Understanding the Pain of Separation

 I had tuned in to the Diane Rehm show on my long drive back home one evening. The interview this time was of an old woman well past her prime who was an accomplished and acclaimed singer.

While going over her past, Diane asked about one of her most successful songs. She revealed something that not many people knew at the time – she said the lyrics were actually composed by her husband.

Her ex-husband, she clarified. “He was very good with it.”

“Why did the marriage end? Diane prodded, It had been decades since her divorce with her first husband.

Silence.

I felt the pain in her voice as she gathered herself. “I don’t want to talk about it…it was a painful past.”

When I thought her ordeal was over, Dianne followed up with another question. “Were you relieved when it ended? Did you feel free and happy that it was over?

“NO! It was an ending.”

“It was very sad.”

It was a sadness that emanated  from every word she uttered. It made me sad. And think.

This was an area I hitherto had little experience with. There was no friend or family I had been attached to, that I had separated from, so painfully. Until then, that is.

If she had been as sad to separate from her man, and her husband was sad to separate from her, why would they go ahead with their separation? Don’t both need the other for their happiness? It had been decades, and she was still in pain from the memories.

Why do people have to leave each other, when their lives are miserable without each other?

In the days that I was pondering and still trying to solve the question for myself, I tried to use it for a situation that I saw in front of me.  I realized how everything appears simple and straightforward, superficially.

I had the answer to my question.

“It’s complicated.”

There would be no easy path. There would be hurt, misery and anger in any route one would embark on. It was a choice between continued misery, one that would bring much more pain in the future, or a lesser misery of separation, and chalking out an alternate life that would be happier with the painful memories still at the back of one’s mind.

 I realized that people separate because some or all of them change.

I also learned that people separate painfully when they realize in their saner moments that there’s no future.  The guest on the show realized that. She took a decisive step. She remarried. She was happy again. The memories haunt her, still. How does the guest look back at her life? She achieved much. She had her happy moments. She had her miseries. She changed her life. She brought back happiness in her life to mix in with her sad memories, instead of being stuck in an increasingly sad life. She changed, for the better.

Whoever said you could be perfectly happy in this world? That is what paradise is for.

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