I know I have dog park posts to write (I’ve been to all 7 off-leash parks but don’t feel like writing about doggy stuff tonight). I’m veering wildly off course, since this has nothing to do with Bend, but no one reads this, so…
Tonight I’m feeling weepy and morose. And at the same time, strangely at peace. I’ve been prepping a pound of Swiss chard from the garden for a slow-cooker lentil soup, listening to music, loving the new house and the new town… with the occasional crying jag thrown into the lovely tableau.
But let me back up.
I went to Newport Market (LOVE!) this eve to pick up a few things for the soup, and on my way home, stopped by a fenced-in grassy area (technically a no-dogs-allowed school yard, but whatever) to let Betty run around. As I was walking through the playground, I could see a hooded figure sitting at the top of the slide. I didn’t want to scare him/her, so I said “Hi-i” in a sing song voice. And the figure responded “Hey, it’s me.” Now this totally freaked me out for a second because I only know two people in Bend. It took me a second, but then I knew it had to be one of those two people. It was my brother’s girlfriend.
She had been crying. I sat at the bottom of the slide in the dark, and we talked about the dog, and the market and nothing else of consequence. But even through the forced cheerfulness, I could hear her pain seeping through the cracks. I’m pretty sure their relationship is flaming out. I know that feeling. Why doesn’t he love me? What’s wrong with me? Why is he such a dick?
And of course it sent my head skidding right back to the bad relationship that launched me out of LA and landed me in Bend.
I know that we date to figure out if we are meant for each other but when the answer is “no, we are not meant for each other,” well, no two ways around it, it SUCKS. Especially when you’ve both given it everything you have and it’s still not enough.
Why can’t we just suck it up and see the big picture and be grateful that we didn’t marry the son-of-a-bitch and thank our lucky stars that we’ll live to love another day? Because we’re human… and in that moment it feels like we’ll absolutely never love again. We feel shattered and damaged and disappointed and disappointing… and crying is all there is to do.
We forget that what led us to the soul-rending tears is reason enough to let it go. But we grasp and grip and hold on to a dead thing, hoping against hope that we got it wrong and that there is still something beautiful and real and alive amongst the ashes. It’s a hard thing to look at all the time and emotion and resources invested and write it off as a loss, or a “lesson.” We want it to pay off. We want love. And when they don’t love us, it just feels like someone is taking a wrecking ball to our hard-earned house of “love” that wasn’t really built on love at all.
I thought about my own fantasies about the bad relationship and why even to this day, even with the anger and regret, I still have a hard time letting go. I don’t want to be the idiot who believed in love, against all odds, like some bad Phil Collins song. But I was. And it led me to do idiotic things. Idiotic things that have no place in my Swiss-chard prepping world, thank god. But sometimes it’s good to remember the idiotic, to remember the dark ugly places we went to, the places we’re free of now. The places we never want to return to.
It was a Saturday night, and the Ex and I had driven into LA proper for some party or another. It was a fun night. We were tipsy and ebullient and were singing along with some ’80s band on the drive home. He was definitely 4 or 5 drinks deep. And I was not wearing a seat belt. Here’s the embarrassing part: I hadn’t worn a seatbelt in his car for months. On purpose. Why? Because I wanted to see how long it would take him to notice that I wasn’t buckled up.
It was some stupid litmus test — like I expected one magical day he’d turn and look at me and actually care about my safety and be like, “Hey love, put your seatbelt on, you’re precious cargo!” But days turned into months and he never noticed. And now we were speeding down the 10 freeway at 65 miles an hour and I hated him for not noticing. And I realized how stupid I was being. If we got in an accident, would I be punishing him by allowing myself to become a human missile launched through the windshield and onto the asphalt? Obviously I’m the one who would suffer, not him. And if we did crash and I ended up in traction, what was I going to say? “Babe, I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt because I needed you to love me, I needed to see that you loved me before I buckled up” ?? Retarded.
It was an amicable, bloodless breakup but all of the unspoken sacrifices and the resulting bitterness were boiling right under the surface, at least for me. So I find myself with a lovely new life, bright and clean and new and beautiful… but one wrong step and I’m drowning in a cesspool of fury and rage. I’m right back in the passenger seat, totally unsafe because of my own stupid choices and silently begging him to love me, to care, to want me to be safe. It’s all so pathetic and self destructive.
I suppose an evolved person would say forgiveness is the answer. But I’m like a crazy-eyed vigilante. I want justice. Justice. Ha. What would justice look like? Would he be wracked with guilt for wasting a year of my life dicking me around, trying to be the man he pretended to be while we were falling in love?
Pathetically, I just wanted him to love me. And because he didn’t, I refuse to love myself, to care for myself. I’m careening down the freeway with a drunk at the wheel, trying to make some stupid point. The madness has to stop. It’s time to let go.
How? I have no fucking clue.
At least I’m in a beautiful place. Maybe a long run tomorrow in the brisk morning air will bring clarity. Maybe not. Either way, it’s time to let go. It’s time to move on. It’s time to forgive, both myself and him. It’s time to start buckling up because I know I’m precious cargo and stop wasting time with people who don’t feel the same — but maybe with a little less venom than that last sentence indicates.