Friday, January 30, 2009

It's a Choice

Awhile ago I was having a conversation with a friend about relationships and their aftermath. He was explaining how he was so hurt and betrayed, worn out after several truly terrible experiences that he just didn't have it in him to trust again, or anymore. His capacity had worn down, and at this point it was out of his control. There's some validity to that. We do experience burn out, and need a chance to recharge.

But he was taken aback and even slightly offended by what I said next.
That he could still trust if he wanted. He chose not to.

It's a choice.

Every single person reading this blog has been hurt at some point. Probably badly. I hope not, I really do, but we're all old enough to have gone through that rite of passage. And it's terribly painful, painful beyond measure, painful in a way words can't begin to describe. So deep that it can shatter. And you break. No matter how strong, you break. You grieve, you mourn, you hurt, you look down at the shattered pieces that were once you. And you need time, and distance, and clarity.
You can't possibly control your feelings.

But you can control how you put yourself back together.

Being jaded isn't an acceptance of reality, it's an acceptance of perception.
No one loses their capacity to trust - it just becomes so much more difficult. The stakes become higher. And that fear of being hurt again is a valid one, because chances are you barely made it out the first time. You certainly won't let it happen a second, or god forbid a third.

But if you ever want to really try being with someone else again, you have to. You do. You have to take the risk. And accept the inevitability of pain.
Or you can never do so. And you will fail, every time, when you are so desperate to protect yourself that you are incapable of letting anyone else in again for cause of fear. And at a certain point that is as much because of you as the person who did you wrong or broke your heart.

Neither choice is better. If you're done, you're done. There is no judgement here. And if you're foolhardy enough to dive headfirst into what has maybe been so far unmitigated disaster, that's all on you.
But admit and understand that it IS a choice, whichever you make.

Because when you put yourself back together, you are choosing a viewpoint from that point forward. Whether one of reckless abandon, cautious momentum, or so commonly the belief that every person you are with from now on is in some way about to fuck you over. That is you making that decision. Based on the past, absolutely. With reason, undoubtedly. Contextually valid in every way. But a decision all the same.

There are those that seem to take pleasure in misery, or at least find comfort and familiarity. I am not one of them. Each and any relationship should be brimming with the possibility for good or ill; assume the worst and you are guaranteed to receive it. And while the next person will certainly be at fault for whatever they do to you, realize that if you've come only to accept those people as reality, then those are the only people that you'll find. You've lost before you've started.

I love my friends dearly. And I will be there forever for them, come whatever may. But I am so frustrated by listening to people embrace bitterness as the only option of the rational, and to justify it out of past horror. It's harder not to but you certainly can, and each in their own time, if they so desire, and if they so dare. I'm going to fuck up a whole lot more shit before I come close to ever getting it right, whatever the hell that means, but it won't be for lack of trying.

Because if you don't wake up every morning assuming that today has the possibility to not only be better than the day before, but every day before it, then why the fuck are you living?


Anonymous said...

Not a bad epiphany for 0-dark-30. Keep choosing

Scotty said...

It's resignation. People find misery and depression to be a steady state where they can be, if not happy, at least stable... where things can't get any worse.

I don't believe in "rock bottom." If you let your life continue to fall apart, it will. Things can always get worse. As bad as I've felt I've ever had it, history (and country music) are filled with tales of those who've had it worse... people who very well could have been me.

But things can always get better. Sometimes you might have a setback so jarring and severe that it will feel like rock bottom, but you have to have the presence of mind to find your salvation in the recoil.

I've been lied to. I've been ignored. I've been put down and insulted. I've been used and abused.

Living well is the best revenge, and I'm still fucking here. :-)

Ozkirbas said...

Well said. On both accounts.

David Pratt said...

I'm confused as to which Justice League member this is profiling.

Jason Heat said...


I actually thought you'd have more to say.

David Pratt said...

So . . . Hawkman?

Jason Heat said...

Pretty much.

Maybe Vibe.

Ozkirbas said...

Definitely not The Question

Anonymous said...

Or perhaps after having multiple experiences you start to realise that you need more than trust when entering a relationship. The factors become multi-dimensional, and you realise that you must first achieve a degree of independence/ self confidence that will then yield, not only the trust but also the desire to take the risks. Sometimes people need to be alone for a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic reasons, being alone is not a permanent state, it is an attempt to discover yourself well enough to not keep falling into 6-12 month relationships that are structurally ubiquitous and yield the same set of problems (the problems you attempt to identify primarily, and cope with secondarily).

yes to trust is a choice, but no to feel as though it is worth it to trust right now isn't. It is just a feeling, so is bitterness, and no feeling lies higher on the hierarchy of feelings we "should" be feeling according to anyone else, they are simply feelings (and no one can help which one they have, at least the strong ones).

Jason Heat said...

I'd say everything is The Question, wouldn't you?

Ozkirbas said...

I'd say The Question is everywhere

Anonymous said...

I disagree- I believe the state of distrust is not a choice. Your mind takes into account all that has happened, and weighs the odds of good versus bad, and if it decides (for the sake of this argument) that it can't trust again, the power of will can't- nay, SHOULDN'T- try to overcome the decisions of the mind.

I'm gonna use the biological/darwinist approach here and say that each person alive today is alive because each of their parents' brain kept them alive and successfully led its body and soul to reproduce. These connections our brains have made for thousands of years have protected us from many dangers- predators, natural disasters, and (the most relevant danger in this argument) emotional trauma. Basically what I'm saying is, if we can't trust for a little while, there's a good reason for it- it's going to protect us for this moment in time when we've been weakened. When we need protection most. As soon as we let the emotional wounds scab over and finally heal, then we can, and naturally will, trust again.

Perhaps that was obvious, but I feel the author is saying one should rush the process- make a premature leap of faith and use our will to pretend we trust when we really don't. I believe we should just take time, let the emotional scarring heal, and once we've seen reassuring signs fom the universe that people can be trusted, THEN we naturally trust again. The period of mistrust is necessary, and NOT a choice.

Jason Heat said...

To clarify - I'm not saying to rush into anything. Do whatever you feel you need to do.

But I do strongly believe it's not you're incapable - it's that you've made a decision that right now that isn't best for you. Being unable to do something, and deciding that something isn't the best option are two very different things. POerhaps it's a subtle distinction, but a very meaningful one to me.

Fear is an absolutely important survival technique - but the ability to overcome fear is even more important to me personally.