In a 1975 song Paul Simon claimed there were “50 ways to leave your lover.” BTW, he actually only listed 5 . . . regardless, I disagree. There are only 3. Ironically, they are the same 3 ways used to remove a Band-Aid. (FYI, this will be another soul-baring post for which I should—and would—apologize, if I didn’t truly believe in its merit to resonate with other women with similar experiences. Feel free in your comments though to tell me otherwise . . .)
As far as adhesive bandages, most of us know the “one and done” rip it off (and all the hair with it) method. It hurts like f**king like hell! But, hey . . . it’s quick. The second technique is the sloooow, “bit by bit” bit, whereby you start scraping up an edge with a fingernail and then gently (my ass!) tug it off a little at a time. (This way is just stupid. Prolong the pain without the benefit of it at least being fast . . . why?) The last method is to soak it in water, dissolving the sticky stuff until the damn thing just floats off. You essentially trade time for painless. (Of course, afterwards there’s that gooey scab to contend with . . .)
As far as leaving a lover, the same basic methods apply. The rip it off technique is the “blindside.” In other words, party #1 has no idea anything is wrong until party #2 asks for a divorce, walks out, stops calling, disappears. Like with a Band-Aid, it’s quick. And for party #1 it hurts like hell! The “bit by bit” is the relationship filled with fights, arguments, abuse (emotional, physical, mental), cheating, betrayals of trust and all matter of issues and discord. Yeah, this one hurts too when it ends—but the parties do it to themselves, ‘cause both know it ain’t working. And then there’s the last method, the looooong slow death. Typically it’s a loss of attraction and/or compatibility. Neither party is really at fault. People grow apart, feelings change. These relationships were just always meant to be seasonal. They run their course. This is the marriage or relationship that dies “not with a bang, but a whimper.” (I’ve always loved the imagery of that line by T.S. Eliot.) Such was how my marriage ended. Truth be told, I felt blessed—to have been spared the hurt and confusion of the blindside—or the years of battling a relationship’s demons.
This is a metaphor, of course. And the problem with a metaphor is that it is a metaphor and not a mirror reflection. After all, no one ever asks the Band-aid how it prefers to be removed. Moreover, relationships aren’t Band-Aids. Depending on the type (casual dating, not casual dating or a committed partnership or marriage) it matters on what side of the sticky sh*t you are.
As far as leaving (i.e removing) a casual dating relationship, my preference is the rip it off method. (Note: The one and done method only works when one is done.) Having removed myself from a marriage, I preferred the way mine dissolved—slowly, over time with little to no pain. Neither of us was caught off guard when it came time to call it quits. Others have not been as fortunate. In posts on Facebook support groups from women blindsided after decades of presumed good marriages, their pain is palpable. A case in point, a woman simply informed one day out of the blue by her spouse of 41 years that he was filing for divorce. Others write of having sacrificed all for their POS men. These women (who have maintained hearth and home and raised kids to the detriment of their own lives and careers) are upon discovery of infidelity now shell-shocked and lost. No better off are the ones who fought and struggled for years to make it work—and then are still unprepared for an unwanted reality . . . Indeed I count myself as one of the lucky ones. I was financially and emotionally ready and prepared to leave and move on.
But now let’s talk about not casual dating relationships. In fact, let’s talk about a very specific type in that category of “not” casual—specifically the rebound—the first nc relationship entered into after a failed marriage or long term relationship. BTW, be prepared. When this one ends, it’s going to really hurt and it will take lots of time to recover from it. The reasons follow . . .
We all do it. When a serious, committed relationship falls apart or implodes or explodes, we build walls for the next time. We take precautions not to repeat the mistakes of the past. We are careful. We don’t open up, give trust—or our hearts—without long and careful deliberation. At least I didn’t. The first nc relationship I had after my divorce was one of cautious and reluctant entry. I only revealed small pieces of me. I kept my guard up and my expectations low. But as life and love would have it . . . yeah, I slowly opened the door. I let the f**ker in. Fool was I. Newsflash, ladies: No one can hurt your heart from the outside.
Karma perhaps. After having been the leaver/remover, I’m now the left/removed, the recipient of the blindside. Textbook case, I didn’t have a clue—til it happened. And damn do I have questions! See, the crime of the blindside are the questions, beginning with why? My best guess is the rolling stone got scared and bolted. Yep. It hurts like hell, and I struggle—not to move on ‘cause I have no choice—but rather to let go. To explain, here’s another metaphor . . . (sorry)
Like an apple, the loss of a love relationship has 3 layers. Outermost is the skin of what was. It’s what you miss—the fun, adventure, the experiences, memories and happiness of the relationship. Beneath, thicker and meatier, is the fruit itself—the dreams, plans, desires, hopes and promises—now never to be realized. This is what you grieve. The final layer is the core, the true seed of your despair. It’s what you fear—the “what was will never be again” depression. (At 60, I hear the clock ticking and quite honestly, I do fear sometimes I’ve banged my last bang.)
Do I actually miss him, the aforementioned f**ker? No. I don’t think so. I miss the hours we talked and laughed and made love. (Seriously, the man was great in bed! And I’m sixty—not dead.) More importantly, I miss the way he made me feel—alive, desired, beautiful, appreciated, valued. And I grieve the future we talked about—the promise of travel and companionship. Added to this stew of emotions is confusion and a slew of unanswered questions. Were there signs I missed? Did I do or say something? Did I misinterpret or—as he has accused me of doing—imagine the things he said? Ladies, you tell me. How does “Do you want to meet my daughter? She needs to know who you are . . .” not mean “You matter to me?”
When I was writing romance novels it was standard practice to write how a character “saw emotion” in another’s eyes. Fear, hope, love, doubt always “entered,” “rose,” darkened” or “shone” there. (Look for it the next you read a novel—I’ll bet you find it!) I always figured it was literary license—something writers made up—until I saw it for myself. I swear, I saw it in his eyes . . . one night at dinner. He was sitting across the table staring at me in silence.
“What?” I asked. I looked at him, uneasy under the intensity of his gaze. What I was reading was scaring me to sh*t! I had to be seeing wrong . . .
“Nothing,” he answered.
“No. Really. What?” I insisted.
He shook his head. “No. Not yet.” And then he looked away.
Well that did nothing to clear up the mud!
A moment later he looked back at me. “You impale me,” he said.
I tried to make light of it. “Sounds painful.” I laughed. Then, thinking maybe he’d used the wrong word, I offered an explanation. “Impale is to stab or skewer.” (He was/is blue collar to the core, yet I was often surprised at his intelligence and vocabulary. I once confessed to him my impression of him at our initial meeting: “Who knew a mechanic could be so layered?”)
He didn’t reply.
A while later, outside having a cigarette with his arm around me I decided to try to find out what he’d meant with his “impale” comment. “I like you more than I should,” I said as a gambit.
“Don’t be scared,” he said.
“I’m terrified,” I answered.
It was then he asked if I wanted to meet his daughter.
Okay. I may be out on one hell of a flimsy limb here . . . but I ask you, ladies . . . What freakin’ female on this effing planet wouldn’t think the guy was falling for her? FYI, the problem (as I later told him) with dating a writer is that I remember and journal everything! Therefore, when he blindsided me weeks later and ended the relationship—not by actually saying so, but by just disappearing—I was hurt. And I got pissed. And I called him on it–chapter and verse. He told me I was out of line and that he’s never given me any indication we were anything but friends. Really? So, I’m just another cray-cray bitch who imagined what you never said or did? God, I love it how asshole men want to blame the woman! Pssst! Dude, all she did was believe your sh*t! That doesn’t make her crazy—it does, however, mean she was stupid.
So now my walls are higher and thicker than before. I’ve bricked up that opening where the drawbridge was and I’ve added a few explosive charges for good measure (metaphorically speaking). It’s going to take a superman to break through. So while I’m wanting and waiting–and hearing one theme song in my head, life is cruelly singing a very different tune. Instead of “I Need a Hero” . . . yep, you guessed it . . I’m getting “Send in the Clowns” . . .