Somewhere Between Helping and Hurting

Everyone’s got a past filled with the other people from the world. They have histories of living and loving before you came along. Each relationship is different, existing on its own account, whether brief or everlasting.

While it’s true that most breakups devastate at least one of us (the lyrics “When a heart breaks, it don’t break even” come to mind), sometimes both parties unwillingly separate. We don’t all choose to end it. But we do choose to begin anew.

Despite the harsh turns our lives take, none of those people in yours should be (or be made to feel) like your last chance leftovers. They are not the ruins of your previous relationships. They are not defaults or plan B’s. Don’t ever look at your partner and tell them that they came from your past without them.

To say that you’re holding their hand only because you can’t hold someone else’s is wrong. It’s hurtful and pointlessly devastating to the both of you, to live by this methodology. Life would be different if things were different; this is basic science – it’s not the basis of a relationship.

“When I was with someone else, I wasn’t with you.” No duh. Neither was I.

“If I could have stayed with someone else, I wouldn’t be with you.” Why does that matter, now?

“The only reason I’m with you is because one door closed.” Hold on there, dipshit.

For the record, I am not ONLY, ANYthing. And I’ve been with you because I’ve chosen to, and that’s what matters. That is the only direction to go with this. I’m not a crappy band-aid for your losses in life.

I’m sorry if you think your last partner was a bigger jackpot. I’m sorry that you’ve loved bigger and better. I’m sorry you didn’t win. I’ve been here, focused on you, giving you all I have and I know you’re hurting. You should be trying to do better. That should be the point.

Don’t treat someone like your consolation prize because they’re not.

You’ll lose that, too.

Sometimes Baby Steps Are Not Enough

Dear Koula,

I have spent the better part of a year struggling with the many ways you remain.

I am frustrated with the foreign Greek culture because it is alien to me, as if the household is rooting for an opponent’s team. The hand towels say “Greece”. The decorative plates have people wearing long, Grecian robes and there are strange canned foods in the cupboards with funny names. Sometimes one of the discs in the CD changer kicks over and starts playing a peculiar noise that I have to come to know as your Greek music. You started a mural on the wall in the main entryway and though far from finished, I assume that is Greece is well.

One of my goals this year is to incorporate more culture in to my new year. I think it’s wonderful that you celebrated your heritage and loved it so much. You have made me want to enjoy my own. I added a Celtic station to my Pandora app and I am proud to be Irish.

For better or worse, I moved all of my things in to one room in your house. Daniel said it was best, because his house was full. The shelves are lined with Disney porcelain, ceramic bowls and all of the things that you accumulated during your lifetime. Sometimes I try to mix my things in between, but it feels like a battle of forces that usually ends in tears as I look around and realize that there is no room nor will I ever fully appreciate your fondness for “rustic, country” décor.

There was nothing wrong with your personal tastes, and there is nothing wrong with mine. I respect you for every shade you selected and every shape you carefully placed – but they do not have to be my ideals. I see so much potential for updating and modernizing, and making things look lavish and luxurious. I will continue to develop my own style, and as I accumulate things of my own I hope that it is okay if I store them somewhere while I am here. Someday I would like to enjoy my own visions, like you did.

I hope you don’t get upset when I cancel your magazine and commercial subscriptions. I would gladly forward them, but I do not know where you are, now. There is always the philosophy that you were “supposed” to be here. And if your death was a mistake, then I am a snowball effect of people being in the wrong place. I hope you know that I am trying to grasp on to this idea of your former home as my current one. The usual signs that I use to decipher this are no longer there, such as looking around and seeing myself, and reaching in to the mailbox and pulling out my name. Please let me know if you have ideas for getting that sense of home back…because my heart hurts, terribly, over having lost it.

I wonder if you learned many things about Daniel after you parted from the world, what you never knew, and how you would have felt if you had known. Just as well I wonder what you were able to see and know about him that I have not discovered. He does not like my invasive nature, but it seems like every time I go exploring I uncover something peculiar. It is not always an unflattering discovery, but never ceases to amuse me. Is there something you want me to know?

Daniel loves you very much. So much that he can act like the past 4-5 years from his fifty were the only years that ever were. He does not think of me as the wonderful person that you were to him. It left me feeling insignificant and insecure. I had to remind myself often that you had no roots to my emotional heartbreak, whether you were the perfect saint or human as they came. It was Daniel that caused me many hours of pain and confusion.

I think he tried to love me, too. I think he wished he could. But lately he just remarks that everything is downhill for him and that he is just waiting the rest of his life out.

I can see now, that it was never about detesting where you were. It was about where I was not. And that was home.

Koula, I have really loved him, but I cannot live and love a partner with that outlook. It is destructive and abusive. As if you don’t already know, I don’t want to be around your every belonging any more. I don’t want to look on my bedroom wall and see another woman’s wedding photos. I think that Daniel would really rather be with you – not only as if you could only come back – but I think he prefers your needlework to my anything. And he always will.

I think he prefers Greece.

So Koula, let it be Greece.

I will work on finding my Ireland.