October 30, 2011
There are lots of books and articles out there on how to get over being dumped. Most of them include the same list of ways to get through it: long luxurious bubble baths (with mood-lifting aromatherapy), walks in nature, massages, ice cream and chocolate (but not too much), girlfriends, pets, new hobbies, volunteering, journaling, shrinks, running, focusing on career, learning French, vacationing, getting plenty of sleep (but not too much), and still more bubble baths. Don’t forget the all-important list of reasons he’s no good, or no good for you, or better yet, both. And never, ever listen to your song, or the song he wrote for you.
But what if you weren’t the one who was dumped? What if you ended the relationship?
I think there’s an added layer to coming to terms with the break-up when you’re the one who ended it. As the dumpee, you have no choice in the matter. You were told the relationship is over, and you don’t have to struggle with whether ending it was the right thing. You didn’t choose to break up–they did. All you have to do is pick up the pieces and move on. Okay, yes, you do have the element of rejection, so maybe you have it worse in that sense. But the dumper is the one who is responsible for making the decision to pull the plug. And for sticking with it. I’ve got the sticking with it part covered. This time when I ended things with Mack, I made certain he wouldn’t want me back if I waffled. Yes, I was mean and downright nasty. No chance of going back this time.
Even though there’s no going back, that doesn’t stop me, as the dumper, from wondering whether I did the right thing. (See my previous post: But isn’t he better than nothing? http://unconfirmedbachelorette.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/better-than-nothing) I wonder whether I’ve finally relegated myself to a life of solitude. With cats. I wonder whether Mack will be the last man I ever love. Whether he will be the last man I ever make love with. The last man who doesn’t mind the cats sitting on the dining room table while we eat dinner. Needless to say, this line of thinking fills me with anxiety and causes tears to spring to my eyes. I force myself to stop, and I remind myself of the one thing that has always been true: There is always another man. Always. Mack will not be the last man I ever love. The last man I ever have sex with. While I might be alone for a while (and I need to be alone for a while), he will not be the last. I will not wake up alone (with cats) on Sunday mornings for the rest of my life.
Yes, even the dumper can feel down in the dumps. Particularly on Sunday mornings. So it’s time to lace up my shoes for my run, to be followed by a lavender bath.
October 23, 2011
Being a couple, in a relationship, is the ultimate goal; the piece de resistance. The idea that coupledom is the holy grail is peddled everywhere: in books, movies, media, and by well-meaning friends. Some of my girlfriends treat finding “the one” as a full-time job. They sign up for on-line dating and make it a goal to have two or three dates a week. It’s a numbers game, they say. The more dates they have, the likelier they are to find “him”—the man who is going to make their lives complete. My experience has been just the opposite: men don’t complete me; they undo me.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: well look at the man you were with. He lived with another woman, he had no job, and to have him exclusively you’d have to support him; not to mention all the manipulative bullshit he constantly was pulling on you to keep you in the relationship. All true. Mack did have his good points. But at the moment, I shall avoid conjuring them up. No sense in waxing nostalgic over a man I can ill afford to be with. The point is, being with Mack threw me off balance. Things were coming apart at the seams. I wasn’t getting enough exercise, I was gaining weight, I was drinking too much, I was moody and irritable and getting depressed. I was having dreams in which I was dead (yes, I caught the symbolism), and one in which I screamed insults at him: “You’re a loser!” I awoke from that one deeply shaken. I looked over at him sleeping next to me and knew it had to stop.
Even so, I kept asking myself: Wasn’t Mack better than nothing?
Historically, I have not bought into the better-than-nothing mentality. But I know there is a type of woman who likes having a man around all the time, regardless of whether he is worth having around. I have some very dear friends who jump from man to mediocre man with nary a moment of reflection in between because they simply cannot stand being alone. Admittedly, I bought into the better-than-nothing way of thinking somewhat, which kept me putting up with Mack’s bullshit way longer than I should have. Truth be told, if I hadn’t been thinking I’d been on my own long enough and it was high time I found myself a new boyfriend, the minute Mack told me he lived with Corinne, I would have sped away from the grungy-ass bar where he had me meet him and never looked back.
While it took the better part of a year, eventually I did come around to acknowledging what I’d already learned many times: a better-than-nothing man is not better than nothing. I’ve seen some spectacularly bad life decisions made because of the better-than-nothing mentality. Often we won’t admit our rationalization until it’s too late. We’ve married him, and now all we can do is tell our single friends: “Marriage is hard!” Or, “If something happens to Jim, I will not get married again.” Or, “Why did I think I needed to get married?” Oddly, at the same time, these women are encouraging me to “get back on the horse” and not waste time finding a new boyfriend. Misery loves company, perhaps? At any rate, I find this incredibly annoying and I tell them so. Still, they’re utterly perplexed when I say I’m far happier on my own, and that I’m pretty sure the only available men out there are of the better-than-nothing ilk. “No, you’ll find him. You just need to get yourself out there.” I’ve got a better idea: how about I just live my life and enjoy all the benefits of being single?
Lest you think I’m weighted down with post-Mack bitterness, know I understand also that it’s not necessarily better to be alone. But once again I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may never meet a man who enhances, rather than detracts from the quality of my life. Particularly since my life is pretty fucking spectacular.
October 16, 2011
Posted by Unconfirmed Bachelorette under Breakup
, Sex Voodoo
| Tags: Hormone
, Pair bond
, Prairie Vole
| Leave a Comment
I’ve known for years that sex makes me do stupid things. It’s smart to hold off on rolling around in the sack until I know the potential lover pretty well, although I rarely do so. I know it’s smart to wait, not because he’ll be more inclined to take me home to meet his mother (men who still need mommy’s approval really aren’t high on my list); but rather, because I’m more inclined to keep my head on straight long enough to determine whether the man is someone worthy of being in my life and in my bed. You see, I’ve learned that once I sleep with a man, along with my panties, my good sense flies right out the car window.
I’ve termed this phenomenon “sex voodoo.” For years that’s all I knew about it. Sleep with a man, and I make poor choices. My standards become virtually non-existent. I turn into one of those women about whom you whisper to your friend: “What is she thinking?” Nine times out of ten, we’ve been jabbed in the brain stem by the sex voodoo pin.
I now know there is a scientific basis for going fucking insane (and I do mean the insanity that results from fucking). It’s called oxytocin. Oxytocin is one dumb chemical. From Psychology Today:
Oxytocin is a powerful hormone. When we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels drive up. It also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, the hormone plays a huge role in pair bonding. Prairie voles, one of nature’s most monogamous species, produce oxytocin in spades. This hormone is also greatly stimulated during sex, birth, breast feeding, and the list goes on.
Based on experience, I’m pretty sure oxytocin levels increase regardless of whether your sex partner is a “loved one.” Fuck someone enough, and before you know it, you turn into a prairie vole. You whither at the thought of not having him in your life. With oxytocin levels juiced up, you don’t care that he doesn’t have a job. You don’t care that he expects you to support him financially. You don’t care that rather than being the partner you looked forward to sharing your life with, he is instead the dependent you never thought you’d have (given you no longer have a uterus, and all).
Try it yourself: take a break from sex with your partner. Better yet: take a break from being in his physical presence. When your oxytocin levels drop, check in with yourself. Do you still think you can’t live without him? Or do you cringe at the thought of his touch? Okay, so it might not be this extreme, but I’m guessing your head will be on a little straighter and you can see the relationship for what it really is. Or isn’t.
Sex voodoo isn’t to be trifled with. It’s caused many a sensible woman to find herself in a relationship with a man they never in a million years would have considered dating pre-fuck. So if you think you’re just going to keep him around as a go-to when you need some lovin’, think again. This shit has a mind of its own. And it’s hardly rational. So save yourself the trouble: don’t fuck anyone with whom you wouldn’t want to be involved in a long-term relationship. And if you’re not sure, keep your panties on until you are. Lest you wake up one day to find yourself involved in a long-term relationship with a character from Animal House.
October 9, 2011
Austin is in an “exceptional” drought. That’s as bad as it gets, so far as drought categories go. The twelve months from October 2010 through September 2011 have been the driest for that twelve-month period in Texas since 1895. That’s the exact period of my involvement with Mack.
The effects of a drought are slow and insidious. In the beginning, you welcome the sunshine and warmth. After months of no water, things start to dry up. But it happens slowly; the effects are virtually imperceptible. You don’t notice the drooping trees, the brown lawns, the creek beds that diminish to a trickle and then become bone dry. The wildfires start popping up then, and you begin to take notice. And you realize, this shit has gotten really bad. Being with Mack was like that.
In the beginning of the twelve months, like sunshine, I was warmed by his charm. I ignored the fact that he was slowly and steadily draining my energy, my optimism, my vitality. Being involved with a liar will do that to you. You spend a lot of energy rationalizing and stuffing your anger. You spend a lot of energy pretending everything is terrific. You spend a lot of energy making excuses for him. You spend a lot of energy on self-loathing. After all, only a woman with no self-respect would put up with this shit. And then you spend energy trying to dig out from the self-loathing. The trouble is, there is no way to stop the self-loathing caused by being involved with a liar and a user other than to end the relationship. Yes, you will spend lots of time telling yourself how wonderful he is to you, how he is so great in bed, how he takes the trash out and makes you breakfast on Sunday, how he loves you in spite of your faults. But just below the surface, the truth is lurking.
The truth is, he lives with another woman. He has no job. Sure he cooks you breakfast, but it’s always your groceries. And he goes home on Sunday night and cooks her dinner with her groceries. He lied to you by not telling you (until he was forced to) that he lives with another woman. You know he hasn’t had a real job, an income, in years. You know he’s made his way through life by relying on women to support him. Despite all his free time, he does nothing to contribute to society. Does he do charity work? No. Is he handy around the house? No. Does he do housework for you? Not unless you pay him to do it. You realize his promises to be your partner are bullshit. You realize the man does not want to contribute; he wants to sleep ten hours a day, eat your food, drink your alcohol, and sit in front of your television watching sports. Oh, and he has to have time to go to the gym; a gym membership you’d be paying for.
So yeah, the wildfires start springing up and you realize, this shit is really bad. But unlike the weather, I can do something about it. I did something about it. It’s been a month since I’ve seen Mack. Three weeks since the official break-up.
And this morning it rained in Austin. And rained, and rained, and rained. I imagined the rain washing away the detritus that has accumulated over the past year. I imagined it nourishing the seeds of self-respect I’ve planted over the past few weeks. I imagined it washing away the grief of losing Mack, or the illusion of Mack; the grief of losing a man who isn’t who he pretended to be and who I hoped he was.
October 2, 2011
I broke it off with Mack for good. In the words of Amy Winehouse, he goes back to her, and I go back to black.
I wanted it to work. I wanted to want to live with him. I wanted to want to marry him. I kept hanging in, hoping he could make me want to keep going. But all I got was more emotional manipulation. He called me late one night a few weeks ago, while we were still together, and groused about the rough day he’d had working (he found a part-time job doing concert security). He was irritable and tired and when we hung up, I felt disappointed at our failure to connect. I had been missing him. He called again about ten minutes later, and I thought he was calling to attempt to reach out to me. Instead he said, “Oops, I didn’t mean to call you. I meant to call Corinne.”
“Really? You meant to call Corinne and you accidentally called me?” I said.
“Yeah. Is there something wrong with that? She worries.”
And the fucking gaslighting begins again. I’d just spent a week vacationing with him in Canada, and now he’s sending me the message that I’m wrong for being annoyed with his living situation. You know, the “roommate” whom he’s lived with for sixteen years who supports him. Of course, he could live with me and put a stop to all this. But I had just told him I wasn’t ready for that. So really, it was my fault he was living with another woman and calling her late at night to tell her he was on his way home so she wouldn’t worry.
I said, “Yes, there’s something wrong with that. This whole thing is fucking stupid.”
“I’m not going to get into that right now,” he told me. And that was the end of that conversation.
Later that night I dreamed I was dead. I was in the place where dead people go. It was unclear whether it was supposed to be heaven or hell (not that I believe in either) because the only difference between my current life and being dead was that the only people in dead land were those who have died. We all looked like we were living. But we weren’t. The other thing about dead land was no one ever changed. You didn’t age. You didn’t get fatter or skinnier. You stayed just like you were when you died. Also, there was no chocolate there. I was pretty distraught that I was stuck in the current state I’m in with absolutely no hope of changing anything. Yeah, I could eat whatever I wanted and not get fatter. But there was no chocolate.
I woke up and realized I was far more disillusioned with the current state of my relationship with Mack than I was acknowledging. Dead and stuck? Not a good sign. I knew I didn’t see a future with us. I knew I didn’t want to support him. I finally acknowledged what I’d known deep down from the day I met him: I could never trust and respect a man who lied to me and Corinne the way Mack did. And I’d never be totally certain that he wasn’t using me, the way he’d used (is using) her. Dependency is not love. And I did not want a man to be with me because he couldn’t leave. I didn’t trust that Mack wanted to be with me for the right reasons. He used her, so how in the hell could I know he wasn’t using me? He lied to her, so how could I be so certain he wasn’t lying to me?
So in the end, Mack was right: my suspicions killed our relationship. But the relationship needed killing.
And in the end, Mack goes back to Corrine.
And I go back to black. But it’s more green, really. I’d forgotten how very green the grass is on my side of the fence.