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Divorce and Other people

Divorce, it seems, isn’t just about you and your immediate unit. In fact, over time, I’d say its more about the people watching poolside than those actually trying to swim through the cement soup. Reactions can be diverse. There are the pundits, ready with opinions but not help, the emotionally athletic, poised to jump in, and those shivering and in need of rescuing themselves.

Western society does everything it can to bring us together in matrimony. It’s the model we attach ourselves to as willing self-adhesives, a blueprint of unity, stability and longevity. We ask (are required to ask) others to bear witness to this contract and even to promise their support in upholding it. When others are invested it’s not in their interest for you to renege on your part of the bargain.

Unfortunately, most human beings don’t behave like architectural drawings, concepts captured statically on a page. We’re complex and evolving, driven by innate desires, governed by group expectations, impacted by real experiences and the interactions between these influences. If we must be compared with buildings, we’re structures with secret doors, hidden passageways and moving staircases.

For some, the necessity for authenticity transcends the capacity to conform. It’s an attitude not of self-importance, but of recognising the self as important and wishing the same fulfilment for others in a dynamic of mutual respect. Forging collaboration based on nurturing the individual in pursuit of a healthy group, not placing the plural on a pedestal that makes a slave of its constituent parts.

But the herd is too wary. Outliers are at risk. Pioneers seek great rewards but may never come back. So we homogenise. We find a system that works for the majority and give its dissidents no incentive to exit it. Worse, we expect them to perform acts of contortion in the extraction. But if you’ve lived your life wanting to run away with the circus the process is only improving your skills.

Other people find it all hard to watch. Some see a wound and wish only to soothe the ailment. Some find their template exposed as an ideal and barely mask their fury in the realisation. Some reluctantly acknowledge their fault lines but find ways to paper, perhaps even concrete, over the cracks. All but a hardy few or the elastically empathic would really rather not observe, let alone be involved.

But life is not unmoving. Moments of crisis will pass. Transitions will be made (edited and remade). New ground will be cautiously claimed. We’re not 2D creatures. We’re holograms that present differently depending on the light source. Fires that can burn bright using diverse types of fuel. For there is radiance, to counter the derision, and the right other people will be there to embrace it.


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