I’ve always found small talk to be a necessary evil. An illusion to push past in order to get to the real stuff that matters. These days, I feel repulsion and anger when someone attempts to ask me about the weather. Of course, this anger is not directed at strangers. How could they know my state of grief? My anger mostly surfaces with friends who, with positive intent, feel it best to avoid addressing my current state head on.
In my reflection of these friends, I know that their avoidance stems from an inability to be able to sit with my pain. They want it to go away. Maybe it forces their own pain into perspective? And, they cannot bear to look.
In my obstinance, I have sometimes taken to providing one word answers to small talk.
“How is the weather?”
“Is it nice spending time with your nephew?”
Maybe it forces their marriage or their partnership to feel uncertain, un-analyzed, un-confronted, and the la la land of love to feel threatened. My story is scary: a partner one day committed, the next day not. I know how it feels to have this la la love land threatened. I’ve been there.
I used to look at couples who had split up and think, “What a shame. Why didn’t they work it out? Why didn’t they try harder for their marriage? If only they could have been brave enough to dig deep and address their resentments.”
I feel I did this in my marriage. I am, by no means, a perfect person. But, I fucking tried. And this is the most heartbreaking part: it takes two souls to be committed to each other to work through the hard times. It feels so apparent now that our American ideology of independence and ability to conquer anything we put our minds to is a falsehood. So much in life requires teamwork to be successful. So much in life requires faith in each other.