Sideways

No, this post is not about drinking wine out of a spittoon. But I bet I could better cope with the fact that my relationship with Mack is hanging by a thread by drinking lots of wine and acting irresponsibly.

Mack has backed off a bit since we decided to try to work it out. His backing off is painful. There are moments when I want to retaliate for what feels like being sent off to stick my nose in the corner in a time out. I want to throw another childish tantrum and tell Mack I’m not the only one who did something wrong here, so why am I the only one being punished? But I won’t do that, because that’s the kind of behavior that got me into this pickle.

More importantly, I love him and I’m not ready to toss our relationship onto the top of the dungheap of all my other dead relationships. I’m forty-seven, for fuck’s sake. And he’s fifty-seven. Do you really just say “fuck it” these days like you would when you’re in your 20s or 30s and you feel like you have a whole lifetime of relationships to burn through? No, you don’t. Just like life becomes more precious as you get older, so do relationships. You figure out what’s important and you hold on tight.

So what’s important? Money? Status? Power? A big fat house? Lots of shoes? For some people, certainly. But is that what’s important to me? I would unequivocally answer, no. But Mack thinks otherwise. And for good reason.

I should back up. (Yeah, backing up to fill in some blanks from my first post, Backing Up.)

After Mack left, I was angry. And deeply wounded. I wasn’t thinking clearly. Which is my lame excuse for posting a blog which identified Mack, and painted a very unflattering picture of him. At the same time, I depicted myself as someone who feels money and status are of supreme importance. Equally unflattering. It never occurred to me that Mack would read this blog. But of course, Mack did read the blog. And here we are.

But where are we? Are we backing up? Are we going sideways? Can we have a do-over of Black Sunday? Can we undo the mistakes? Or at least leave them behind?

Mack, understandably, is more doubtful than I am. After all, my transgressions were greater. I hurt him deeply. Even so, after some discussion, Mack and I have agreed to not back up. For some reason that we haven’t quite articulated, backward is bad, but sideways is okay. So we’re going sideways.

What’s the difference between backing up and going sideways? I think backing up means artificially moving back to a place where you no longer are. It means pretending things didn’t happen in a relationship that have happened. It means putting the genie back in the bottle or rebagging the cat. It can’t be done. Moving sideways means stopping to take stock. Looking at where you’ve been, being in a sort of holding pattern, before moving forward again. When you go sideways, you continue with the relationship; you don’t abandon it, but you don’t move forward, either. Instead, you assess how you got where you are, and consider whether you feel the relationship is worth investing in further, before moving forward.

When you go backward, you take the engagement ring off your left hand and put it on your right. When you go sideways, you leave the engagement ring on your left hand. But you don’t plan the elopement. Instead, you spend time evaluating the relationship, and hopefully strengthening the foundation, while standing still.

So tonight our relationship remains alive. Wounded, but alive. And I shall drink Merlot out of a spittoon, in honor of going sideways. Plus my heart just hurts, and I want to feel better.

About Unconfirmed Bachelorette

Unconfirmed Bachelorette, a/k/a Ella, is a 50-something-year-old lawyer who wishes fervently she could retire from the practice of law and write full time. Never-married-childfree Ella resides in Austin, Texas with her three fluffy black rescue cats.
This entry was posted in Commitment, Love, Mid-Life, Relationships, Starting Over. Bookmark the permalink.

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