Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Pick Your Poison

Author's Note: I had a long conversation with a friend today who may read this...you know who you are. I want you to know that this post was conceived and written well before our chat, and has nothing to do with the current situation you find yourself in. While you may relate to some of the things you'll read, I hope that you will understand that this is, in no way, shape or form a commentary on your life, or how I think you should live it. You're cool, little brother. I know you'll make the right choices for everyone involved.

I've written a few times in the past about my friend L, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, A. You can check them out here and here if you haven't already read them. For those of you who don't feel like reading the back-story, here's the Cliff's Notes version: She's in a marriage, devoid of love and happiness, and there's a child stuck smack-dab in the middle.

The simple solution would be to leave, right? I mean really, who wants to sleep next to someone each night that they don't love, and that doesn't love them either? But she won't leave. Her reasoning? "I'm doing it for my daughter. I want her to know that she has two parents that will do anything for her happiness." Honorable intentions? Of course. Based in reality? Not a snowball's chance in hell.

Kids are smart. REALLY SMART. They always know - even sense - much more than we give them credit for. When we're happy, and they know it, they thrive. When we're sad, they feel it more than we do ourselves. Even if our sadness has absolutely nothing to do with them, they think it does, and they take it as a sign that they've done something wrong. Why? Because children, at least all the ones I've ever known, are in constant need of validation. Their young minds just don't have the capacity to understand the complex relationships we often find ourselves in as adults.

History, and multiple studies have shown that children who are the product of an unhappy relationship are much better off in two separate, happy homes than in one miserable one. So, knowing this, why do so many people stay in unhealthy relationships, and use their children as their excuse for not leaving? Fear. That's the only reason I can come up with.

Fear of moving on. Fear of the unknown. Fear that any relationship they'll ever have is doomed to fail. Fear of failure itself. Fear of finding REAL happiness, and putting in the work to maintain it. Maybe I'm crazy for saying this. Who knows? I could be completely wrong. But this is my opinion, and I'm allowed to express it, especially when it affects the people I love. Fear is NEVER a reason to stay. It should be the reason you leave. A person SHOULD be afraid of spending the rest of their life without love in it. Being loved by your children is one thing...the most important thing. But they can't hold you when you sleep at night.

Now please don't get me wrong, I'm not casting aspersions here. I've never walked a mile in their shoes, and I can't imagine what it would be like for a parent not see their childrens' beautiful faces every day. Arrangements need to be made, promises must be kept. I don't think for one second that it would be easy on anyone involved at first. But I do know this much..."Mommy, why are you crying?" or "Daddy, please don't be so sad." are words that should never be uttered from a child's lips.

So what's your poison, then? Happiness, or a life of "would have, could have, should have?"

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