The Labours of Love Left




“I hate Shelby Lynn”, said NF when I asked what was wrong.

“And it’s all your fault for introducing me to her Dusty Springfield album” , he continued with an acid tone of voice that’s typically brought about by drinking to dull the senses. No pert black cherry and rose plum infused red wine here, but the better half of a bottle of cheap vodka. 

I wasn’t sure how to answer, and cowardly changed the subject back to Dusty-Shelby.

“Because I can’t stop listening to her [Shelby] , and every time I do, I think of her [not Shelby], and I get angry, and I think about everything she did to me. Then I can’t stop thinking of her and I hate her even more, when all I want to do is forget [her]”

And this is what happened. 

She left our house on December 5th after 8 years together, but really, she’d been in the process of leaving me over the last 18 months. There were three distinct periods in our history – when we were together, and we were sure that we would be together forever. Then in that year and a half, when she was making her mind up, and I didn’t know what was happening, but sensed something was wrong. Actually, I more than sensed, I knew something was wrong, but thought it would pass. During this time, I was anxious around her, I wanted to keep her happy, but she was drifting away, then my faith in her failed, and I was deranged when she was around, I was deranged when she wasn’t. The third act in our fading history is now, after she left me for someone else.

She did more than betray me, she made me hate her, and all the things we did together, all the memories I have of the 8 years we had. I was stunned when I found out; you go into autopilot when this happens – nothing changed, I continued working, doing the laundry, eating even sleeping for the first few weeks. Then one evening, I was walking home after work and cried helplessly until I reached home and that’s the night I smashed the champagne flutes from our wedding and threw the shards of glass out, being very careful not to cut myself because I didn’t want any stupid metaphors of breaking glass, hearts and blood to haunt me.

Then the tears were replaced by a sense of rage at her, and outrage at what she’d done. I was also angry at how I was reacting, that I couldn’t switch off my feelings for her, that not only had she betrayed me, but my body and mind were also betraying me by remembering her. In the months that followed, I was coldly polite to her, but kept contact to a minimum. She wanted to be friends, I said sure, but resolved to be nothing more than an acquaintance. She’d get no help from me ever. She could burn in hell and I wouldn’t light a candle at the church to relieve her suffering. She could die, and I would be indifferent. Anything she’d left behind or given me, I sold, gave away or threw out. All the messages she’d ever sent me were deleted, all the letters she’d written me were burnt one night – without reading them – didn’t need to, I still remember what she’d written and when. I didn’t wish her well, at the same time I hope nothing bad would happen to her. Contradictory, maybe but it makes sense to me. In a way, I’m more angry that someone could have this effect on me than what she actually did.

Today I avoid her and try not to think about what happened – I’ve stopped thinking about her . The next step is for me to stop the anger that replaced the sadness and regret that went with her letters and messages. And I know the anger will eventually go and be replaced, I hope, with indifference. I don’t want to salvage any remnants of love for her, any friendship, any regrets or moments of happiness. It was all chimera, and I was the object of a spell that was broken by human frailty – mine. I have nothing at present, and have no capacity to love anyone or anything. 

My friends think I handled this breakup well, because they don’t see behind my façade, but mostly because they don’t want to deal with me, nor do I want anybody to make me feel better. I want to wallow in this sense of despair and anger for a little while yet. I’m not done with cauterizing the love I once had for her. I want to suffocate every glowing ember with a blanket of cynicism. 

I love you. Subject. Verb. Object. Direct, clinical, detached.
Je t’aime. Subject. Object. Verb. Better. The two whom the verb connects are come one after another.
Ti amo. Even better, the object of the love comes first, the subject and the verb are bundled into one.

Such easy words to say, but you shouldn’t use them overly because once said, once acknowledged, you are completely vulnerable, your feelings are open to being soiled, your very nature is invitation to perversion. So Hungry, the one friend who just listened and didn’t offer me any platitudes, be careful how you use this phrase, the arrows of cupid are barbed and hurt when torn from your flesh.

I’m deleting Shelby Lynn (sorry, Shelby) from my player.