Everyone likes to fall in love, but no one likes the end of the relationship. Heartbreak is always heartbreaking because what usually shows up is a mix of pride and hurt feelings. Such emotions cause people to lash out and the ensuing exchange usually leaves folks on both sides scarred. People process grief differently, and it is always interesting the lengths to which folks go to close the door on a chapter with someone.
I remember having an ex who said more about how she felt by what she DIDN’T DO. This was a go-getter type, where if she wanted something done, she’d go out and do it. For the most part she is a nice person whose heart you can say is generally in the right place. But we often butted heads over the communication styles – her school of thought was based on more passive aggressive stuff while mine is striving to be more assertive (I used to be of that passive-aggressive school as a child). So when it came to her feelings, I had to be intuitive by learning what her “inactivity” meant, but I couldn’t read too much into it because I wasn’t supposed to delve into the why behind it (she felt I was psychoanalyzing when I asked).
Show of hands: how many people have had a partner with an emotional approach that has more mixed messages than a politician running for office – male, female or transgender?
So the lady in question and I parted ways, and I thought we did so amicably enough. At least, that was the impression I got from her until she asked to meet up a few weeks later. Turns out she just wanted to return an old shirt I left by her house. I was taken aback – she just handed the bag over and walked away. When I saw it was the shirt she “returned”, I was initially puzzled – especially since I remembered leaving two books (that were more valuable to me) from my library at her place that she’s kept. But the more I thought about it, the thought dawned on me that it wasn’t about the shirt itself.
My gut says it was her way of having the last word, to symbolically return an “intimate” garment (it was an undershirt) in a very cold and incompatible way. She could have simply thrown it out; instead she spent time putting it in her bag, taking it along with her during her hour-long commute, and spending 30 seconds to cross paths with me to hand back the shirt. Honestly, it almost felt like a move to get rid of me from her intimate space forever and to take back power over that piece of her that she felt she had given to me during our relationship. We haven’t spoken since, and after an act like that, it is best to just let her have the closure in the manner she has chosen.
Am I being critical of her closure process? Some will say so, but I tend to disagree. I think what happens sometimes is when we get focused on what NOT TO DO in life; we often miss WHAT TO DO. It takes a lot more energy to play things safe or to constantly avoid mistakes as opposed to just learning from our experiences by putting the lessons into practice in a positive way. Many break ups are just plain nasty, and if we dwell on the emotions we felt from the experience itself, no one would be able to move on and find happiness again. Still, what I have found in talking to those who loved again successfully was that they really looked themselves in the eye and were honest. They put the feels from the relationship in perspective and then made sure that they didn’t put themselves in those situations again. Sometimes a part of taking that honest look at oneself is to see and accept one’s role in the demise of the relationship.
After all, if we only take credit for when things are going well, and we cast blame on the other person for the split, who would want to build any kind of meaningful relationship under those circumstances?