Saturday, February 11, 2006

If you don't know heartbreak by now (#4, late)

You should go and read this by Crazy Aunt Purl, who is awakening from a long time "away."

Because, y'all, that's how it is. That's how it is when something is taken away from you that you thought would be there forever. That's how it is when you think everything is going along just fine but the person you love doesn't and they decide to hit you upside the head and heart with the sudden destruction of the little world you've built together.

Man, it hurts. And Purl writes it better than I ever could. However, because my catharsis has started, I will herein offer up its product:

The very very WORST break up experience (which I feel free to bloviate about here because it's a rainy Saturday, and nobody's going to read this until Monday, and maybe by then it will be buried in the follow-on of a possible Sunday entry even, so that maybe this will just be for ME) has been briefly mentioned here before, but because it happened right about this time nearly 18 years ago I'm aware of it and am over it enough to objectively describe my reaction to it.

The guy was the fun one, the one with all the toys. The one who would take me on 100-mile-an-hour motorcycle rides and taught me to rock climb and who had the world's softest bed and who knew why Neutrogena Sesame oil was invented. He was the one who took me to Vermont to ski for a week, and told me I could do the black diamond slopes and kissed me on the long lift ride to the top. He smiled a lot and was quick-witted and gentle and energetic and breathed cleverness into every conversation...

I adored him. I would have said I loved him, but I wasn't able to get out far enough on that limb, because I'd had it crack underneath me before and was afraid of putting that much weight to a relationship again. I was READY to love him, let's just say that. I looked forward to seeing him, to being near him, to experiencing life with him. It was all good, as far as I knew.

And then he dumped me. Over the phone. The day before stupid Valentine's Day.

In a previous entry I described my reaction to the dumping, which involved slobber and tears and some begging, but it glossed over the overflow reaction, the weeks-long denouement of deep retraction from all but the most essential functions. I didn't mention how I stopped eating, started drinking, and ceased talking. I didn't mention the darkly throbbing ball of pain I carried in the center of my chest, nor did I explain about the hollow of regret that formed just behind my eyes, blinding me to anything but what was right ahead of me: my loss. There was no PLEASURE in anything, not food, or sleep, or friends. I sat, on the couch in the living room, and stared out the window, wondering how everything had gone so horribly, horribly wrong.

Everything about me went quiet and still. There was no sparkle, no liveliness, no energy, while I waited for it all to be over and for the hurt to leave. I was mourning. If only I had known that the mourning needed to take its time, and when it was done with me it would move on, and that I needed to just be quiet and let it work its way through me, I would have been fine. Sadly, I didn't know that there's no fighting the mourning, no way to bull your way through it or tuck it into a safe corner to fester quietly, no way to ignore that tightness in your throat or the heaviness of your own body while the mourning makes its way through you. I wish I'd known that I simply needed to let it be, and wait quietly until it was done with me.

But I didn't, and for 2 (or was it 3?) weeks I was "not me." I fought the mourning, tried to drown it in beer and sleep, pretended to be just fine, tried to fool my friends with a cobbled-together brittle facade that hid the bitter hollowness of "me." I wasn't altogether as clever as I wanted to be; however, and more than one friend saw through the disguise and were concerned. The brittle smiling shell couldn't completely hide my sadness at leaving all those little dreams and big hopes behind me. Inside the smoke and mirrors it felt that the work of finding happiness again (which, at the time I confused with having a boyfriend) was too great, so I opened yet another Busch and mourned what I thought was my "sure thing."

I alternately fought and succumbed to my sadness for many, many long and tiring days.

Until, one day I didn't so much. One day the shell started to crack. One day I got hungry again. One day I smiled and really meant it. One day I had good dreams. One day it seemed that I was ready again, for something.

So, you know what I did?

That's right, I called him. And asked him that, even though he said we shouldn't see one another any more, did that mean we couldn't be friends. And he said he thought we should be.

Which is how we wound up seeing one another again.

When it finally petered out of it's own accord, there wasn't any hurt; just a small feeling of "oh well, if that's how it's going to go, then that's how it's going to go."

And we stayed friends.

I never told him how badly the breakup made me feel. I never told him that because of it I finally learned to pad my defenses. I never told him that I had been on the brink of loving him, and that the breakup convinced me that love was a dangerous emotion, too hard to control, too difficult to give completely to someone else.

Which is just as well, really, because he wouldn't have understood. He wasn't an "emotion" kind of guy.

Still, it's a hell of a lesson to learn, and one for which I wish I'd never opened the book.

1 comment:

rennratt said...

Wow. This is proof of excellent writing. While reading, I was suddenly 19 again. Mine never took me skiing, but he did take me for a ride. Some things, no matter how old you get, you just never quite get over.