replacement therapy

This is interesting:

“Man Is So Made That He Can Only Find Relaxation From One Kind of Labour By Taking Up Another.” (from The Happiness Project).

Gretchen Rubin asks her readers about what labor they take up in order to relax. It’s nice of her, to give readers a chance to demonstrate their industriousness and mental health.

Our nature is to feel productive, to keep ourselves occupied. Our nature is “To Do.” Is that a good thing? The thought bums me out, frankly: as if it is not in our nature to find relaxation by Being. As if Being (whatever it is you are) is perhaps more work than work itself. What if we read Ms. Rubin’s question to mean this:

“What do we replace in our lives in order to avoid being [fill in the blank]?”

A friend of mine recently divorced her husband. (I once referred to her as Woman B). She had been miserable in her marriage for a long time, and truth be told (by her), she never really loved the man she married. She married him because she had been very hurt by a former true love, and never wanted to be hurt again. They were married for about 13 years, and then she met a new man. She fell in love with him, hard and fast, and she left her husband.

And now, this new man wants to marry her (has wanted to, since they started their relationship). And now, she’s no longer head over heels in love. She reports that the new man is possessive, and mutual friends (and I) found him a bit controlling. Worse: she’s a bit stuck financially: she works for him and they just bought a house together. But, she reassures friends that everything is fine.

I asked her several months ago why she moved in with this new guy right after leaving her husband, rather than setting up her own home to give herself a chance to adjust to her new circumstances.

She said, quite honestly, “I would have struggled.”

I wish I had said to her then, “And? Isn’t the life you want worth a little struggle?”

I wish I could say to her now, “Things aren’t fine. And you’re not stuck.”

But I didn’t. And I probably won’t. I substituted honesty (and true friendship?) with silence, because being quiet was easier.

Replacement therapy is over-rated.

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