Expansion

K moved out on December 5th. In many ways I was ready for it, tired of the in between and her growing pile of boxes. In other ways I was surprised by the amount of emotion I felt, at times overwhelming, when I had so naively thought I had moved on. My therapist likened it to repeatedly visiting a terminal patient in the hospital. It is only when the patient dies after months of waiting that you can finally grieve. Ready as I was to move on, there was a shock in coming home that evening and feeling her void like a punch in the gut. My loss was no longer abstract. And I felt a tangible sense of emptiness.

In the days afterward I struggled to fill the space, buying a new rug and moving this here and that there, but the expansion felt strange. I went to parties that I may have not gone to before and met new people outside of my social circle. My outward steps were shaky like that of a toddler. Then again, all of these feelings are rather normal. Just as it’s normal to feel down this time of year, my recent separation all the more acute. Continue reading

Intersection

You know that feeling you get when you’re out, doing an errand, and you look across the street and see your ex with her new girlfriend? Yeah, that happened to me. Yesterday to be exact. In Park Slope. I don’t even live in Park Slope.

I’d like to think that I held my head up high, waved hello to K, and looked Jess powerfully in the eye, asserting my authority. But no, snapping out of my 10 seconds of panic and paralysis, I scampered up 5th Avenue before they could see me in something akin to a fugue state. Continue reading

Keep On Keepin’ On

I had a rather abrupt realization the other day. I love being single.

The thing about healing after heartbreak is that it isn’t a binary state — one day you’re sad, the next day happy. No, each day is an incremental journey towards the other side, towards acceptance and integration. Some days you slide a little, but there comes a day when you realize you’re in new territory. Continue reading

Equinox

In the month since I last wrote, I’ve been adjusting to my new routine of separateness. On one hand I relish waking up alone, stretching out under the covers, or simple things like home-cooked meals that no longer require extensive negotiation. I hadn’t realized how much I missed my freedom. But on the other hand I miss having the physical presence of someone close, the intimate moments and language that only a couple can have, and, yes, I miss waking up next to the person I love.

K is still around and still living with me, but our time together is abbreviated. Two or three nights a week she’s out with Jess and sleeps over her place, the other nights she’s either at home with me or I’m out or she’s working late at her second job. For now this arrangement works, giving us ample room to carve out new lives. I’m not angry or resentful, just eager to be in a space that feels less transitional, yet anxious about what that life will look like. Continue reading

New Sight

Earthquakes come in two forms.

There are, of course, the literal ones, the geological varieties that cause multi-story buildings to sway as if a branch in the wind. Then there are the metaphorical ones — earthquakes wrought by a buildup of wrenching emotional tension and heretofore unexpressed grief; earthquakes that threaten to rip apart the psychic landscape with their undeniable power; and earthquakes that cause an illusion to slip, laying reality bare. Continue reading

Post Mortem

It recently struck me that I had planned to have this nice leisurely summer. I even turned down freelance work so I would not be overburdened or stressed by deadlines. I planned to set aside room for my goals and dreams, even saving space for beach trips, swimming, and frozen cocktails. But, as things are want to do, the demise of my relationship filled the space instead.

Good thing I cleared my schedule.

I’m a faithful believer in divine timing. Call it fate, call it the script of life, but everything happens in its own time — even breakups. To have forced a different outcome would have delayed the inevitable, causing myself and K avoidable emotional agony. If you needed a reason as to why I walked away from a four year relationship, it’s that. If you wondered why I didn’t fight more, it’s because I had fought enough. It was time to move on. Continue reading

Transitioning

It was on Thursday, unable to breathe life back into our partnership and wanting to let it go, that I told K that it was over. The grass of Madison Square Park was the backdrop for our conversation. I just couldn’t go back; the mere thought was a struggle. Instead, focusing on a future where we could still love each other as friends, I chose to spare myself a painful alternative.

K, wrestling with our new reality, emailed me the next day with the question, “Who will we be when when we’re not us?”

The words shot through my already aching heart. Indeed, what identity is forged when a couple ceases to be? Do we revert back to a younger version or do we find ourselves anew, yet feeling strangely lacking?

As K and I slowly navigate the unfolding terrain of our separateness, I am aware that it’s one thing to talk about being done and another to experience it.

Done?

In the tarot, the 10 of Swords is a card of not only completion after an arduous journey, but one of total surrender. When I drew the card on Sunday as my daily oracle, I took a sharp intake of breath, immediately resonating with its message of I’m done. No, not beaten, despite the grisly scene of 10 swords sticking out of the figure in the card, but that of yielding to events beyond my control. I had weighed the Pros and Cons and I was ready to move on.

Over the last few weeks, maybe longer, I slowly inventoried the contents of my heart, packed them up, and cleared space for something new. How could I not? How could I maintain my connection to K in the face of a situation that was completely at odds with my heart?

I didn’t do this stealthily. I was very clear as the days and weeks went on that things were not going well for us, that some sort of decision or resolution would be broached at some point, that maintaining a relationship with two people who each wanted a full time relationship was unsustainable. I slowly disengaged from K and made myself less and less emotionally available. I all but made my language as blunt as possible that the clock was ticking towards the moment when I would have enough. Continue reading

The Accidental Polyamorist

As I trace back the events of the last couple of months, it’s hard to remember when it exactly happened, when my relationship with Ms. K started to unravel.

Was it during a recent vacation when she, yet again, proposed the idea of an open relationship? Was it when I said yes after years of saying no? Was the seed planted months or even years before, born of restlessness and the arguably difficult task that some find it to remain monogamous? Or was it there all along, tucked in the knowledge that long term commitment probably wasn’t something that K was cut out for?

I don’t know.

I can, however, point my finger to a conversation with K this past February. She had innocently announced that she was going to purchase Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships from Amazon. With that she had hoped we would both read it and have an honest talk on whether an open relationship was right for us. It was a very passive-aggressive approach to an old subject that occasionally bubbled up. But K, knowing me well, had played to my rational side this time.

I read Opening Up, an enthusiastic if not academic selling of partnered non-monogamy, figuring I would give K that much, even if my enthusiasm didn’t match that of the author’s. I’m not saying that an open relationship can’t work, but even sex positive Tristan Taormino would agree that they can be a landmine. And if anything, to do them well, one has to be at a graduate level when it comes to relating, boundaries, trust, communication, and maturity. Were K and I even capable of that level? Continue reading

"Speaking from experience … you know it’s not just ONE mouse, right?"

For those who are squeamish or cried at Bambi or keep mice at pets (quelle horreur!), you may want to skip this post. Okay? Okay.

Let us rewind to last week.

Ms. K and I discovered, much to our dismay, that we had a mouse. Unfortunately the burden fell to me to take care of our little visitor, and by “take care of” I don’t mean cater to his every whim, but ensure that he would have the least painful death possible. (Before you squeal and post links to no-kill mouse traps in the comments section, I will remind you that you can get meningitis from mouse droppings and die.)

To make a long story short, I purchased some newfangled snap traps from the hardware, baited them with peanut butter, and went to bed with fingers crossed. Lo and behold it worked, having discovered a dead mouse in the trap the next morning.

Ms. K and I rejoiced! It was safe to go into the kitchen again! I felt a surge of something that I can only explain as primordial hunter pride. (Yes, I’m a woman. Yes, I killed a little mouse. But it is a disease vector! I win!)

But before I could rest on my laurels, I discovered another mouse in the kitchen. And I saw it scurry behind the stove, it’s little tail wriggling out of view.

Shit! It had a friend! I may or may not have shrieked.

For the next day I stalked that mouse. I followed its trail, figured which point it was using to access the counter top, and created a funnel in which to direct it towards the snap trap.

In short, it worked. (I’m purposely glazing over the part of the story where the mouse doesn’t die right away and it was up to me to put it out of its misery. With a cast iron pan.)

Over a week later and no more mice.