McKenzie Free

One woman's quest for greater understanding through freedom of self expression.

Archive for the tag “heartbreak”

61

There is a gaping hole inside of me

Which nightly I try to fill up

With mounds and mounds of food

And sometimes sex with inappropriate men who like fat girls

It is a gaping hole which by now is the size of a basketball

A small hole that was ripped larger and larger by

my alcoholic father and crazy brother

Made bigger with each failed marriage

That grew to make room for the babies I could never have

And is currently being fed by fear of the spot on my liver

Fear of joining my cancer-ridden siblings in death

At night I feed it with pound cake and chips and red wine

During the day I feed it with professionalism

as I try to do one thing in life well

and sometimes with screaming unprofessionalism

as I fail to succeed in a dysfunctional workplace

At times, like this morning, when I am too exhausted to

stand up straight and carry on in the morning light

At times like this when I stop for a moment and sit very still

Alone with my thoughts

I simply sob until I have no more tears

And then I get up and get on with my day

Wondering if I will ever be able to heal this gaping hole

Or if it’s too late for a full recovery

perhaps just something to shore it up and keep it from engulfing me.

Renewal

It all began with a good-bye kiss.

It still lingers on my lips.

He loved me, he said.

But it was not the ‘big’ love.

Thus began my journey of renewal.

To love myself regardless.

To respect that I am worthy.

To find joy in each day.

The world is my ‘big’ love

and he is but a memory.

The Affair

He was forty and growing restless in his marriage. She was twenty-eight. Beautiful and vibrant in a way that only those who live life fully can be. They met completely by accident. This may be difficult for some to even imagine in our current world of online profiles, emails and texting, but at one time people used to bump into each other in public and strike up random, friendly conversations with one another.

She dropped a package on the street while trying to open the door to the book store with her elbow. He picked up her package and got the door for her. Neither were there for the books as it turned out, but rather for the coffee shop in the rear as a respite from the crowds of holiday shoppers. They chatted as they stood in line waiting to order. As it turned out, once they got their drinks there was only one table left available and they sat down and shared a warm beverage together.

He did not lie or act coy about the fact of his wife and children. In fact, he spoke of them lovingly and with pride. Oddly, this made him more attractive to her. She knew it was wrong to feel the tug of emotion while they spoke. She forced herself not to reach across the table and touch his hand as she so wanted to do.

He knew it was wrong to ask her to join him for dinner. He rationalized it in his mind that it was only a meal. She rationalized it the same way when she smiled and said “yes”.  This is how it began. Neither one wanting to investigate their behavior more fully. To do so would surely have meant they would have walked away from each other and remained strangers.

He thought, at first, that he could compartmentalize his life. That she would simply be a bit of enjoyment that he carved out for himself. She would not impact the rest of his life. But, as it turned out, she was not a woman who could be kept in a box. She was too full of life and his need to speak with her and be with her would not contain itself to a few hours a week.

She had a very full life before she met him. With him in her life her schedule began to overflow. If you had asked her prior to meeting him if she would ever consider seeing a married man she would have been insulted and answered a resounding “of course NOT”. Now here she was, making up last minute excuses why she couldn’t make her usual volunteer night at the hospital or meet her best friend for drinks or dinner so she could accommodate him when he could get away.

She told no one. Not her sister, her best friend, not even her hairdresser. The volunteer organizations thought her work responsibilities had increased, her friends thought she was volunteering more and should take more time for herself, her staff was grateful that she seemed to be finding a better balance between work and the rest of her life. Only she was aware of the reality of her situation.

He was amazed at how well his business continued to run without his complete focus on it twenty-four seven. Perhaps he could have gotten away in prior years to take his family on those vacations he had assured them were impossible? His wife was beginning to pressure him to spend more time at home and he began to slowly realize that there was no way this could not affect his marriage and his family.

After almost a year of seeing each other they had finally admitted to themselves and each other that this was about more than the convenience of lust. They had strong and caring feelings for each other. Feelings that came with as much pain as joy.   As he began to realize the effect the affair was having on his family, she began to realize she did not want to celebrate another Christmas in a hotel room a week after ringing in the New Year alone.

This is why tonight, almost a year since their first meeting, she found herself sitting alone in the coffee shop where they first met waiting to see if he would join her. If he showed up, this meant he had told his wife about her and had chosen a new life with her. If not, the crazy, titillating roller coaster ride of the last year had reached its end.

She did not know which life he would choose. She was well aware of the schism the affair had caused in his emotions and his life. She also believed his love for his wife was still very real. Part of her hoped that he would choose to remain with his family thereby proving to be the man she thought he was on the day they met. No part of her wanted to be the person that caused upheaval and pain for others. The other part of her, the selfish part, the part that found such happiness in his presence, was holding her breath and hoping to catch sight of him walking down the aisle of books toward their table.

As she sat and waited she realized that no matter what his decision her life would be irrevocably changed after tonight.

The Writers Mind

What she wrote:

I was skiing down Mont Blanc on the Italian side of the mountain with a group of friends when an out of control, grey haired, full length mink came barreling across my path. I swerved to miss her and down I went. A fall that usually only hurt my pride this time broke my shoulder. Ski patrol seemed to appear in a flash and carried me off the mountain, followed by our ski instructor Georgio.

Georgio stayed by my side through the emergency room, the surgery, and the six weeks of recovery in his beautiful chalet. He waited on me hand and foot during my recovery. In spite of my pain and disability we fell in love and were blissfully happy, sharing stories about our lives and laughing out loud daily about the little miscommunications caused by our lack of fluency in the others native language.

At the end of six weeks, just as I was about to be released from the doctor’s care, a long-legged, stunning brunette opened the front door of the chalet and announced she was home. Georgio’s wife, apparently, back from visiting her parents in the South of France.

I left them in the midst of a knock-down-drag-out and after being released from the doctor’s care flew back to America and back to reality. I had an 8 hour flight to cry and lick my wounds arriving at customs with a broken arm and a broken heart.

What really happened:

Walking the dog one evening I tripped over my own feet, fell and broke my shoulder. My boyfriend came and took care of me after surgery. We spent six weeks sitting on the sofa watching TV, unable to do much else.

Does He Know?

Didn’t he know I’d always love him?

That I’d always put him first?

I would have always stood beside him;

stuck by him through better or worse.

I would have helped him reach his goals.

I would have kept him from the cold.

I would have picked him up when he fell.

I would have loved that man through heaven and hell.

We could have shared passion, laughter and life.

We could have held each other close every night.

We could have built something that others would envy.

We could have, we should have, but it simply ended.

Does he know what he is missing?

Does he know what we might have had?

How many people wander forever searching

and are never offered such a chance?

.

 

Rain

Thank God for the Oregon Rain!

The wet days have arrived and they’ll hide my pain.

I can let my tears flow and no one need know.

How many times can the same heart break?

How many heart aches can one woman take?

I tried to hold back and not get hurt again

but I opened myself up to more of the pain.

I asked all the right questions and I did everything

I could to make it work out

yet I still find myself alone on the couch.

Is this all there is?  Is this all there will ever be?

Just me and Bob alone watching TV?

Never a man who wants more than sex?

No one ever again who I trust has my back?

Men must not need love the same way women do.

They must prefer being alone to being with you.

I feel like joke, a middle-aged cliché;

the woman searching for love while the man walks away.

I’ve been determined to live; to not run and hide.

I’ve tried my best to keep an optimistic heart.

But now I want to get off this ride

and stay under the covers the rest of my life.

I’m tired of soaring to heights

only to crash once again on the rocks down below.

There are only so many hits a woman can take

before the pain begins to show.

I loved you a bit.

You couldn’t stay and let it grow.

You loved me not at all.

I should have known.

McKenzie James

September 26, 2011

Is Heartbreak One Word or Two?

My husband and I were together for 19 years and then just two weeks before my 49th birthday he asked for a divorce.  Happy Birthday to me and then almost before I knew what was happening I was single and thrown into the dating world again.  Looking back I remember that my mother was only 50 when my father died.  As far as I know she never dated or slept with another man again.  At the time that didn’t seem the least bit strange to me, but now it occurs to me that perhaps she understood more about men than I ever gave her credit for.  She always had admirers, even at 85 she had a gentleman sending her poetry about her beauty, but she just smiled with a twinkle in her eye and carried on alone.

Recently I received one of those funny emails where someone had written eloquently (and humorously) about how men and women view their bodies at different stages of life.  I wish I knew who wrote it (actually I wish I had written it myself!) and I would give her credit here.  What she said so profoundly is that women feel very differently about their bodies at every stage of their lives until around age 50 when we finally all figure out that regardless of our body shape…we’re awesome!  Men, on the other hand feel the same about their bodies at every stage until old age.  They have a penis, it works, and they’re obsessed with it!

It was right on target and it made me think perhaps this is one of the reasons why men and women find dating so hard in middle age.   We’re finally at a stage of acceptance and the men we’re dating still feel the same way they did as teenagers.  It also explains a great deal about why so many middle aged men want to date women who are so much younger than they are.  Because they have a penis, it works, and they’re obsessed with it.  Wow, I never realized it was so simple!

Seriously though, sitting here today after suffering yet another middle-aged heart ache, I have to admit there must be more to it than that.  I swore I would not become one of those bitter, middle-aged women who hate men and have given up on relationships altogether.  But, it’s been seven years, and I have to admit to dating a lot of men, and each time things became serious, one by one, they broke my heart.  Some slowly, some quickly, some in person, some over the phone or with a text!  And every time I got up, brushed my heart off, and got on with my life.

Somehow, today feels very different.  This was, by all accounts, a very good man.  A nice, well-educated, well-spoken, attractive, fun, sexy man who just two days ago told me he wanted a “relationship”.  Just forty-eight hours later, nothing at all has changed in the world, and he calls me at work to let me know he can’t do it.

Is everyone so broken down by their previous heart aches that they just can’t do it again?  I try not to be cynical but I’ve heard it all before.  He actually said the “I’d like to be friends” phrase!  What is wrong with men that they think after you’ve slept with them and given a piece of your soul up you can just turn back the clock and be friends?  I can only determine they don’t “feel” things the same way women do.

I miss my twenties.  Not just the hot, firm body I had.  Not even the fact that everyone else was single too and there were a lot more men to choose from.  Mostly I miss that there were rules.  I have fond memories of dating in my twenties.  The rules were clear and everyone was aware of them.  You met a man somehow… through friends, or out at a club, or in the grocery store, or the parking lot of your apartment building.  You struck up a conversation.  If he was interested in getting to know you better he asked you out, usually for lunch first.   If that went well he’d ask you out again — usually for a Thursday night — because Thursday night was official first date night.

If you weren’t in a relationship, Friday night both men and women went out with their friends and continued to try and meet people of the opposite sex.  Saturday night was serious date night.  You didn’t ask a woman out on Saturday night unless you were serious about her or already in a relationship with her.  If you wanted to see a woman on Saturday night you had to call and ask her by Wednesday.  No self respecting woman would say yes to a weekend date any later than Wednesday.  If all went well after your first Saturday night date…you began to see each other regularly.  After a few weeks you began having sex and you were now a couple.  It was simple, everyone knew the rules, and it worked really well.

The Beach Boys knew what Saturday night meant.  In their famous cruising song, “I Get Around”, they sang:

None of the guys go steady ‘cause it wouldn’t be right
To leave their best girl home on a Saturday night”

We all followed the rules back then and a good time was had by all.  Now dating again at middle age it appears there are no rules.  For one thing dating was designed for two people to spend time together in order to see if they have the possibility of making good partners.  In middle age, very few people are looking for a life partner any more.  In fact most of the men I’ve met have no idea what they’re looking for.

You can date a man for weeks, sometimes months, and it usually never gets past lunch or a walk by the river.  (Walking by the river seems to be big with men over 50.  Don’t ask me why because I can’t answer for them.   I suspect it’s for budgetary reasons, since they’re all divorced and have been hit financially, but that would just be a guess.)  After hours spent talking, eating, walking sometimes you get to the sex part but you still have no idea what it means to them.

For me, sex means we’ve reached a new level of intimacy.  We now have a new dimension to our relationship; a joyful, exciting, fresh area to explore.  For men it appears to mean one of two things:  either they now own you and expect you to be with them every free moment, or the relationship is now over.  They become uncomfortable, don’t want to talk about what it meant, become frightened about commitment and ride off into the sunset.

Most recently:  I met a man.  That’s how it usually starts!  We enjoyed a lot of the same things and had a lot in common.   We met for coffee and couldn’t stop talking.  We enjoyed some lunches and dinners and a wonderful trip to the coast.   We dated casually for a while and then one Saturday night I invited him over for dinner and a movie.  We had some dinner, we watched part of the movie, and then in the middle of a quiet boring patch…he made his move… and we ended up having sex.  The next morning we got up and took my dog for a walk, after which he went home.

No flowers were delivered.  No phone call telling me what a wonderful evening he had.  Days came and went with no phone call, email or text.  Finally, being a person who has a need to know, I called him and asked why he would walk away without so much as a word.  He hadn’t called because: he didn’t know what to say; it was too soon; he shouldn’t have done it; it’s not me it’s him; he didn’t want a relationship, etc.   Oh my God — I’ve heard it all before – from men I’ve dated and similar stories from my girlfriend’s forays into the dating world.

Sometimes I wish they’d make up some fascinating new reason simply for entertainment.  Something like this: His first wife, who he believed walked out on him, really was in a car accident in New Mexico and suffered from amnesia.  She just recovered and remembered she was married and showed up on his door step the very morning he left my house.   If you’re going to dump me at least be creative so I have something new to write about!

It makes a woman wonder if she’s no good at the sex thing –but over the years I have had the opportunity to learn that can’t be the case.  Sex just simply seems to turn most middle aged men back into foolish teenage boys who treat girls badly because they’re embarrassed by their own behavior and it’s easier to make light of it in front of the other boys in the locker room.

I’ve been thinking of writing a sitcom entitled “Another One Bites the Dust” wherein every week a middle-aged woman meets a new man who for one reason or another isn’t ready for love.  My girlfriend said she can’t see the humor in it but I think if I’m going to survive middle-age and not become a bitter, old woman I’m going to have to find a way to laugh about it.

As I sit here alone again tonight, just having been dumped by my most recent love and drinking the bottle of wine he bought me and told me to save for a “special occasion”, I find myself wondering: Is heartbreak one word, or two?  (Because that’s the kind of things writers think about even when they’re in pain.)  The other thing I’m wondering is:  Is getting dumped “special” enough of an occasion?  And:  Is this it for me?  Is there a limit on the number of heartaches one person can endure?  Have I reached mine?  Will I now become that cliché I so wanted to avoid?  Will I have to learn to live alone for the next thirty years?  Other than the spelling of heartbreak, I don’t have the answers.  We’ll have to stay tuned to life and see what happens next.

McKenzie James

September 27, 2011

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