We all need a witness to our lives

In the movie “Shall We Dance”, Susan Sarandon explains why we marry. She says that we marry because we need a witness to our lives.

I was reflecting on this concept when a friend broke up with her married lover, and my first reaction was, “Good Riddance!” My second reaction was sadness, understanding that despite the secrecy, the shame, the illicit relationship and the continuous compromise, her anguish and broken heart is about losing the one person who knew everything.

No more can she share about how angry she is with her daughter, because she is uncomfortable sharing it with friends. No more can she be open about her envy, because she does not wish to expose that side of herself to the world. But he knew. He knew the good and the bad, the beauty and the ugliness, the need, the cry and the exhilaration. And no one knew as much as he did. And the one who knew is gone.

And as we move from place to place, leaving homes and other geographical locations; and as we break up or are being broken up with, leaving people who knew us “when”; and as we change careers, leaving behind a part of our talents, skills, and dreams, we lose the witnesses to our lives. Goodbye to a parent, to a neighbor, to school, to a pet. Goodbye to a lover, a boyfriend, a spouse and a child. Goodbye to our daily habits at the office, and no more dreams of being a singer, a professor, or having your book published. No more dreams of being a millionaire at the age of thirty.
And we go to new places, meeting new people, hoping to create new witnesses to the new life, and sometimes, in this new life that we hold on to so tightly, we need to let go of the old witness, the one who knew us best.


About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in AFFAIR, DIVORCE, Love, Marriage, Old age, Relationships, Uncategorized, Witness and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to We all need a witness to our lives

  1. Elisa says:

    Lovely blog entry and so timely. I feel fortunate to have a wonderful witness to my life. Someone I love who shares not only our home and families. He is there for me in my pain, sharing in joy, and watching me grow. I am having an interesting experience this summer as I reconnect with old witnesses with whom I thought I had closed a door. Next year is my 40th high school reunion. I am contemplating how much I want to allow entry into my adult life.

  2. Susan says:

    Loved this blog! It’s so very true. Made me think of all the “witnesses” I’ve had in my life. If we’re really lucky, and I am, we have witnesses that journey with us through many, many chapters of our life. And the ones we leave behind? I’m grateful for them too, but honestly……mostly grateful that I outgrew them.

  3. Martha Carr says:

    Beautiful description of an essential aspect to close, intimate relationships. To be known and understood is a gift we both give and receive.

  4. Linda K says:

    Beautifully said. To have loved ones witness our joys and losses, and to be able to look back on them together, enriches our lives.

  5. Andrew Dancing Bear says:

    Your an exceptional writer Rachel, this is insightful.

  6. Barbara Cooper says:

    I’m not sure we need a witness as much as we need to be needed, or need to have left some kind of an impact on someone else’s life be it large or small. For me, it’s that need to be remembered after I’m gone. A knowing that my time on the planet meant something to someone, helped someone, made them laugh, brightened their day, or even amused them with my foibles. To be noticed and remembered. To be missed. Ah, I guess these are just the desires of one who hasn’t procreated. To be mourned when you are gone is to know you brought love into the lives of people you touched. The sign of a life well lived with many witnesses.

  7. Jason says:

    This is a powerful quote. The more I read it and the posts, the more I feel l know why I have sadness in my life. Knowing that this sadness comes out of a desire to be understood – a desire unfulfilled, should help me with my own joy. Thank you.

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