Sunday, February 26, 2017

Well, this hurts

That gaping-hole feeling was merely delayed; it hit me this morning, even before I started stumbling upon the reminders of the relationship: his toothbrush, his towel, the coffee maker that I don't use. And, now that I think about it, a bunch of medium-roast coffee that works best in the coffee maker rather than my prefererred French press, so I guess I'll be leaving the coffee maker out for a while. The treats he got for Gracie (I have no intention to keep giving them to her). Why does this stuff bother me more than the flowers? Why doesn't the overwhelmingness of our incompatibility blunt the pain?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Notes from an even more amicable break-up

I spent the last couple of weeks--but especially this past week--second-guessing my overwhelming sense that the relationship I was in, was doomed. The things that were not working were adding up and it was getting increasingly harder to believe that they could be overcome, even in the face of the many things that were working. On Thursday, I came home from work and cried over the realization that the relationship couldn't be saved. By Friday morning, I thought maybe I was tired and overwhelmed and should give it more time. I was too busy during the day (and evening) to give it any thought, but this morning, I didn't miss him or feel excited about seeing him tonight. When we sat down to dinner, facing each other, I undeniably felt nothing.

I couldn't believe he didn't (not) feel it to, but he did. We were walking around after dinner, and he stopped and asked me if I thought the relationship was working. He didn't think it was. I agreed. We were both sad. I was less so, because I'd gotten my sad out a couple of days ago and at this point I was mostly left with relief--that post-break-up relief of no longer having to dismiss the accumulating dealbreakers. I'd say, also, that the complete, instant closure--the lack of misunderstanding or recrimination, the absense of any need to wonder what went wrong--goes a long way toward easing the pain.

This was, interestingly, the first time my friends didn't try to talk me out of trusting my instincts. Out at trivia the other night, I enumerated the things that weren't working and said I just had a bad feeling about things. I expected my friends, who were in the throes of dating, to tell me to count my blessings, but they acknowledged that my instincts were probably onto something.

The man, on the other hand, was not as forthcoming. I'd felt for at least a week that it would be better to break it off, but that breaking it off was going to hurt. Last weekend, when I didn't hear from M. for, say, 36 hours (eventually, more than 48), I suspected something even though I knew he wasn't the ghosting kind. I started to emotionally prepare myself for our not being together, and I was mostly okay with it but it stung. To the point where, when I did hear from him latish Monday, I was relieved--even though I felt that we were just postponing the inevitable.

So here's what's interesting: I told him explicitly that I'd started to plan for not seeing him again (i.e., I'd made certain decisions around the assumption that we wouldn't be getting together on Tuesday night, as previously planned). He was shocked. He just had a lot of work, he said. Did I think things weren't going well? The way he asked implied that the very thought was absurd. He wouldn't just ghost, he assured me. I knew that, I told him, but there are levels of emotional distancing lesser to ghosting.

He wasn't feigning the shock; it just hadn't all come together for him. After I called him on it, he started wondering why he hadn't texted me all weekend. Sure, he was busy, but that hadn't ever stopped him before. [This, my friends, is a lesson in 'He's Just Not That Into You,' and I picked up on it even before he did.] This made him think about our relationship, which meant coming to the conclusion that things weren't working. It wasn't all in my head--either the dealbreakers or his distancing, even when his words tried to tell me that it was.

So we got together on Tuesday. We didn't talk about it, even though I brought it up. Being with him was more exhausting than anything else, not just because we were both tired. It felt like work. On Wednesday, I vented to my friends. On Thursday, I came home and cried. On Friday and this morning, I reverted to denial, but part of me knew the denial wasn't sustainable. This morning and early afternoon, getting together with another friend, I talked about how I just didn't think it was going to work. This evening, I saw him and I felt nothing. Later in the evening, we broke up, and I felt relief. I haven't cried, even though there's a tinge of sadness. I haven't thrown out his flowers and feel no need to. I feel no need to purge my house or electronics of signs of him. He asked if I wanted to stay friends, I demured. I believe in a clean break and don't really see the point. He said goodbye to the cat--he liked her at least as much as he liked me--and left. We parted on very good terms. I'm a little sad, but I don't feel a gaping hole in the fiber of my being.

Even the immediate, pragmatic things I'm relieved about--having the rest of this evening and tomorrow to myself; having the bed to myself; not having to go to yet another restaurant tomorrow because this guy doesn't like to eat in--are things that would've been of no comfort to me two months ago, and would be of no comfort to me now at the expense of a relationship I wanted to be in. It's time to move on when you think, oh, good, I'm not going to wake up next to him tomorrow.

I don't regret that we dated; I think we learned a lot from each other. I enjoyed getting to know him as a person. I benefitted from getting a stronger understanding of what wasn't negotiable to me, even when I tried to tell myself it wasn't a big deal. Maybe one or two of those things would've been fine, but they were adding up. I feel entirely comfortable holding onto them. I feel more comfortable than ever being who I am, and either knowing that there's someone out there who's looking for it to, and/or it's nevertheless who I am and what I need.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday ramble

I posted, to the roundup a minute ago, this very good piece about how love is not all it's cracked up to be but I actually thought I was posting this piece by Laurie Penny about the value of being single. They're both spot on. Let's start with the first--
Love is quite far down on the list of things that humans “need”—in fact, it’s not on the list at all. Humans need oxygen, water, and food, in that order. Everything else is optional (though clothes and shelter are nearly essential, depending on the climate). Humans are perfectly capable of living an entire life without love. Squirrels don’t love and they seem to be doing just fine.
But “true love,” minus the “one,” somehow persists. It exists in opposition, apparently, to fleeting love—to flings, crushes, and affairs. But really it’s just another form of social elitism: If we believe we have found true love, we are better at life than those who have not.
Which dovetails into the second:
You see, I don’t believe that my relationship constitutes a happy ending. I don’t want a “happy ending”. I don’t want an ending at all, particularly not while I’m still in my goddamn twenties—I want a long life full of work and adventure. I absolutely don’t see partnership as the end of that adventure. And I still believe that being single is the right choice for a great many young women.
Today, whatever else we are, women are still taught that we have failed if we are not loved by men. I’ve lost count of the men who seem to believe that the trump card they hold in any debate is “but you’re unattractive”. “But I wouldn’t date you.” How we feel about them doesn’t matter. Young women are meant to prioritise men’s romantic approval, and young men often struggle to imagine a world in which we might have other priorities.
Men are allowed to think of romantic love as a feeling, an experience, a gift that they expect to be given as a reward for being their awesome selves. That sounds like a great deal to me. I wouldn’t want that challenged. Women, by contrast, learn from an early age that love is work. That in order to be loved, we will need to work hard, and if we want to stay loved we will need to work harder.
The trouble is that there aren’t enough of them for all the brilliant, beautiful, fiercely compassionate women and girls out there who could really do with someone like that in their lives. Those men are like unicorns. If you meet one, that’s great. You might think you’ve met one already—I’ve often thought so—but evidence and experience suggest that a great many unicorns are, in fact, just horses with unconvincing horns. If you don’t manage to catch a real unicorn, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. 
 There was also this piece in the Post about how finding love is a fluke; the writer has no answers.

This was not the first Valentine's Day that I wasn't single, but it was the first that the man I was with insisted on celebrating--insisted that we spend the actual day (well, evening) together, though it was hardly different from any other Tuesday night, except that Deep Fried Masters wasn't on (he has cable). He got me some lovely flowers, which lit up my cubicle (did I mention that I started a "new" job--just for a year, and then I go back--and now I have a cubicle?) for a few days and are now lighting up my dining room. I walked straight from his place on Wednesday morning to work, flowers in hand, profoundly aware that this was a fluke--this year, I happened to get flowers. Later that afternoon, I overheard (such is cubicle life) someone talking about a recent breakup, and I felt for her. Breakups suck, and it's not the time to have other people's relationships shoved in your face.

Sunday roundup

Especially in warfare, values matter.

Refugees and other immigrants are emphatically not the problem.

Conservatives are not silenced. Some, apparently, are threatened by the mere existence of other people.

Selling access to the president is not normal.

Careful about distance-diagnosing people with mental illness.

You know where something is going when it starts with "I'm not a misogynist, but..."

How Czech dissidents built a resistance movement.

Der Spiegel on St. Petersburg.

Billionaires who don't want to make their kids useless.

There truly is so much value in living single.

Nobody cares about your baby to the extent you do.
[Miss Manners...] feels compelled to tell you something that will save you time and friendships in the future as a mother. Not everyone is as excited as you are about every detail of your child’s life. It’s best to know this now, before you start going on Facebook announcing baby’s first spit-up, or throwing parties for when he or she sleeps through the night.
Oh this is sooooo RM
This is a nightmare, and one reason it’s a nightmare is that you’ve already told her directly that you don’t want to hang out with her in Japan and she’s blatantly not accepting this reality. “I am going with my friend and our plans don’t include you.” “You are in no way involved in my trip.” You are not being vague! When someone refuses to engage with the reality of what you are saying when it conflicts with their own desires, that is very weird, and scary! Reasons are for reasonable people, and repeating yourself and explaining things more just gives unreasonable people the idea that stuff is negotiable.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday roundup

Well, this (screwing over veterans who cleaned up after atomic tests) is really wrong.

Yair Rosenberg on anti-semitism today.

The attack on truth isn't just about facts; it's an attempt to erode our capacity for critical thinking.

A government needs experts and specialists, not (just) "smart" people. And certainly not chaos.

Who doesn't want people like this:
“I was even looking forward to paying taxes,” Mr. Hassan said. “If you pay taxes, that means you have a job and you’re making money, right?”
Here are some great books by refugees.

Brands are just adapting the ways in which they try to exploit our insecurities.
In 2006 preface to a new edition of her feminist classic “Backlash,” Susan Faludi, who has herself been solicited “to place my feminist seal of approval on brands of blue jeans, high heels, even breast implants,” points readers back to a 1929 “Freedom March” commemorating the 19th Amendment. The protest was pulled together by the American Tobacco Company and featured cigarettes as “torches of freedom,” an idea that Virginia Slims cigarettes would replicate decades later in their ads that told young women, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” Faludi notes that, “Hanes even persuaded a [National Organization for Women] official to endorse its ‘liberating’ pantyhose.”
(Ask) Polly and Carolyn urge you to accept, feel, and work through your feelings.

Oh this is so my mother, down to dishing out what she couldn't take.

Check out Mars on earth (i.e., in Ethiopia).