My mother always says that if women remembered the pain of childbirth, the human race would have died out thousands of years ago. Magically, mysteriously women forget and repeatedly embark on the most painful bodily experience over and over and over again.
This is sort of how I imagine breakups. There is an initial excruciating pain; one in which we swear to never ever let someone in again. And then some time later– in the distant or the not so distant future– we do. We allow ourselves to love and be loved again.
Of course in the moments right after a relationship comes to its untimely end, we find it incredibly difficult to imagine repeating such a process. Or at least I do. I stop imagining a world with a brownstone, stoop, child, and pancake-making hubbie, and I start perusing the animal shelter websites. I start to accept a future in which it’s me against the universe, and I try to make peace with that rather bleak reality.
I tell myself, ‘Look at Sonia Sotomayor or Elena Kagan! They are single and rocking only the most impressive bench in the country.‘ They are strong, independent thinkers undefined by the absence of a male or female companion in their lives. And years from now, when history professors compose their biographies, there will be no pages wasted on the success or failure of the marriages that never were.
But then I think I am not a US Supreme Court Justice, and there will likely be no biography written about me. And even if there were, would it be such a big deal if a few pages were devoted to the person who wooed and cooed me?
Kubler-Ross thinks there are five stage of loss and grief, and maybe invariably some people will pass through all of them, but for most of us one or two stages will be most relevant. I naturally gravitate towards stage two: anger. I despise my current situation and swear off the possibility of ever encountering this stage again (see every single paragraph above).
Eventually, though, I work through it. I create a playlist called “Picking Up The Pieces,” and I begin to reassemble the broken chards of my failed relationship. I end the playlist with a little Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive,” and I listen to it on repeat. Not because I believe the words today or even tomorrow, but because someday– in the distant or not so distant future– I may. And like a mother giving birth to her second child, I may allow someone else in.
[Spotify playlist here]