I remember what he said to me the night we broke up, regarding our future: “I’ve been meaning to talk to my shrink about this…” meaning, he knew that I’d been thinking about the future, and he wanted to discuss his feelings with his shrink and then bring it up with me. Only he never did, and all of a sudden, this statement infuriated me. He’d been meaning to discuss it? It just never came up in conversation with the person he discusses his emotional life with? Of course not, he was too busy talking about poker! It just underlined how low on his list of priorities I was. And to top it all off, then he went and told me he hadn’t gotten around to talking about it, like I would understand that this was a chore he’d been putting off. And I think of him now: maybe missing me a little, but mostly just relieved that it’s over and he can go back to playing poker online and trying to stop his mother from decimating the family fortune.
He emailed me a week after we broke up. He wrote, “I don’t know if you want to hear from me right now, but I’m thinking of you…” and signed it Love, always, Dean. I was relieved, pleased to hear from him. We exchanged a few emails but then I stopped—it didn’t seem like a good idea. Then, that weekend, I forwarded him a New York Times article I wanted him to see, because that’s the kind of thing I’d done in the past and it seemed harmless enough. He didn’t respond. I hope he didn’t get it, because a) it’s not like him to ignore an email and b) that would really be mean, wouldn’t it? We haven’t been in touch since.
But he has some of my clothes and I have several books and a power strip of his. And I know, just know, it will be up to me to initiate this exchange. He’s not going to contact me, because he’s in the process of putting me away. This is what I started thinking a few days ago. And now tears well up in my eyes and I want to wring his neck and although I haven’t actually wept, I’ve come close.
I looked up the cycle of grief during a breakup and it goes like this:
- Shock and Denial
- Great Emotion
- Acceptance, Reorganization, and Reintegration
I guess I was in shock and denial and now I’m inching towards Great Emotion (in my case, anger). For a while I felt OK, knowing that I will never sleep with him again, never have him pull his fingers through my hair; call me sweetie; insist I snuggle with him; drink kirs with his father and stepmother; listen to him complain about his brother; play Scrabble; trade entrees; hear his name on my voice mail. But maybe that was the Shock part. And now I’m furious that he couldn’t love me enough to even think about marrying me. Or pretend to. Furious that his priorities didn’t really include me, even though we made each other happy. I thought that our romantic contentment ought to be appreciated as a rarity. I mean, it is in my life. I’ve had a number of boyfriends and have loved several of them, but we’ve rarely made one another happy. At least not on a regular basis.
But I bet Dean’s not going through any Great Emotion now. He’s not thinking about me when he can’t sleep, he’s not considering under what circumstances he could possibly call me in the middle of the night. (Last night while I wasn’t sleeping I determined that if one of my parents died, I would feel comfortable calling him. He’d be good about that.)
I have to avoid his neighborhood. I was there recently, and of course there were memories attached to every store, ever street corner. Unfortunately my therapist’s office in on the edge of neighborhood, and my shrink’s office is literally three blocks from his apartment. Luckily I only have to see my shrink once a month. Still, I think. Still.