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  • Writer's picturecocodensmore

We were both in torment, and our torment united us and bound us to one another.

November 6, 2021

There are these formulas for how long it takes to get over someone. I even found a really good article about it titled The New Breakup Equation: How Long It Will Take to Get Over Your Ex. Traditionally, the formula is X/2 = Y, where X is the number of months you dated and Y is the number of months it will take to get over him, stop stalking his FaceBook page, stop looking at old pictures on your phone, stop rereading every email exchange you ever had, and stop just missing his fucking face and voice and laugh and how he looked lying on the bed waiting for you, naked except for his yellow argyle socks.

Well, I’m so over that timeline it’s pathetic. I mean, the fact I’m mentally ill might account for some of that. But there are a lot of other ugly and even some quite beautiful factors that keep me stuck at sad over his loss.

First of all, it was an affair. He was married. So it was physical attraction on steroids. Everything was on the down low and fast and short and just fast fast fast and never enough time and talk about fucking intermittent rewards. Which are the most powerful motivators on the planet, by the way. I’m a compulsive gambler, with a variety of other assorted addictions, so I know all about that shit. I was addicted to the man. I was addicted to the risk. I was addicted to everything about everything about everything about the affair. Unfortunately, there’s no 12 Step Program for Jeff. There’s therapy. So I do do that. Yay me. I’m doing one right thing to manage the destructive addictive part of my brain that can’t let go of that poor man. Making progress. Incredibly, in the look back, yes, I’m making progress.

Then there’s the guilt, shame, remorse, and regret part of the affair. Somehow, my inability to completely cleanly forgive myself, and him, keep me tied to him. I think regrets are an incredible waste of time. Because we can never go back and undo what’s done. Yet my mind often goes to the places inside of me that are most ugly, that I hate most, the pieces of me and the pieces of my soul I feel I’ve blackened and killed by my wrong desires and wrong choices. And then the knowledge of how I hurt innocent people. So many little pieces, complex pieces, I can’t seem to gather all together and just throw into the river of regret that flows on and away from me.

Sometimes I’ll let go of a piece. Sometimes I’ll let go of a lot of pieces. Some days I’ll think I’ve rooted them all out! I’ll take each of those pieces, both the bad and the good, and I’ll hold them to my heart, then the really goods ones I’ll also hold up to my face, to feel their softness and their joy, to inhale the memory of bliss, just one more time. Then I’ll take all those pieces and fold them and tie them very gently and arrange them lovingly in a shoebox and put the lid on and put it away up high. There’s even guilt in that act, knowing I should walk the box straight out to the trash.

Then it’s all tidy, all boxed up. I’ve let go of the self-condemnation, the regret. Because I know better! And I can say it and make it so! I FORGIVE MYSELF! I FORGIVE JEFF! And for a while, I smile, and I have a peace.

But then little pieces pop up. Little memories show up. Even memories that should piss me off but instead make me laugh out loud. Like how he gave me a fake last name. And how he gave me his work number to get a hold of him. Oh my gosh. How stupid was that? He was a very inexperienced and naïve cheater. And somehow that makes him charming?

See — right there — in these last few paragraphs I mixed up pieces that don’t even belong together. My inability to forgive myself and the fact I think his bumbling cheating behavior was funny. The complexity of it all, the interwoven pieces of funny and ugly and bad and destructive and joy and love — I can’t get them all straight in my head.

I’m beyond confused just trying to put it all to paper. It’s simply too big, still, and I don’t know for how long, but it’s simply too big and too complex and there’s just too much about what happened between us that changed me in ways I don’t understand and can’t readily fathom. It was the worst experience of my life. It was the best experience of my life. And who made it the worst? Me? Him? And who made it the best? Was it just me manufacturing love and joy and meaningful connection? Or did he care about me? Well, I know he cared about me. In a multitude of confusing and fucked up ways birthed out of his own pain and lack. I know he was comfortable with me, trusted me, because he let it go on and on and on, ignoring my every attempt to put a halt to things. So finally, in desperation, I really did it up good with a big black bow and told his wife. And that was the end of that.

Now I wonder all the time if it was love, if then, if still. Because I only had the smallest tiniest sliver of him, and just a pinch of his life. The tiniest spot in the furthermost corner of his existence. Hidden away. And that was good enough. I taught myself it was good enough and I taught him it was good enough. And it was good enough! Because I want it back!

I emailed him the other day, because yes, I still do share with him the details of my life. Which is problematic. He has not communicated with me since I outed him and ruined his fucking marriage (or at least that’s the bottommost place I go when I think about what I did). I figure I’m blocked, but there’s some weird pain that lessens a bit every time I send off an email just imagining he’ll read it. And it’s such a relief. And I smile. Then I think how fucked up is that. Really fucked up. Yep. No doubt. And then follows the shame.

I had a few drinks a couple nights ago and sent him a pretty long email. It was a rambler. When I reread it, I feel it all — that love and that pain. And my words are so poignant even though I was drunk funny. I always wanted to make him laugh. Even when I was serious, even when I was crying, I was desperate to be funny enough, ironic enough, that I’d make him laugh. I succeeded more often than not. I’d venture to say always. Is that what ties me? Somehow, I’m responsible to make sure he laughs? Because what if no one else is making him laugh? I’d die if I knew he were sad. It would kill me worse than the whole fucking ball of fucked up that is already killing me.

“I love you I love you I love you fucking make it go away fucking fucking fucking make it go away I am being tortured by some sinister monster I call love but it’s really something from Satan I’m sure it is,” I said in the email.

What I said was true and sad and funny and maybe when he read it, if he read it, he smiled a bittersweet smile. Maybe he saw my pain and saw I was trying to make it not so bare ugly by being silly. But my attempt to minimize is what shines a glaring light on the bare ugly pain I can’t shake.

Wow. I gave him back. I never thought of it that way before. That was a somewhat noble thing to do, right? In some weird twisted take on the morality of it all? I took what wasn’t mine, and then I gave it back. I did that. It was my choice. I did right.

I could never allow myself to be completely transparently seriously base true me. When I expressed sadness or frustration or anger, I had to put a funny on it. Or I’d call him on something he’d said or done, but I’d make sure I evened it out by sharing responsibility, by taking some of the blame on myself. I didn’t want him to feel judged. I didn’t want him to feel unloved. I was very careful. I thought I was. I tried to be. But my real showed through. He saw the whole of me. And the same was true of me with him. I saw the whole of him. His flaws drew me to him, his pain drew me to him. We were both in torment, and our torment united us and bound us to one another. Perhaps that is the crux of it.



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