beach;
What was alive has torn away, and
Drifted out of reach
From what it was that gave it life:
The tree it was part of —
And now we are just so much driftwood
Just because your sacrifice was betrayed,
Didn’t mean it wasn’t worth it:
What we give for love is always more important
Than any regrets we might have over who we have given it to.
“Sacrifice” is an important part of relationships. Since none of us has the time, resources, or energy to do everything we might desire to do, life is always a series of tradeoffs. With families, the number of choices becomes greater and the need for tradeoffs more acute.
Where problems typically arise is that we view relationships through the lens of power dynamics: or, said more simply, everybody wants to have their own way. We all know what it is like to be inconvenienced in a social situation by that one person who stubbornly wants everyone else to do things their way. But we are all born like that. We want what we want.
Morality, however, has long taught, around the world, the importance of sacrifice. To give up what we want for the good of our family, or village, or country, or even the world.
It’s not that sacrifice is good for its own sake – doing that is just pointless – but for the sake of others.
Too often, however, people in relationships come to see sacrifice as a sort of a contest, as to which one of them has given up the most, sacrificed the deepest – essentially, who has been the biggest martyr.
If we are making sacrifices to try to win a contest, we probably won’t win, and we will almost certainly sacrifice the wrong things.
When a marriage or long-term relationship ends, the temptation is to view whatever was put into the relationship as time wasted. That is the natural human reaction: it is also, very often, wrong.
We cannot know going into a relationship how things will go. None of us can really see the future, and no matter how confidently people pretend that they knew all along how others’ lives would turn out, they are almost certainly being disingenuous. People change, people grow, some people fight with circumstance and lose, and others just get lost along the way. Physical, mental, emotional – all of the forces working at these levels are complex, individual, and subject to rapid change. We just don’t know what the future holds for anybody.
We just don’t know.
So, since we can’t know if a relationship will blossom or, ultimately, wilt, that doesn’t mean we should be upset for tending the plant as long as we could.
Or for grieving it as long as we need to.
Once he walked away
The north wind
Moved into his heart
it is better to
than to stand for that