Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Tangled Web

The shadowland between sanity and insanity seems murky and the catalyst is usually mental trauma.

Keeping your feet firmly rooted in reality is pretty difficult if your head's full of air, always wanting to lift off - the mind's capacity to delude itself that something pleasant and fulfilling is the truth when nothing is further from the truth - how often does that happen?

Everyone wants to feel valued by at least one person, usually husband/wife and family, wants to feel they'd be difficult to replace - the indispensability factor.

I know one lady who is so vital to her husband, children, primary work, secondary work and younger grown-up sister that she's exhausted in her nonetheless fulfilling existence. Shouldn't mention names but I see people like Ellee Seymour in that connection as well.

Then there are the rest of us and we all carve out our existence with varying degrees of success. How many 40ish divorced males are out there sitting at computer keyboards and assuaging their self-esteem through internet connections? How many mothers, wanting some sort of fulfilment beyond family demands, are surfing the net? Let alone the motives of the young.

Somewhere in this maze of cyberconnections, personal relationships can be established and I don't accept the view of certain friends here that these are only virtual relationships. Depends how we enter them but I'd say the technology is quite good enough today to gain an idea with whom we're dealing. I mean, face to face we can still be told the same lies but the devices we do have can be better than face to face.

Remove all the other factors like shyness and the defensive need for small talk plus the pressure to instantly respond to the other in a real meeting, remove the obligations in a night out, remove the need to be done up to the nines with perfume and mascara, it seems to me it's possible to get quite real, to get down to important details fairly rapidly using a medium like one-to-one chat.

Logically, you need to go next to Skype and then to real contact if it's going to get anywhere but I know of one particular person where a very real connection can be maintained, albeit thousands of kilometres apart. Trouble is that the connection itself can be tenuous - today my internet has dropped out and that's the end of relations for now. And at any moment the plug can be pulled, which is not the case with two people in a room.

In the end it comes down to honesty, that quality we demand of the other but are ambivalent about when applied to ourselves. Last night I was devastated by what might be a misunderstanding but might be a lie by omission of relevant details, by the painting of a false picture. Have to wait and see.

I'm no stranger to the lie myself and did it twice in the last two weeks on matters I really didn't want known. In the end I told all and how much damage it did seems now to have been significant. But what - would it have been better to continue in an untruth? I don't want that in any friendship and they have to accept me as I am or not at all. Probably that means not at all.

After the lie comes the misunderstanding. Again last night, it was the discovery of seemingly possible lies of omission by the person I love which had me on edge and when I was talking to a friend-friend, something was said by her, it reminded me of the first situation, connected with roses and gardens actually, I went into my shell and couldn't continue, she immediately feared the worst that she'd done something wrong, the connection stopped and it was all over a misunderstanding.

So what chance of recovery from this? Well, in the case of the one I love, I'm not sure. There's so much defensiveness [my defensiveness ended last week], so much unwillingness to say, then saying, then withdrawing what was said. I'm pretty sure I know what's behind it so now it's in the hands of the Almighty.

In the case of my friend-friend, the thing which will save it, if at all, is that word "maturity" - the capacity to bend, to forgive, to be understanding of why things happen, to trust the basic feelings of the other, to know the other and that you yourself want it to continue.

IMHO this fundamental friendship is the only thing to weather the storm thrown at it.

This maturity leads to the next aspect - age and situation. I had a friend in Melbourne who was 49, I was 32 and she was 22. She and I got along well but she was in love with my friend and I had no wish to get in the way of that. They actually did marry and I had a long talk to her one day about it all, about how vulnerable he was and how happy, about what she really wanted from life and so on.

She was sure she'd found it and was in that sort of bliss which worried the hell out of me - it was pedestal stuff, masquerading as rationality. It worried me that she seemed so responsive to me and eager to talk but apparently not so much with him, if I interpreted her words correctly. I left that meeting wistful.

I heard they'd gone to America for the honeymoon, she'd run into an old flame in his mid 20s and the rest you can guess. She stayed there and he returned, a broken man, the impossible dream shattered.

I do believe, even with all evidence to the contrary, that it is possible but very rare for two people of wildly diverging backgrounds to make a go of it but there needs to be something there to begin with, some sort of common ground. Strangely, except on one point, I thought we had that last week - we certainly seemed to agree on everything under the sun and our direction seemed the same.

People tell me age only matters insofar as the younger needs already to be mature - so possibly 32 and 47 could be a goer if the younger had wisdom and already had some life experience. My ex-partner and I reconnected on Friday for five hours and though it's not going to happen while both have eyes for someone else, still it surprised and delighted both that her new found life experience definitely puts it back in the realm of possible.

Always running through the mind are the two rules of thumb that you only have a chance if the younger is half the age of the other plus seven years and the other rule - you can never go back. Both of these have been tested this past week. So with my friend 49 and her 22, the formula would mean his minimum would be 32 and she was way below that. With the hypothetical 47 above, then his minimum would be 31 and therefore that factor, at least, would not be against them.

There is one last factor which I believe trumps all and cynical guffaws in response to it cut no ice with me. I believe everyone has the capacity to and should develop his/her own personal spirituality. If you harness that to an established faith and its codes and she does too, then you're getting into an area with no rules, no formulae. Anything is now possible on the say-so of your Maker.

It might not even be the metaphysical itself - if both believe something is meant to be, is more than possible, if both are prepared to work for it, if both will understand the other's falling away and can be brought back to believe in the dream and if the feeling is strong, then the obstacles really can be overcome.

I believe this.


oestrebunny said...

Lovely post James, it seemed very heartfelt.

I should think that the mind's ability to delude itself is the only reason some of us survive at all.

It is a sad truth that a lie in the beginning, be it big or small or a mere omission, will eventually come back and bite you in the ass at a later date.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Sigh. I understand it less today than I did before.

oestrebunny said...

Then perhaps you should stop trying to?

Sometimes acceptance without comprehension is the only way forward.

Some situations are what they are regardless of what we try to do to understand or alter them.

Better to figure out what it is to you, rather than wait on someone else to figure it out on your behalf.

oestrebunny said...

I meant to say better to figure out if it's important to you.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Nice post. I have discovered in recent months that the ending of what you thought was a virtual romance can be just as hurtful as any other kind. But I'm not sure about the honesty factor - anyone can be anything they like on the internet.
I'm afraid you lost me on the mathematics but I hope you work things out!
I would never come and "talk" to you here without my perfume and mascara on, James! x

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Yes and no.

I think we can gain an IDEA of who we're dealing with in this medium, but I think we can easily be wrong. After all, the first we se of someone, is probably something they don't show in real life.

I don't think, really, you know someone, unless you know them in the flesh, see their mannerisms, see their reactions, pick up their body language. And of course, can see their real lives, actually see the way they live and appreciate it.

Yes, I think we can make genuine connections here, but they are potentially far more dangerous and damaging than in real life.

There DOES need to be common ground, certainly, there needs to be agreement on a common way of viewing life.

As for ages, I'm 30 now, and I think much younger than 24, would make me uncomfortable. 22, at a push, if they were reasonably mature.

I think internet friendships are OK- in fact can be very valuable, as long as we keep them in context and see them as purely platonic.
I have come to the conclusion that thinking you have romantic feelings for someone you don't know in the flesh, has to be self delusion. Platonic, certainly, even perhaps very strong platonic feelings, but it can't be any more than that.

Nunyaa said...

I believe it is up to individuals and if it works for them, and they happy, then what does it matter really?

Ellee Seymour said...

James, I don't think relationships established over the internet can be genuine if someone is anonymous and doesn't disclose his or her true identity. But friendships, whatever form they take, should be valued.

Your summarisation about me is so true, but you forgot to include my beautiful widowed mother who I adore and feel I neglect due to so many other pressures on my time.

Nunyaa said...

I disagree, not every person on the internet is false. Many are.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Thank you for these observations.