There is a danger in having nearly unfiltered internet service at work. Namely, it allows me to creep on Jack and then have a torrent of self-aware recognitions that lead to a steady stream of tears down my face on my hour-long drive home, culminating in pouring myself a martini even though I’d put the wine in the fridge to chill down a bit.

As all of us who are on Facebook know, Facebook is going to destroy everything. Like, for example, relationships. Because it lets one person look up another person’s goings-on without them necessarily knowing, to the extent that their settings allow. And when that throws up a roadblock, it allows us to see their friends, and then work backward.

It’s basically sanctioned psychosis.

And so I found myself on Facebook, looking at Jack’s page even though I have hidden him from my news feed so I’m not tortured by the rare but consistent posts referencing runs and marathons and Gwyneth. And he hadn’t had anything interesting to say since Thanksgiving when he posted a generic good wish. That was hours after he had texted me one on Wednesday (the day before the holiday, of course – because he does that – he acknowledges significant dates the day before, so as  not to give one the impression that he’s thinking of one on the actual significant date). I had ignored it – the first time he had communicated in two and a half months, and I was not in the least bit interested in engaging, because if there is to be communication between us, it had better be in an actual voice-to-voice or face-to-face manner. None of this cowardly electronic shit. Sack up, asshole.

So anyway.

He hadn’t had anything interesting to say, but apparently he’d attended a party last Saturday.

I clicked.

Gwyneth’s party.

There’s her address.

Holy f&*k. It’s not even a block away from a house I looked at.

That. Would. Have.


Aside from wondering whether she rents or owns, and, if she owns, whether that makes her better than me since she’s also eight years younger and I just bought my house…. aside from that, you know what this means.  It means I googled the public property records looking for evidence of whether she owns the house. (I told you. Internet = sanctioned psychosis.) It means that I (not really) narrowly averted living less than a block from the woman who had essentially stolen my man. (No. To whom my man, who was not really my man, had gone, of his own inexplicable volition.) It also means I know her address. It’s like two miles from me. Which means I could, theoretically, cruise by some late night/early morning and see if his car is there, thereby confirming the nature of their “undefined” relationship.

Or not. If his car wasn’t there.  Thereby perpetuating my hell.

Ugh… I am entirely too old for this shit.

If you haven’t been single since your early twenties, you are probably totally alarmed right now by the thoughts that have already been posted here. Because seemingly, people who marry by their mid-20s never think crazy shit like this. They never had to.

So lucky (provided they’re still happily or at least not adulterously married).

And so it was that I started thinking yet again about why this whole thing with Jack hurts so much. And so it was that I had those recognitions I mentioned earlier. That I still just don’t understand how something that had lasted ten years and been so meaningful could be so easily dismissed in his mind and his heart that he wouldn’t even try to maintain it when push came to shove. That it is not only deeply painful, but very insulting. That, in healthy terms, I should not care to be attached or involved or at all connected to someone who could care so little about something that had meant so much… but that there are reasons I do:

Because, after all, there were real reasons I was so attached, involved and connected for so long.

Because believing he loved me enough, even though he never said it, was better than anything else I’d ever had, because no one has ever said it.

Because I believe that something that was wonderful for a long time, but less than what I wanted, was better than nothing at all.

Because feeling heartbroken for him seems better than feeling nothing for anyone.

Because it feels like giving up on loving him will mean giving up on loving entirely.

At the risk of being dramatic (oh, like it’s not too late for that disclaimer): I’ve had my heart broken kind of a lot. And I’m not, you know, totally crazy and pathetic, all evidence to the contrary. I’m not a hideous hunchback who got hit in the face with a bag of hot nickels, and I don’t get irrationally hung up.  I’d like to believe I’m regular-crazy and pathetic, at worst, because I’ve seen a step above that, and wow. But when you’ve had your heart broken kind of a lot, and you don’t fit the profile of someone other people shake their heads sadly about with any regularity, you come to a place where you’re just not sure you can take it again. There seems to be a limit. And you’re pretty sure that one more time will kill you inside. So you don’t want to let go of this time. Even though it hurts like hell, even though you don’t want to feel like this, you don’t want to let go, because you suspect that it’s your last chance to feel anything at all.

And so it is.

I love Jack, and I still see so much reason to love him, even though he’s a selfish, cowardly, stupid ass. And I don’t know if there’s any way at this point to fix it, to make it better. I know the best of us, the most of us, is probably gone. We don’t even speak. He doesn’t even know I bought a house.

But I love him still, and I miss who we were, and I hate where we are now.

Obviously, I expect to hear from Maury Povich any minute.

Now on my bookshelf: Rules of Civility – Amor Towles

20 thoughts on “Heartbeaten

  1. dear cell, I wish I had the words to make it better…like all those platitudes one sees on the “inspirational” pages on Facebook, which much as I may mock them, have actually helped me remind myself of some strong, powerful, me-woman messages. I have been where you are, in fact, I was just over a year ago – and the pain is still there, but it will get better. Hard to believe, I know. I didn’t think I would love again – I didn’t think it was worth the price of the pain, because everybody hurts and everybody leaves – that was my mantra. But I did fall in love again. With myself first, and with an amazing other person next. Believe it or not, buying your house is a big step in this direction – at least it was for me. Just keep swimming. Hugs.

    • Thank you, Sea. Buying the house has felt empowering – five years ago I would have begrudgingly said I didn’t want to do it alone, but I’ve been fine with it except when my back was so painful I couldn’t do something. I appreciate your support.

  2. Big hug. That’s tough, and I’m really glad you don’t live down the street from her, and don’t have to have the possibility of seeing her constantly. Don’t beat yourself up over the urge to become a stalker. And I hope you’re feeling more positive soon 🙂

    • It’s such a stupid thing, because it’s really not about her at all. She’s just a manifestation of the real issues. But thanks – I do know that other people do the same crazy things I do. 🙂

  3. I’m so sorry for your ongoing pain about Jack. There aren’t any rules or timelines for grief – you just have to give yourself space to heal. Hope that happens soon for you.

  4. I am sorry that your heart has taken such a beating, SC. I don’t wish for you that he would suddenly come to his senses and realize what a precious gift your love would have been in his life, I think if he can’t see that by now, he doesn’t deserve to. I understand your feeling of grief over what has been and lost and what could have been – love is a big stake and ten years is a lot of time to invest.

    I would likely be tempted to cyber-stalk. As a matter of fact, I spent a bit of time lurlking and peeking into my ex-husband’s facebook page before his death recently (we’d been divorced for 35 years). I sometimes wish it wasn’t so easy.

    • No, he won’t realize, and i know that. I don’t even wish for that, myself. My sadness is for what was, not what could be. Isn’t it both reassuring and exhausting to know these kinds of behaviors happen for all of us, at all stages of our lives? I’m sorry about the passing of your ex-husband, by the way. I’m sure that brought with it a whole new round of strange feelings for you.

      • It did. I once loved him so much and if he had been as committed (and monogamous) as I had been, my life might have been so different. But things turn out as they should (I believe) and I’ve been happily married for 33 years to a really great guy.

      • I’m so glad your life turned out the way that makes you happy now, but sorry you had to go through what you did to get here. You are brave to give it another chance.

  5. Sorry you’re stuck in Suckville. And I mean that both in the sense of where your heart is, AND that you live within 2 miles of G. Is there any chance you can go into third-person mode and approach this like a scientist, thinking how it will inform/influence/fuel your writing? That’s been my (admittedly dysfunctional) coping technique when the immediate pain of a situation seems overwhelming.

    And I’d try to avoid the temptation of cyber-stalking (or casual drive-bys). The more you dwell on him, the less open you are to other experiences that can enrich your life in a way he cannot. You’re smart and funny and deserving of better… if you haven’t found someone who truly appreciates you, then you might just need to expand your circle, because the problem isn’t you.

    …and now I’ll stop offering advice and just mail you a kitten poster. Hang in there.

    • I AM stuck. And it pisses me off. Though Ali Velshi tells me it’s not a bad sign – ten years is a lot to let go of. So apparently I’m still in the normal range. Anyway, your very pragmatic counsel is pretty much what I’m trying to do. My homework assignment from AV yesterday was to spend the week doing two things: ending my belief that I belong on the Island of Misfit Toys (his metaphor, but totally fitting) and changing the image of me in a nightgown in front of a rabbit-eared television in my dotage. And yes, he suggests I need to find a way to cut the cord completely. See above for reasons I’m not quite there yet. But I’m working on it. So I shall not creep. I shall not. It was a moment of weakness brought on by PMS and I’m past it now. Thanks. 🙂

  6. I am reminded of the saying “let go or be dragged”. I know it probably seems pretty easy for me to say this, but by hanging on, you are allowing yourself (your heart) to be dragged unmercifully and banged and slammed relentlessly against reality.

  7. TSC, I know your pain! Hope it hasn’t been ten years full of pain 😦
    I do agree with pithypants’ advice! And there must be some personality “flaw” about hypersensitivity and fantasizing and obsessing that makes writers cling to impossible loves. I’ve been there at least three times in my life (maybe not for ten years, but for a loo…oong time). The upside of the grief is that you have lots of material, and you can do whatever you want to with “the jerk” when your grief fuels the fiction and fantasy of a really good story in a well written novel. And I’m here to tell you, you ARE a really good writer. So go for it!
    One of my impossible love stories was a semi-finalist in a national novella contest recently The jerk (an academic) was transmogrified into an auto mechanic in the story.

    • It’s been ten years of feeling good because I could give love, and of loving someone who makes me a better person, even though his issues keep him from being able to fully love me. And I know intellectually that he’s the one with the bigger problem., But yes, you’re probably right about the writer thing. Thank you so much for the compliment about my writing. I appreciate that.

      And way to stick it to the jerk. 😉 I’m guessing he would not have appreciated the transmogrification.

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