Wednesday, October 15, 2008

As If They'd Never Happened

Trust is not something inherent to an adult relationship. A mature relationship starts out cautiously, and proceeds incrementally as trust develops over time. It is not something implanted like a seed in the psyche of an individual, but more like the development of gray hair, reflecting a history, a road traveled through both smooth and rough terrain. It is a natural progression, and one we are wise to let develop naturally. Individual lives are filled with negative examples of relationships gone bad after having been formed too quickly, and moved along at an unnaturally fast pace. And I’m not even talking about love affairs, just the superficial friendships and casual relationships we form through the course of our daily lives. Elation, followed by silence, and then withdrawal, are the dynamics most commonly associated with, what I call, these ‘rescue’ relationships. People jump into them to be rescued from their loneliness, social isolation, feelings of worthlessness or need for attention. Need creates desperation, which creates poor judgment, which leads to rescue situations. Unfortunately, when they do not turn out to be as promised, they are ended clumsily and hurtfully, most often, as I’ve alluded to, with silence and withdrawal, with no closure, as if they’d never happened, leaving the invested party mistrustful, even more severely withdrawn, and set back exponentially from the place they were at before jumping into the potential friendship.

But it is not so much the harmed party that concerns me here as the one who delivers the silence. What is it about people today that will allow them to dismiss others so easily, like brushing dust off their jeans, and particularly when there has been the pretense of friendship? Why is it that no one wants to engage in the closing of a relationship, to slip out of a friendship gracefully, with regret, and with dignity, rather than shutting it down like a computer? Have the courage gene, and the kindness and consideration genes been genetically modified in us by too much stress or too many hours on the internet? Has MySpace, text messaging, and the nature of our instantaneous relationship culture given us permission to dismiss one another as if we were disposable commodities? Has the delete button on our email programs replaced the social manners and mores we grew up valuing in simpler times? Have honest assessments, and explanations to one another become too difficult, time consuming or burdensome to bother with? Is it that we have become such a self-indulgent, and self-important, culture that the other person no longer matters to us anymore? As families have scattered across the country, as people increasingly work from home, as we become more divided by political and social identities, and in our isolation, are we taking each other for granted? Has the silent dismissal of relationships become a necessity to keeping ourselves afloat, our heads above water? Is it that we are just too busy, too burdened with our own concerns that we have given ourselves permission for the feelings of others to be disregarded, banished to the irrelevance file?

Or has silence simply become the new weapon of choice to be wielded skillfully by the weak of character,
and the weak of heart?
I hope life has not come to that.


I have posted new thoughts and observations on the MUSINGS page of this website.