Sunday, August 14, 2011

How Long Has It Been Since You Loved Each Other?

Tonight I've spent a few hours relaxing on the futon, reading a biography by Jerry Lewis, and listening to an internet radio station featuring solo piano and guitar music. Sounds relaxing, doesn't it? To a large extent it is.

But then there are the neighbours. I moved into a new building a few weeks ago and almost every night without fail, sometime between 10 and 11 o'clock, it begins.



Slamming Doors.

Language that I would never use (and I can be rather fond of profanity myself at times).

It's always the same. A man screams at his girlfriend/wife for at least an hour and then usually storms out. If I didn't have the piano/guitar music playing, I would be able to hear almost all of the conversation.

This is terribly disturbing to listen to, for two reasons. Firstly, it is hard for me to fathom that one human being could treat another like that (by the way, she is pregnant and there's at least one kid already in the picture), and secondly, because I've experienced behaviour similar to this in my life (I am very thankful that relationships have been mended).

Let me go back to my first point, though. It is hard for me to fathom that one person could treat another person in this manner. What leaves me even more dumb-founded is that they're obviously a couple, whether married or not. Now, I am not naive, I know that no relationship is a complete bed of roses. Disagreements happen and arguments are had. But this is a whole other level, and can be called nothing other than abuse. We see conflicts and examples of abuse all the time while skimming or watching the evening news, and we go on snacking on our Doritos.

Across the hallway the violence is close up and personal.

And perhaps all violence on a grand scale starts with violence on a personal scale, and on and on it grows.

When I witness relationships or marriages like that of my neighbours, I ask the question, "How long has it been since you loved each other?" Or more still "Did you ever love each other?" Also, "What was love to you when you started out?" A nice smile, a few drinks, good sex? None of these things are bad of course, but did they ever develop into a stronger kind of love? One that makes the conscious decision to put the other person's interests primarily over your own. Love that is patient, that is kind, that is not self-seeking, that is not rude, that keeps no record of wrongs. This of course is a wonderful scripture found in the Bible.

Maybe you had that kind of love at the beginning, or at least wished for it. But now something has changed, or one of you has changed. And instead of patience, kindness, tenderness, there are screams, tense silence, and vitriol.

How long has it been since you loved each other?

It's time to get out. If both of you aren't willing to work on things and attempt a real change, then it's time to leave. Not in a week or two weeks when things blow over, but now. (I'm speaking here of relationships that have been a war-zone or unloving for a long time). You deserve much better.

It's a whole other ballgame when there are children involved. Even if it's "just yelling," you are severely injuring parts of them that it might take years and years to recover, both by your words and by the energy that's being given off in your house. I can not state this strongly enough.

Last night the cops paid a visit across the hall. If this keeps up yours truly will be making a couple calls myself.

How long has it been since you loved each other?


McDishy said...

Again, great post Mark! I agree whole heartedly, even thou I can now appreciate the very tangled and gripping web of emotional abuse. Today I picked up the Shambhala Sun, and the theme for this edition is 'Loving'. There's an ad in there for the new Thich Naht Hanh's book Fidelity. Wouldn't it be great to meet someone else who has spiritual depth in relationship?

Mark Andrew said...

Thanks for the comment Trish. Yes, as the years have gone by, I think I've realized more that it is not easy to end the cycle of abuse. There's so much involved. Emotions, finances, kids, etc etc etc. It just makes me so very angry and makes me want to take some grandiose action and force separation or divorce; but of course, I can't do that.

I should read Shambhala Sun, you've mentioned it a few times.

And I don't think it's too much to ask for a person who we are spiritually compatible with. The person doesn't have to be spiritually identical to us and may use different language to describe their beliefs and experiences, but having that depth is important to me too. I seriously doubt that I could have a lasting relationship with someone who didn't consider themselves spiritual.

Jay said...

Shambala Sun is one of my favourites. It's a good read.

Anonymous said...

If the abuse continues, please do make a few calls yourself - to Social Services, to the police, to whoever it takes. As the saying goes, "children are victims, adults are volunteers." No child deserves to be in that environment. The longer they're in it without help, the more damaged they'll be. I speak as someone for whom the help never came.