Recently I watched the movie “Warm Bodies”. Great movie if you haven’t seen it, it’s kind of like Romeo and Juliet meets the zombie apocalypse (complete with the balcony scene). Except instead of the Montagues and Capulets we’ve got a star crossed romance between a human and a zombie. Yes, very strange. But at the same time surprisingly great.
In the opening scene of the movie there’s a scene with zombies shambling through an airport. There’s a voiceover from the main character explaining that this is his life. He’s a zombie. He doesn’t know what his life was like before or how he got that way, this is just what he is, and he spends his days walking around bumping into things.
As opening scenes go I thought it was great (and pretty funny too). But when I was thinking about it later I thought holy crap, that’s really how most of us live our lives. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s not what the writers/directors intended. And I suppose it says something about me that I’m trying to find meaning in a monologue about how zombies spend their time. Anyhow, I digress…
Think about it for a moment though, and look at relationships. Does ANYONE really have any idea what they are doing? Did any of us get classes on relationships? Did anyone teach us what’s healthy and what isn’t? Hell no, we just kind of walk around bumping into things. We make things up and try to figure it out as we go.
I remember when my wife and I came home from the hospital with our first child. We walked into our house and put him on the ground. The home that we had known was now being invaded by this little sleeping person strapped in a car carrier. I can’t remember who said it, but we looked at each other and one of us said, “now what”. We went and took a look and were a bit shocked to find that our child didn’t come with a manual. There was also no course at the hospital that we had to pass before we were allowed to bring him home. Suddenly we were parents, and it was up to us to discover what that meant.
We spent the next few years learning and I’m sure we made some mistakes along the way. The bumps and bruises healed, and any psychological damage we did hopefully won’t surface for a few years yet (at least until he’s out of the house).
A few years later we had a second child, and strangely he didn’t come with a manual either. But that was alright, because we were veterans now and we knew what we were doing. Except, well, we didn’t. It seems our second child was different from the first and the same rules didn’t apply. We now found ourselves having to learn things all over again.
I think that’s how life goes – it presents us with situations and challenges. We do our best and usually we figure things out (or at least think we do). But sometimes we can’t figure things out on our own. Sometimes the things we try don’t work and we find ourselves lost, not knowing what to do or where to turn. And it is in these moments where things break down that we start looking for help. We may turn to our spouses, families, friends, books, priests or whatever is a source of comfort for us. Some of us also choose to struggle on alone. We realize that we’ve been doing the zombie shuffle, just stumbling through life bumping into things and seeing what sticks, but now we don’t know what to do.
That’s what happened to me about a year and a half ago. One day while sitting back watching TV with my wife of almost 13 years, I noticed her body language was somewhat “off”. I asked her if everything was alright, and next thing I knew my whole world was crumbling around me. She told me she wasn’t happy, she never “truly” loved me, she settled for me because she thought that I was as good as it would get, and that she didn’t know if she wanted to be married anymore. There was lots of other fun stuff, but that sums up the important bits.
That experience turned my whole world upside down. I started through the different cycles of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance (though I will admit I periodically relapse through any one of them). I had to accept that my life as it was had changed, and I needed to redefine my future. To understand that I figured I really needed to think through some concepts that I had thought I understood.
I thought I understood things like happiness, commitment and love. I thought I understood what it meant to be a spouse, and to support the person you love. But honestly I found I didn’t understand anything at all. I thought I had been a good husband, but looking critically in the mirror I found that I didn’t necessarily like everything I saw.
A year and a half later my wife and I are still together, but we also have a long way to go and I don’t know what the future holds for us. I would like to think that those events have helped me grow and become a better person. The one thing I do know however is that my story is not unique. I’ve met enough people with similar stories to know that I’m not alone. It seems a lot of us have been shuffling through our relationships, bumping into things and trying to figure out what works. Through introspection, reading, and especially talking to other people I gained some new insights, and started on my own thoughts on what it takes to succeed in life and love.
This isn’t about me or my life – not really. That was the motivation and the starting point for this blog. I’ll reference things that I’ve seen or done because hey, that’s what I know. What I really hope is to use this as a way to continue to develop my own thoughts on assorted things related to what I think should be the most important things to us – life and love. And maybe at the same time share those thoughts with others who may be looking for some direction, or just something to read.
I encourage any feedback. I’ve learned a lot through reading comments on other forums and blogs, and think that all different perspectives provide some value. Of course having comments means that someone has to be reading this (someone other than my mom, a couple buddies and someone who thought this was actually zombie related). But hey, we all need to start somewhere.
So for anyone who joins me on this journey, thanks. Hopefully we can all learn more about ourselves, and we can stop shuffling around and bumping into things all the time. I guess that’s how people learn. Try something and see if it works. If so do it again. If not, try something different. I would like to think we can give each other guidance to make the bumps less frequent and a little less painful. We’ve all been doing the zombie shuffle for long enough. Lets try to find a better way together.