Tuesday, January 21, 2014

When Everything Hurts

According to the Holmes/Rahe Life Events Scale, divorce is second only to the death of a spouse as the most stress-inducing thing a person can experience.

Like a tank of unregulated Freedom Industry chemicals, divorce leaks into everything.  Contaminates everything. And however much you want to contain it -- however much you understand intellectually about the process of loss into which you have been thrust -- the maddening thing is, even as you observe it happening to you, you cannot stop it.

 Divorce zaps you into a kind of brutal anti-zen eternal-now of "This is my life coming to an end."  Your resilience evaporates. Your memory abruptly gets very good and terribly selective.  Every cheery thing you ever said to anyone about "overcoming" and "hanging in there" comes flicking out of the past to stab you.   High school Hemingway -- "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills" -- comes back to mock you because quite obviously you will never be strong again.

The future is a fog-bound mire full of suddenly impossibly heavy things like "appointments" and "work" and "talking to people" that you are supposed to still be able to shoulder.  Your dreams become a horrid, nightly slow-boat through the worst abattoirs your imagination can cook up.

Even your synovial fluids seem to turn on you because, Jesus, now your goddamn bones ache and the points at which they move against each other have been packed with gravel and peanut shells.

Divorce can't not touch every part of you.

So why mention this?

Because David Brooks has written a column on dealing with grief.  Not his grief, of course: that is not the way of someone who has spent his entire life aspiring to be America's most repressed Reasonable Conservative neo-Tory.  Instead, Mr. Brooks has done a good job summarizing and giving a much wider audience to an excellent blog post by Catherine Woodiwiss entitled "A New Normal: Ten Things I've Learned About Trauma".

So good on Mr. Brooks for that, and a better person than me would just stop there and leave it be.

But being a dirty and disreputable hippie, I am moved to ask "Why?"  Why this column?  Why now?

See, ever since our Beltway Media Overlords opted to destroy political journalism by obsessively harping on a few bullshit themes (ex: Both Sides Do It!) and putting a virtual embargo on any discussion of genuinely important subjects (ex: Conservatives Are Nuts), we on the Left have had to become preternaturally adept at sussing out the various motives behind what the shills and hacks and bought-off advertorial scriveners of our Corporate Media choose to report and chooses to omit.

At this point, guessing at "Why?" is a reflex, so of all the subjects available in the world, I had to ask myself why is Mr. Brooks -- whose bread-and-butter has been pumping out horrid tripe about Fake Centrism, the sins of imaginary hippies and the merits of various crackpot Conservative economic schemes and military adventures -- suddenly writing about grief and loss?

And if I had to guess, I'd guess because Mr. Brooks is currently going through a divorce, and that experience permeates everything.  In fact if I were doing this as part of a longer, think-tank piece on capital-M Media, I would probably note that a lot Mr. Brooks' recent subject and content choices --
-- sound a lot like what might cross the mind of an obsessively passive-voiced man who is going through the disintegration of his marriage.

But as I am not currently employed by a think-tank, you gentle readers are in no danger of me spinning this out any further.

* Thanks to alert reader Yastreblyansky for the reminder.


Horace Boothroyd III said...

Forgive me if you must, but I hope the little bastard is really, really suffering.

Schadenfreude: your tears are delicious.

Richard said...

Bloody Hell Drifty! Sympathy for the devil?

steeve said...

Divorce is much more painful for rich people. They're forced to endure never seeing a small part of their money ever again.

They loved their money so very deeply. They tried everything to stay together. Their love is greater than the greatest love. And then one day it'll leave and never look back.

Yastreblyansky said...

Don't forget he was on about suicide the day he came back from "book leave" I thought it was the stillborn book he was grieving for. I became less sympathetic when I looked up Woodiwiss and found that the person he's exploiting for today's column is an immensely good-hearted (though Christian) liberal.

bluicebank said...

My guess is DFB wrote the column so he could say he wrote a column where both sides are not equally guilty, and the answer isn't exactly in a Brooksian middle.

You say he's a crying-on-the-inside sort of clown, writing about his divorce? You're such a softie, Driftglass.

Batocchio said...

"Because you need me, Springfield. Your guilty conscience may move you to vote Democratic, but deep down you long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king. That's why I did this, to save you from yourselves. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a city to run."
– Sideshow Bob

Deering said...

Ehehehe. Ever since Brooks came back, he's been really passive-aggressive snarly, opaque, and barely-trying in his columns. Since it's doubtful he reads the comments section, I didn't think that was the source of his distress. Divorce makes sense--but given his dislike of women wouldn't he be doing a couple columns blaming feminism for shattering marriages or a nasty take on granola-crunching progressive career women or something?

the cheese eater said...

David Brooks and the NYT aren't the only ones taking a great big steaming both sides dump in America's skull. PayPal puppet Jeremy Scahill does it too!

Fe Adamsonn said...

In any point of view, divorce is really painful. It is something you thought that would last forever but it didn't. It's so sad but sometimes it should be done.

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JerryB said...

Since my ex was the psycho bitch from hell, my divorce saved my sanity and possibly my life.

john_m_burt said...

Horace, remember, please, that schadenfreude is safe to take only in moderate doses. Do not overindulge.

Cirze said...

As Lally Weymouth, daughter of suicide, Phil Graham, is said to be his mistress for whom he bought a million-dollar house around the corner from his house (attested to by his wife putting his things out on the lawn with a sign saying "Take it elsewhere, buster!") my guess is that feminism won't be a part of the cry from his heart.

But I could be wrong. Who knows the heart of the heartless?

Deering said...

"...given his dislike of women wouldn't he be doing a couple columns blaming feminism for shattering marriages.."

Annnnd, here we go...