Lately, I’ve been thinking about people and how we outgrow one another. It’s happened to all us. Not family, mind you. You never quite outgrow your family. You might think so, but believe me, you don’t. I have a coworker whose mother is in her 80s. She went on and on today about how her mother drives her crazy. Really? At what point do we grow the fuck up and realize that our parents were never perfect, but did the best they could. And I’m not talking about extreme cases where parents had no right producing offspring in the first place. Anyway, let me get back on track. I do that. Get off track. One day I’m 22 yrs old and leaving the army. The next I’m married to a cokehead whose substance abuse I protested by consuming copious amounts of alcohol on a daily basis and eventually sleeping with her best friend. But that’s a tale for another time…One day I’m sweating my grades as an undergraduate and the next I’m completing an MFA in Creative Writing. What a long strange trip it’s been…blah blah blah…you get the picture. I tend to meander, to digress, to wander off the beaten path…
Where was I? Outgrowing people. Right. This I have noticed recently. For weeks I agonized over my son’s mother and I splitting up. Then, about two weeks ago, I went to pick up my son. Suddenly, there was no more longing. And oddly enough no more anger. I guess I am on the road to recovery. Broken hearts always do mend. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.
It helps that I have my chosen craft…or the craft chose me long ago. That’s more like it. I couldn’t imagine a life without writing. Granted, being a writer is not the measure of all things, but it sure does beat the balls off countless other obsessions. Maybe I love writing more than I could ever love anyone. Maybe not. It really is such an intangible thing this writing life. Do we get to see the fruit of our labor as writers? Yes. But we have to write. I know writers with children and they all say the same thing: children always come first. And I agree. Denying one’s calling, however, could cause a person to develop a pathology from which there is no recovery. And then what good would that person be to a child or children who needed them? I should say here that I’m no psychologist. I don’t much about how the human mind works; except for that line from Carl Jung about knowing our own darkness is the best way to deal with the darkness of others.
So what does all this have to do with outgrowing people? It has nothing to do with feeling better than them. That’s not it at all. Maybe it’s more like finally getting in tune with myself, ridding myself of vibrational interference. My ex once told me that we used to bring out the worst in each other. Our son said he was just tired of hearing us argue all the time. I think my son is happier is now. And his happiness is important to me. I think he gets that I’ve outgrown his mother. Worse, I think she gets it too. I still care about her. I am not a monster. But it’s just different now. When I consider this I think about how many people choose to remain miserable for the sake of their children. “We have to stay together,” they say, “you know. For the children.” Bullshit, I say. Children know more about human nature than we could ever learn as adults. One day a person, no longer a child, wakes up bereft of that intuition. It happens to all of us. Still, it took me a boatload of personal inventory to realize that my ex and I don’t operate on the same wavelength; that life is short and we were making each other miserable. And my son reminds me whenever I see him that he just wants me to be happy. He’s a smart boy. My being happy means he’s happy, and vice versa.
It is not necessarily a bad thing to outgrow someone. If anything it proves that I have learned something about that other person as much as I learned about myself. And what I learned this time around was that I wanted to live in misery rather than be alone. It was ludicrous. Look at me. I am still alive, and still relatively sane. I am writing and I have a son who loves me. Sleep, eat, drink and pass water, Bruce Lee once wrote. The ignorant will laugh. The wise will understand. It took me years to quit laughing. And I think I am beginning to understand.