column has been a long time in planning, if that's what
you can call a topic that weighs on a writer's mind for
more than six months. It's not as if I haven't attempted
to write these words before. In fact there are four columns
on my hard drive that have yet to see the light of publication.
Each of them is the result of my struggle to understand,
to accept, or to resolve my hurt at the ending of my relationship
you scan the essays of the last five months you'll see
hints of our struggle. On Christmas Eve I read a card
from Michael's new boy friend that wished for many more
Christmases together. I knew that this guy was more than
a trick. I felt there was something going on and said
so to my lover of six and a half years.
not as if I didn't know they were seeing each other. We
did have, after all, an open relationship. I had long
encouraged him to make new friends and to expand his social
circle. I had met Steve and had even been to dinner at
something struck a chord deep within and in the ensuing
months the heartbreak of a breakup clawed at me with greater
acuity. By the end of January Michael admitted he and
Steve were in love. Our discussion of the relationship
became more and more difficult and more and more often
I would take the train to his home for dinner only to
return to Chicago that same night, feeling ever more lonely
was, and I'm sure still is, a mutual pain. I guess the
only thing I can say is to do as I say, not as I did.
looking back at our time as lovers, I see that we, or
I, took much for granted. In the end our differences were
starkly clear. To me, Michael was my husband. To him,
I was his best friend.
told me he never wanted a lover and did, indeed, not like
the word. To me it meant security and comfort, someone
with whom I could grow old, a partner and an equal. He
always treated me like a lover and so I assumed that he
called him such often enough, both to his face and in
list why we broke up would take a book. Simply put, in
the end, he found greater comfort in the arms of another.
know, I've written that it's better to have loved and
lost than never to have loved at all. Tonight, and for
many nights in the past months, I've felt that may not
be right. I have learned why so many of my friends prefer
the single life rather than risk the divorce that comes
from love gone awry. I've questioned my position on monogamy.
I have spent endless hours asking myself "Why?"
have shed more tears since Christmas than I have in 53
years of living. I have screamed into my pillow, punching
it in desperation, curled into a fetal position wondering
what is wrong with me.
can't for the life of me figure out why I have reacted
so strongly. Over and over again I feel like the kid in
the school yard who is picked last, and reluctantly at
that, to play on the softball team. I was that kid, of
course, and knew that none of my classmates really wanted
me to play ball with them. At my age such regression is
scary to say the least.
doing better these days, as the relationship has finally
been put to rest: "I am really sorry about all of this
and hope you can forgive me sometime in the future. I
do still love you and always will, but I know that probably
doesn't make you feel any better. If and when you want
to talk, please feel free to call anytime. In the meantime,
I won't bother you anymore. I think we both need some
time to heal," Michael wrote last week.
week went well until the third friend walked up to me
at IML's leather market and asked how my family was doing.
Each time I had to answer, the tears were harder to hold
back. I finally had to retreat to the Red Line and go
home. Some things just take time.
don't understand, of course, why it hurts so much. My
therapist thinks there's some un-remembered childhood
trauma that needs to be resolved. I don't remember very
much about my childhood and so I can't be very helpful.
My dreams don't give any help either, though Michael was
prominent in them last night.
months that song "Breaking up is hard to do" has been
echoing between my ears. I've lost weight from skipping
meals, and have spent endless hours playing Free Cell
and Mine Sweeper as I ponder what I did "wrong."
would Jack Rinella do," my best friends have asked, as
I sought from them some clue to keeping Michael with me.
In the end they finally began telling me the painful truth:
"It's over Jack, get over it."
that's why you're seeing me in the bars more often. I'm
single again. Kinda anyway, as Patrick certainly hasn't
gone anywhere and insists that he won't. He assures me
that our master/slave relationship is fulfilling and exciting.
cruising is only a diversion, something to get me out
of the house. More often than not I just sit there, nurse
a beer and go home alone. I don't want to jump out of
one relationship into another.
hope, though, as I begin to think about what kind of man
I'll fall in love with. I'm thinking he'll be a top. "Coming
around full circle?" Master Lynn asks, wondering if I'm
going to try slavery again. "No," I muse. I think I want
a lover who'll enjoy my slaves with me, maybe even one
who will bring guys home for us to share. A fellow master
and sadist who shares my intensity, but who also knows
that there's more to being human than a one-sided stereotype.
irony of my breakup is that Michael found in his boy friend
what I wanted to find in him: affection. Sometimes you
know, even masters need to cuddle and kiss. The day that
Michael admitted he had a hard time being affectionate
with me I was devastated.
it was too late. Long ago we had failed to agree on what
our relationship really meant, to discern what each really
wanted and needed, to find ways to say and show what was
really within. As the years passed it was easy to take
it all for granted, that nothing would ever come between
someone did, it was too late.
I have no intention of there ever being a next time. I'm
wrong, of course, because I'll get over this quicker than
I think. The trick is to learn the lesson and make this
an opportunity for growth, lest it happen again. I'll
try and do that.
the meantime if you ask me about my family, just remember
that once the tears are wiped away, the memories will
be as sweet as ever.
2000 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in
any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact
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