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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Happiness takes wings, grief stays -By Rajesh Singh

Happiness takes wings, grief stays
By Rajesh Singh

The Pioneer

Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Human relationships are strange. The stronger they get the more
fragile they become. Then they snap, leaving behind a trail of

emotional distress. But the painful truth is that grief visits a

person who is genuinely committed to a relationship, not one who is

in it for the sake of yet another exploration
Noted author and commentator Arun Shourie has struck an emotive chord
with his readers through his latest book, Does He Know A Mother's

Heart? Only the most insensitive will remain unmoved as he narrates

the anguish he and his family have gone through in bringing up a

special child. But that alone would have perhaps not been so

spectacular. What is revealed is the deep human bonding that he

developed with the boy -- now 34 years of age -- in the process, the

pleasures that the challenged son gave to the entire family, in a

manner that otherwise 'normal' grown-ups do not have either the

capacity or the inclination to offer. It's a unique relationship that

Mr Shourie presents before the world. It's a bond of pure, selfless,

almost divine love.
Unfortunately, not all ties are that secure. Nor are they easy to
decipher, since there are grey elements in nearly all of them. In

fact, human relationships are strange. There is a flip side to them.

Often, the stronger they get the more fragile they become. Then they

snap, leaving behind a trail of emotional distraught.
Authors and psychologists have been for ages trying to understand the
mysteries of the phenomenon, and expressing it in their ways. The

general understanding is that the more complex a relationship the

deeper are the fault lines. But even relatively simpler ones, such as

those of friendship -- even if they are very close they carry fewer

burdens as compared to love affairs -- are prone to break-ups. The

immediate consequences are no less disastrous, and the one who

suffers the most is the person who has invested emotionally the most

in that relationship.
The American poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, who wrote through the second
half of the 19th century and early 20th century and became

universally popular through her lines, "Laugh and the world laughs

with you/Weep, and you weep alone", hit the nail on the head when she

pointed out that as humans we tend to hurt people who like us the

most. She reflected:
There's one sad truth in life I've found
While journeying east and west --

The only folks we really wound

Are those we love the best.

We flatter those we scarcely know,

We please the fleeting guest,

And deal full many a thoughtless blow

To those who love us best.
The Internet is full of advice on how to manage relationship
disasters (just as it tells us the ways to cultivate a relationship).

The 'rational approach', the Net educates us, should be to categorise

the broken bond. Was it a toxic relationship that deserved to end? Or

was it worthwhile to sustain? Social pundits tell us that, whatever

the nature a break can often be refreshing to the heart and soul. At

the very least, it provides an occasion to the players to re-assess

the alliance objectively. It could, they point out, lead to the re-

establishment of the ties or a more elaborate distancing. Robert

Brault is a popular name on the Net who offers nuggets of

encouragement on the subject. He philosophises:
Sometimes two people need to step apart
and make a space between

that each might see the other anew,

in a glance across a room

or silhouetted against the moon.
If we ignore the romanticism in the poetry, it is possible to see the
wisdom in the suggestion. However, emotions cannot be clinically

controlled. How natural it would be for two people, until very

recently close friends, to encounter each other as strangers in a

room? Can one indulge in an objective assessment of the other after

having provided that 'space', in such an unreal situation? Had this

to be the way of the world, relationships would be without emotions,

dry and robotic. The desire to seek space is but a lame explanation

for the break-up, because any sort of meaningful human relationship

inherently creates an individual space for each partner, while at the

same time construing a common ground that binds two people.
On a recent television talk show hosted by Simi Garewal, well known
film star Deepika Padukone spoke of the anguish she went through

following her break-up. Her observations made more sense than the

reams of advice experts provide, often at a price. Analysing the

reason(s) that led to the turmoil, she admitted to rather too easily

getting emotionally attached to people. That fault, she said,

contributed in a large way to her psychological disarray soon after

the split. But it was the other remark that she made, that she gave

"100 per cent" to the relationship, which was at the core of her

grief. People who remain frivolous in relationships -- even though

they claim to be serious -- are the least affected. Those who give

that 100 per cent, end up as the foolish ones.
While Deepika has managed well, eventually overcoming the crisis, a
study quoted on the Internet tells us that men are less-well equipped

to cope with such trauma. According to the findings of a research

team of sociologists from the Wake Forest University and the Florida

State University, men draw inwards and drift into loneliness when hit

by a failed relationship, while the affected women seek comfort in

the company of friends and family.
Author Jan Yager in his book 'When Friendship Turns Unfriendly'
dwells at length on the 'negative' and the 'positive' of the

relationship. He writes, "Too little attention has been paid to the

notion that negative friendships can wreak havoc. Another reason (for

writing the book) is to have a forum to explore the possible causes

of finding yourself in such a relationship, and how to best rid

yourself of a noxious friend." A noxious friend is one who, among

other things, does not respect you as a person, always tests your

self-esteem and generally remains unconcerned with your

insensitivities. Of course, it is quite possible that the person you

consider as 'noxious', is not really so but a figment of your

imagination. That problem can be taken care with better communication

among the two.
However, the author is more caught up with bigger challenges, that of
finding potentially dangerous friendships. He says, "Some potentially

destructive or harmful friendships may be difficult to spot. That's

because when a friendship is forming, during the "courtship" phase,

your friend may be charming, polite, and completely appropriate. Once

your friendship is well underway, a friend may change. The very act

of becoming friends may send someone with intimacy problems into an

emotional tailspin, changing those involved as well as their

behaviour towards each other. As friends become closer and more

intimate, expectations also may arise so that disappointments become

more likely, and painful, than during the early stage of the evolving

While it may appear fatalistic, the recognition that grief and hurt
are inalienable in any relationship can help in coping with the

crisis. The problem again is that such pain visits the person who is

genuinely committed to a relationship and not the one who is in it

for the sake of yet another exploration. A certain level of stoic, is

thus, called for. Happiness is on wings, grief lingers long/Pain

supports life, when all pleasure is gone.

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