Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I don't even know you anymore!

The biggest surprises in life often come when we least expect them. But I suppose that that is, by its very definition, a surprise. Similarly, just when you thought you've settled down with someone, been in the perfect relationship, met the right guy, something comes up like a gigantic hurricane and blows your entire world away. And suddenly just like that, you are left standing there all alone and insecure, unsure if everything you've known about your partner over the past year were truths, lies, or even worse: truths that you've made up because you had so desperately wanted to see them in that way to begin with.  

It seems like such a strange twist of fate, when two people who lived with each other for so long, and had so much time to get to know each other, would sometimes inevitably find themselves plunged into a state of complete and utter mis-recognization. Several days ago, a conversation with Ray left me wondering whether I truly knew him during the one year we've been together or not?  I was quite certain that he still loved me a lot, and I knew that was also how I still felt about him and yet... that one new piece of information divulged seemed to bother me a lot. Almost as if it were a huge betrayal that slapped me across the cheeks. I took a while off of course, for me to reel from the force of the blow, but I also used that time to give a thought on why this might be so.

I eventually came to the conclusion that while we're so preoccupied with the question of "how much do I really know about my partner?" perhaps we first need to look a little closer and answer the question of "how much do I know myself?"  Perhaps to adequately situate our knowledge of the ones we love we must first ourselves.  Staying true to the anthropology tradition, I decided to test this out for myself and took a couple of days off to think things through. The result of ninety six hours of soul-searching and navel-gazing later: I came up with one irrefutable fact: that what we are simply what we are at any given moment. Which is to say, that everything about ourselves is always changing... right?  In other words I began to realize that although I may think I know myself now, what I "know" may not necessarily be the same several days down the road (or even hours later, after I get the backlash of publishing this post). More importantly, I came to the conclusion that if I'm having as much trouble understanding myself as I was understanding Ray, well, perhaps he was going through some difficulty comprehending me too. After all, all our partners can ever know about us, are all we know (or come to know) about ourselves. 

So perhaps the truth is, no matter how long we live with a person, how many times we tell them "I love you", or snuggle up to them in bed, we never really get to know that person. All we know are a bunch of truths, lies, and perhaps even a little bit of the truths that we've made up because we had so desperately wanted to believe in them in the first place. But maybe that is also all we really ever needed to know begin with, and the unease we experience when faced with something unknown is really the fear of instability with regards to something that has come to constitute a very vital and integral part of our lives.

I think I am beginning to realize now, the psychological impact of what people mean when they say "for better, or for worse."  The vows a couple make to each other are not just promises that they will be together forever, they are also the psychic rocks upon which we cling to in the middle of these turbulent seas. They are markers of stability and of continuity that seem to account for the unpredictability of human life. So, I suppose there will always be times when we look at our partners and begin to think to ourselves "How is it that I don't even know you anymore?" but that's not the real question, is it? The real question is "do I want to continue to get to know you, again and again for the rest of my life?"  And I did.


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