I’m going through a breakup. Not the kind where you have a fight and he says, “Listen, I can’t do this anymore. It’s over.” And then you scream and yell, have makeup sex, text wars for days, then let’s-take-a-break’s, then more makeup sex. And then maybe after all that you do really break up or maybe you don’t. But no matter the outcome it’s fiery and dramatic and full of “Eff you”s (“No, eff you!”) And what you are is an active participant—an equal player who refuses to go down without a fight—all the while sporting an “Are-you-serious?” attitude. “You wanna give up all this?” (Sweeps hand up and down body).
No, I’m not having one of those breakups. I’m having more of the non-participatory-slow-death kind. The kind where he doesn’t come out and say it’s over because [HE’S A COWARD] he’s trying to save you from dying without him. Instead, he slowly ‘edges you out’ in hopes that you get the hint and eventually become so fed up that you take your pride a-walkin’ and do his dirty work for him.
At first it’s subtle. He stops answering your texts right away. He casually mentions he’s going to some event where you’d normally be his plus-one. He suddenly wants to spend more time alone to work on his “craft” [He bought a fucking boat??] You find yourself at the grocery store because you’re spending more time in your own apartment—’cause he’s always so tired lately—and you realize there’s never any food in the house.
It’s little things. But little things that add up until one day you’re walking to the gym and you realize that if you fell down a manhole or got sucked out to sea while doing free kayaking on the Hudson never to be heard from again—not only would he probably kinda not care, you’d probably kinda be doing him a favor.
What getting ‘edged out’ feels like…
So you do what any potentially scorned woman would: you gather your evidence and present it to him like Sherlock Friggin’ Holmes trying to nab his next criminal. And with all this proof you’re sure he’s going to throw his hands up in surrender and say, “Baby, you’re right. I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately. I haven’t been myself. But I’m ready to snap out of it now because I remember how awesome you are and how lucky I am to have you; you, who puts up with me and all my silly nonsense and ambiguity.
But what you get instead is denial: Everything’s fine. Nothing’s changed. I’m not going anywhere.
Phew! False alarm. Everything’s fine. We’re fine. I’m just being needy and paranoid. I need to chill. And act normal. What is it he liked about me when we first met? Oh right—I’m funny. I need to be chill and funny. Also, I need to sew that patch on his sweater I’ve been meaning to get to forever. And I’ll make sure to thank him profusely for doing that errand I asked him to—and by the way I should stop asking him to do my errands. And isn’t it time for date night? I’ll wear my red lipstick and do that thing he likes later on when we’re home.
Everything’s fine, yes everything’s fine.
But the more I try and convince myself that it is the more anxious I feel, the harder I try, and the more cold and withdrawn he becomes. And even though he won’t say it, there’s been an unmistakable shift in him—and I am handling it as well as any abandoned dog might.
Morning’s are hardest—like a strong cup of coffee I can’t seem to start my day without a good meltdown. I wake up and the realization hits and I’m acutely aware that my heart is broken and I don’t want to get out of bed and I don’t want to get out of my pajamas. I want to lay around and wallow in my misery and cry and cry and cry until I’m hungry and I remember I need to make myself something to eat. And once I eat, I think, okay, I’ve come this far maybe it’s time to get in the shower and get dressed. I put on makeup—heavy on the concealer because I look like I’m suffering from elephantitis of the eyes. I use Visine because it’s supposed to “get the red out” but the shit is not working so I forgo contacts for my heavy-framed glasses—anything to try and hide my sad, sorry face.
My mornings…minus the house in the Hamptons and the Broadway screenplay…
I make my way to the library—my “office” since I’m still out of work. But getting there feels like a long and arduous journey. I try and focus and get through the rest of the day without thinking about him but he’s everywhere: in a movie stub I come across while cleaning out my bag; in the candle lighter on sale at the drug store (the one I bought him so he didn’t burn his stupid fingers when he lit the candles for the dinners we made together); in the park we used to go to. But that was then—before we crossed some impossible threshold of no return—when things were rosy and bright and finding a movie stub in my bag didn’t slay me. When tacky friggin’ love songs didn’t suddenly have new meaning. [Fair warning: do not click below unless you want to relive an embarrassing moment in movie history. Sadly however, it about sums it up...]
I can’t help glancing at my phone 85,000 times a day. I’m a slave to the little green alert light that says I have a message. A text message??!!! I practically dislocate my fingers getting to it. It’s from the MTA:
The subway will not be running on it’s regularly scheduled route this weekend.
Eff you MTA!!! I hate you and all your excuses and delays and poor infrastructure! I want to throw my phone onto the tracks of a delayed, oncoming train or off a cliff or into the ocean in grand fashion like they do in the movies. But then what would my eyeballs do without constantly checking for the little green light like a crack fiend?
“But I’m a grown woman!” I yell to no one. I’ve done my therapy, left my past behind, found my voice and learned to like myself. And we had a grownup, loving relationship…how did it suddenly devolve into some high school, guessing-game, drama? Is there someone else? But really I don’t want to know. It’s hard enough if someone outgrows you and wants to move on—it’s impossible when you’re traded in for a ‘better model’. No matter the cause, it is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad feeling to know that someone who used to adore me, used to look at me like I was the only one in the room, used to tell me how grateful he was to have me in his life—simply doesn’t want me anymore.
I’m leaking sloppy tears all over this old-ass keyboard. I recently went to the Apple store for an upgrade, this laptop is seven years old—ancient in Apple years—and the guy who helped me said he’s seen a lot of these but never one in such good shape.
Yes, I am a caretaker. I take care of my things and my people. I unleash the love and affection I was denied as a child from my too-soon departed parents (they both passed away by the time I was seven)…and I give it to boyfriends in hopes they will accept it and give it back and that it will be enough and it will make them stay forever. And most times they do accept and take comfort in it because it’s a pure, almost maternal love that triggers some deep, inexplicable longing in them. And for a time it’s great and wonderful and reciprocal—until one day it isn’t, and what once felt nurturing and loving and attentive feels smothering and needy and desperate.
But maybe that isn’t it at all, and maybe I shouldn’t be sitting here trying to figure it all out. Maybe If I had a job and didn’t have so much time on my hands and had to wake up at a decent hour and present myself in front of people in an acceptable manner at a regularly scheduled time and had a desk to sit at and shuffle paper around like I care…maybe then I’d have to forge ahead, like it or not.
But I do have things to do: lists, obligations, creative endeavors! There are so many things I want to accomplish but it’s hard to build an empire when you can’t get out of bed.
In the meantime I need distractions so I write. I go to the gym and instead of focusing on him, I focus on not kicking the cheerleader in the front row of my Zumba class in her pearly white teeth. I send out 8,000 “winks” on Match.com and hope someone likes me back. I take a drive with a friend to see the changing leaves and it’s beautiful and romantic and that makes me miss him: She tells me the problem is that we are more evolved and aware than men are which makes it more painful for us, and that this behavior is his way of giving me what he thinks I need. She is very wise, my friend.
My sister says that I am being [just] a drag and I need to start being awesome again. I know she’s right, and sometimes I get a surge of strength and think, what is my problem? I don’t even want that jerk! I am awesome and I will find someone who thinks so too. Someone who will happily accept the love I have to give—and give it back—because we are good people and it is what we know. I refer to my “Quotes in Case of Heartbreak”…
- Right now someone you haven’t met is out there wondering what it would be like to meet someone like you
- There are times in our lives when we need to walk away from some things so we can go towards something much better
- The wound is the place where the light enters you
- If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love
My favorite is the last one from The Holstee Manifesto. I feel very strongly that all things in life are interconnected, and when we are not at peace in one aspect, it affects all others. I’ve also heard there is some crazy, intense astrological business going on right now and I wonder if that is contributing to this upheaval. The good thing is—if there is any good—I have been here before and like Gloria Gaynor, I will survive. In many ways I sense too that I am on the verge of major change, and it is both scary and exhilarating. Until then I will take it one meltdown at a time, and try and remember that I need to clean out the old to get to the new. But first I need to quit my crying, get out of bed, and go out and make the life I want.
The killer of all love songs…