I’m enduring yet another breakup.
Out of respect and love, I will not share details about the relationship, except to say it was the best one, so far. And he wasn’t even my boyfriend.
Ultimately, the timing was bad. I made the choice to not continue any further, mainly out of self-protection. Post-divorce Leslie (also known as a recovering co-dependent) made a mature, painful decision. That is to be celebrated.
BUT THE GRIEF. Fie on you, grief. FIE.
It comes in waves. One minute you’re quite all right. You can laugh and engage with your roommates while making them dinner, or coo and giggle at silly babies and tiny hamster videos on Facebook. You tell yourself you’ve been through this before and you can do it again. You don’t need sympathy.
The next minute begins with a thick and sticky heaviness in your gut. You sit, stunned, wondering when you’re going to vomit, and how many victims will suffer within its trajectory. You can’t breathe. It travels up your esophagus, causing you to heave and sputter. Out of no where, your eyes are blind with tears; your ears deaf from the sound of your own ugly crying and your mouth hangs agape as you gasp for air in between saliva, sobs, sighs, grunts, groans and the overall horribleness of loss.
And that’s just the first cry of the day.
Son of a motherfuckery fuck. Help.
I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t know how to keep doing this. At the same time, I keep doing it. I keep finding myself on the extreme roller coaster of love and loss. Am I completely insane? Why do I keep subjecting myself to dashed hopes and wretched pain?
I’m like a giddy puppy, so caught up in chasing her own tail she fails to see the ball has been thrown in a different direction. Once I tire of the game, I just stand there, panting and wagging my tail. Inevitably, I begin again. And again. And again.
Yet there’s something so freeing about dating in your late 30s. You know who you are, what you want, and haven’t much time or patience to be jerked around by a string of meaningless makeouts or half-hearted relationships. Fuck the Christianese version, you date with intention simply because you value yourself more than you might have in your early 20s. You want to make careful, informed decisions because you know marriage is not a light at end of the tunnel. You don’t apologize for wanting to be treated well. If a guy is threatened or intimidated by you in any manner, it’s simply not your problem.
This posture, when matched with another mature human being’s, can produce immediate attachment. Add chemistry and compatibility, and presto! Relationship-o.
So you breathe a huge sigh of relief, knowing deep down there are no guarantees. You’re excited to take the risk and see what happens, even just for a month or two or twelve. You embrace living open-handedly; wholeheartedly. You now have the opportunity to put into practice all those things you learned in years of therapy. You practice relationship. And it’s good.
But why does it keep coming to an end? Is it me? Am I impatient? Dramatic? Too difficult? Too insecure? Am I finally standing up for what I really want? Or does what I want not exist?
I don’t know.
Six years ago, I was in the thick of my marriage ending. My husband – husband! – said he didn’t love me anymore. Then he told me he was in love with another woman. Today’s Leslie would not stand for that shit. I would rise, turn on my heels, walk out the door and never look back.
Yet I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t hung on for a while. There would be no Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce. Eventually, I clawed my way through – and out of – my marriage. I am proud of myself. And every relationship post-divorce has been that much better.
I’m not sure it gets much better than this most recent one, but that isn’t for me to decipher right now. I celebrate and mourn. I grieve and still hope.
I took a huge risk in loving again. And I won.