I had not remembered this essay, and was both glad and surprised to find it. Glad, because rereading it once again dipped me into the rich well of memory, this time to swirl in the seemingly endless eddies of female emotional processing. And surprised, because you’d think I’d remember this kind of essay, so important was the difficult experience it documented. On the other hand, one could say that my entire life has been one of letting go of attachments, over and over again, no matter how difficult, or how prolonged the struggle.
I have changed the names of the principals here, to protect their privacy.
FROM VENUSIAN GRIEF TO NEPTUNIAN JOY:
I Stretch Wide, through Ambivalence
By Ann Kreilkamp
Six months ago, my partner Zack and I broke off our tumultuous, year-long relationship; six months have passed since we “crashed and burned.” In the end, he manifested the only kind of ending he had ever known, “crash and burn.”
I ask myself: Is it time to tell this story, when the experience still feels so fresh and new? Have I truly worked my way through the ancient pain that follows devastating loss? Indeed, can I convey the reality of what feels like a miracle?
Zack characterized his prior relationships as sudden collapses. At 43 he finally gave up; almost a dozen years slid by before he dared engage with me. And, despite the essentially volatile nature of our union, I told him that no matter what happened I would refuse to let us crash and burn. I felt committed for the duration of our cycle, no matter how difficult or what its length — whether four minutes, four years, or four lifetimes.
I imagine he thought that intention poetic, or romantic, but I meant exactly what I said. As I sometimes reminded him, “I commit myself not to the person, but to the process between us. And with each relationship I discover how long our cycle extends only as we move through it.”
Thus, for me, “trust in the process” is essential — the entire cycle — beginning, middle and end. In my view, we old ‘60s revolutionaries are very good at starting things, but miserable at ending them. Rather than closing our experiences together with grace and beauty, we cut and run, not wanting to face and embrace pain. Our histories ooze the still-bleeding wounds of partnerships whose agonized endings we obsessively justify to ourselves, and/or still feel guilty for, and/or contemptuously dismiss.
My first marriage broke up in this manner, and did not begin to heal for over 20 years. Our hearts had frozen in denial, yet we secretly seethed with mutual hatred and recrimination; this meant that neither of us could fully open to subsequent relationships. Now in my crone years I intend to transform this tendency in myself so that I may consciously walk the path of Love.
I doubt Zack understood my commitment to not accept the finality of our “crash and burn.” Perhaps he understands now, six months past our ignominious parting.
Our drama climaxed on May 18, 2005 near Homer, Alaska . . .
For the entire essay, see: