Monday, July 25, 2005

After the break-up

What is involved in the breaking up of a relationship? What are the kinds of pain involved in it? How does one "move on"? How does one "get over" a relationship?

Familiarity is one of the pivots of a relationship. Initially the specifics of the other person are found charming not because there is something inherently wonderful about them, but because each piece of knowledge gained about the other person strengthens the sense of familiarity, of possession and of a facile uniqueness. Each of us is different in our lifestyle and idiosyncrasies, and it is adjusting, and becoming familiar, to someone else's lifestyle which gives strength to the relationship. Such adjustments, and the exclusive attention to the other person's needs and desires, can only be made if there be hope of a continued gratification of owning him/her and of the emotional security he/she provides.

Each break-up therefore is a betrayal at some level. The tacit, though ill-thought-out, understanding at the beginning of almost every relationship is "come what may, we'll stay together; we'll be for each other in the face of this hostile world." Both invest time, effort and exclusive attention with the hope that this investment will bear the fruit of pleasure, fulfillment and security. As death, the ending of a relationship is never thought about.

In each (truly loving) relationship, the other person is of the highest value in one's life. Higher than the value of one's blood relations, higher than worries about money and career, higher than one's preferences about food, music and books, higher than one's world-view. One is willing to put all at stake for the sake of the other.

As one puts the other at the centre of one's life, to the exclusion of almost everything else, the break-up introduces an emptiness and loneliess which was not there before the relationship. As more and more adjustments are made, one's thought patterns and psychic fields become more and more entwined with the other.

And why this extreme valuation of the other person? What is the nature of the gratification obtained? Why so many adjustments, sacrifices and hopes? The answer, in one word, is the self. The self within, the illusory identity, is forever lonely and separated from everyone and everything. It needs constant affirmation, sustenance and companionship to survive and to grow. It uses all that is in the world to nourish itself. It is the parasite extraordinaire. It can consume everything and still remain hungry.


So, each break-up is a psychic calamity. All familiarity, all adjustments and sacrifices, are left blowing in the wind in an empty desert. All hopes and dreams are blown to smithereens.

Oh, what hope that one won't have to start over! What desperate tugging at the past, to recover what is lost, to again embrace that lost and familiar entity which gave me hope in this alien world (the self is forever alien to the world), which gave me meaning, which gave me strength to do things knowing that there is now a reason to do

The heart-break is an apt term for this. The identity is almost torn apart. It is as if the womb is ravaged as a baby is forcibly removed from its network of nerves, blood vessels and air and food. What is the raison d'ĂȘtre of the womb now? Oh, if only I could die, now that there is no meaning to my existence!

The psychic entity cannot survive on its own. As the hope fades away, it again picks up the pieces of the broken heart and looks again at the world for something new to sustain itself.

As the tentacles of the psychic self which were entwined around the other person start withering, there is depression and restlessness akin to the pre-menstrual syndrome. Oh, all this for nothing! Oh, again I have to start the cycle of hope and pain and sacrifice...

Moving on in these circumstances only means finding other objects to occupy one-self. If too many sacrifices have been made, and the emptiness is frighteningly huge, suicide as a possibility starts looming over the horizon. "I feel drained, I feel no zest for life anymore, my destiny is only pain and loss," ...

Why is moving on easier in modern times? Because the adjustments are not that huge. Because one keeps alive one's tastes, hobbies and preferences and doesn't "give up" one-self for the other. Not that this is any better in the long run. The self is not pre-eminently concentrated on any object now, it is distributing its needs. This is called having one's own space. But its loneliness, the tendency to boredom, its restlessness and a sense of meaningless still remain.

It requires further and more varied stimulation to sustain itself. That is why in modern times, having a lot of "fun" is suddenly so important.

"Binaa nijh roop ke jaane, nahin aaraamdaari hae,
Jatan kar aap ko jaano, tabhee chhoote beemaari hae."

(Without knowing what you are in reality, there is no lasting peace,
Find out what you are with great diligence, only then will the malaise cease.)


whatthe#$%@ said...

Hi..I can identify a lot with ur that I am going through this phase..I see more and more ppl who are /were in this situation and I feel...less..lonely(as u put it)..than I did before:)..It was liberating in a way

Vibhanshu Abhishek 3.1 said...

Neat post, well thought off :-)

But I dont really agree with "Why is moving on easier in modern times? ..."

Ketan said...

Amazing analysis! I too had reached very similar conclusions (and yes, my analysis had amazed me ;) ).

This makes me curious if you had already learned so much about humans, has the rate at which you are learning new things declined significantly?

One of my greatest fears has been loss of curiosity, and at the opposite end of the spectrum, learning so much that nothing new significant is left to learn about life by way of living.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@ketan: I like your humour in the first para. :-) Sincere self-deprecation is a very very healthy thing.

My learning continues, and of course some avenues have been traversed and won't be traversed again, so in that sense the field is a bit narrowed, but it is /such/ a vast field that firstly that doesn't matter, and secondly, it gives more freedom and impetus to proceed on one's current path (there are fewer choices, so one isn't always looking back over one's shoulder at some other path).

the breakthroughs happen when a whole connected belief system is understood and discarded. not just one avenue, a whole city is left behind.