Monday, September 18, 2017

Post Mortem

I keep opening this post, typing a few sentences, deleting them, and closing the post again without publishing anything.  I alternate between wanting to write a few lines to get it over with and wanting to pour everything in my heart out, consequences be damned.  I suspect in the end I'll do something in between, although it's hard to know, because whereas I usually have some idea of what a post will look like before I write it, this time I'm improvising.

I've heard it said that life keeps giving you the same lesson, over and over again, until you learn it.  For me, the lesson that I seem to be unable to learn is to let a relationship go the first time it ends.  In every long-term relationship I've ever been in, after the relationship has fallen apart, I've always gone back to see if the pieces could be reassembled.  Instead of just dealing with the loss and moving on from it, I've let myself be stuck in the process of the relationship ending, asking over and over again, "Can I make this work?"

The answer, of course, is no.  With rare exception, a relationship that has truly ended - in a furniture-moved-out, shared-possessions-divided-up kind of way - can't be made to work.  And that is the long and the short of what happened with M and I.  Our relationship ended over a year ago when I called it quits, but thanks to optimism and poor judgement and the ability of good memories to block out the bad ones, I invested a whole other year into making absolutely certain that it was over.

It hasn't all been bad.  In the past year, we've eaten chicken wings at trivia night and picked strawberries at the U-pick and camped under multiple starry skies.  We traveled to Europe in the Spring, eating currywurst in Berlin and waffles in Brussels.  There has been a lot of struggle and a lot of unhappiness, but there has also been life, in all of its beautiful imperfection.  And while I wish we hadn't been so unhappy, I don't wish away our last year together.

ZebraNRP at Mothers in Medicine wrote a beautiful post recently about the end of her marriage, and I have gone back to it multiple times over the past few months, while I've been witnessing the last days of my own relationship.  I love her idea that something isn't a failure just because it ends.  I also love the poem that someone included in one of the comments, and it seems like a fitting way to end this post.

          Failing and Flying
          Jack Gilbert, 1925 - 2012

          Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
          It’s the same when love comes to an end,
          or the marriage fails and people say
          they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
          said it would never work. That she was
          old enough to know better. But anything
          worth doing is worth doing badly.
          Like being there by that summer ocean
          on the other side of the island while
          love was fading out of her, the stars
          burning so extravagantly those nights that
          anyone could tell you they would never last.
          Every morning she was asleep in my bed
          like a visitation, the gentleness in her
          like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
          Each afternoon I watched her coming back
          through the hot stony field after swimming,
          the sea light behind her and the huge sky
          on the other side of that. Listened to her
          while we ate lunch. How can they say
          the marriage failed? Like the people who
          came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
          and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
          I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
          but just coming to the end of his triumph.


  1. I'm sorry to hear that, but no, it is not a failure. People are drawn together and sometimes they change or the bond fades. It is natural. We are brainwashed into thinking that because it doesn't last "forever" it failed. That it "broke" But no...I'm sure you grew, you expanded, you learned, you felt, and all of that is important regardless of the outcome.

    1. Thanks. These are words I need to hear right now!

      I hope all is going well with you. I still miss your blog!

    2. Aw :) I think that ship sailed far away. Maybe a different blog some day...

    3. Yes! Let me know when you start your new blog.

  2. That's a great poem. Failure isn't horrible. I hope you're able to heal and move forward.

    1. Thanks. I'm working on the moving on part, but I suspect I have a ways to go.

  3. Relationships ending are not failure; they are evolution. The old cliche' story of the caterpillar that goes into an ugly cocoon doesn't think itself ugly, only transforming.

    That transformation, however, is hard. Hard to push against that which pushes back - memories, hope, joy, grief, anger. Eventually, the strength to grow allows all of that to become lessons... that we do eventually learn.

    It's been almost 10 years since my last real relationship and honestly? The first few years were hard as I wanted the good parts of what I had but not the bad. When I realized I'm imperfect in more ways than I am good, it was clear, I'm better off being alone saving myself and someone else the angst and hurt. (Not saying this is your "truth" just my own!)

    So wherever your cocoon opens and whatever butterfly emerges, embrace it and love WILL find you!

    1. I would definitely like to be able to take the good parts but not the bad. If only relationships worked that way!

  4. You have my sympathies - for your sadness, and the sorrow that people inevitably feel when something or someone's time in their lives ends.

    I wish you all the strength you need to close this chapter and start the next one.


  5. I wish you the strength and energy to sustain you through the healing period. I agree, the end of something isn't a failure, whether it's a relationship, or anything else we need to part ways with. We grow and we learn. That can't happen if we never change along the way.

  6. Hang in there, solitary. Nobody is perfect, and relationships end for a reason, but we all deserve to love and be loved.

    1. Thanks. Suddenly my blogging name makes sense again!