The Breakup

Musings

I knew leaving Wyoming would feel like a very bad breakup, with me agonizing over what I could have done while looking back the whole way. What I didn’t know was that while I was breaking up with Wyoming, my cowboy would break up with me.

He opted to do it via email three days before I was due to leave Wyoming. Leaving Wyoming, in fact was about him in part and being closer to him and a relationship that had felt like it was moving steadily forward in love and commitment. Ironically, I was wrong. When I got the email upon arriving to my morning shift at work three days ago, I had already had a pit of doom in my stomach, almost sensing it coming for some reason.

While I won’t go into the particulars because they are all cliché and unimportant and along the lines of it’s not you it’s me, I did nonetheless have a smallish breakdown. The restaurant felt like it had suddenly tipped on its axis and so I stumbled into the bathroom and held onto the door. And all my thoughts went in a rapid-fire succession like this: you’re an idiot/he would break up with you when you are moving back across country to be closer to him/you’re turning 30 soon and this is a really nice cherry topper on the anxiety sundae that is your life/now you’re not just a loser ex-waitress and leaving Wyoming and a wanna-be-writer, you will also be bunking with your parents again (and your cats)/ did I mention you’re an absolute fuck-up loser?

I could feel tears and I saw the mascara instantly blackening my under-eye. I wiped them away and feeling very much near nausea, went to locate my boss and tell her something, anything, but that I just had to go. I couldn’t find her and I felt dangerously close to high-hysteria, so I found her assistant, told her I would be right back and ran home.

Upon rousing Kia, by whipping open her bedroom door and whispering, “he just broke up with me in an email,” I began to sob.

And I cried for the next two days straight.

I couldn’t write about it at first—technically I could have but I fear it would have been nothing but F-bombs and I know some of my readers don’t cotton to that (hi mom)—because I was so deranged with agony. Also I was angry. Really, really angry.

I wanted to be angry at the cowboy for the coldness I felt in being emailed that our relationship was over, but instead my anger was mostly directed at God. Just a few months prior I had sat down on the bathroom floor and cried—exasperated with my experience with men—petitioning God to only send me serious suitors from here on out. Ones who weren’t half-wits or assholes, or defamatory to God, or who liked ESPN more than they liked me. I pleaded with Him to simply not waste my time, because I was tired of the let-down.

And then voila! In walked the cowboy. As if hand-delivered by the Lord himself. A God-loving, horse owning, uninterested in sports watching, riot of a man who also seemed taken with me in the worst way. But I didn’t want to believe it, you see? I almost refused to believe it. He was too handsome. He was too funny. He knew how to build things with his hands and he sent me love letters and he made me feel cherished and oh so beautiful. And he was insistent. I was nervous that he wasn’t real and that I would have my heart pulverized again and I voiced as much. I said I was scared. I had been burned before. I told him I didn’t want to believe that something so good could happen to me.

But when he invariably convinced me anyway, convinced me that he wouldn’t be cavalier with my heart, that I was unlike any girl before, that I was worth loving and would continue to be worth loving, I let down my guard and let him in because he seemed steadfast and true. I went full hog into the perilous waters of love.

When he sent me a Christmas card that said all the beautiful things that I had ever wanted said to me, things that in only two months time, I had never heard in a year and a half with my ex, I cried on the couch and told my sisters I couldn’t believe I’d found the kind of love I had always looked for and didn’t think I deserved.

So when three days before my move, he told me he’d let me down, and though I was perfect and he loved me, he couldn’t do it, he just couldn’t, I naturally put all the blame on God. You did this God, I wanted to snarl and shake my fist (except I would never shake my fist at God—that seems disrespectful even in worst-case scenarios). I was hot with anger and rage, where normally the first thing I do during a break-up is hunker down with God, like I’m British and blue and he’s my hot cup of tea.

It was different this time. My anger was there and beside it was guilt. I couldn’t be angry at God, though I wanted to because it was all His fault for getting me in this mess in the first place. But anger directed at God felt foreign to me and unacceptable and so I settled on disgruntled. I told God I was disgruntled with Him. But all day the anger persisted anyway, hot and pulsing beneath the surface, refusing to leave me. Until finally I confessed to my other sister over the phone that I felt so angry at God for letting this happen when there was no point. I had already had ample heartbreaks and why did I need another especially when all felt so right? I pointed out in an epiphany that maybe if I could be mad from time to time at my brothers and sisters and mom and dad and even my ex-cowboy, that perhaps I was allowed a little anger at God.

She told me it was okay to be angry at God.

And so I stopped saying disgruntled and got mad. I am so angry with you, God! I said over and over and over again. I felt like a petulant child kicking rocks when their parents said to come in for dinner and they wanted to still play. I knew God was being patient with me because He knows my heart, and He knew full well I’d come around but if I needed to be mad at Him he could take it.

In the midst of my anger and crying I attempted to do that whole pick myself up by the bootstraps bit, but unfortunately I was utterly consumed with my anger and fresh rounds of tears and that took up all of my mental space. Also the tears were like the flu. Purge and feel better. Get nauseated with the sadness and compulsion to sob again while feeling surprised because I thought I’d got it all out on the last purge and so I’d purge again. And again. And again.

My darling sister Kia tried to console me on the first day by taking me for pizza and a movie to distract from my pitiful state. I had no appetite and could barely choke down bites. Then she took me to see Joy, which seems un-aptly named for a post-breakup flick, but despite the heroine’s pluck and overall success the film did depress me a great deal anyway. Holding back tears for two hours in public however, led to my immediately exiting the movie and crying again in the parking lot.

My sisters even had the decency to cry with and for me. When I had first burst into Kia’s room to tell her the news, she saw my shoulders hunched and my face dipping down between my knees for breath, because I was crying like a just-gunned-down banshee, she too began to bawl and later told me that during my shift (the one she offered to cover so I could stay home and be a psychotic sad sack) she had to take repeated bathroom breaks to cry herself. Kirst confessed that she sobbed while doing the dishes later that morning and tried to rationalize things with God, telling Him I didn’t need this.

I betchya don’t have sisters that feel your hurts as keenly as you do. Or if you are broken up with feel as if they too have been broken up with. And if you do have those kind sisters, consider yourself one lucky fool, because that my dears, is love of the finest quality and caliber. I may not have won the man lottery, but I definitely won the sister lottery.

But here’s the thing. The two days post-breakup came and went and while I cried because of the break-up and then cried for Wyoming and the thought of leaving her and cried because I assumed I was a fuck-wit and cried also because I assumed I was a fuck-wit who happened to be unlovable, I came back to myself and came back to God.

I hadn’t been able to see reason or have understanding for the why’s of heartbreak or why some people stay in your life and why some people leave, but because I am prone to happiness and not despair and prone to love for God and not anger, I came to this conclusion while sniveling my final little snivels the other night in bed:

I am lucky.

Yup. I said it.

If knowing what I know now, if I could ask God to have gone back and intervened and given the cowboy’s table to someone else or prevented me from knowing him, I wouldn’t do it. I would start over and do it all again.

And not that bullshit that it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. I hate that phrase, because the losing really reeks, folks. I mean, it is truly rank. No. It’s that with the cowboy I felt more love in three months’ time and experienced more of the kind of things I had searched for in every other relationship and had never found. And if I got three months with a man who made me laugh so hard I cried, and took me flying and wrote me love letters and sent me heart-shaped things, and made me feel more beautiful than all of the Kardashian girls combined, well then by golly it’s a start.

And my mom, God love her, said the best thing. She said, “but Cassandra, your boyfriends are getting better each time! Like significantly better. Your next one is going to be AMAZING!”

I like her logic, though I gotta say I want to go back to simply dating the mountains and my cats. Eh, you’ll have that.

What Could be Better?

Musings

Lately I have been having a lot of what could be betters? It’s funny, because I am in the throes of the biggest what could be worse—heartbreak that is—but, despite the agony of a disintegrating heart, I can’t help finding that things have been more than alright.

Like the smell of pine trees and pine needles dusting a forest floor. Oh mercy. What could be better? Besides the fact that the forest might be filled with some of the most intoxicating scents to ever fill my senses, it always reminds me of our family camp which happens to be my favorite place in all the land.

Then there are my freckles. Have I spoke before now about how fondly I gaze at my freckles? If I haven’t, I’ve been remiss. My freckles bring me no small measure of delight. I like them at all times of year, but in the summer when they crop up by the dozens on my face and arms and I can make constellations with them, well, what could be better?

What about Cat Power’s song, I Found a Reason. Gosh, I forgot about that song. It came on shuffle on my sister’s ipod one morning while I was cooking a particularly Gordon Ramsay-esque breakfast and I was stopped immediately. I had to find the time to sway. What could be better? To let my stinkin’ faulty smoke detector go off if it had to, but I had to get lost in that song, in that moment. I am not one to forget in the power of music, but sometimes, something deliciously unexpected catches me off guard, like this song, and why oh why do anything but honor it?

Or how ’bout the Northern sky? Have you ever seen anything like it? It fills the whole world I am living in with its vastness: its blues, its pinks and purples, whites and greys. And that’s not even speaking of the clouds. Oh the clouds—they touch every part of the horizon, seeming to touch land and sea and everywhere in between. I was on the beach today, sitting out on a rock island a small distance out from shore, having waded through Superior’s icy waters to get there, and for so many moments I couldn’t do anything else but gaze at the sky in wonder. I felt like I was on vacation at some fancy resort, but no, this was my backyard. What could ever be better than a Northern Sky?

Lake Superior perhaps? My favorite sea. Truly she is. I was informed today that Lake Superior is considered too large to even be considered a lake, so in fact, she is an inland sea. The Ojibwe called the lake gichigami, meaning “a great sea.” With my sea-loving heart, what could be better than 3-quadrillion gallons of water at my beck and call? In the morning as I pedal into work I see her. Or in the evening on my nightly walk, waves a-blowing to shore. What could be wrong in life with Superior out my window? Even her name has bragging rights.

What could be better than having four of my six sisters living in the same town as me? Two of which live in the same apartment as me, one who spends the night most nights anyway, while the other bikes over after work. How agog am I over having my sisters near me? Well, they fill my soul with equal parts joy, comfort, hilarity and fulfillment that it can’t help but heave happy sighs of contentment.

And then, then. There is my main man. My one and only. God. What could ever be better? He is the biggest what could be better and the best of course, hence why I saved Him for last. I wouldn’t have any of my what could be betters without Him. I wouldn’t have Cat Power or extra tall pines or waves or pink skies or freckles or six sisters. So with gratitude for things of beauty and delight saturating my heart that needs it, I again say, what could be better than God? From whom all blessings flow.

So, sure, the breakup is the worst what could be worse (at least as far as my heart can tell). But if I didn’t have God, I wouldn’t be having all these what could be betters to get me through. And for that I am a very lucky girl. Very lucky indeed.

I Can’t Find the Funny

Musings

I wrapped my arms around DC hugging—no clutching—him goodbye a little over a week ago. It feels like an eternity has passed and yet time has gone so slow it’s agonizing in every way. I have never despised time so very much.

I also despise everything else. But only in increments. Horrible increments of hatred for messes that seem uncleanable or a life that feels unfixable, and everything in between. The view in front of me seems void of all color and everything around me feels loud and frustrating.

My sisters friend was over the other day when I was in one of these moods, (which don’t last more than a few minutes or a few hours—13 at most) these awful soul-sucking moods, and the saccharine sweetness of her voice felt like nails on a chalkboard. Her inane chatter which of course was conducive to life, felt to me conducive to death. I wanted it to stop, to go away. I couldn’t believe anyone could possibly be talking about normal things when I was in the throes of break-up anarchy, which was swiftly taking me down to a very bleak place.

How were people talking about camping and jobs and houses and life when every molecule in my body reflected what my heart was feeling, which was debilitating pain and mind-altering sadness?

I ran into an old friend in my favorite coffee shop in town and she asked if I was here to stay. I said yes. She asked if that meant my boyfriend and I were still together. I said, no. She said, oh okay.

No period.
Oh okay period.

That is what my relationship had been reduced to and to say it felt all wrong would be all wrong. There aren’t words to sum up how that made me feel. No period. Oh okay period.

Just like that, no. Oh okay.

No.
It’s not okay.
It’s not okay.
It’s not okay.

I have refused for days to write about my break-up (of course I have to write, I have to write through the pain and write myself back to happy) because it felt too raw, it felt like I wanted no one inside my hurt. I wanted to hold it tight and fast within myself, for to let it out would be my demise. It would mean accepting. And though I initiated this split, at the time thinking it wouldn’t really happen, that we would realize and fight harder than ever for our love, now I couldn’t remember at all what I was thinking or why I thought this horrible thing was a good idea. It was the worst idea, I’d ever had. For now, all I could remember was the love. All the love and how good it felt. And why did it seem as though the love had tripled in force which in turn tripled my agony at its sudden absence.

And for days I tried to make my break-up funny for I didn’t recognize all the sadness and rage staging a hostile revolution in my body. I wept with it. Where is this all coming from? This isn’t who I am. I am happy. I am full of optimism and cheer and wit. Where is my wit? Where did she run off to? I can make the worst of the worst funny, but somehow I couldn’t find even one fiber of funny in this situation. I couldn’t find it and I found this to be one of the worst offenses of all.

How deplorably sad was I that I couldn’t Mindy Kaling it up and make my break-up relatable and silly? Nora Ephron made break-ups snappy in my favorite film of all time When Harry Met Sally.

Harry: Right. So I go to the door, and there were moving men there. Now I start to get suspicious. I say, “Helen when did you call these movers?”, and she doesn’t say anything. So I asked the movers, “When did this woman book you for this gig?”. And they’re just standing there. Three huge guys, one of them was wearing a T-shirt that says, “Don’t fuck with Mr. Zero.” So I said, “Helen, when did you make this arrangement?”. She says, “A week ago.” I said, “You’ve known for a week and you didn’t tell me?”. And she says, “I didn’t want to ruin your birthday.”
Jess: You’re saying Mr. Zero knew you were getting a divorce a week before you did?
Harry: Mr. Zero knew.

It’s still sad of course, but Billy Crystal doing the wave while relaying his divorce to his best friend at a football game softens the blow somehow. Why couldn’t I soften the blow? Where the fuck was the funny hiding and why the fuck couldn’t I find it?

As I screeched and sobbed that it wasn’t funny, my sisters wisely pointed out to me that if Mindy Kaling and Nora Ephron made break-ups and divorce somehow comical, they did it when they had time away from the situation. They guaranteed me that in the throes of painful heartache, surely my writing idols didn’t make break-ups funny and neither should I. At least right now. I have my fingers crossed that soon, sometime soon I could turn a witty phrase about my withering heart, but alas right now, I do mostly want to howl like a wounded animal and erase myself.

I want a giant eraser to start at the bottom—my feet, scribbling them out, working my way up to my legs, erase, erase, then my midsection, around to my arms, my chest, erasing particularly vigorously when I got to my heart—erase that shit and then my mind, erase it all, the memories, the love, myself, so I could no longer feel it.

That’s what I want to do.

But because I am a human I have to feel it all. I can’t Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind myself, I can’t give myself a lobotomy and I most certainly can’t erase myself. For as much as I want all those things in this moment, it’s simply because the hurt is doing all the ruling. It’s manning the systems from the inside and the system is short-circuiting from how shockingly bad my heart can make the rest of me feel.

But here’s the up-side. There is one and despite my sadness, agony, rage and hatred for colors and noise I do know there is an upside. Once the hurt heals as hurt often does, I would probably regret wanting to erase any of my love for DC, erase my existence or my large heart that does still very much believe in love and goodness and cheer and possibility.

So no. It’s not okay. I am not okay. And my break-up isn’t funny. It’s fucking sad as sad ever was. But it won’t be like this for long. No, it sure won’t be like this for long.