Wednesday, 28 January 2015

New Terrain

If the weather in the mother CT miraculously happens to be windless and anything above 25 degrees, you can bet your bottom Zim dollah that the majority of Capetonians will trawl along to one of our many gloriously notorious sunny beaches. The Cliftons. Sandy Bay. Muizenberg. It's one of the most common past times for individuals of all shapes and sizes. Families. Friends. The Gays. Whether you're cruising, tanning or simply just splashing about in the unknown depths of the salty ocean, this sub-torrential paradise is one of the most popular havens for all sorts of fun in the sun.

For the minority of us, present company included, the beach is an offensive place. Not only is it frightening, noisy and somewhat disturbing (what with the latest male swimwear editions), but it's also far more dangerous than we let on. Heat stroke, stampedes, the occasional case of aquatic asphyxiation. I just don't see the appeal. Whether it has to do with my two near death experiences in the open waters, not being able to drink legally and at will, or whether it's the unwanted sand that always finds a way of creeping deeper and deeper into sink holes that no grain should ever travel, the beach will be always be a hostile and unsettling environment to me. 

My fear of factor fifty and competing against perfectly sculpted twenty-something year old bodies got me thinking about unfamiliar terrain and the difficulties we face when the decisions we make leave us stranded somewhere amidst the unknown. Naturally the safest bet would be to remove ourselves from these uncomfortable situations, sticking to what we know best, but when the heart can't take any more disappointment and when you've given something your all and it still doesn't work out, isn't it time to take the plunge?

While everyone else in my inner circle was either getting married or popping babies, another couple had decided to call their five year tenure a long and painful day. It came as a shock to everyone around them, like that time Christina Aguilera beat Britney Spears at the best newcomer Grammy category. So unexpected and so painfully unfair. Joanne and Bryan, or collectively, Broannie, had made headlines with their sudden decision to call off their engagement and subsequently, their seemingly untainted relationship.

"It's a horrible thing to consider but when you're both filled with a greater sense of relief instead of pain and anger, then you know you're ultimately making the right decision." If only more unhappy couples could be this brave and understanding. Too many times we choose to stay in a place that our heart no longer wants to be in, denying ourselves the chance to be truly happy out of fear of hurting someone else. Despite the anguish that goes along with the permanency of breaking up with someone you'll always love and cherish, to be able to finally admit that things just aren't working out takes courage worthy of even the bravest soldier. Such a fearful and terrifying notion it must be to shake up one's world of creature comforts and familiarity.

"There's only so much one can take. So much one can communicate. So much one can expect before realising that if you were truly meant to be with that one person, you wouldn't have to change them in the first place. There's only so many times that one can hear the words 'I'm sorry' before it loses any kind of merit. It's a unique type of torture that we inflict upon ourselves. Waiting for things to get better when all the while you're only wasting time. Time spent drowning in negative emotions. Time spent breaking each other down to the point of being maliciously cruel. Time spent worrying about whether or not you're going to make it. That's the harsh reality of breaking up a long-term relationship."

Such a sad state of affairs. I can only imagine the complexity of emotions that Joanne and Bryan must have been going through to finally get to this point. Was there really no hope or shred of light that could save their relationship? Had they finally reached the tether and point of no return?

"The period of adjustment is probably the worst. There's definitely a sense of loss that comes with this untimely decision but sometimes you just have to rip the band aid off and let it bleed until it eventually heals by itself. The divvying up of friends and responsibilities. Getting used to that someone not being your shadow anymore. Starting over again. It's daunting but also liberating. Who knows what time will bring. Maybe our paths will meet again and we'll be cool like that Gwen Stefani song. Maybe we'll remain great friends. Maybe we'll realise that this was all a terrible bump in the road and maybe, just maybe, we'll end up saving each other from a life of misery and resentment. The long term results of such difficult decisions is really like your typical Cape Town weather; extreme but always uncertain."

While a light breeze is always welcomed in the heat of summer, a blustering wind is not, especially when it brings about such sudden and unexpected change. There are no rules or niceties when it comes to breaking up with someone you love and care for, which makes the new ground even more difficult to tread upon. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst, knowing that somewhere in distance and time, things might just go back to the way they once were. And if they don't, well, there's always the beach. 

When you find yourself waking up to unfamiliar territory, I couldn't help but wonder, how do we survive the harsh conditions of breaking someone's heart?

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