Phoenix or Cockroach?

How do you know when a relationship is dead? Even though you’ve torched the whole village and there’s nothing left but smoldering chunks of debris, is it possible there’s a phoenix waiting to rise in tragic beauty from the ashes?

I’ve spent most of this long holiday weekend wondering whether I did the right thing by ending my relationship with Mack. Why I’ve been running a post-mortem all weekend, now, when I ended it over two months ago, is a mystery. Okay, maybe it’s not a mystery. It’s a holiday weekend, and you’re supposed to spend it with family and loved ones. I spent it hunkered down in my condo with my cats. By choice. On top of it being a holiday weekend, my brother recently was diagnosed with mouth cancer. They did surgery to remove the cancer on Wednesday, couldn’t get it all, and so radiation is next. So I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’m all alone Thanksgiving weekend, my brother is sick, and I have no one to comfort me. And, of course, it’s always going to be this way and I’m going to die alone after a sad and lonely life. Alone. Sad. And lonely.

I try to get this alarming self-talk under control by reminding myself that second-guessing and regret is normal post-breakup. To put things in perspective, I remind myself why I ended it. Mack lives with Corinne. I was supposed to make a decision about whether I wanted a man to move in with me based on a half-assed relationship with a man who lives with someone else. Never mind Mack’s protestations that they merely were roommates at this juncture of their sixteen-year relationship. Even if they were merely roommates, Mack still tip-toed around Corinne and as a result, our relationship was never a real relationship. I have no flipping idea how polygamy works. How a man could ever make two women happy at the same time is beyond me. Big Love is bullshit.

So yes, I ended it for good reason. And there’s no phoenix struggling to free itself from the debris. I know this because, since I told him I’d had enough, Mack hasn’t once tried to fan the embers and free the sad broken thing from the pile of rubble. You see, he wasn’t too terribly broken up that I ended it. I don’t know why I was surprised. If I mattered to him, he would have made more of an effort while we still were together.

So really, what I hear under the trash heap of our relationship isn’t a sad, broken little phoenix who just needs us to believe in him to give him life. It’s a skittering pile of cockroaches.


  • I’ve been reading your holiday weekend posts and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I suspect that the reason you’ve been spending so much time reflecting on your relationship with Mack is the time of year.

    All of the things that you enjoyed about the relationship are particularly hard to be without during the holidays. On the other hand, the things that drove you crazy are a couple months in the past.

    Trust yourself. When you made the decision to end it, you were right in the middle of it. You likely made the best choice.

    Wish I had some good advice for making it through the holidays without feeling completely alone. Unfortunately, I do not. For what it’s worth, I’m going through a similar situation myself.

    I believe that there can be a Phoenix in your story. I don’t think that it’ll be the relationship but if you play your cards right, you’ll have a brand new you out of the process. Best of luck!!!


    • Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment, Mr. Parts. Yes, I definitely had too much time on my hands over the weekend. You’re right, I need to trust myself. I made the decision for a reason. Actually, several reasons. I miss him, but it’s for the best. I knew it then, and it’s time I stopped second-guessing myself.

      I love the idea of the Phoenix being me. What a beautiful idea.

      Come on January 2!


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