I know it is an idiom. The idea of a broken heart. Your heart doesn’t literally break like some glass ornament that can shatter when it falls from the tree. It is merely an expression indicating great pain. Pain usually associated with the loss of a love.
I know this pain. I know this pain intimately. For me, this pain, while usually referred to in emotional terms, is one I experience on a physical level as well as on an emotional level. It resides in my chest, just to the right of center and it feels like someone wedged a pickax in at that particular point and is now trying to pull my heart right out from my body. It is a physical pain as well as an emotional pain.
What I didn’t know, until this last year, was that sometimes a broken heart occurs for reasons other than lost or unrequited love. A broken heart can occur absent love. A broken heart can occur when a dream that you loved, that you hoped for, that you worked for, dies. Broken hearts might always be about love, but they are not always about lovers.
Those old people, the adults in my life. The ones in charge.
They always seemed so confident, so capable, so unafraid.
Answering questions, managing home, paying bills, making sure I made it to adulthood
alive and as safely as possible.
Then, as I aged, they became those older adults, not really very old but sort of like the wrinkled ones. You could see it coming in them. A crease around the eyes that wasn’t there before. A few more strands of gray that weren’t there yesterday. Bits of evidence here and there.
I wonder how they felt.
Not yet old, but on the doorstep of aging.
Not yet wrinkled or frail, but barely peeking in through the window of aging decline.
How did they feel?
Just before the door opened and they were swept in to the old house where those with white hair, trembling limbs and a certain number of years all must eventually reside.
How did they feel?
Just before the world stopped looking at them, stopped touching them, stopped noticing them.
Did they feel the way I do right now?
So, go figure. My finances suck. We’ve been over that. My love life is non-existent. I just had a guy I supported walk out on me after two years. He gave me three days’ notice and he was gone. Haven’t heard a word from him since. After my two epic fails at marriage, I don’t know which hurt worse, to have the marriages end, or him walk out after I invested so much financially and emotionally for two.fucking.years. It is now all water under the bridge, but at times, it still stings.
I’m at an age and in a demographic where there isn’t much dating action, and if there is, it isn’t serious, nor is it even remotely authentic. Face it, after 45, there are so many obstacles to overcome, so much history to wade through, so many people’s scrutiny you have to undergo before a relationship can even be viable, let alone long term. I’ve given up on that area of my life ever being a source of pleasure or happiness. People who really know me, will know what a big deal that is. Most people tend to understand that it is the nature of the beast these days. Dating after divorce is, at best, a difficult thing, and unlike wine, this does not improve with age. Oh, to be 35 again. Before the wrinkles. Before the mistakes. Before the calendar reveals the stigmatizing number of years you’ve been on this planet (because you cannot lie about that).
In spite of all that, the little surprise I’m experiencing is this: I’m actually having fun. I’m enjoying life more than I ever have. I’m happy, in spite of the fact that nothing (except my delightful children) is as I would have expected it and most of it reeks of pathetically miserable failure. I can’t keep a relationship. I can’t catch a break financially. I rent, on purpose, instead of owning. My car is ready to self destruct at any moment. I should sell the thing and try, if possible, to get some money out of it to put down on a more reliable car. But…how to do that? It’s crazy. I have more problems facing me than solutions. I have experienced more endings in the last year than beginnings. I have more reason than ever to despair, instead of hope. Read the rest of this entry
I’m up doing laundry at 2:00 a.m. Yep. This is a first for me. The truth is, I am not really up just because of the laundry. The crazy cats are tearing around the house like mad, keeping me up. Why, in all of the 1800+ square feet they have to roam here, they choose to cavort in my room and on my bed in the middle of the night, I do not know. I figured since I was up, I may as well do laundry. After all, I only have about three or four loads left. Then I can take my wet laundry down to the corner laundromat at 6:00 a.m. to dry it all.
That’s right, to dry it, because the latest greatest thing that happened is my dryer stopped drying. It still tumbles. No heat. I looked on YouTube to see if there was a DIY video for this repair. There was. It seemed pretty straightforward until I tried it. Problem Number One: my one and only flathead screwdriver must have left with The Gone Non-Boyfriend. Problem Number Two: I couldn’t go any further without the flathead screwdriver. I gave up. Read the rest of this entry
His byline read, “Who does this?” It was a valid question, after all. Who does this? Who displays a bunch of photos so anonymous strangers, trolls really, can view them and thus make a decision based on whether or not they will contact you? Who goes through this in hopes of finding a viable long-term relationship? The sad truth is, everybody’s doing it, or so it seems. Even more pathetic, I have jumped in this pond again.
I deleted Who-Does-This’s initial email to me. He didn’t say much other than hello or how are you; a simple cut-and-paste statement made by trolls when trolling. I discarded it without even checking out his profile. But he contacted me again. His second contact was no more brilliant than the first, but I looked at his profile this time. 54, okay, that was good since I’m looking for someone who has to be at least 45…if you could call what I’m doing, looking. I cruised through his images, impressively, he had many, and he was attractive. Then I noticed he lives about 90 minutes away in a city near me that I am not even remotely interested in visiting, let alone spend significant time in. Dealbreaker. That’s when I saw his byline. “Who Does This?” Maybe I should have been cynical, but it cracked me up.
I ventured a response, “I have the same question: Who does this? And why are we here? Are you really 54, because you look 45.”
And now he wants to chat. All will be well and good until I have to actually meet the dude. This will involve getting dressed up. Getting dressed up means I must wear shoes. Shit. Why didn’t I think this through a bit more thoroughly?
The days and nights are hard right now. No, I would not wish this particular man (the Non BF, now turned the Gone BF) back for anything. Things have transpired, text messages sent from a day’s drive away, that revealed that this man was many things, but never was he in love with me. He was far too immature for that. He was also unable to be honest, about where he was with things, about what was troubling him, about what he wanted or needed. He’s also unable to take responsibility for his part in this, it remains all my fault and he contends that “he never wanted this.” (And yet, he did nothing to prevent it from happening when he easily could have, instead running as far away as he could, not unlike a petulant adolescent.)
As usually, happens, I think, this ending became final, for me anyway, as the result of a small incident: a stupid text message. This man had lived with me for two years. In all that time, I had never been anything but crystal clear about what I would tolerate and what I would not, what I could pay for and could not. He knew that I believed we were working on something lasting. This was not a casual roommate or friends with benefits arrangement for me. He knew this. He also knew that the only reason I was cohabiting with him was the understanding that eventually there would be a public, legal, formal commitment. It turns out, The Gone BF, knew he wasn’t going to marry me, and I’m now beginning to suspect he knew this for quite some time, at least a year. Yet, all this while, he was perfectly content to live a charade of loving me and wanting to spend the rest of his life with me when he had no intention of doing that at all. So, the sad, depressing truth is that this man knowingly used me. The even sadder truth was that I truly cared about him, enjoyed our time together so much, that I unknowingly let him use me. I ignored the thousand of teeny tiny flags that should have indicated a disconnect somewhere. You know what they say about hindsight.
Two days ago, he texted me, angry that I had not given him any hangers, but instead had packed up his clothes in garbage bags without them. (He’d literally gone through every closet in the house, collecting all the white hangers for himself, so that each piece of his clothing hung exactly half an inch apart on white plastic hangers.) And now, the man who lived for a year for free while I paid for everything, is bitching at me because I kept the hangers. Hangers, I might add, that I purchased at the Goodwill when we moved in to this new place last summer. Again, his tone and message implied that this was all my fault. It suddenly became very clear to me how juvenile this man was, and also how very self-centered he was. While we were together, this was hard to detect because he really did a lot to help out…at first. In retrospect, though, he ended things without discussion the minute they no longer worked for him. It was a small, silly text message, but it was the moment I mentally disconnected. No, I truly never want to see this man again.
It doesn’t necessarily make things easier. I was living a fantasy that wasn’t ever what I believed it to be, but I enjoyed my fantasy, for the most part, and didn’t want it to end. Instead, it ended harshly and abruptly. Literally, one week all seemed great; the next he is gone and, after two years of unemployment, he has a job and is living in a city far away. There was no discussion, no haggling over stuff or money, and certainly no good-bye. The angry teenager just ran off.
So, I pass my days slugging through my obligations, trying to maintain composure. I’m experiencing now, for those first few agonizing times alone, all those things we did together, which I enjoyed so much: grocery shopping, meal preparation, morning cups of coffee, bike rides to a favorite lunch spot in a nearby town. I’m doing these things alone now. It’s painful, and my chest feels like it is going to be crushed with the weight of the loneliness. The reality is, that I will very likely be doing these things alone for a long time, possibly the rest of my life.
I miss what I thought we had.
He walked out at 7:00 a.m. yesterday. He looked worn, tired, angry, and so disgusted. As he shoved the last few things in his truck, he didn’t even really look back. He just got in the vehicle, turned on the motor, and drove off. Never mind that he left most of his clothing here and all of his precious books. I haven’t heard a word from him. Not a text. Not an email. Not a phone call.
Part of me is crushed. How could someone spend two years of their life with me and then walk away like that without a second glance? And then, to leave all of his belongings? He must have been so miserable for so long and yet he hid it. The question I keep returning to is, “Why?” The unanswerable, why. Was he so desperate that he stayed here and “put up” with us because he had nowhere else to go? Did he feel about me the way I felt about my last ex? Like I just couldn’t take it any more or I’d go crazy or maybe even do myself in? The other part of me thinks, “Wow. I can’t be rid of someone like this fast enough.”
It is a beautiful, warm, peaceful late summer evening. My urban garden is flourishing. I’ve packed up his belongings and placed them in a corner of the garage. Yes, even the things I would like to keep…like the books. I’ve changed the locks, changed the code to the storage unit, and removed him from all of whatever accounts he was on that I was paying for. I’m stuck paying his bills for this month…but next month should be easier. Tonight, we grilled hamburgers, my son and I, and my daughter and her friend sat at the kitchen counter eating their foot long sub sandwiches, and we just chatted, freely, easily, without contention. Something that hasn’t happened for a very long time around here. It was peaceful. Later, my daughter left to go to the theater with her friend and I watched Napoleon Dynamite with my son. It was the most relaxed evening we’ve had in, what, two years? There was no grumbling about the minuscule crumbs left in the sink, no complaining about how poorly the dishwasher was loaded. There was no guilt about the fact that we were relaxing instead of cleaning our already spotless place. It was truly a peaceful, lazy, golden summer evening. And…for all of that…I am deeply relieved and grateful. I believe I may have, as they say, dodged a bullet, somehow.
And yet, in the background of my mind and my life, the questions seep through. Why hasn’t he contacted me even to make arrangements for his things? What is going on? Where is he sleeping at night? Is he okay? Is he really relocating to be closer to his ex and the kids? How long was he so unhappy? How long was he hiding, lying, keeping secrets? What went wrong? How could I have seen this coming? How on earth could I have avoided it? And then, the recriminating accusations that always surface, “What a fool you have been…AGAIN. You are such a relational loser. When will you ever learn? You are just no good at relationship.”
And this is when my strength fails.
I tried like anything to learn from the mistakes of my past.
I tried like anything to put 100% into this.
I tried to the best of my ability to give and to love.
And, for what?
Again, I’ve failed.
In times past I could point to mistakes I’d made. Things I did that created stress, strain, tension in the relationship. I could point to ways I was too controlling, ways I over-reacted. This is not to say I was the only one to blame for the demise of the relationship, but I could, in these past situations, at least see areas that I probably didn’t handle so well. Areas, that I could improve upon next time. Things I could point to that contributed to furthering the misery instead of alleviating it. With the Non-Boyfriend, I’m simply at a loss as to what went wrong, why it went wrong and what part I had in it. I have nothing I can point to that I screwed up (other than that I gave way too much with far too little in return). Maybe that is completely the problem. Maybe I did give too much, invested too much, without adequate commitment up front from him to begin with. Maybe that set the precedent for everything that followed. It’s possible then, that when I finally got tired of the giving with no return on my investment, he just created a situation he knew I would not tolerate, and freed himself. I just do not know and the wondering is going to drive me crazy.
I’ve dated a few men since I left the Evil Ex.
I’ve had a few “relationships”, none of them lasting this long. All of them, the men ditched (or I did) as soon as we were uncomfortable. We didn’t just hang on. Now, I’m not thrilled with how some of those men chose to exit the scene, but I have to hand it to them, they did exit the scene as soon as they knew it wasn’t a fit. They didn’t hang on for two years, then bolt.
I may go to my grave wondering what happened here.
It’s going to be difficult to stifle my own accusatory tendencies that want to make me the culprit for whatever it was that transpired here. I’m going to have to fight the tendency to blame myself for what went wrong. I’m going to have to continue to listen to those good, and decent, and objective (I hope) people in my life that tell me, sometimes shit just happens and you can’t see it coming and you can’t necessarily avoid it. My friends would tell me, “Well, maybe you didn’t do everything perfectly, but that’s just no excuse for someone living on your dole, while actively planning to leave you and tell you about it after the fact. That’s simply not honest.”
So, I swirl in the post-breakup emotions of despair, hopelessness, and wondering what the hell I did wrong all the while feeling like somehow I’ve been gifted a pass out of a horrendous nightmare that could have transpired had we stayed together. It is the epitome of mixed emotions…and I hate it.
I miss what I thought we had.
I miss him when he was at his best.
I don’t miss his unhappiness, his negativity and the stress I’m now realizing he brought into our home, because he somehow just didn’t think we were good enough, or clean enough, or whatever enough. (I personally think those are excuses. He was miserable, for whatever reason, and he just needed to get out. He created an out and went for it without looking back. Maybe that’s just my rationale designed to comfort myself about this crazy situation, but, maybe there’s some validity to it. He had everything going for himself here, and he tubed it.) I don’t miss a lot of things that he brought to the table that I didn’t like, but which I overlooked because he brought other strengths to the table.
I can spin around in this place forever, wondering what happened and why it happened. I may never know the answer to those questions. It’s possible I don’t really want to know the answer to those questions.
At some point, I’m just going to have to let all the questions go…unanswered…if need be…and move on.
In the meantime, the comfort of friends is a most welcome thing.
He left this morning, early, and was gone all day. I came home, his personal effects were gone. His place in the bathroom vacant, empty, hollow. It hurt. For so many reasons it hurt.
I thought we had something.
I thought we were building something together.
I was investing my life, my self, my heart because I really thought we had something, and not just any something, but something good, something that could go the distance.
He returned home this evening, mentioning he will be gone tomorrow. He let drop the news that he’d interviewed for a job two hours away. How long has he been planning this move, I wondered? What else is going on that you aren’t telling me. I voiced my questions aloud and received only unconvincing answers which confirmed my worst fears. He’s been planning this ending for a while. When he was going to let me in on it, I have no idea. Maybe he was going to write me a letter and leave it on his pillow. Or maybe I’d just figure it out when I returned home from work one day to find all his things cleared out.
Tonight I’m in pain, because this new revelation that he’s actually been planning to leave me for some time is news I cannot bear. How do you live with someone you know loves you, allow them to pay your bills, feed, you, house you, and all the while you are planning the cruelest sort of reciprocation: instead of “I love you” it’s “Good-bye.”
I do not understand this.
Worse, I have no idea when this change occurred in him. I just sensed things were amiss, I addressed it, and he’s gone. He was merely biding his time looking for an out.
I thought we were good together.
Apparently, he didn’t agree, and I missed all the clues, until now.
I am a fool to have cared. I am a fool to have trusted. I am a fool to have believed.
Tonight I pay for my foolishness with tears. Tonight I cry.