"Everything was better back when everything was worse"
I heard this over the weekend and I can’t get it out of my mind. Nostalgia is a biggie, but is what has passed really better than what is coming or do we have a mechanism that beautifies what is shrouded in the fog of the past?
Let’s take a common scenario of breaking up with someone you love. It may be a friend, a lover, a husband or even a relative. I can authoritatively speak about every one of these as I had them all.
When I was in the middle of it, I was distraught and without a doubt was intently looking at the past and thinking that it was better back when it was worse. Worse, you ask? What’s good about that? Here is my take on that. When we create human bonds we feel invincible and strong. So much so in fact that we bask in its warmth, in what we have, idolize it and overlook its faults. We have invested time, emotions, money to create the bonds that bind.
I cannot hide that my marriage, for example, was sexless. But I overlooked (the worse) and glowed in the security that my relationship offered, a shield against the cruel world and anything it may present me with. I have made this mistake again and again as I am sure you have too. We want to ascribe much more importance and depth to our relationships because we identify our worth by the uniqueness of our human bonds. Silly little people we are…
Time and again, this premise has been proven not just a little wrong, but totally faulty. People come together because of utility or chemistry, but almost always stay together because of compatibility and utility. When the interests diverge, the relationship goes walkies. What it leaves behind is the winter of discontent and disappointment. A numb feeling of stupidity for having been misguided once again, even though human nature has been completely transparent.
We cry out for connection, not with some unseen higher power or “higher self”, as friend of mine has invented, but connection with other human beings around us. “We are stronger together”; I forgot who said that, but we want it to be true. It can be a “together” of two or more, but when we have it, however flawed, we try to preserve it. We overlook its faults and look back at the warmth it embraced us with longing of the feeling that we, ourselves manufactured and bathed in its light.
It was better back when it was worse. Really? Unmasking the real person hiding behind our made up heroes is painful, there is no denying this. But it is important that we get to the bottom of the true being we have put on a pedestal and take away the magical powers we have given them. It is also important to cut any such relationship to size to avoid getting hurt. Those closest to us will often hurt us, disappoint us and take advantage of our loyalty and love.
I am not being negative when I say this. I can see you waiving your arms and professing that your relationships are deep and eternal. Hear me out because I am speaking the truth. If you are doubting me, talk to the thousands of women who are abandoned by their husbands for a newer model. Talk to the business associates who have been trampled by their partners for the sake of taking a larger share of the profit. Talk to the friends who have found how short are the lengths that their friends will go to help them out. It happens all the time and to everyone and we are always surprised.
When it happens to you, you have two choices. You can turn into a miserable, disappointed person carrying the banner that it was better when it was worse or you can and accept that what was, and what is coming, will be as good or as bad as you let it. I counsel women through breakups from long term relationships and marriages. Marriages that have been bad and unfaithful for years, yet these women cry and pull their hair out wailing, “it was better back then when it was worse”. A way of thinking that blinds them and ruins what’s coming. And there is always something equally good coming.
Can they see it? No! Because it was better back then when it was worse and it is precisely this attitude that prevents any forward steps away from self-flagellation and despair. People of the world unite to realise that we are alone. The single relationship that offers unconditional and deep love is the one with our parents. Once they are gone, that’s it! Everything else is self-serving utility wrapped up in romantic love or deep friendship that when it is tested can disappear in a flash.
We are alone and we die alone. Live with it.
The author of this article is is a wonderful relationship and is resolutely looking towards the future. She has not bitterness towards the past.