Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Anatomy of a Breakup, 2: Emotional Fall out, and (Bruce) Banner moments

Happy Valentine's day.  If you are having a good Valentine's day, with a great date all planned (or already done, if you're smart and did it on the weekend), then you might want to read today's earlier article, and this one, so you can be happy you're not me. Trust me, if you want to appreciate what you have, it's good to know what happens when you lose it.

Now, the earlier article was all about an example of a relationship / friendship falling to pieces.  In this cases, it fell apart over the course of months with one party not even being aware of it.

That ignorant buffoon I speak of is, of course, myself.

So, how should a character react to having a relationship suddenly and expectantly go south on him? Well, in A Pius Man, when relationships go south, guns are pulled out.  Earlier, I mentioned CS Lewis' book On Grief, and my reaction was much the same as the traditional stages of grief ... well, partially.

Denial: I didn't cry, mainly because my body has forgotten how to cry in full-out sobbing format. There were tears, but not all that much. I was quite, quite numb. I don't know if it counts as denial, but I couldn't think very clearly.  This woman was my best friend for years.  She brought out every good instinct in me.  My friends could see it, I could see it.  I was a better person because she was in my life.  She defined all of my best qualities, and made me want her good qualities. There had to be a mistake here.  Just because she didn't "love" love me, didn't mean the friendship was over, did it? That didn't make sense. Could it? I had to be wrong. I had to have misread it. I had to have been illiterate. This was my best friend. I told her everything. And I mean everything.  She would have told me to my face if she believed what I read -- at least on the phone.

Bargaining: My next thought was to make certain I understood everything involved, included that this was the end of the friendship as well. I asked her if I should cancel my ticket to California -- a plan we had been working on for 8 months now -- and she said yes.  Not only was she not in love with me -- which I could live with -- but she didn't even want to hang out. She couldn't care about me as a friend. That nail gun sound is sealing the coffin on our friendship.

Anger: Oh, I have that part down.  As I write this (the week of the 5th), I am quite a powder keg.  I have had to de-friend people on Facebook whom I normally tolerate because I am ready to tear them a few new orifices.  I am generally not a "nice" person, though I shoot for merely "good".  This week, I want to hurt something.  On the bright side, my cardio class and punching bag routines went over like a dream. Lift weights? No problem. Roll out the punching bags and beat them across the floor? Hell yes.

The strange thing is that I'm not angry at anyone in particular. Everything, yes, but no one person. I'm not even angry at the one who initiated this.  Could I do things to hurt her, even though she's 3,000 miles away? Sure, that's easy. I could write to her father to tell him about the whole relationship from start to finish, and he's a bastard, and no mistake; there is Facebook, and the internet, and all the various and sundry ways you can hurt someone that way -- it's not rocket science, any internet troll can do that.

Would I do anything to hurt her, though? No.  That has no interest for me, and it makes me physically ill to even contemplate doing it.

It's possible that I took my confusion to be anger -- it's possible, since I'm quite confused. This came out of nowhere, even though she said she'd been writing the letter for months. Her telling me to redeem my ticket implies that she was jerking me around about the California trip as recently as three weeks before the letter. So, was she lying to me the whole time? Did something happen since then?

There is a lot of adrenaline flowing in me.  I have redhead genes (redheads do have surges of adrenaline, more than the average person), but my heart will sometimes race, and I feel all the fear and excitement of a particularly dangerous roller coaster ride, only without any of the enjoyment such a ride should entail.  It is the fear and excitement more akin to my being strangled in Krav Maga, back to when I had no idea what I was doing, and the training partner was really trying to kill me. Only this time, there is no endorphin chaser once the choke is broken, but my body feels like it's constantly under attack.
[More below the break.]

So, it kinda sucks.

As for the last stage of grief ... I don't think acceptance has kicked in just yet.

Some strange, strange effects have also manifested.  For example, just thinking about the comic book Starman gets me ready to cry....

To explain, we had a shared favorite character, the Shade (who I think is everyone's favorite character from that series).  Even though I was put onto Starman by my friend Jason, before I had even met this woman, it became part of my friendship with her.

Now I have trouble even thinking about Starman without fresh reminders of pain, instead of dwelling on the joy of it. I start to cry.

Pathetic, ain't it?

I can't look at the plushie she made me that was a representation of the love between two friends. This new plushie was actually to replace an old one thrown out by a family member.  And back when it was thrown out, I went on a rampage. I didn't talk to that family member for a whole day, and when they didn't notice, I exploded. It was precious to me because it was made by someone who cared for me -- someone who wasn't obligated to, someone who valued me for me, on my own merits.  I didn't have to do anything special for her, she didn't get something out of me other than my voice on the phone and a few emails.  She cared, damnit.

At least, I thought she did.

Now ... It was made by someone who only liked parts of me.  Parts of me that were so overshadowed by my lesser qualities, she never wanted to meet with me or talk with me ever again. Tell me how that differs from having someone you care for hate your guts? I've had both. They feel very much the same.

In spy terminology, there is a phrase: to "walk back the cat." See, when you have a person who turns out to be working for the bad guys, you have to go through that turncoat's history to see what it is that the turncoat screwed up -- missions blown, covers compromised, etc. Right now, I'm trying to walk back the cat on a relationship, and I can't see what went wrong.

So, at the end of the day, I'm hurt, confused and conflicted.  Little things will make me tear up, or go nuclear. The opinion of someone I deeply respect, even love, has declared me unfit for association -- do I declare that person unworthy of my love and respect in turn?  Not doable. Do I beat up on myself? No, I get enough of that at Protection Fitness Krav Maga, it's not as therapeutic as you might think. I don't drink, I don't believe in sex before marriage, so I can't get drunk and screw my brains out.  And I've been writing my little heart out over at Examiner.com, so much so that I did a Catholic news roundup yesterday, two weeks early

My only options so far are a punching bag, a news column and a blog. We'll see how that works out.

So, for you writers who want to get something out of this, take a look -- there are some wonderful and conflicting emotions swirling around.  It's almost a little schizophrenic. Hating everybody ... except for the friend who set the spark off. Anger one moment ... near tears the next. Stupid little things that set someone off one way or another. It makes for an interesting set of character traits. Trying to figure out when things went wrong always makes for an interesting mystery (I'm not going to tell you how, but you can easily have guns figure into it).

Confusion, homicidal rage, destructive behavior ... have fun!

Next article: Robert Frost, and the debts unpaid. To drop before 3 today.

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