Thoughts with Richard Bleil
Unless something changed (as has happened so often in the past), my friend is starting a new chapter in her life today. After being with her now common-law husband for well over a decade, she has decided that she is moving on. She has already (I know) packed up her belongings from their house and has them stored in her friend’s basement and is bringing what she needs for an extended stay, beginning at her father’s house. Her one-way airline ticket is for today. The plan is to stay with him for a spell, then probably go to visit her mother, and then here to stay with me. She’ll get the master bed; I’ll sleep in the guest bedroom. That gives her a private floor that I can avoid until I know she’s up. The guest bedroom is off of the kitchen, so if I get something or make something I won’t bother her this way. Altogether, between her parents and me, she wants to live out of her suitcase for a year, until her friend is settled and they get a place where they can move in together and become roommates.
While I’ll do my best to make her feel comfortable here, this will not be an easy transition for her. I don’t mean living with me (although even I don’t want to live with me), but the entire transition. She’s walking out on a long-term relationship, she’s leaving the state for at least a year, and she’s living with others in temporary arrangements. I’ve been there, and I feel for her. She’ll eventually get over the pain and anger and remember (and even glorify) the good times. She’ll feel disconnected from her life, even when she’s living with her father and mother, and especially when she’s here. She’ll second-guess herself and her decisions and will likely have to contend with him as he tries to convince her to return to him although, most likely, without making any real effort.
That’s not an indictment on him. I’ve been her shoulder more than once, and while I’m sure that she’s being honest and telling me the truth, I’m cognizant of the fact that it’s the truth from her perspective. I’ve not heard his take on it. It does sound like he leaves a lot to be desired, and yet, I’m not sure that he’s so different from so many of us men. Any partner will have problems, but the question becomes what is too much.
I have a friend who is living that lifestyle where she believes that humans just weren’t meant to be together “forever”. She insists that with longer lifespans (although the US life expectancy is indeed falling) divorce and separation are inevitable. If you accept this, then moving on becomes inevitable and easier. Of course, my fear (and this may not be a concern for others) is who is left standing at the end of the music. Won’t there come a time that you might not find the “next one”, and end up alone? God knows that’s where I’m at now. But there is some logic to this philosophy. A problem might not be large for a short period of time, but over the years and decades, it might just grate at you more and more until you just can’t take it anymore. Of course, I’ve never been in a relationship long enough for that to occur, so I really don’t know.
I do know the lessons of my parents, though. For a brief time, when I was already into my teaching career, my parents separated for a time. My father was aloof, emotionally abusive, and seems to have had a lot of the same problems that my friend is running from in her man. When mom had finally had enough, she signed a lease on an apartment, very close to where the house where she and dad have been living. Dad was elated for a time, overconfident, as men tend to be, in his charm and ability to just find another woman. Mom was just tired of him and moved on. I never encouraged or discouraged this. I wanted mom to be happy, but I didn’t think either one of them would know how to live alone. Within weeks, dad was “courting” mom again. He was taking her out on dates and making promises. In a rare conversation with me, she asked for advice about moving back with him. I suggested that she needed to make a list of changes she wanted to see in him if she did, and to shoot for the moon. I knew that he would agree to them and make a good faith effort to honestly change. I also knew that he would fail. I had hoped that by asking for too much, when he did backslide it would at least be to a point where she was better off with some changes becoming habit. Sadly, it didn’t work that way. I honestly believe that he wanted to change, but in the end, he was who he was and they fell back into the exact same pattern, and to the exact same place where they were when she left him in the first place.
I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t say what will happen with my friend. All I can say is what I hope for, and that is for her to be happy.