Of all the Facebook memes I have read over the past year or so, the one that hits closest to home (and hurts the most) is this one:
We went through all of that just to be strangers again?
Yeah. We did. Like a healthy-looking house plant that suddenly begins to decline and die in a matter of a few days, I watched him fade away right before my eyes. In my home—sometimes even in my bed–he just began to disappear day by day. The man I loved, who could make me laugh and come and feel beautiful, he was replaced by a cold, indifferent–and sober—stranger.
But how do you stop loving someone who has stopped loving you? I mean seriously! HOW? There is no on/off switch to emotions. No feelings’ faucet with a handle to turn to the left. I wish there were. Realists and so-called life coaches and those fortunate enough to have never themselves experienced a broken heart or the devastating loss of a loved one answer that question with an oh-so familiar refrain: Time heals all wounds.
For those suffering from that aforementioned broken heart (also known as love, unrequited), the You’ll Get Over It song has additional verses.
Second chorus: It’s for the best.
Third chorus: You deserve better.
Fourth, fifth and sixth: Work on you.
There is someone amazing out there for you.
It will happen when you least expect it.
To which I now reply: BITE ME!
Bitter, Judith? Hell to the yes! Pessimistic? You betcha.
Pause now for a disclaimer of sorts . . . Regular readers have doubtlessly noted my absence. I have written very little in the last 3-4 months (and posted less). A partial explanation is that my job changed profoundly in November. (Thank you, American Airlines merger. NOT) I have less free time to write. But the real culprit is writers’ block. I attribute this malaise to a lack of inspiration, as the man who had inspired countless posts is now out of my life. For those tired of sad breakup posts, I apologize this is another of same. But I write what I feel. And I write in an attempt to cope and to figure shit out. Such is the following . . .
At 61, I fell in love for the first time in my life. (How pathetic is that?) But wait, weren’t you married? Yes, I was and for 36 years, in fact. But the man I married was not an “in love” type of love. Moreover, when the marriage ended, it had been such a long slow death over so many years, it barely registered on the pain scale. Not so with this relationship which held all the passion, excitement and intimacy my marriage lacked. But I guess the hotter the flame, the deeper the despair? Some cosmic cost one pays for joy. It’s an experience I would have preferred never to know—like bungee jumping or dining on monkey brains. (Thanks, but I’m good.) Alas, I didn’t get the choice. The Universe did not walk up to me with a contract with fine fucking print I neglected to read before I signed by the neon-pink sticky-note flag: Fall in love, but suffer heartache. I’m pretty damn sure if offered that option, I would have declined. (At least, knowing now what I know, I would have.)
I realize I am not unique. It happens. A LOT. The first “real” relationship after divorce . . . We were soooooo careful, weren’t we, ladies? We had learned our lessons, had had our trust broken. Hence, we had erected sturdy walls to prevent the same from ever occurring again. But then . . . we let our walls down. Albeit S-L-O-W-L-Y. But damn! We let them down though, didn’t we? We dropped the drawbridge to our hearts and the fuckers rode right in.
For me there are other factors that factor into my current state of hopelessness. My age is the biggest one. The line of men queuing up for a 62-year-old is shorter than a marine recruit’s haircut. Plus, this man managed to check so many boxes that had never before been checked, I find it nearly impossible now to believe lightning can strike twice. Despite all his flaws (and I am not oblivious to the fact there were plenty!) he was perfect. For me. And if I wasn’t perfect for him, I was damn good for him. A fact he recognized and vocalized. Until his feelings changed. The problem is mine didn’t.
So back to that question of how to stop loving someone who has stopped loving you. (Be advised, by the way, this is a do as I say/ not as I do recommendation.) Think of your feelings for him as a house plant. Stop watering it. In other words, stop dwelling on the memories of what was. Stop hoping it will change and he’ll come back. Stop talking about it with girlfriends. Most importantly, stop ripping the scab off. Stop finding excuses to reach out. If he wanted to talk to you, to see you, he would. Accept the fact it does not matter one damn bit what he might have said then. This is now. And now he is gone. His silence speaks volumes. Listen! Think snow. Yeah, he said he loved you, promised he’d never hurt you, insisted you were different and said he did not want to lose you. The words (his) stuck and the emotions (yours) piled up. Like a deep blanket of snow. But once it warms (and his heart freezes) the snow melts away. It’s gone forever. And so is he.
Personally, when I can’t remove him from my thoughts, I try to redirect them. I think about his shortcomings and the relationships’ short falls. I concentrate on the countless times and ways he failed me. I let my anger build and try to make myself hate him. It’s actually easy. Sometimes. Because the line between hate and love is fiber optic thin. Sure, it’s a lie. But if you tell it to others, they will believe it. At least, they won’t bring up his name. So, share your animosity, ladies. You might be surprised. My sons would deck the fucker on sight. It’s a small comfort–and one hell of a satisfying visual. Sometimes.
The truth though, is I do still love him. Against reason, logic and cause. But unrequited love is a house plant, remember? Ignore it and eventually it does die. Just nothing hastens the process. Short of poisoning it, you can’t kill it. It can only die in its own time . . .