Monday, January 08, 2007


How much suffering can one person take? Let me rephrase that- How much suffering will one person choose to take?
Now, I'm not talking of myself mind you. I have not been truly suffering lately. Just wallowing in self-pity (pretty pathetic, really).

No, I am talking about why one would choose to live an unbearably difficult life with another person who is bent on self-destruction. Does he feel that he deserves such a difficult existence? Is this a penance for something done in a previous life? I find this hard to believe. I don't think he possibly ever could have done anything to deserve what he has been dealt.
I do understand that the vows- for better or worse- are important. However, how much abuse and disrespect should he have to put up with? Doesn't he deserve to be with someone who will think of his needs, for once? Not to mention the needs of their offspring? Doesn't he feel he is worth more than that? He is worth more than that. I know.

I understand that often through extreme suffering goodness can arise.Take the example of pre-renaissance Italy. According to Graham Greene (in his book The Third Man) "In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed- but they produced Michelangelo. Leonardo Da Vinci, and the Renaissance."
If one is able to find meaning and strength through their pain and suffering then, in the long run, it will have been a positive, learning experience. After all, each new experience in life teaches us, enriches us, helps us to grow into the humans we are destined to be.

But, why choose to continue when something can be done? Isn't our desire for happiness and survival enough to make a positive step towards change? Shouldn't the need to protect one's child take precedence over the feeling of responsibility for a grown adult- One who chooses not to get well, one who chooses not to accept responsibility for the life that she has created for herself, or for her negative actions?

His Holiness - The Dalai Lama- believes that to develop empathy and compassion towards others we need to step into their shoes, see things through their eyes, feel the intensity and seriousness of their suffering. Only then can we understand their pain and only then can we become compassionate towards them.
I have tried to do this. I have tried to help take some of that suffering and make it my own. At least, make it more bearable by my being there, for him. I have developed extreme compassion towards his situation. His suffering became my suffering. To this day I feel his pain.
Maybe he is also doing that with his wife. Feeling her pain at the burden of this demon she is struggling with. Her pain becoming his pain. He is shouldering her suffering.It is more a part of him than of her.
But at what cost? The loss of a fulfilling and joyous existence, I'm afraid. Only he can make this change. Only he can decide that the happiness and health of the rest of his family is more important than that of one person who chooses to stay ill.

My wish, at the very least, is that in the long run he becomes a stronger man and chooses to live the life that he has imagined.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
Helen Keller

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Dear Gewels,

Been there, done that. And I have no answers other than it seems like the only thing to do. And then one day, you wake up and say "I'm done." And this resonates from every soul in your body, and you change your life.

Regrets, I have none. Realizing that all is as it should be. Had I left sooner, my path would now be a different one, and I wouldn't trade this one for the world.

By the the moon photo. Amazing, really. Have fun with the new lens.

bless you,