Don’t Look Back


I have a confession: I don’t know why we care so much about other people.  Specifically, I don’t know why I care about other people when they don’t care about me.  Why we extend courtesies to people who do not extend us the same courtesy will forever remain a mystery to me.  I’ve spent the last couple weeks attempting to make sense out of a relationship that seemed to be devoid of reason.  Even now, looking back on everything, I still don’t understand what happened and likely never will.  The more I look into it though and the more I analyze my own feelings about the matter the more stunned I am by the conclusions I draw.  I don’t come away with the normal feelings of disappointment or sadness, I find myself getting mad at myself for not ending it sooner.

I looked back in my journals and consulted other notes that had piled up and what I figured out was that I probably should have broken up with her in April.  April: as in about eight months ago.  Previously I had thought Octoberish or so, but now I can definitely tell that either April or May should have been the time.  In April she quit her job and still refused to make time for me.  I don’t know what other signals I was looking for but I missed a big one right there.  I can tell from the general tone of my writing that I was not happy at any time when I was with her and now given all the analysis that I’ve done it’s surprising to me that I would let my emotions get the better of me.  I always do that though.  If something feels right I become over invested in it and assign it more value than I should.  I do this right now with my writing projects.  I can pretty much guarantee that I spend way too much time working on my various projects; certainly more time than I do on anything else.

I spent a lot of time going through the stages of grief until I realized that I was basically in the anger stage the entire time.  I was furious at how I was being treated but then I looked back and realized that none of this was really new.  It was just a question of degrees with her.  Many people have pointed out that she never treated me well and that this was obviously doomed since January or February of last year.  I don’t disagree with that assessment.  I gave her the benefit of the doubt way too much and as much as I tried to keep my guard up I still wound up letting it down in a way that came back to hurt me in some very deep and profound ways.  Around Christmas someone said something along the lines of: “at least she hasn’t totally destroyed your writing career” (emphasis on the word ‘totally’) and that’s true.  I did find out that most of my worst-case scenarios that I thought she’d never do to me turned out to be true.  That was upsetting to say the least but again it was anger and frustration.  This wasn’t directed at her either.  I had already come to the conclusion that this was a person who was as one reader coined it: “kill mode” and that this was going to be a nasty, awful break-up.  What bothered me was that it was so diabolical, so well planned, and so flawlessly executed.  It was like a bad guy in a James Bond film found out all the ways to crush my ego and then seized on the opportunity while I was busy dealing with something awful in my life.  At the end of the day I was just asking myself: who in the hell does this?

It wasn’t a question of fairness or anything along those lines.  I always view things in terms of fairness which is one of my faults.  I try to treat people not only how they would like to be treated but by how they deserve to be treated and most people I think deserve to be treated far better than they are, at least on average.  The big positive that I come away from this with is that I don’t think I would treat anyone differently because of this experience.  I don’t know what her big problems were (probably too numerous and plentiful to be documented here) but they were if nothing else unique.  The other positive is that despite her claims of debasement in my writing – which are about as baseless a charge as you can make – I haven’t viewed this break-up as a search and destroy mission as she has.  I think a couple years ago or so I probably would have responded tit for tat on every little thing that she did but now I’m in a place where I just don’t care about the games anymore.

An editor friend of mine who happens to share the same first name as my ex (notice that I never use identifying information of people I write about) noted that I had written under ten thousand words over the course of my time in our relationship.  Since that time I’ve been averaging over ten thousand words a week.  I’ve poured myself back into my craft and the gears are starting to rotate again.  This New Year’s Eve though I texted my editor friend and asked what she was doing for New years since she was in Milwaukee for the majority of the week.  When I hadn’t heard back from her after a couple hours I was a little concerned and when I went to text her again I realized that I had accidently texted my ex instead.  They have the same first name and for whatever reason she was still in my contacts list.  I was mortified.  I immediately turned off my phone and called my agent friend from another phone.  I started running through the things that my ex was going to reply with and my anxiety levels shot through the roof.  It was then that I realized that when they say you should picture life without your ex you should actually start that process as soon as possible.  Just burn everything.


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