Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The half life of neglect

According to Wikipedia Half Life is defined as the period of time it takes for the amount of a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half. It's radioactive decay. I'm not really a science girl - I appreciate the nurturing it takes for something to grow and I know that my health has been directly improved because of medicine (including radiation) and science, but, for the most part, I don't really get it. And, honestly, I'm not even that curious.

When I run, I exercise my mind. During last night's trot around the neighborhood, my thoughts were bouncing around - pausing on relationships that have inspired me. Inspired me to see things in a different way, to learn about myself and what makes me happy, to make changes in myself and my life. From out of nowhere, the concept of half lives flew into my mind and landed with a thud and I realized that I could apply that concept to two of my longest duration relationships quite neatly.

If you know me or possess the ability to read between the lines with perception, you've probably gathered that my mother and I don't share an easy relationship. It took me 30 years, a good friend's sage observations and a boatload of therapy to realize that, on many levels, I lived a childhood of neglectful. Understand, she was never, ever abusive but she just didn't have the capacity to address my emotional needs. No blame here, no anger (used that up as a teen), no judgment, just reality.

I guess I should consider it progress that it only took me half as long, til the age of 45, to wake up to the fact that my fundamental complaint about my marriage was a lack of emotional care giving. This isn't a criticism of my former spouse. I don't think either of us realized how much I yearned for someone to take care of me from the inside and I'm at least equally guilty of neglecting that part of myself. My own inability to recognize and ask for what I needed was radioactive poison causing decay, no doubt.

I know I can't decontaminate either of those prior relationships and I'm more than okay with that. I'd like to think that the part of me that has been becoming progressively smaller is the part that tolerates being neglected, by me, and by those whom I allow into my life. In the big picture, even a half life is far too much time to waste.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this. I have learned that for me, being upset for say 1/10th the amount of time that I used to is my "half life". It's maturing, and ultimately, not giving your life over to what pains it. The other day I turned my head to something that could have bothered me for a few days; instead it was one hour, and I felt like I'd finally gotten comfortable in the own feelings of my own skin. Love you, Silvia!