Monday, September 5, 2011

The ring cycle: refusal

Right after we split, we decided to tell a few people. I told my family and one friend a week after we made the decision to separate. I told the people I work with about two and a half weeks after and subsequently have slowly brought it up with people who know me.

I also decided to stop posting status updates on Facebook. I don’t like Facebook, but damned if it’s not addictive. It is the crack cocaine of internet communication, especially when you feel alone. It feeds into your loneliness with instant gratification. Post something and people respond if they like you.

People, I’ve noticed, like funny. They also respond to tragedy (as long as it’s real tragedy and not that stupid shit people cut, paste and repost), but relentlessly grim, self-serving, moody non-sequiters are like jerking off on public transport. Nobody really wants to watch. Well, I don’t want to watch and I didn’t want to be that guy with his trousers around his ankles. So, I stopped --at least with the status updates. I stopped trying to tell everybody what I didn't know how to say.

Everybody has been great about it, so far. A few people offered lunch, dinner or booze. Hugs were few, which was good. I'm a little touchy right now. The number of people I’m comfortable with giving me a hug at the moment could be narrowed to the number of people who could comfortably fit in my car. Close contact with anyone outside of my immediate family or my children is largely uncomfortable. It's awkward and wooden. I get no comfort from it.

This, I expect, is temporary: a kind of shock. It’s something that will fade with time. Otherwise, dating will challenging.

Not that I’m actually thinking about dating, not really. Friends have already suggested they could match me up, but this seems highly unlikely and downright foolish.

I’m not on the prowl either.

After “The Clash in the Coalfields” roller derby scrimmage a couple of weeks back, I was invited to the after-party. They’d been nice to ask me to announce their bouts, which might have seemed like I was doing them a favor and not the other way around. I didn’t have any experience, barely knew the game in the abstract, let alone the actual rules.

I stumbled through the evening like a refugee from a house fire.

At the end of it, my videographer, Kathryn said, “You look totally stunned.”

I felt stunned. I felt exhausted and shell shocked. I also felt more at ease than I had in weeks. For the previous three and a half hours, there’d been nothing to think about except roller derby.

Mostly, I’d thought about how much I was fucking things up.

After it was all over, however, some of the tabled anxieties started creeping back up.

A couple of people asked me if I was going to the after-party. This was supposed to be the best part and what was not to like: A bar full of raucous, wild women in the mood for a few laughs? It sounded like just the thing to kick me out of my funk. Why the hell not?

“Yeah, sure,” I said and I went --for about thirty seconds.

I wasn't even really thinking of a hookup. I just wanted to feel like part of the crowd. I stepped through the door and realized I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea why I was even there. I only knew a few people; none of whom were there yet. I suddenly became very self-conscious of the fact that I'm awful company and even if I stumbled into actually "meeting someone" I had nothing to offer them.

Looking around the bar, I saw lots of smiling, younger men with good hair, decent tans and tight-fitting t-shirts. Every one of them was my superior in every way that counted. I felt outclassed, ugly and freakish: a bad-tempered mutant that should be chased off with fire.

It made no sense. My basic core confidence in who I am just crumbled. I was overwhelmed in a place called Buffalo Wild Wings? Really? Buffalo Wild Wings?

I shook my head. This was ridiculous. I didn’t feel like having a good time. I had nothing to celebrate and wanted nothing much except to find a nice, dark place to curl up in a fetal position and bawl.

So, that’s what I did. I went home, cried all the way and went to bed.

I’m still in the grieving process, not the mourning of the end of the marriage, but the end of a particular identity. I don’t know who I am yet, but I’m not the same guy anymore. I’m not even the guy I was before the marriage. I’m somebody else.

I think after something like a marriage ends you have to redefine who you are. You have to figure out what’s gone and what’s left. That’s not to say that this totally destroyed me. That’s bullshit, but being a husband and the head of a household has been at the core of who I was for almost ten years. It's colored my decisions and my opinions. It has driven my direction.

Now, the road signs have been removed. I don't have any idea where I'm going.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey it gets better. You should be back to a close approximation of yourself in two years. I know that sounds like FOREVER, but it's not that bad.