Choosing hell

I’ve had two experiences of being presented with a choice by a partner which amounts to, well, it’s great spending time with you, and we can be very happy together, but if you want to be partners, you have to agree as part of the deal that you’ll go through an intense hell of unknown length with me. And both times I said “Sure” with no hesitation. I still think that each was the right decision, and I don’t even think there’s anything different I would have done about the decision-making process, which was instantaneous for me in both cases–I really had already made the commitment to be partners with this person, in both cases, and there was nothing by way of conditions or difficulties that would have even made me hesitate.

But there were “opportunity costs” — things I couldn’t do because of these commitments — over which I have been in great anguish. How do I explain to my kids the things I couldn’t do with them because there wasn’t the energy left, after what it took to survive going to hell twice or more a year, for ten years? Or going through hell, once or twice or thrice at random through the year, every year, for the fourteen years before those ten…

My present partnership is the strongest I’ve had in my life, and I still have a good relationship with the ex who left me within weeks of our exit from our fourteen year hell (with a lot of support from many friends and especially my current partner). But hell is truly horrible. There’s a pall over all of life when the day to day is dominated by the preparations for and then execution of and then recovery from a recurring ordeal like visiting prison or fighting the INS for a green card.

And no amount of desription of what a hell it would be could ever have given me the slightest doubt that choosing hell was the best choice. The choices had already been made, and a little detour through hell was just part of the journey…


Fred is a Teaching Artist, an arts integration advocate & a social justice activist. He is near completing a two-month Residency as String Game Performance Teacher at Calabasas Elementary School in Watsonville, CA, and performed at the 2015 Santa Cruz Storytelling Festival. He also serves as Teacher Consultant for Professional Development with UCSC's Central California Writing Project and as their Technology Liaison to the National Writing Project. He is a Connected Learning Facilitator and coordinates Face To Face Drop Ins on Connected Learning biweekly at Arts Council Santa Cruz County. He teaches self-directed & connected learning via real-world projects & string games through his Original Digital Project, an Associate of the Arts Council.

Posted in Fred's, Uncategorized

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