May 18, 2001
Well, well, it certainly has been a while since I posted a column. Nearly
six months - inexcusable. However once you hear the tale, you'll
To the surprise of no one, Significant Other and I broke up about a week
ago. I don't propose to get into the whys and wherefores of it all.
Suffice to say that we both did unforgivable things (and I'm not referring
to infidelity because there was none). While this isn't the way either of
us wanted it, I'm fairly certain that this is the way that it has to be. Of
course, it's quite a bit more complicated but that's private too. Very sad
but I guess that's how it goes sometimes.
But how strange not to feel sovereign despite the sense of isolation.
I'm constantly surprised at how ordinary the things I find myself missing
are. I'm only beginning to understand how much of my life I was sleepwalking
through and what a small and wasteful way that is to live. How it fades
the potential out of you and those you love.
S.O. cleared his stuff out of the apartment about a week ago. I was at work
at the time and came home to a place that looked quite a bit different than
it had that morning. Don't get me wrong: I wasn't resentful and didn't
feel ripped off. It was just that a lot of the furniture was gone. In its
place were the hordes of dust bunnies that had been breeding under the
chairs and bookcases. (On a related note, I'm appalled at what a shocking
housekeeper I appear to be.)
I don't miss the stuff -- there are very few material things I couldn't live
without, rootless thing that I am. Still, I ambled around doing an offhand
inventory, only mildly curious. But what was begun as an accounting of the
possessions I'd lost soon became an examination of the empty places in
myself. It was an odd feeling to wander around the place trying to put a
name to all the things I'd relinquished (willingly or otherwise), especially
since what I've gained remains hypothetical.
I'm crucified by the irony of it.
As I paced the suddenly empty rooms, I thought about how many irrevocable
events I've experienced over the past three years and how fundamentally I
have changed. I thought about my complicity. I have no idea what I was
expecting to achieve but it seemed both necessary and cathartic.
Do I miss him? Of course I do. You can't spend most of your adult life
with someone and not automatically turn to share a comment with him. He was
so necessary to me for so many years.
The thing is, it got really baroque towards the end. I began to feel like
I was on parole (though Karla Holmolka's reporting conditions will be
significantly less stringent). I hated it - I felt trapped and surveilled
and became secretive and cautious around him, afraid to put a foot wrong. I
was surly into the bargain, struggling as I was with having to be so
tentative. This, predictably, led to resentment all around and we both
It's taken me a while to work this out, but I think that S.O.'s recent
behaviour said more about the situation than about the person. For the sake
of my conscience, I hope mine did too. What saddens me most is that (at
least in the short term) our memories of each other are going to be bitter.
I'm hoping that won't last - I think we were worth more than that in the
Still, this part of the process is hardly fun. Since we broke up, I can't
sleep later than 4 a.m. regardless of what time I go to bed. I find myself
sitting on the chesterfield in the wee hours unable to get out of my own
head, watching music videos and infomercials for psychics -- depressed,
restless, every synapse firing. Leaking memories all over the place.
But being unable to move because thought and grief and loss have become the
same state of mind.
On the bright side, this is certainly slimming.
Misery is a superb "lose-weight-without-diet-or-exercise" regime and in my
experience, second only to dysentery. The trouble is, I didn't need to lose
weight. It's only a matter of time before I'm mistaken for an 11 year old
Despite an overwhelming urge to wallow in self-pity, I am trying to attend
to the practicalities. I'm trying to be good to myself by making sure I
get enough sleep (but not too much), remembering to work out and keeping the
house clean (which I have to admit has recently become much easier). This
place is hideously expensive and I need this job -- my career prospects
would not be improved were I to lurch blearily into work each morning
shrouded in a cloud of the night before's Guinness.
Besides, this is one of those personal growth opportunities (strange that
they're usually so unpleasant). Given that my coping strategies in the past
have involved fleeing and denial, not doing either this time requires will
and vigilance. Along with most of the rest of the world, my favourite route
from A to B is down the Path of Least Resistance. I don't have that luxury
now - this time the experience involves character on a defining level. How
we disengage will say much about who the people we are and will inform the
people we will become. I cannot afford to fuck this up - any of it.
And don't even talk to me about men. Ever since the dust settled regarding
the events of the last several years, it dawned on me that the entire
experience was an extremely effective form of aversion therapy.
In a Chinese curse sort of way, it's certainly been interesting. I learned
much about myself, most of it not very heartwarming. I found out, for
example, that I am a coward and can be breathtakingly selfish. I am adept
at being expedient. I used to have an intrinsic softness, but it's gone now
and I suspect it was the best of me. These days, I do what I have to
without flinching first. I know I've lost something I cannot afford to do
without, but I don't have the insight or the courage to put a name to it.
I've become dangerously rational instead, living up to my childhood nickname
of Spock (which I got because I looked funny). Everything is analyzed
logically, all of it is categorized. Arguments are dissected, risks
considered, options identified. Much of this is second nature - the
practice of criminal law taught me how to create distance between myself and
unbearable things, how to construct order and achieve resolution. How to
cut your losses.
I'm so paranoid about protecting whatever else I may have to left to lose
that I approach everything warily. It's exhausting. I'm suspicious - I
never used to be. I don't particularly care for it, though I don't know how
to stop. I'M not sure that right now is the best time to do without it
I'm struggling to convince myself that there must be benedictions under the
skin of the indictments, that not all of this is about what I have lost or
have abandoned. I need to be able to quantify the cost of my freedom with
Then I need to make damn sure it was worth what I paid for it.
Till next time.