Rob Brezsny, you wound me:
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): “I’ve finally got my relationship problem figured out,” wrote Melinda, a reader from Philadelphia. “It has been a lifelong, insidious misunderstanding of what I’m entitled to, combined with a fear of abandonment that has made me grab onto the wrong companions.” I bring this testimony to your attention, Pisces, because I think it resonates with realizations you’re ready for. The coming months will be a favorable time for you to discern the hidden karma that has been keeping you from getting the love you want. A good way to begin your search will be to take inventory of your fear of abandonment and your misunderstanding of what you’re entitled to.Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.
It is a cliché to have abandonment begin with one’s father, isn’t it? But I suppose that is where my first male abandonment took place.
My mother and I moved to Chicago in the summer of 1984 – prophetic, as the Orwell novel of the year’s name would become one of my favorite stories – and many of the explanations she had for me was that he wasn’t coming with us because he didn’t love us enough. He just couldn’t give up his job and his home and his life in the name of love.
The day we left, he gave me a tiny dot-matrix printing calculator. I still to this day do not know why.
The first romantic abandonment came in the form of a boy named Vincent in junior high school. He had tousled black hair and green eyes and freckles, porcelain skin, a wicked little smile. He was firmly within the Bad Boy camp, the first one I had ever kissed. One day, a bunch of kids were hanging out in someone’s basement and making out, and I wouldn’t let Vincent go up my shirt. French kissing had already been Serious enough for me, and I had the fear of an antisexual Catholic god in me. He attempted; I parried with shaking hands. He talked, cajoled, belittled; I remained silent, only shaking my head.
Vincent dumped me the very next day to take up with someone who let him do much more, if the rumors were true. They probably weren’t.
This set a stereotyped precedent in my life: I became the responsible one when it came to sexual activity. I was the one who said no, or no further, or not much more. With responsibility comes plenty of rejection, especially at earlier ages when everyone in the world is making their own foolish mistakes.
At nineteen, I became tired of the constant struggle, and I gave in to someone much older, thinking he could be the responsible one for a change. I bought white lingerie to show off for him; I cooked him recipes my mother had taught me; I made him endless mixtapes.
He dumped me after a few awkward encounters. When I went to return the few things of his I had – a U2 CD, a Cubs sweatshirt, some books – he was moving his new girlfriend into his apartment. As he watched, I upturned the box of his possessions onto the rainy pavement. The clatter of the CD case was satisfying, so I stepped on it with my boot. And walked away.
The next few relationships were exercises in Not Being The One Left Behind. To pre-emptively abandon someone – now that’s brilliant! Better yet, to convince someone that they really were going to abandon you all along, that way you get to play the martyr without any of the tough work of actually ending things. It was a terrible part of my life. I picture entrails dripping from tree branches, beaten yet still beating bloody hearts drying like roadkill in the sun. Each relationship’s demise was vivisected and left to rot. How glad I was when that phase ended. It sickened and exhausted me. I was ready for better things.
Just over a year ago, I did what I never set out to do: I ended my marriage. Emotionally, he had abandoned me early on in our relationship, and physically, I had abandoned him. With the severing of that tie, I promised myself to let go of the fear of leaving or being left. I had to let go of it. Further down this path and I would never get into another relationship again.
But I did, and I will again. Someday, I hope I will be in a serious, committed, long-term relationship again. I’ve given up saying if or when that someday will be, because I just don’t know anymore. Perhaps a part of me is tired of caring so much about it; when it seems that many other people enter and exit romantic entanglements with so much panache, I am always the eviscerated one who has to then spend a thousand journal entries, therapy sessions, and periods of meditation healing herself, waiting to be ready again.
Perhaps I am ready, but don’t want to be.
I tire of this endless unknitting, reknitting of my heart.