Folks ask how I’m doing. My neck and shoulders ache in the places where I hold most tension. My jaw freezes in a rictus of a smirking frown. I try to sleep regularly. I lose myself in busy work, lists, and decluttering tasks. I send out the road crew to pave over the large hole in my heart. I grow even more dead to the world.
I’ll survive. I’ve done breaking up before… poorly. I’ve learned then of my well-intentioned mistake to reach out, make amends, and offer condolences. It’s still shocking to go so fast from something to nothing, like a sudden death when you don’t get to say goodbye. I’m getting better at break ups. This is not a ritual to get good at.
I do the breaking up. Partners rarely break up with me. Am I too picky? Am I too wonderful? Am I simply just a cad? The band called The Tallest Man on Earth sings, “Let’s break some hearts.” The subsequent woe signals that something was at stake.
Although devastating for my partner, breaking up also wears me down. When I’m 60, still single, depressed, and lament my loneliness, the Greek agora can scorn me for my past: “You deserve this loneliness for running away.” Indeed, I may be doomed or just fated to be alone. I’m trying better to accept this single condition, not to ask so much from the world, but also to extend compassion and companionship when I can to friends and family.
On an obscure B-side, the Clash sing, “Should I stay or should I go? If I stay, there will be trouble. If I go, there will be double.” I lie awake wondering whether I should have stayed longer. Should I have worked harder, expressed myself better, stuck it out longer? I lie awake wondering whether I should have gone sooner. Should I have known earlier that we weren’t going to work out and spared us this devastation after so many accumulated hard times? Part of me knows that we could have enjoyed many more happy trips together (Paris! Pink!). Part of me knows as soon as I first visited that living together, growing together would be quite difficult, even impossible. When is a good time to leave? What is a good time to stay? The heart says.
With such muddling, I reflect objectively on my typical behavior regarding work and other kinds of relationships: I tend to stay a little longer than I should. I neither quit a situation at the first sign of trouble nor am the employee that locks the doors when the company goes out of business.
Sic transit gloria mundi. Ashes ashes, we all fall down.