The other night I watched the Season 4 premiere of Basketball Wives LA. I could call the reality show a “guilty pleasure” but I feel naan guilt about watching it. I enjoy the antics of the show’s spirited cast. I feel a connection with them. Like, I get them. We’re >>here<<.
No, I don’t have romantic/genetic affiliations with professional athletes, live or perpetrate a lavish lifestyle, own or have aspirations to start my own clothing line, nor do I throw drinks at people when they say things I don’t like. I’m a Plain Jane who doesn’t wear makeup, works an actual salaried job, shops at discount clothing stores, and avoids visiting cities like LA, NYC, and Miami like the plague.
Other than that, I very much relate! The show almost exclusively centers around the relationships (and drama) between wives (or “girlfriends”) of basketball (or other professional sports) players. Much the same, a spotlight into my life would focus on my friendships with other women of similar interests and life experiences – where we often spend time celebrating life’s ups (perhaps by popping a bottle or 2) and commiserating life’s downs (a little whine over a little wine). In fact, I’ve even been associated with a Jackie Christie-type before – I know the struggle to engage (or disengage) crazy. And absolutely share in the rollercoaster frenzies of love and romantic relationships.
On the Season 4 premiere, Malaysia was shown “starting over” – investing in making a new life for herself as a result of divorcing her NBA player husband, Jannero Pargo. I wasn’t exactly surprised that the marriage didn’t last. Not because I know anything about their relationship, but that’s typical of celebrities (athletes in particular), right? No one expects those relationships to be forever (except maybe them?). But what I did find intriguing was the way in which Malaysia spoke about her deep desire to make her marriage work – taking her “til death do us part” vows very seriously – but her husband being unwilling to meet her half way.
“I will go to the moon and beyond for my husband. And if you can’t go down the street, I will walk away.” – Malaysia Pargo
That was… kinda deep. I felt that. I could empathize. I knew the sentiment exactly. I’d been there before. More than once. And I had friends who had been there. We’d shared stories (as recently as the day I’d watched this episode).
Relationships are hard to maintain. Two people attempting to share one life together is an arduous task. Love isn’t enough. So much outside of emotional connection and feeling needs to actively be poured into a relationship at all times to overcome the difficulties that will always arise between individuals joined together. It’s a delicate dance that not everyone is able or willing to engage in.
It can be devastating to be with some one you love for years and hit a wall that only you seem to want to climb over. They check out without giving any indication that they care enough to make the relationship work but also give no clear indication that they want out. They may allow themselves to be part of the relationship, but not really taking part in the relationship. They’re around but not present. But because they are still there and haven’t made the decision to exit the relationship, you convince yourself that you can bring the relationship back to life. You work overtime to try and piece any brokenness (seen or unseen) back together. You are willing to do anything to keep the relationship going – you’re in love and you’ve invested so much into it. You aren’t willing to give up because the relationship hit a rough patch. You perservere because you don’t see any reason not to.
Sure, your partner hasn’t been much of a partner, but you figure everyone has their moments of being less than wonderful, being unusual but not unlovable. The situation isn’t ideal or desirable but it’s nothing that couldn’t use a bit of patience and understanding. So you endure lonely nights laying directly next to the person you love, while hoping and praying that the distance will close and they will meet you half way. That they initiate even the smallest step towards you to show that they are still in it, that they still care, that they still want to be “us”, “we”. Because you still care, you still want to be “us”, “we”. And you are more than ready to travel to the moon and beyond for them. Because you believe your love is worth it and it’s no trouble to go the extra mile to be back in a good, healthy place.
But when should you give up? When should you accept you can’t carry a relationship alone and your partner must also be invested in righting the [relation]ship? When should you book your return trip from the moon and beyond to come back to earth and focus your energy on yourself? When do you decide to walk away?
My heart sank a bit as I watched Malaysia cry on her sister’s shoulder and admit that she didn’t want to be a failure, that she didn’t want to give up on her marriage, but that she had to do what she felt was best for her. I internalized her pain because it’s a pain I’m all too familiar with. I’ve felt like a failure for giving up on a union that had potential to work out. If only I waited longer, so we could work on it together, things could’ve been different… Maybe “we” wouldn’t be forever, but how would we know if we didn’t both try?
I don’t know what the breaking point should be for deciding to end a relationship, but I know it’s freeing to be on the other side. To feel the reward of crossing that bridge, to a place of peace and solace. Confident that new love is not far away. Eager to be a better you in a better “us”, “we”.