Relationship Reflections: The Crystal Ball Theory

For the first few months that Boyfriend and I dated, everything was perfect. (Well, everything between us, anyway)  I thought of our relationship like a glorious crystal ball in which we could see not only our past and our future  (one can never glimpse the present, it is a fleeting moment), but also ourselves.  I loved the fact that I could recognize the me within the us.  I loved the fact that everything was so clear and so simple.

And then came our first fight.  Despite our best efforts to keep things under control, tempers flared and emotions ran high.  I remember crying in his apartment as the dust settled, thinking that we’d just marred our crystal ball.  Never again would we be so perfect.  Never again would we be able to look at our relationship and see ourselves so clearly. 

Before Boyfriend, I hadn’t considered the Crystal Ball Theory.  Now as I think back to my marriage, I can apply it and see that the “crystal ball” that was mine and my husband’s relationship might as well have been one of those extra bowling balls at a bowling alley.  It was full of holes and scars and gouges that made one question whether it qualified as a “ball” in the first place.  It was heavy and rather embarrassing to carry around.  There was no clarity- the past was a miserable abyss, I could see no future nor could I recognize myself.  Like a used bowling ball, it served as a constant reminder that better options were available if only I’d make the investment.

Since the divorce, the ball has changed.  It’s much smaller now, as it carries less significance in my life.  But it’s also been polished up a bit.  The civility of our separation and the years we’ve spent apart have allowed for some fresh perspective.  Presently I see reflections of the past- the good as well as the bad.  And I can more clearly see and define who I was as well as who I’ve become as a result of our union and parting.  I sense a future as well… a future of friendly yet far-between chitchat, void of any atrocities which were present in our marriage.

I think I’m on to something with this Crystal Ball Theory.  For as long as we maintain any sort of relationship with another person, the ball will mirror the effects of the experience we subject it to.  Relationships fraught with disaster, disorder and neglect will produce the bowling ball effect.  Yet, when people regard each other with respect, care and compassion, the orb retains its shine and clarity.  Healthy relationships are those which comfortably reflect our past, our future and (most importantly?) our true selves.

Now, before someone reminds me that there is no way to predict the future… I know that.  Unfortunately, no relationship is flawless and therefore no sphere is spotless.  No matter how much we prime and polish and apologize, the ball will remain marked.  Those imperfections can have varying effects on an individual- from doubt to determination.  But always, the spots on the globe will leave the future reflections somewhat incomplete.  As always, the best we can do is respect each other and hope for the best.

(Now that I’ve written this, I feel like designing a workbook for myself:  something to keep track of the major crystal balls in my life: the one between myself and Boyfriend… between me and each of the boys… me and my dad… my boss….  Perhaps I should draw the circles or rate them on a regular basis, I should ask “Who am I?” and consider ways to diminish the effects of past conflicts…    …Or maybe I’ll just think about all of that while I make chocolate chip cookies…I was never all that great at art anyway…)


6 comments on “Relationship Reflections: The Crystal Ball Theory

  1. jobo says:

    Wow, I love this!!! You are definitely on to something. Keep exploring it!

  2. ChopperPapa says:

    Interesting point here, if I understand you correctly the effect is seemingly our expectations in the relationship and the dings are the resulting disappointment and pain when those expectations are not met. If I am correct in this interpretation that leave a great deal of room for user error and input as the expectations may have no merit or basis.

    Great post Tara.

    • I wasn’t thinking specifically of expectations when I wrote it, but you’re correct. “Suffering” can usually be traced back to an unmet expectation and, because expectations live only in our own minds, it can be argued that they have no merit.

      Didn’t you once write about buying your ex a tea set and it resulted in an expectation-based conflict?

  3. Mandy Walker says:

    Hi Tara, I liked this post and then I confused the heck out of myself trying to comment – we’d all love a crystal ball but isn’t part of the problem that what we think is reality may be completely different from our partner’s view of reality? How do you know that your assessment of thee relationships, matches the other’s?

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