History has shown that hard liquor is a bad choice for me, but I didn’t care. I was heartbroken. That’s hard for me to say even now: heartbroken.
It seems like such a pathetic admission. It casts me in a weak light. Me, who has spent most of my life trying to prove my hide’s thicker than a defendant on Judge Judy.
But I was. I was pathetic, I was weak. I was heartbroken. It’s the nature of the dark underbelly of love. And oh, God, I loved him. Crazy love. The kind the burns in your stomach when you think about him. The kind that will make you say anything, do anything to be with him. The highs were epic. And the lows – the fights – they were pretty epic, too.
The lows caught up with us. There was no shortage of them. Being the fighter that I am, I was ready to fight for us some more, but you need two people to fight to make a relationship work, and at the end, I was heartbroken, in the ring alone.
I didn’t end up shit-faced at the movies alone. My Mom, displaying remarkable love and restraint, drove me to the bar and then to theatre. She even tried to suggest another movie.
“Maybe not something so sad.”
“I can handle it.”
“But isn’t the guy in it British? Just like…you know WHO?” (And she spelled WHO.)
“Gerry is Irish in the movie. Scottish in real life. WHO was English.”
“I’m just not sure this is a good idea.”
“I said I can handle it.”
I couldn’t handle it.
You know how when children really hurt themselves, there is that long silent wail before any sound actually comes out? That was how the first wave of tears arrived. I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe. I cried so hard I got a nose-bleed. The dehydrating effects of the gin didn’t help that, I’m sure, but it was an intense experience nevertheless.
Now, to be fair, I challenge anyone to watch P.S. I Love You and not cry. I’ve seen lumberjacks of men weep for Holly Kennedy’s grief. But for me, it was different. I was not weeping for her loss. I was weeping for mine. Through my boozy haze, I realized that someone I loved had died. Of course, my ex was out there, living and breathing and probably throwing back a few dozen celebration pints for getting rid of me, but the person I thought he was – the person who would never give up on me – he was dead. Just like Holly’s Gerry. And OK, my Mom was right. The accent did hit a sore spot.
God, I missed him.
Today, almost a decade later, married to a veritable saint of a man, I still miss him. Not the real guy – the guy I’m still in contact with who will drop me a line when he’s between girlfriends – but the person I convinced myself he was. Maybe that’s what that volatile, crazy love is: it’s an imposition of our own desires onto another. It’s not the same kind of love I have for my husband, which is constant and deep and exists because I know and accept him for who he really is (as much as anyone can ever truly know anyone else) – and that WHO guy I dated, well, I don’t think I really knew the first thing about him. But I loved who I needed him to be, and that was enough.
Read My 5 Favorite Places to Cry in Public next.