“There are people who are in situations in life simply because they made a commitment, and they remain out of obligation.” I don’t know if that was the exact quote, but it was along the lines of that.
That statement, said during a conversation, had me messed up all week. It stuck with me, and I’ve been trying to think it through–trying to figure out why I had such a visceral reaction to it. Why did those words make me so sad? I wanted to just wrap my arms around any person feeling like this. Maybe I needed a hug! I don’t know.
A joyless, obligatory life is not an option for me. I’ve been through some stuff! I need to cling to hope, joy, love…the idea that all hurts are for the moment and life gets better.
Perhaps part of the hurt I felt was due to the fact that I recognize too well what living out of obligation looks like. Growing up, I saw so many examples of people working hard and giving all of themselves in order to meet their obligations. To children, to partners, to family, to church. To countless things they had to do. I don’t remember them being happy. There was an ever-present emptiness–a loss of something–that none of these obligations could fill.
I shared with a friend that I was struggling with this idea, and she said, “Unfortunately that’s the life of so many Caribbean people. We’re taught to stick things out no matter what.”
We continued to talk about how for some people, it is their children who anchor them into lives they didn’t plan to live.
I shared that “staying for the kids” only leads to unhappy marriages that are toxic and negatively impact the children. No matter how good both parents think they are at hiding their woes, the children know. The cracks in the facade show after a while.
Divorce should be an option. Right? If you love your children, and they are the reason you feel obligated to be in a relationship that is killing your spirit, leave and continue to love and care for them outside of that relationship.
“Divorce may be more devastating to the children,” she told me. Some never recover–no matter how toxic a relationship may be.
“If you leave the marriage and abandon your children, then it was never about the kids,” I countered. Children should be loved–not be an obligation.
And, what about the people who don’t have kids and are not married? Why continue to do something that sucks the life out of you just because you’ve put so much time into it? Why not keep pushing and striving for better?
Look, I don’t have the answers. I don’t know what the right thing is for everyone. We all live nuanced and complicated lives.
I just know that the idea of living a life void of fulfillment or a life that is trapped in obligation is utterly suffocating to me. That life is heartbreaking, colorless and grey. The thought of that… It’s my worst nightmare!