Sunday, September 20, 2015

Boxes and Baggage

Tonight's cocktail is a Cucumber Basil Smash from Seasons 52 - Cucumber Vodka, White Cranberry Juice, Agave, Fresh Lime, Cucumber, and Basil. Lots of stuff, crushed flat and shaken with vodka, sweetened and served on the rocks. Like me.


One of the things that made my recent breakup truly special is the fact that it happened just days before my ex-husband remarried. I don't carry a torch for my ex, and I like his new wife, who is good to my kids, so I'm happy for them. However, it was strange to watch her move into the house my ex and I had purchased together 15 years ago (I moved out in 2009). There's now different furniture and paint, and the kitchen has been remodeled. It's not bad, just disorienting. Truth is, that house hasn't been my home for a long time, but now it's someone else's home, and that's an adjustment. I still have a key (for emergencies), but I always knock now.

McDreamy (who my daughter now calls Mr. Poopyhead, not at my suggestion or urging) had a drawer at my house for some of his clothes, plus there were were various accoutrements of his around the house - razors, special eyedrops, dude-scented bodywash, and the like. The kids and I kept stumbling across these things and tossing them in a box. Once I set aside all his T-shirts, I had hardly anything to work out or sleep in, but I couldn't stand to wear or even look at them.

I took the box to my office, where it sat for weeks while I tried to decide whether to send a note and, if so, what it should say. I wrote a letter telling him how angry I am about having been compartmentalized into increasingly smaller pieces of his life and how, when I asked to spend time with him and be there for the people and events he cared about, he would gaslight me into believing I was a needy mess who was keeping him from being his best self, usually also pointing out that I'd gained weight. I wanted him to be honest - the only person ever in his way was himself, and my presence or lack thereof had no bearing on whether he was able to be the person he wanted to be. The simplest, and most likely, explanation was that he just wasn't that into me anymore, and it was disrespectful and cruel to edge me out by degrees because he didn't want to take responsibility for ending the relationship.


Then, I wrote a few banal sentences on a card - here's your stuff, let me know if you're still missing anything, you don't have anything of mine that I want back, hope you're well. That's what I put in the box when I mailed it (it actually took 2 boxes). Because it doesn't matter. I can't change his mind, and I wouldn't want him back anyway, not now, possibly not ever. I don't know how I could ever trust him. He broke something inside of me that I'm not sure will ever be the same again.

The truth is, I feel relieved not to be under that shadow anymore. I hadn't realized what it was taking out of me to know that he thought so little of me and to constantly dread the next disappointment. My anxiety levels are lower than they've been in years, and I'm eating better, sleeping better, and exercising more, and I'm more productive at work and more patient with my kids. I can't say I'm dancing in the streets, but I do feel strong and grounded. It has nothing to do with no longer being in a long distance relationship and everything to do with respecting myself again.

I'm going to get a tattoo soon. I've never had one, and I never thought I would get one, but as I've tried to think of a way to get closure, it seems like the right way for me to mark the occasion. I'm going to get a small Scottish thistle on the back of my shoulder. My family background is Scottish, and I took my name back when I got divorced. A thistle flower is beautiful and hardy, it grows in rocky places, and you don't want to handle it the wrong way. Like me.


10 comments:

  1. Oh, I forgot to tell you what to do with his stuff. There's a special "McDreamy No More" ritual. You pour lighter fluid on the heap, chant "McDreamy No More" 3 times, spit on it, and light it up. Call me next time you find something and I'll come help.

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    1. I was thinking something a little more elaborate. Chanting at midnight and burning sage and whatnot. We should work on that.

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  2. You're a better person than I am. I would have tossed his things to the curb in the same manner that he tossed you aside. He is a maker of bad decisions.

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    1. He has his issues - I think he honestly believes what he was saying to make his actions seem more palatable to himself. I'm trying to let it go and let the bad juju flow away from me.

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  3. Your words about getting out from "under that shadow" really resonated with me. My best friend (platonic) broke up with me. I was devastated at first, but now I relieved that I'm no longer walking on eggshells and bracing myself for her mercurial moods. My life is A LOT less stressful without her.

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    1. Yeah, I'm realizing that it's possible to love and miss a person and still realize you're better off without them. I'm sorry you had that experience, but I'm glad you've moved on.

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  4. First - I'm definitely trying out that cocktail! It sounds wonderful. But I honestly hope you don't ever get back with this guy. He sounds so much like my ex-husband - who alternated between "my only problem is that I'm with you" and "my only problem is that I'm not with you". Be really careful if he comes back and he's "changed". I finally found out that good guys don't need to change - they're great from the start. You deserve that too.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Katy. I still don't know what to think. For years, he was a solid guy, I trusted him completely, and we were deeply in love, planning a future together (granted, it got complicated when he had to move away because of the Navy and his kids living across the country, but I was all in no matter what and would have done anything to make things work). Then he changed his tune, first slightly distancing himself, and then more and more, until basically anything I asked turned into a discussion of how needy I am and how he needed himself (as if I was taking him away). I'm not sure he saw me anymore at all behind everything he projected onto me, because by his logic I should be lying in fetal position in a puddle of cheese right now, and I seem to be just fine. Maybe he met someone else and didn't want to tell me. I may never know.

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  5. So poignant and touching, and right to the heart. (And I like your daughter's pet name for Dad, "Mr. Poopyhead." Smart girl that one!)

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  6. loved the post! I'm a law school graduate - preparing to take the bar exam again in 2016 - divorced - two kids - female - preparing to go to medical school and dental school, as well as continue graduate school (beat the guy who has a J.D., M.D., D.D.S.) - no longer in a long distance relationship with someone who I felt only wanted me for future financial gain (the long distance part of the relationship was good for me, though) - love yourself first!

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