Thursday, February 13, 2014

What Made You Know the Relationship Was Over?

Did you know suddenly?
Did you know gradually?
Was it something she said?  He said?
Was it something he did?  She did?

Were you surprised to get the text?

or read the billboard?

Knowing is one thing; making it end is another.  Making it really end might require packing up and moving or shipping someone else out of your life.  Both options can be cruel and time-consuming.

But this blog is not about leaving.  It's about the moment of knowing.  When I knew for sure that I had to leave a relationship, I felt like Brutus when he realized he would join the rebels and murder Julius Caesar:
Between the acting of a dreadful thing
And the first motion, all the interim is
Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream (Act 2, Scene 1)
I suspect that many relationships just peter out.  One or both of the parties involved become unmotivated to keep it going.  They know, on some level, that it's over, but have not admitted it to themselves or each other - and besides, they are too busy to act on their knowledge.

Falling out of love -- which is all dread and fear and disappointment is much more nuanced and complicated than falling in love -- which is all hope and hormones and happiness.

Falling out of love is the rude awakening, the realization that you made a mistake, the coming down from a trip.  The first response is to blame the other person.  Only much later do you admit your own responsibility in the situation.  You grow up.

I've written before my belief that you never hit bottom, but sometimes if you're lucky, the universe will come up and kick your ass out the door.  That is, you knew you had to leave, but for many reasons you did not make the move.  What was the moment of knowing?  How many of us actually knew the relationship was over before we got married and had kids?

Maybe you had a moment of knowing it was "over" or would be over in due course.  Here's a few of mine:

  1. He said, "We can have a child, if you really want to."
  2. He said, "I'm not sure we can be in a relationship if you only want to be a teacher and not an aerial photographer."  [Yes, he had his pilot's licence and insisted that I become an aerial photographer.]
  3. He (a different one) had a psychotic breakdown and was hospitalized.  When they let him out, he denied it had happened and didn't want to talk about it.
  4. He (a different one) threw a cast iron frying pan across the kitchen (that was before the wedding). [I know how to pick winners, eh?]
  5. He (a different one) said, "OK, let's go for therapy."  I said, "It's too late."
What about you?  Was there a moment when you knew the relationship was over?

1 comment:

  1. 1) First love, innocent-style, high school: me being inside her email account after she asked me to go through it to edit a paper she sent to a friend. In the "sent" box I also saw a love letter I had sent her, but it was forwarded to someone else. She had commented on it, "how do I end this relationship with someone so in love with me? I feel trapped". I didn't sleep that night and we ended it the next day.

    2) with a much older man: when I realized that all the spasmatic, violent, full-bodied freakouts I was having after sex were not because I was "moving through my sexual repressions" but because I actually just didn't want to be sleeping with this man.