Breaking Up is Hard to Do (But It’s My Party and [Goddamnit] I’ll Cry If I Want To)
by Charlotte E. Wilde
“The Kübler-Ross model, a series of 5 emotional stages experienced when faced with impending death or death of someone” with addendum for extenuating circumstances (possibly wrought by too much Cixous & Simone de Beauvoir) goes as follows:
Denial sped by at the speed of a 5:30 January sunset. A true triumph of pessimistic proportions, this stage was but the briefest of semi-seconds—half an eye blink of the cat’s yawn-and-stretch beside you— sucked out of you much like the needy draw on an after-sex cigarette. The knowledge of noses cut off and faces-spited coming to their final fruition gave birth to its sickly offspring right on schedule (despite the typical unreliability of this train of martyrdom), and who doesn’t get at least an inkling of knee-slapping pleasure from being right? Stack those feelings in the pile-to-be-ebayed with rest of the garbage you’ll forget you own: check.
Anger sets in. The wax and wan of this handy little emotion is put to good use in the form of ignored pleas (hers) and bottles or cigarettes bought and paid for in pounds of flesh (yours): binges in the name of love or hate speeding down the road waving the not-so-white flag of indifference out of pure unadulterated spite. Not much besides the evident to be raised high about this one, except maybe your glass as you toast her demise.
What’s next? Bargain? Oh no. Not you. Masculine tradition— that self-admiring, self stimulating, self-congratulatory power parade— may allow itself certain pleasures to this regard but only in the secret dim of seal-breaking BRB’s when the glass planets align and $10 drafts fall at the feet of bartender’s crookedly laughed wiles, only then. This moment of weakness will, of course, remain unacknowledged by the rest of the organism for the sake it its pride and general ability to hold cock-in-hand and look itself in the eye for future mirror-side pleasure fests. Mountain ice is uncompromising to [wo]man and beast alike, so shine the fuck on, you tundra of emotional permafrost, you. You’ve got everybody fooled (except yourself).
Just as soon as you’re beginning to get a handle on things (a handle of Jack, specifically) depression slips in the window you forgot to close after a particularly vindictive fist shaking cigarette break. Ah yes! Not necessarily self-flagellation but certainly self-absorption that unfurls itself just enough to stare down the cocked-barrel (pun intended) of that all too well appreciated phallocentric pity-party: bar hopping, cat-calling, drink-buying, ass grinding etc. etc. etc.. The sneaky kind, the kind that hides its lolling head in the bottom of a rocks glass hoping that some pair of breasts or another will think it lost and take it home in order that it might forget in a brief interlude of groan inducing skin-on-skin that it too is only human. But alas, waking-up’s are the bane of every existence whether entwined in the arms of a Madonna or Medusa when you’re a wolf pack of one. The Name Game of mornings-after always wins the hand and as depression rises on weary legs to offer its chair to disgust we’re all thankful to finally unpack that baggage and move on (because seriously, it’s been a week since you got back, you can’t leave that duffel sitting there forever).
Next you find acceptance: finally, bliss. Yet, nonetheless a victory of a sole or soul over another’s fragile shell. Breaking “the codes that negate her”—”she who never hung her head in shame”— your pen makes short work long in a Derrida-worthy destruction of that with which you no longer empathize. And so you embrace yourself square on the lips, giddy with the recognition that miserable times were had by all, and by all accounts your times were the misery-ist, you poor pup.
And there we are, you’re through the cliché-less woods of grief that were perhaps not quite as grim as you let on as your fingers smacked keys like so many bubble-gum-popping tinyboppers that would inevitably commiserate with your plight online. But perhaps less self-evident is that in doing so, in recording your mess, you demand that she must write herself. To allow herself to be written by the male pen, that phallic instrument, which will bend her, ply her, create her in its own image— one she can recognize in neither water nor glass— is to abdicate her body to the lab of your hatred as much in her own mind as yours. Fortunately, your arrival at acceptance (after so short a moment of abandonment to the stages illuminated herein) almost entirely negates drawn out nights of whispers and agonies shared. Such a tidy process speaks to the inconstancy or impossibility of feelings that were perhaps never felt, or connections that “never connected much of anything at all” which will push towards one final step, if not for you at least for her:
The addendum of a sixth stage of grief, perhaps unique to the feminine order, in which all of these five converge and diverge into a self-actualizing realism, seems entirely appropriate to the circumstances, at least to this humble author’s mind.
The bereaved [woman] must retract the refracted pieces of her glinting in every glossy eyed, bourbon-slick drunken night. She must reclaim the scattered shards of memories made that have been tossed to the crowd in an admittedly desperate attempt at rolling back the proverbial ticker (heart or clock). She will strip and refurbish the mahogany finish you spoiled with spilled drinks and hot coffee cups and rise out of the ashes of this mere nod to a relationship like a phoenix. All fiery resolve and suitcases neatly [re]packed she will [re]align herself with the original goal: not one, but both eyes wide, shunning dreams in lieu of perpetually scanned horizons, well supplied for many sleepless nights alone. For in sleep one risks the invasion of those night-dwelling beasts who would claim another’s soul for their own… only to leave it crumpled on the floor by their desk, just another draft that didn’t make the cut.
She won’t be cast in the role of “other,” reduced to a line and a turn of phrase in the canon of your life. This book, this story, she’s going to be the one writing it, because this is a story about her.
“On ne naît pas femme: on le devient.” -SDB