Monday, August 19, 2013

Who Says I Have to Choose?

One of the things that I have had the less than pleasurable experience of dealing with over the past twenty years Christina and I have been married is the fact that of the "married friends" that we have known, been close to, or have been associated with, roughly 50% of them are no longer married.

Often, in the process, something happens, and the couple in question will do one of three things. They will:

- close off from us and we just stop hearing from either of them.
- one of the couple continues to interact with us, and the other fades away in the background someplace
- in very rare occasions, both individuals will actively try to keep in contact with us.

I was reminded of this recently when I saw an old email from a friend. We had not talked in awhile, and it was fun conversing on a number of different things that we both liked and shared as interests. In the process, she said to me "I never thought it was fair that Kevin* got to have you, Christina and the kids as part of the divorce."

I was stunned. At first, I genuinely didn't know what to say. After pondering the various thoughts I had, I decided I had to answer her back, and I've decided to answer that same question here, because it's how I've always felt:

"Jennifer*, I was never told that I was part of the custody proceedings. Regardless of how things played out between you and Kevin, it wasn't a one way street. We weren't friends with Kevin, and oh well, I guess Jennifer just came along for the ride... we were all friends, and I value both of you. we stopped talking because you changed your phone number and your address, and didn't give me a new one. Your old email didn't work any longer, and we had no forwarding to tell us what your new address was.

Kevin never asked me to not remain your friend, and I genuinely never considered that I wouldn't be. For some reason, you came to the conclusion that Kevin deserved to be our friend, and that you no longer belonged. We are here, the address and phone number is the same, the email is the same. If you want to talk or visit with us, we are here. if you would like us to come and visit you, we're happy to. We have always, and will always, be your friend."

In a very few instances, due to genuinely terrible circumstances, I have with relief watched relationships end, usually due to dangerous behavior or psychotic tendencies in an individual, but even there, I never wished anything bad to happen to them. I did wish for those specific people to go and get help. Those that did, are in far better places today. Some have even reached out to me to talk again, for which I am happy to do. Some are still out there somewhere, and I really wish them well and hope that they are happy or can become happy once again.

To those out there who have ever wondered "What would the Larsen's say if I contacted them after so much time?" I would say "Hey, it's great to hear from you, how are you doing? What are you up to? Where do you call home now? Let me know when you are in the area, I would love to see you and say hello in person. If I'm in your area, the same applies." With a very few exceptions, that would go for most of those people we were friends with for all those years. The exceptions know why they are exceptions. I don't want to have "toxic" or "abusive" around my family, but in most cases, neither toxicity or abuse factored into the issues. Life did, and sometimes, life is not fair. I ask that you not compound life's unfairness by cutting us out of your lives when we certainly had (and have) no intention of cutting you out of ours.

* - names have been changed, but this conversation has happened a variety of times in a variety of ways, and applies to many couples and families over twenty years.