Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Break-up Song of All Break-up Songs

“In these old familiar rooms

children would play,

Now there’s only emptiness,

nothing to say…”

Knowing Me, Knowing You was not only a prophetic anthem for 1970-80’s wonder band, ABBA, it is a present day song of truth for a vast number of couples and families.

‘Walking through an empty house, tears in our eyes,’ brings harrowing, sacred memories for many of us who’ve actually done that. All of what we stood for, and everything we believed in, ripped from our clutches.

It’s the stark realisation that what was once our whole lives is now no more—forever changed and transformed beyond our control (if it was ever ‘in our control’ to begin with).

The pain has given way to a resigned sense of destiny even though there’s a fresh and entirely new journey of tender, throbbing suffering and aloneness about to commence as we rebuild.

Memories of good, bad and indifferent—they linger on the memory, always. We’ll carry them until our dying day. These memories are almost too profound; they haunt as well as sooth. They shape our whole lives and they take us to places in the emotions which are often altogether too abstemious.

The song takes us into many dimensions of the obliteration of the family: nostalgia; pain contrasted, balanced poignantly with truth; knowledge of the partner hardly anyone could know—knowledge beyond truth it seems; distance, emotional distance—not simply physical distance; distance that’s been there for a longer time than we knew or were happy with.

The giving-up point reached is perhaps a relief (to one or both partners) and/or a tearing reality, the identity’s breached—its heart ripped haphazardly away from the body—the relationship.

Hardly a single extended family these days has survived unscathed; many recognise the portrait of truth in songs like Knowing Me, Knowing You. It’s a sad reality, yet there is always a silver lining in these situations, at times years on.

I have learned that in the context of such a tragedy we must always keep moving forward and stay focused on what we’re responsible for. These things might change, but our response never should.

“Knowing me, knowing you—it’s the best I can do.”

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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