Love, loss and other crazy-makers

Joey Garcia

I am going crazy trying to understand what went wrong in my relationship with my soul mate. During the first 15 years of our 25-year relationship, we were together in Utah. When I was offered a promotion and transfer to Sacramento, she assured me that we would survive. We visited eight times a year and exchanged emails twice daily. Then, on August 29, her chatty email about Labor Day weekend included this: “When I was in Yellowstone in July I made a connection with another man. He’s coming to stay with me next week. I hope that you’ll be okay and good luck!” I was stunned. She later explained that I was a great guy, but her feelings had evolved out of love and into fondness. She won’t respond to my emails. How can a person terminate a 25-year relationship with an email? Wouldn’t a normal person speak up about a change in feelings and try to salvage things? Is this the behavior of a person who despises their partner and wants to inflict pain? Why devastate me in this manner?

A breakup can feel like a mugging—violent and unexpected—and leave a person reeling for months afterward. When the pain is deepest, we act as if we have been robbed of our loved one. That’s when the crazy behavior kicks in: Excessive weeping and binge drinking while issuing demanding emails, placing pleading phone calls, and sending inappropriate text messages to the former partner. Oh, and cornering one friend after another with the story of our broken heart. In between all of this, our mind flutters from one question to the next, reviewing every email or visit, trying to shake out clues that explain the relationship’s end. The answers are frequently not what we expect.

You seem to accept that emotional distance developed in your long-distance relationship. The seed of your suffering is surprise at the finality of your partner’s decision to leave. She didn’t give you a chance to make amends and help get the relationship back on course. She left you to be with another man. It doesn’t matter how old we are, abandonment hurts. Let yourself grieve the loss.

The emotional distance that your partner felt provided her with the justification she needed to break up with you by email. Would a “normal” person handle a breakup differently? Well, she is a normal person, but her behavior seems abnormal to you, given your shared history. Either she underwent a transformation you were not aware of, or she is infatuated with her new man. Infatuation inspires a giddy self-centeredness. So, it’s not that she despises you and is trying hard to inflict pain, it’s just that she’s not thinking of you at all. It hurts to hear that, I know. But it’s not that you are easily forgotten, it’s that she is on a dopamine high. One last thing: You will get through this experience stronger and happier than you believed possible. Yes, it’s true. You will.

My parents found out that I slept with my boyfriend (we used protection). My father won’t look at me or talk to me. My mother calls me a whore every chance she gets. Please help.

Name-calling and the silent treatment are abusive. Your parents may not know how to handle their disappointment and anger, but they must learn. Is there a counselor or teacher at your school, or a relative you could confide in? You need a caring adult to intervene on your behalf. It’s also important to take responsibility. You didn’t “sleep” with your boyfriend, you had sex with him. Euphemisms make it too easy to avoid responsibility, like the need for gynecological appointments and other forms of self-care. You deserve better.

Meditation of the week
“Grow this space tall and deep, beyond the simpleness of corners, feed it our succulentness, fatten it up juicy, it will be merrier with more,” writes Laura Martin in her poem “My Big Space.” Martin performs Moetry (“music” plus “poetry”) with the Soft Offs on Saturday, December 21, at the Sacramento Poetry Center (1719 25th Street). The event starts at 4:30 p.m., and admission is free. What beautiful potential waits for realization in your space?

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