Ex Orcism

25 Sep

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.

1 Comment

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


One response to “Ex Orcism

  1. emmet

    September 27, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Dear Mary-Ellin,

    Here is a texte I wrote about getting over a love affair. It is a running metaphore based on the expression “Noyer son chagrin” “to drown your sorrow” and I played with the word “chagrin” alluding to “chat” instead. Anywhay here it is (to practice your French and get over your exes. And by the way the poem I refer to is Apollinaire’s “Sous le pont Mirabeau”. Lots of love Caroline

    Comment noyer son chagrin ?

    Il se redresse sur votre paume et vous regarde, les yeux mi-clos, miaulant de protestation. Il vient de naître d’un amour fugitif entre une mère tranquille qui sillonnait le liseré du jardin à la recherche d’un coin calme pour dormir et d’un vagabond qui passait par là chassant le mulot. Ils se sont parlés, ils se sont plus, ils se sont aimés. Aujourd’hui c’est fini. Et le résultat se trouve au creux de votre main. Un chagrin nouveau-né. Qui pleure les yeux mi-clos. Qui pleure parce qu’il a faim. Eh oui. Vous ne vous en doutez pas. Mais un chagrin, cela a faim. De regrets, de flashs back, de souvenirs heureux, de fantasmes de réconciliation… C’est comme ça qu’il va pousser votre chagrin. Et vous, vous allez tomber dans le panneau. Vous allez penser qu’en le nourrissant il se calmera, fera trois tours sur lui-même et s’assoupira. Ne le croyez surtout pas. Tôt ou tard, il se réveillera, à nouveau affamé et vous narguera, quémandant des souvenirs enflammés et des espérances de retrouvaille…
    Alors, je vous conseille la chose suivante. Noyez le tout simplement. Oui je sais, je suis cruelle de vous suggérer un acte si vil. C’est que vous l’aimez votre chagrin. Il est si attendrissant. Un petit être qui vous suit fidèlement à travers l’appartement et qui ne vous lâche pas d’une semelle. Faites moi confiance. Plus vite vous vous en débarrasserez, plus vite vous retrouverez votre joie de vivre et votre sérénité.
    Pour le noyer, c’est simple. Promenez-vous dans la carrière de vos ressentiments et choisissez une pierre particulièrement lourde. Comme la fois où l’être aimé vous a fait croire qu’il partait plancher un week-end en séminaire à Douai et qu’il a laissé tombé de son cartable à son retour, la carte d’un restaurant situé sur le grand canal à Venise. Puis, allez voir le marchand de quatre couleurs pour acheter une corde. Prenez la bien râpeuse et résistante. Glissez votre chagrin, le ressentiment et la corde dans un petit sac et prenez le premier métro direction Boulogne Pont de Saint Cloud. Descendez à la station Mirabeau. « L’amour s’en va comme cette eau courante, l’amour s’en va ». Ces vers ont été chantés par le poète qui a été le premier à noyer son chagrin de la sorte. Depuis, la Seine à cet endroit est devenu un véritable cimetière de chagrins.
    Vous êtes donc là, accoudé à la rambarde du pont. Vous ne distinguez pas nettement l’eau. C’est qu’il fait encore nuit à cette heure matinale. Il n’y a personne aux alentours, pas même un chat. Vous prenez votre chagrin par la peau du cou. Attention, il va essayer de vous attendrir, de s’échapper pour mieux revenir. Vous devez rester insensible à son numéro de charme. Prenez la corde dans laquelle vous aurez préalablement préparé un nœud coulissant et glissez la autour du cou de votre chagrin. Il se débat et vous lance un regard lourd de reproche. Prenez le une dernière fois dans vos bras et embrassez le avec compassion. Puis attachez le ressentiment solidement à l’autre bout de la corde. Remettez le tout dans le petit sac. De toutes vos forces, lancez le sac par-dessus la rambarde. Voila c’est fait. Quittez le pont sans détour, sans vous retournez. Il n’a pas souffert. Je vous assure. Il est mort asphyxié avant même d’avoir touché la surface du fleuve. Car c’est bien connu, les chagrins ne supportent pas l’eau.


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