All Dressed Up for the End
What does one wear for a break up?
I took a shower before my recent one, blow dried my hair (both considerable rarities). I put mascara on my lashes, vacillated between two pairs of shoes to find the right ones. Mustard-colored platforms. Familiar, yet tangy.
I made plans to meet in person. I meditated. I prayed.
This would be an improvement. I used to go into hiding when relationships were fading. Drink thick red wine. Start texting the Do Not Calls in my contacts. I used to be a ghoster. A relationship ended some years ago, I was seeing a psychotherapist at the time. I told him it wasn’t working with this one anymore, I can’t even remember who. I admitted my plan to just let the lover fade away.
“I’ve never been so uninspired in my entire life.”
Even letting something die is a decision. I wasn’t saving anybody heartache by doing things this way. I wasn’t avoiding hurt, I was exacerbating it. And I was being unkind. That conversation always stayed with me and I’ve come to see things his way. I’ve done a lot of work since then. Attended a lot more endings. Finales in my life are now momentous occasions.
I’ve said final goodbyes to pets, to parents (not mine, thank god, not yet), to partners. The best ones are intentional, thoughtfully planned. It hurts like hell but it’s better, so much better, than averting my eyes. I now endeavor to stay present. It’s eerily beautiful when it’s handled with care.
So on a Thursday, I got up early, went for a long run, selected something nice to wear. I got into the zone. I made notes.
At this point in my life, sustaining things that aren’t ushering me toward my goals is no longer an option. That means I have to be prepared to initiate endings, even for some rather good things, if they aren’t consistent with my personal commitments. But I trust myself more, second guess myself less. I’m getting better at recognizing my process.
First, I become clouded. I am engulfed in thick fog. I grimace as if inhaling exhaust. I am tired and irritable. I eat my weight in dessert. Then a clarity moves in like a cold spring wind. Something must be done (the spirits whisper to me, say it is so). I am filled with gratitude and dread. I am not sure I’m strong enough. I grieve the easy sunny days when everything felt good. I know they are behind me, for now.
The hardest part of metamorphosing into the person I want to be is anticipating the difficult conversations. The reality of one of these talks arises from far away, a dot on a horizon. It comes toward me, gaining speed, growing enormous. The words must be formed. The cards must be laid on the table.
But once the ball is rolling, the faucet is opened, the words spill out. The courage is harnessed. Somehow, everything that needs to be said gets said, everything that needs to be heard gets heard. Relationships that used to end with sour animosity and resentment start to end with the rich sadness of looking at a Degas or listening to Beethoven. They don’t feel like as much like a trauma as an opportunity for growth.
Each proper ending creates better new beginnings. I am learning my lessons. The pain is acute but time is our most valuable resource and I won’t squander anybody’s to fruitlessly avoid hurt feelings. I trust we can all recover. We must. There is important work to do. I am clearing the way for greatness (well dressed, when it matters) and there’s no stopping me now.