The opening line to Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair is thus:
So Graham Greene. I love his pared-back writing. He plonks the squirmy bits about life and relationships on the page via characters who are invariably flawed in quite banal ways. I find he treats his characters like Agatha Christie does a plot, inviting the read to keep going, and going even though you know the twist.
Anyway, to the quote above. It’s a comforting truth.
Comforting? Yes, if you’ve had pain (big pain), there is solace in knowing that your suffering has a point. Always. Much of the despair we feel during tough times derives from a sense we shouldn’t be feeling so despairing. And so the angst is fueled. To know that our suffering uncovers aspects of ourselves – of our heart no less – turns down the dial on this secondary despair. Oxygen must enter a lung for it to become a lung. Concrete must enter a hole to become a sturdy pylon.
Painful experience must enter a heart for us to know the full expanse of our love.
I’ve written about the comfort to be derived from a relationship breakdown before. It’s a theme men seem to write about more than women. I’m sitting here wondering why. Is it because women angst in the lead up to the circumstances that see a relationship collapse? And for women, the collapse is a relief?