Monday, January 22, 2007

Walnut Wasteland

It's almost 2 1/2 months since EXBF and I broke up, and for the most part I think I've handled things smashingly well (yes, I just recently watched Bridget Jones' Diary, one of Prue's favorites, and now one of mine).

I loved him and for much of the time that we spent together, I was sure that we were going to spend our future together. When it ended, I could have crumpled into a little ball, and for the two-week period after the break-up, and for most of the next two weeks, that's about all I felt like doing. But, I didn't. Instead, I regrouped, dug down, and rediscovered a strength within myself that I hadn't felt in a long time. I crushed down all of the sadness, longing, and love for him, all of the good memories and thoughts of him, emotions that had been radiating out of me and overwhelming me, into a tiny ball the size of a walnut and lodged it just under my ribcage on the right side of my body, just opposite my heart.

I filled up the empty space left behind in the wake of the sadness and love with hard, impenetrable steel. Before I had been soft and permeable, wounded and easily cu; many times by him. But, to protect myself I encased my body, my heart, and my mind in armor, and I encased the walnut to, in order to keep it tightly compressed and held in place.

For the most part my strategy worked. Every now and then during the past month, I've had unwelcome thoughts of him, reminders that have caused the walnut to pulse with pain. Because I had it encased in steel, I was able to keep the flare-ups in check. I didn't allow myself to be overwhelmed by pain. I didn't allow him to hurt me any more.

I've only cried a few times since exiling my emotions to the walnut. Two of those times happened with Navy Boy, a 30-year old boy who once upon a time went on a handful of dates with me, and then became a friend of sorts. He's been a friend to me these past couple of months, he's helped me set up my internet connection, talked break-up stories with me, and understood when I said that I was not yet in a place to think about dating anyone anytime soon.

The first time I cried in front of him was a few weeks ago. We were in bed and I was naked, which tends to happen when I make out with boys who know how to kiss me well. I wasn't thinking that it was strange to be with someone other than him. Instead, I was focusing on Navy Boy's body, admiring his muscular arms and pecs, marveling at his smooth hairless skin. He laughed at our uneven-ness; his shirt was off but his bottom half was fully clothed. I told him that we weren't going to have sex, and he said very reassuringly, immediately, "I know," so I told him that as long as that was clear he could remove his top layer.

We were flirting. I was enjoying myself. His body felt nice pressed against mine, and his kisses were good - a nice mix of aggression and tenderness. It caught me completely by surprise when I began to cry.

I didn't cry hard. There was no sobbing. My eyes just started leaking silently, little streams making there way down my temples and pooling in my hair. I told him softly to stop, and I don't think he realized what was happening until he kissed my cheek and tasted the salty dampness. I was surprised and a little embarrassed, not because I was crying over EXBF, but because I didn't want Navy Boy to think that I was the kind of girl that cried during make-out sessions. My god! The mortification. He was understanding and kind, and told me it was OK. He said that I probably hadn't been with many people since EXBF, and he was right. He was the first on this little rebound adventure. After pulling myself together, we began making out again, and that night I had a nice little orgasm.

I thought the crying was a one-time thing, but two nights ago it happened again. The scene was very similar. Navy Boy and I were making out and it felt good. He was kissing me in ways that I liked being kissed, my body was keyed up, and I was enjoying myself. Suddenly, though, it became too much and I started tearing up again, this time saying, "Oh my god, I didn't think this would happen again." He kissed my tears, and again told me that it was OK, but I knew that it wasn't.

The kissing, the intimacy, the being close to another man that's not him has caused a crack in the walnut, and somehow my emotions have started leaking out. For most of this month, when I've thought of him I've thought about him with nice, healthy anger. Not the kind of destructive, white-hot anger that would make me think I was not getting over him the way I should, but the kind of solid, justified anger that come with knowing that someone you loved has treated you wrongly. He hurt me so many times, and when I told him that he was hurting me, instead of stopping, he continued to do it. That makes me angry. Passing his building or places that remind me of him, I've found myself instinctively mouthing, "Fucking asshole," and feeling vindicated and empowered.

That was before Navy Boy's kisses cracked the walnut and reminded me that I still have love for EXBF, that when I say "I hate him," I don't actually mean it, but wish that I did. It makes sense, because if I had been able to eliminate my love for him in the span of 2 1/2 months, then that would have shown that the depth of my love for him was wanting from the beginning. That whatever I had lost, it wasn't all that much. But, the fact is that I actually genuinely loved EXBF, and even if I haven't lost much, he has.

The two crying spells, neither of which lasted for more than a minute (just so the record is clear), were an expression of the feelings of sadness I still have over losing the things about EXBF that were truly good. They loosened up my emotions and made me feel a little less like I have to keep those feelings of love and pain imprisoned. They let them come out, and made me realize it's OK that I still have them. I loved him, and even though he did not act in a way worthy of my love, it's going to take a long time to get him completely out of my system. I've given myself permission to cry again, although hopefully not in the presence of any more boys. At least not while naked. At least not until I feel like it.

At least not until I think it will hurt a little bit less.


starshine said...

Oh, my friend! I'm so glad you're letting yourself cry and feel those things again. That's the best way to move forward with your let that stuff out, feel your feelings, acknowledge them for what they are, and then move ahead. You are a strong woman. And there is strength in your vulnerability.

Anonymous said...

I'm really not sure I can say it any better than the always-eloquent Starshine. I also agree that there is strength in vulnerability. A wise person (I saw this because I can't really remember who told me, but I'm sure they were smart) once told me that character is built not by the choices we make, but how we deal with the outcome of those choices.

Suppression works...initially, as a coping mechanism however we can't suppress forever and true healing only starts to take place when we allow ourselves to delve into things and work them through.

It sounds like you are well on your way to healing and that you are allowing yourself some time, which is SO important for our hearts. You really are SO amazes me...yet, it doesn't surprise me either...It was obvious from the first time I read your site that you were more than a little awesome.

PS - thanks for the comforting comments on my site re: adoption. We're starting to get over the hump (it will take time) and beginning to look towards other options...I really did appreciate the words of comfort...they helped dry the tears.

take care

Anonymous said...

Look forward to the time when you reach this: you think about the EXBF and are able to say with full confidence and conviction "effing bitch", well insert proper curse word here.

I think the getting naked in the first place is a good step though, and cracking at the walnut is even a bigger step.

Gypsy said...

The tears are a wonderful sign. They're part of the healing. You've hardended your heart when you needed to, when thinking about him and caring about him would have been too much. But now? You're stronger, so you can let it out a little bit. You can start grieving, but not in the way that means you're heartsick or despondent. In a way that means you're healing.

InterstellarLass said...

Oooh girl. Don't I know exactly how you feel. I do. And you know what? You're taking all the right steps. Moving forward with your new job hunt, going out with friends, trying new things (knitting), and even these little Navy Boy makeout sessions. And that little walnut will crack slowly. There will be times down the road that you still hurt, and maybe you'll shed a tear or two more. But soon enough he'll just be a memory. One that won't cause you that pain anymore. It will be better soon, I promise. HUGS!

Buttercup said...

Starshine - Who knew that making out with a boy could be so therapeutic?

WN - There is strength in vulnerability, and that goes for you too! I'm glad my words were a small comfort. I owe you many more for all the times you've brought me comfort and insight through your comments here. Stay strong WN. It will work out eventually.

Sparky - Of course the boy would be in favor of getting naked as a step towards healing! :) But, in seriousness, I think it did crack the walnut and that is a positive step that I'm apparently ready to take, and that feels good.

Gypsy - I think you're right. I don't feel heartsick or despondent now. But in those moments, I just felt sad and they let some of the sadness that I was still feeling out. I think it is part of the healing and the mourning of the good things about him and our relationship that I do miss (eventhough there's a lot that I don't miss, like him hurting me).

Lass - That's exactly right. The walnut cracked, but it wasn't smashed, so it will probably crack again in the future, little by little, but that's ok.

Ally Bean said...

Healing is tough. Sometimes I wonder if one can ever be completely whole again after a lossl such as the one you had. Maybe we're better people with a few holes in us? I dunno know for sure, but I think that sometimes.

Buttercup said...

Ally Bean - Today, I am feeling completely whole. However, clearly I still have sadness to work through. In a way, I guess that is kind of like a hole, and if so then yes I am a better person for it. It's made me understand my own strengths and it's given me a greater ability to empathize.

mist1 said...

I try not to cry in the company of men, unless I really, really want that pair of shoes.

Buttercup said...

Mist1 - Ha!