Monday, November 10, 2014

heartache possesses a faint scent of badger

The way my father showed his love was to ask you to go for a walk with him. The walks I remember were invariably in the autumn, where the sunset burned orange into the Chiltern horizon, and there was a faint scent of badger. He would hold his stick over strings of barbed wire so you could climb over it, and in extreme cases, he'd cover the wire with his oil-skin jacket. It was always cold but his hands were warm. He'd talk about hazelnuts and blackberries and we'd listen to pheasants, and I'd keep quiet and revel in his close proximity. I know this isn't what other people experienced. But I learned, too, that love is transformative, and if you keep loving, one day, you will feel loved, and thus, at the age of about 32, when I'd built my own business, and was making more money than my husband, and had seemed to embody the entrepreneurial spirit, my father said once in a booming voice across the dining room table, for the first time in my life "let her speak. I want to know what SHE thinks." This was an incredible victory in a house where women were seen and not heard.

And so, in the latest chapter of my Douglas Sirkian life adventure (the one where everything is absolutely perfect except the love life which is wildly, comically uneven -- "Oh we're going to be off again/on again till we're 95" I told my mother on Saturday) I've discovered that actually loving someone doesn't necessarily make them love you back, and even if you think they do, and you think they're cute and awkward and Aspergers-y and can't say it, and so you'll just pretend that they do, and soldier on in the hope that it will transform, it's actually not the case. And today I found it out for certain.

Not much fun. Not a great way to end a pretty happy hard-working weekend. Not a great way to look forward to Thanksgiving or Christmas. In fact, somewhat shitty. I was at an interview at NPR when I found out this news, and had to tell the engineer that I had allergies because I was sniffing so much. When the choice is to burst into tears or to focus on what's going on around you, an interesting NPR interview wins every time (also the hope that Mandalit Del Barco or Ofevia Quist-Arcton might appear at any minute). Even more shitty, because I was in the process of planning his birthday party, and feeling childishly giddy at the prospect, as you do, when it's new love (or not, as the case may be). Did I feel like a ninny!

"That's a game-changer" said my ex-husband (the only one I can bear to bore any more with this stuff). "You are able to put up with a lot of shit, I know that about you, and you can forgive almost anything, but if he doesn't love you, then why bother?" Why bother indeed. I think there is a shred of self-respect left, enough to know when I've been beat. And beat me, this did.  No faint scent of badger. No sounds of pheasants roosting. Just the sad acknowledgement that trying hard doesn't always get you what you want (and the dawning, rather lovely, feeling of capitulation in the knowledge that you do, indeed, deserve to be loved back, and to have someone who is crazy/nuts for you and can't wait to hear your voice and laugh with you).

Most people learn this stuff in their twenties. I am a late bloomer, apparently.

Tonight, I've seen a great movie, and had a bowl of roasted tomato soup. Tomorrow, I will rise at 6 to ride my horse, and walk in the early morning fog with my dogs, and breathe some fresh air into my lungs and remind myself that I have done it before and I can do it again: yes, there's love if you want it (thank you, The Verve) but make sure you're looking in the right places.

Good night, lovely ones.

Much love,

Polyanna xoxo


Anonymous said...

Oh my dear blogger friend, this is your bottom, thanks God. It has to come with relationships such as these. We have to have hope though, don't beat yourself up about that. We need it to survive. I had a relationship like this once, and I'm not going to lie, it was not easy to recover from but I just kept telling myself if he did not want the smartest, brightest, cleverest girl in the room then that was his business and not mine. My favorite quote on this, such as it is, is "The hardest thing about realizing you don't love me, is that you spent so much time pretending that you did."

He is a pretender, he is not right for you and you apparently are not right for him. It's painful and horrible but it will teach you to go where the love is. I tell this to my son all the time and I must remind myself when I am tapdancing for someone's love that perhaps they don't love tapdancing. xxx

Anonymous said...

Please excluse the anonymity, but I've been reading your blog for a while. Although our stories are different, I can relate to so much of what you've written about this relationship. It does come down to self-respect. For me, the ah ha moment was when I said out loud to myself, I don't want to be forgotten, I want to matter. Whenever I feel sadness at the thought of not ever seeing him, I remember that feeling forgotten, feeling that I didn't matter was much, much worse. Take the long walks. Be with the furry kids. Time does heal if you choose that path.

Anonymous said...

All I can think of is "What an idiot!" he is. Not that it matters. You will shift gears, get immersed in your real life & eventually you'll smell badgers again.

Anonymous said...

You have written about the ups and downs of this romance, but this time it's different (in my opinion, just a reader and therefore outside observer). There is an underlying strength in this post and even a hint of humor. Most of all, you just sound strong. Lovely. Wish you the best, wherever it goes, or doesn't, from here.


Miss Whistle said...

Gosh I wish all you lovely anonymous people had names. I feel as if you're my backbone right now. Thank you for all these great comments.

@anonymous1 such wonderful, wonderful advice, and that quote "The hardest thing about realizing you don't love me, is that you spent so much time pretending that you did."kinda gets me off the hook for being a ninny, so I appreciate it enormously. Thank you.

@anonymous2 you're so right -- time, long walks, furry kids. Aren't we lucky to have such restorative resources? Thank you.

@anonymous3 ;-) badgers smell lovely! xo

@anonymous4 Dear Mary, I think you're right. It's different this time. Somehow it's all I had to know. It's very clear: I don't love you. Very clear, and now much easier to proceed. Thank you.

Much love,

Miss W xoxo

Anonymous said...

i wonder why your husband left you?

Anonymous said...

Love you B and love your writing - perhaps that's the silver lining, Pollyanna?

Anonymous said...

Dear talented, warm woman.
I am sending you a big hug from the slightly damp UK and wish you all the best for your new future.
It starts NOW!
Marie x

Anonymous said...

I've followed the course of this relationship for almost a year through your beautiful blog. I feel so much for you and what you're going through.

I do wonder though if when you think back on this after the dust has settled if you will be sure you handled him right. A few years ago my sister in law met a wonderful man she could tell was commitment phobic. She had always been smart about men and played it very cool and casual with him,though she knew from the get go that he was the one for her. She made sure she was around and available in an easy way but put no pressure on and eventually he fell head over heels for her and now they are married. Not everyone can play it like that of course and you also have to be true to yourself.

Anyway I wish you the best. As Mary says you sound strong.x

Miss Whistle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miss Whistle said...

@anonymous6 & anonymous7 thank you and thank you xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that you and this man will end up together after all.