Get your LIFE back 2: Misery Loves Company!

Have you ever heard the saying “Misery loves Company?” For some people this is remarkably true; in fact, I know a couple who could easily inscribe this age-old adage in their front door. And it would perfectly describe their relationship.

I will refer to these people as Jack and Jill. Not because they would mind seeing their mutual misery exposed online, but simply as a matter of politeness. Jack and Jill have been together for as long as I know them – and they’re childhood friends of my parents’, I’m thirty years old… that will give you a good idea of how long they’ve been together. Practically forever. Definitely for much too long.

Don’t take me wrong, dear reader: I generally nurture a great respect for the sanctity of matrimony, and I deeply admire couples who successfully spend a lifetime together, and who build a mutually positive life project. But not Jack and Jill. I’ve never seem this couple build anything except for intrigue, reprieve and self-loathing.

The first time Jack and Jill broke up (that I remember), I think I was about 7 years old. I remember Jill came over to my parent’s house in a huge distress, crying and moaning as tough she had eaten a full-featured pin cushion for breakfast. Apparently, Jack had been hitting her (or so she said; I remember my parents pointing out that she wasn’t bruised at all). She had had it with that guy, she said. She spent the whole weekend in our place, telling stories about how she was miserable. About how she would leave Jack and how she would be better off.

Do you know what happened then? Sunday afternoon, Jack came knocking on our door. He said he was sorry. No flowers, no apparent expression of regret. Just a half-hearted apology. And it was more than enough! Jill’s face immediately lit up (as though nothing had happened) and she left without even looking back. “Thanks for taking care of my Jill, guys” Jack said over his should just as they left. “It was all a misunderstanding, and we should talk it over alone. I’ll see you guys later”. My parents just shrugged, as though they were already well accustomed to the drama.

I was still young back then, so I could barely wrap my mind around what had just happened. Luckily (not), it didn’t take long at all before I witnessed a similar scene.

It was my ninth birthday. All my family was gathered together. Jack was there too, but not Jill. Apparently she was feeling sick and she couldn’t come to the party (of course that was a lie). Everything was going ok, and just when I was about to open my presents Jack simply broke down and started crying for no apparent reason. I think it was a few years until I realized what had happened in that evening: quite simply, Jill was apparently having an affair. Sure enough, it was of no consequence.

Fast forward to my teenage years. As I grew older, so did Jack and Jill started growing more reliant on my own support (also because my parents were obviously growing weary of putting up with them). At this point, they starting sharing on their personal troubles – but only when either of them was not present. Basically they both took every single chance they could to vent on how much they both hated being with the other.

At this point, they constantly kept doing these inordinate theatrical dramas, as though they enjoyed drawing crowds to the exposition of their mutual hatred and personal misery. I’m pretty sure they did a major break-up at least once a year. I think I was about 17 years old when I finally gathered the wits, courage and perseverance to ask the fateful question:

“Wouldn’t you be better off separated? I mean, it’s like you’re addicted to being mad at one another. Don’t you feel miserable living that way?”

Oh, the horror. You should have seen the expression of utter contempt in their faces, as though I had just said something absolutely despicable and false (which I hadn’t). They both stormed out of my house while raising all kinds of hell and pointing how I was either a retarded kid or doing drugs (which I wasn’t). That afternoon, I learned a fundamental truth.

No one is allowed to question the validity of Jack and Jill’s relationship. No one except Jack or Jill, of course. Only when they happened to be separate, and only when they happen to be going trough one of their routine break-ups. In the remaining occasions they will act (poorly) as though they’re be happiest and better adjusted couple on earth. That’s despite of the fact they clearly make each other miserable. If you think that’s sad, I should tell you it only got worse over time.

I really don’t know how my parents were so patient in putting up with their theatrical break-ups. Having learned their lessons over time, they never questioned either Jack or Jill, and they simply tried to support them in the best ways they could. Although in recent years, I noticed their patience started growing thin, and they started evading Jack and Jill self-pitying ploys. Truly a wise decision, I might add.

It’s a good thing Jack and Jill never had kids. They would have grown up to be some notoriously miserable and messed up adults, probably worse than their parents. In my opinion, not having kids was the only good thing that came out of Jack and Jill’s 30+ year relationship. This may sound a bit harsh, but trust me… after all these years of watching their personal dramas, I do know what I’m saying.

Whenever I try to comfort a friend who happens to be suffering from a broken relationship, I tell them stories about Jack and Jill. I tell them all these stories, and all the while I do my best to point out that sometimes, getting your EX back is a one-way ticket to ongoing personal misery. This is why I think people should really think whether they will be better off getting their EX back, of if they would better focus on just moving on and getting their lives back.

Ok, that was the first (of three) stories on the “Get your LIFE back” series. It may sound depressing, but I never said I was going to tell you a fairytale, right? In fact, the whole point of this story is showing that sometimes you’ll be better off NOT getting your ex back. And most of the times you won’t be able to figure that out for yourself until someone confronts you about it.

Rest assured, I also know some uplifting stories about people who did the right thing in trying to get their EX back. Next week, I’ll tell one such story.

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