Sunday, September 16, 2007

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

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When Mel handed over my chicklitty assignment, I have to admit I wasn't looking forward to it. Who the hell wants to take a break from reading non-fiction tome after non-fiction tome about German history? But marriage is about compromise and I actually quickly got into Emilia's world. In the end, Ayelet Waldman won me over, even if she was writing about feelings and girlie stuff.

Throughout the novel, Emilia feels she was drawn to her husband, Jack, through the concept of bashert – that it was a magical connection or fate that had drawn them together. Do you believe in love at first sight? Do you believe there is one soul mate for each of us?

I believe very strongly in bashert, but, to get all Talmudical for a second, I don't think that is the same as love at first sight. Let's face it. Most people have an impossible time distinguishing between love at first sight and lust at first sight. As for us guys -- it's all the same to us. Love. Lust. Whatever. Your place or mine? (Thinks: Damn, you're hot.) She says yes. (Thinks: God, I love you.) Same dif.

More seriously, I believe Mel and I are bashert, but it was an accumulation of knowledge to realize this rather than a bolt of lightning (she might disagree). Trusting that, for me, made a lot of the shit we went though with IF tolerable, because I trusted we would get through it as a couple. While being with my bashert couldn't guarantee "happily ever after" at least I knew I wouldn't be alone.

Emilia debates participating in the Walk to Remember and questions whether grief counseling or support groups really help when confronted with tragedy. What are your feelings about counseling and support groups? Do you feel that they have some merit?


We went to a support group run by our IF clinic once. It made us feel a little less alone, and I probably wish we had done so earlier. The person who ran the group was sorta useless, but the other people in it all had similar stories and I think were happy to learn from someone else in the flesh that they weren't nuts for keeping an African fertility statue in the bedroom for good luck. It helped us cope with the on-going crisis of infertility. I am a bit more suspect of the worth of such things for coping with "tragedy." Tragedies are in many ways singular events and unless you're a party to the specific tragedy there are more limits to the extent that others can help you.

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8 comments:

Carlynn said...

I liked your discussion of finding your bashert in Mel and that 'it was an accumulation of knowledge to realize this rather than a bolt of lightning'. During this struggle through infertility I have come to realise what an amazing guy I met and that I would never have made it through with many of the other guys I was so 'madly in love with' at other times in my life.

I also liked your comment about the infertility support group. Sometimes the people who run these things are not the best but I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that hearing the stories made you feel less alone. It's the human contact more than the formal structure that often helps the most.

Samantha said...

I have found the blogging community to be an immense bastion of support in terms of making me feel less alone.

I'm not sure I agree with the way that Emilia described having a bashert (it did sound an awful lot like lust to me), but you're version of learning over time how much your life partner means to you, that resonates with me much better.

Lori said...

Hi, Token Male. :-)

I can't remember what Ayelet said about bashert. I think she started by thinking it was the person you were meant to be with. But it ended up being the person who would help you work something out (in her case, daddy issues).

So, I guess many of us who have experienced IF have done so with our bashert (in our cases, baby issues).

I'm curious, what make the support group leader useless? What would have made her useful?

Deb said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book.

The Town Criers said...

Oooh, I think that's really interesting--the difference between support for an ongoing crisis vs. a tragedy.

And I've always believed that you are my bashert too :-)

Kristen said...

I feel the same way about bashert. I don't really believe in the whole "love at first sight" thing because I think love is something that builds over time as you learn more about each other and experience things as a couple. I don't believe it strikes you like a lightening bolt - although I believe mutual attraction can be that strong.

As far as tragedies go, I think a miscarriage or a loss qualifies as a tragic event. In my case, I've had two. And I still find that support groups help me to move forward and at the very least, make me feel like I am not alone. They also help me to realize that my feelings of grief are normal, as sometimes I feel like an alien, reacting as a stranger to my true self.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Ayelet said...

Hey Guys. THis is Ayelet. First of all. CHICKLITTY??????? AAARRRGGGGGGGGGGG.

I'll take the knife away from my throat long enough to comment on the whole Bashert issue. Emilia has a really simplistic notion of love -- that it hits you like a lightening bolt, that you meet your soulmate, that that kind of love is so important that whatever waste you lay is irrelevant. But through the course of the novel she comes to figure out that all that shit is just meaningless compared to the WORK involved in really being there for someone, that love is in the effort, not the magic.

Waiting Amy said...

Your comments about bashert are true I think. It is definitely not love at first sight. And, as Ayelet points out, Emilia comes to realize this error and the importance of the work in relationships. But I do believe that my DH and I were "meant to be." I'm pretty hesitant to ascribe power to a greater being, but I do think there was some force in the universe that brought us together and that we were intended for one another.

Thanks for participating!