Vignette 13: Finding the Inner Image That Released Me

From Heartbreak, Mourning, Loss. Volume One, Detach or Die

A turtle dying in its shell

Last night, having some regrets at the way she treated me when I delivered her package, Laura called me and suggested that we should have dinner together. Our separation was never quite final and although I have good days when my obsession with Laura is abating, there is still a part of me that remains hooked on hope. I was getting excited at the idea that she might tell me that having Jeremy move in with her was not a success.

So, after work, I went to the supermarket to get the ingredients to cook a gourmet dinner. I opened an exceptionally fine bottle of Burgundy, put flowers on the table, turned on music . . . everything was ready at six, but she arrived forty minutes late, distracted, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, as if she had come from the gym. She gulped in exactly ten minutes the gourmet dinner that had taken me an hour to prepare, swallowing without tasting. Her eyes avoided mine, no relaxing into the experience of eating, no melting in each other’s presence, as a good meal used to do for us. Why did she invite herself here? I felt she had come not because she really wanted to evaluate how things are between us, but because she felt guilty: she likes to think of herself as a compassionate being, a pacifist, and a loving soul. Laura adopts lost dogs and cats, feeds birds, plants trees; she participates in programs to heal the ocean, heal the forest, preserve wild horses, the rain forest, the ozone layer, aging elephants, panda babies, sick dolphins. She will not boil a live lobster and won’t travel to China because they eat dogs and cats. She is a do-gooder who cannot face the fact that she betrayed me, lied to me, and lacked the most basic compassion when I was in shock at her door. Do-gooders can be the cruelest partners: they torture you with a saintly aura. I know that, but still, I had hope.

We had barely finished dinner when she got up to start the dishes (the Good Girl again.) When done, the good girl thanked me for the delicious dinner and said she really cared for me and hoped I was doing ok. Her pity was disgusting. Then she stabbed me with the kind of lies good girls will tell when they are unconscious of their dark side: « Excuse me, darling, I have an avalanche of emails to answer tonight. This was lovely, I loved seeing you, and it was important for me to re-establish our friendship. You know how much I love you and I would not want to hurt you. We don’t know what the future of our relationship might hold. Let’s remain friends. Now, I must get home early. » I knew without a doubt that she was going straight to Jeremy. Laura’s quick peck on my cheek at the doorstep felt like a slap in the face, a blow disguised as a kiss, her form of emotional lie. She left, probably feeling she was still a compassionate person because she had visited me tonight. Stupid me!

As soon as she left, I realized how utterly defeated I was; abandoned, rejected, unloved and unchosen, lied to, manipulated, and used, lonely and vulnerable.

I went to bed early, and woke up at 2:00 am thinking I was having a heart attack. I ended up at the hospital emergency room, and was told I was having “stress cardiomyopathy”, in other words, a panic attack. I cam home heavily sedated, to a cold nest.

That is when I got a powerful inner image: I am a turtle on its back, dying in its shell.