Monthly Archives: September 2010

Ex Orcism

Too many exes this week popping up here and there. I love them but…that is precisely the problem. I still love them, which is why they need to go away so I can learn to love somebody who is not them.

The old cliche states that the truth will set you free. Seeing my exes, hearing about them, may be a little too much truth for me to bear.

For instance, how do I process the new wedding ring gleaming on Ex Number One’s finger when we meet for lunch. How do I take in his unmistakeable afterglow? All I can feel is an extreme sense of tension and heaviness, as if I were carrying a bowling ball in the pit of my stomach.

Then, through the grapevine, comes news of Ex Number Two. I learn the name of the woman he’s living with. She’s someone I know vaguely. For months I have suspected she was the one. Alas, I get no pleasure from being right. I have a mental picture of her that is too fuzzy to deconstruct, so I envision her vaguely: a slim angular brunette cloaked in a kind of misty glow, wrapping her smooth slender limbs around My Ex. I shudder. I am so distracted I unload paper towels and shampoo into the refrigerator. Did he tell me once that she resembled Audrey Hepburn?

There must be some way outta here…But what? There is the masochistic approach: Put Lucinda Williams’s twangy sexual confessions on the CD player, peruse old smoochy photographs of me and my formers, and take a deep pulsating jacuzzi soak in pain. Pour into the bath a gallon of fantasies about my old flames and their nouvelles amours having smiley fun times and striking pretzel poses in the sack, complete with lovey dovey cooing and groaning. If I want to start drinking again, this will surely get me going.

Then there is the stoic I Will Survive strategy. I go about my  business, pursue all the things I had planned to do, and ignore what I have seen and heard, however searing. I shove the feelings down, stick out one foot and then the other. While this is an admirable thing to attempt, I usually find after encountering an Ex that I have little or no energy for any of the projects or social engagements that are on my calendar. All I want to do is sink into something soft, listen to power ballads and feel sorry for myself.

Clearly it doesn’t work to drown in the memories but ignoring them appears to be equally ineffectual. So what is the good ole middle path here?

I put in a call to my Higher Power and think it over. After a while the Universe sends me a memo that goes something like this:

First of all, when the dreaded brush with the defunct beloved takes place, it’s important to acknowledge the feelings that are stirred up. It’s OK to put on Coldplay, Snow Patrol or Journey and sing along with all one’s lonely loser’s heart. Then it’s even more important to return to what one was doing prior to the traumatic sighting.

I Must Remember This: My relationships with these former lovers exist largely in my mind. My exes are like ghosts, even if they can call me or grin infuriatingly at me across a bistro table. They are almost entirely a piece of the past, a part of memory. So maybe I mourn for awhile, perhaps deeply, punch the hell out of the old sofa, eat too many sour gummy worms, turn up Lady Gaga and sob to the thumping beat of Bad Romance. After that, I need to emerge from my self-flogging coma and set myself free, step back into my life–into the beautiful, liberating present.

EPILOGUE, TWO NIGHTS LATER: Could the Answer Be…Polygamy?

It is wonderful how you can send a prayer out into the Universe and, whoosh, back comes an answer. Just two days ago I was wringing my hands about how to meet and greet the men in my life who have moved on. Now tonight I turn on the television and I see a real-life couple, Christian fundamentalists Kody and Meri Brown from Utah, who will never face this problem. Kody doesn’t move on. He just adds another wife. Kody doesn’t stray. He does his philandering inside the enormous compound containing separate apartments for each of his four wives. He stays at home, the family stays together, the women get romanced every four days on rotation and sixteen children grow up in a big fun house with four moms and a very happy Dad.

The women call each other Sister Mom, and appear quite happy with the arrangement. They seem not so much jealous as relieved to be sharing a husband. They love the help with child raising and chores provided by the other wives, the camaraderie, the support. Indeed one of them says she only wanted to be part of a polygamous family. She dispatched any bachelor who was on his own. Some of the women grew up in polygamous households. All seem completely at ease with the system. They have never known anything different. On the rare occasions when jealousy surfaces, they treat it as something unpleasant to be cured and overcome, like a sudden cold or stomach virus.

As I watch this program I am not horrified, as I thought I might be. Not at all. In fact I find myself thinking, ya know, these people are on to something. They could teach the East Coast city slickers a thing or two about love and romance.

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Posted by on September 25, 2010 in Essays, Girl Loses Boy


Head Trips

There are days when I feel like Nintendo’s Mario. I am forever creeping around the edges of cliffs, dodging monsters, falling, falling, falling off of mountains and ledges and buildings and planets. Swimming, drowning, surfacing, drowning again. It is thrilling. It is terrifying. It is all in my head.

The phrase “all in your head” implies that there is an escape from this reality. Not in my experience. As far as I know, what exists in my mind IS my life. It is the lens through which I view, interpret and understand everything that my senses perceive. It gives me the thoughts, the impulses, that lead to decisions, actions, life choices: The choices I am proud of, the ones that make me shudder and sob.

“All in your head” suggests that I can transport myself from this life ruled by emotion and ego into some other more blissful place of unfiltered, pure experience. In my darkest moments I fear that the minute I was born I left that idyllic place. I will return there when I die. In the meantime, I am like Mario. Or a character in a Beckett play, determined to  escape, but remaining motionless and trapped. In my head.

The sense of being locked and lost in a dark world of one’s own making is what compels me to drink. If I cannot change my essential life view, the vision that drives me, and if that view is bleak, then addiction offers me a tempting if temporary escape. I become willing, desperate even, to bargain with the devils at the liquor store.

Recovery offers an alternative to self-imprisonment. It is a hand that leads me, a voice that says to me, the addict, come this way, it’s easier, better.This is the way out of your head.

I am fairly new to recovery so I cannot fully describe it but I think I am beginning to know a few things. The first involves turning my gaze outward, taking in the world, using my senses without judging. Secondly recovery teaches that I must turn my energy toward others and let it be of use. With each small step, a tiny portion of darkness is erased, the fearful chorus of inner voices is silenced just a little.  Ever so slowly I move into the clarity, into the light.

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Posted by on September 21, 2010 in Recovery Journal


Garden Amazons

There is fierce triumphant beauty to the plants that bloom in late summer, thriving in the scorching heat, wilting humidity and violent storms. What endurance they have, the brilliant geraniums, the bushy fragrant lavender, the gently bowing crape myrtles in shades of pale pink and white, the trumpet vines draping themselves acrobatically across fences, bursting with orange and yellow flowers, the rose of sharon blooming again and again and again. At their feet, the first dried leaves gather, harbingers of autumn, remains of more delicate comrades who flourished and died in the gentle months of April and May.

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Posted by on September 17, 2010 in Meditations on Nature, Summer


Sealed With a Diss

From time to time, I amuse myself with the idea of launching a greeting card company that would specialize in awkward, unconventional situations in life and, especially, love. This concept usually comes to mind when I am encountering bizarre circumstances in my own life for which I wish I had the perfect pre-fabricated missive.

Well, I’m having a weird week and my mind is once again bubbling over with strange salutations. It all started with the realization that my ex, who is getting married in a few days, scheduled his wedding for two days before Our Anniversary. To ward off feelings of wounded pride and tragic sentimentality, I imagined sending a witty card underscoring the humor and pathos of this Special Occasion.

After that, I moved on to other timely greetings. These included:

THINKING OF YOU My Ex Boyfriend Because The Other Night I Passed By the House Where You Lived  With Someone Else In the Seventies and Even Though the Association Was Tenuous I Felt Dramatic Pangs of Loss and Longing and Cried Copiously.

HAPPY SIX MONTH ANNIVERSARY, More or Less, of our Last One Night Stand To the Irish Blackguard who Dumped Me on St. Patrick’s Day But It Was Probably A Good Thing Since I Wanted to Stop Drinking Anyway.

BON VOYAGE to The Two or Three Former Flames That I Extinguished Today By Tossing Your Ridiculous Photos, Insincere Cards, Floral Remnants, Ticket Stubs, Baubles, Mixed Tapes, and Other Memorabilia into the Trash while Singing  “Take Back Your Mink” in an Angry Bronx Accent.

and, finally, most importantly…

I MISS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To My Devoted and Faithful Shaggy Brown-Eyed Dog Who Has been At Her Kennel For Too Long And Really Needs to Come Home Because I am Starved For Affection and I Have Realized That You  Are My Truest True Love Even If You Do Mistake Every Carpet for a Doggy Commode, Steal Sandwiches off the Counter and Bark Loudly and Incessantly.

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Posted by on September 8, 2010 in Essays, Girl Loses Boy