Friday, October 06, 2006

The Good Riddance List

He had a video and CD of mine. I had a book of his. It's an age old ritual and one that Ex David and I were about to partake in: the exchanging of the stuff.

I wasn't having a good day yesterday. Depression was looming and I felt like I had nothing on the horizon that I could get excited about. I just wanted to hide away, be invisible. I didn't want to be around people, yet I was uneasy being alone. Everything looked gray to me.

A few hours later, I got a package from Ex David in the mail. Perfect timing. I thought this would push me over into heavy sadness and felt a tickle of anxiety. No good putting off the inevitable: I tore open the padded envelope, inside of which was my CD and video. And a note. I didn't want there to be a note. Maybe there could be notes later, but right now it felt better to have correspondence completely severed. I took a breath, unfolded the paper and... nothing. A friendly, neutral note, a few sentences which triggered only one thought: "he's nice." Then a flood of relief that, even though there were once true feelings between us, we were better off apart. I mailed his book back right away, including a neutral note of my own.

A few years ago I read a novel about this fairly young woman whose husband dies. To help her cope, she makes a Good Riddance List, of all his negative qualities that she no longer has to deal with.

I don't want to rip into Ex David ruthlessly, because on the whole he's a good person and was a good boyfriend. Even so, it's easier to deal with the break-up by focusing on the bad than the good. I feel better remembering the things that gave me pause (I don't know if Ex David still checks my blog, but I'll warn that this would be a good time for him to stop reading). Here goes...

I remember the time he only tipped ten percent on check, at a nice restaurant with perfectly decent service (this makes me cringe; I can't tip less than fifteen percent, ever, and usually tip twenty).

I remember how our bodies didn't properly fit when we went to sleep, how his arm would go numb so he couldn't keep it around me for long.

I remember his love for sports (which I find boring) and proclivity to wear baseball caps (which I really don't like) and sneakers quite often.

I remember how he complained about the cost of the rental car and said that's why he doesn't travel much: it's too expensive.

I remember feeling uncomfortable that he's eight years older than me, yet I make more money in my not-very-well-paying media job, and have far less debt than he does.

I remember how compliant he was, sometimes too compliant, agreeing to do things my way with a slight edge of resignation (or even resentment?).

I remember how he only refrained from spitting in public because of how much I hated it, except for that time he spit into the subway tracks while we were arguing. Ew.

I remember how he'd repeat our in-jokes, a lot, to a point of predictability, to the point where I was bored of hearing them.

I remember tiring of all his theater talk, and being concerned about our different conversational paces in general (his is slower and more measured, mine is brisk and snappy).

I remember wishing that his palate was a bit more refined, that he would give sushi and other exotic cuisine more of a chance.

I remember wishing he wore cologne (I even offered to help him pick some out and buy a bottle he liked).

I remember wishing he was a little closer to the physical type I usually go for (tall, light-eyed, etc.).

I remember wishing he was a bit more dominant.

I remember wishing he made me laugh more.

I remember the first night we met, how I told him I used to be really shy and he said he couldn't believe it. I remember how he reiterated that statement months later, how part of me knew then that he would never properly understand me.

Remembering these things, I know some of them were reasonable concerns and others weren't. I also know it's a good thing that I'm single again, that I need to hold out for a better fit.

19 comments:

Sandra Dee said...

Boy isn't that the truth -- the breakup is so much easier when you focus on the bad in the person you were with. It's like we need to feel justified that it truly wasn't meant to be.

Chin up, girl.

gregarious said...

I'm in the middle of a divorce (17 years of marriage) and I've been flipping back and forth on whether I should be negative or positive. I believe in the end it will be a positive thing for the wife and kids, but probably not too good for me. At the same time, I can't really get angry with her, and I don't want to kids to feel that there is anger or even hatred between us (well, I guess I can only control the part coming from me...)

I don't think I'm really saying anything other than the most important thing for me is to move on; and for me, moving on means shedding (not suppressing) the negative emotions.

Dolly said...

Sandra Dee,
I usually don't like to focus on the negative, but in this case it was very cathartic!

Gregarious,
I'm sorry about your divorce; it must be a difficult time for you. I couldn't agree more about letting go of negative emotions. I needed to do that to make sure they didn't fester and do me any harm. For me it was part of wiping the slate clean. I hope you come out of your divorce stronger and find new happiness.

Anonymous said...

I know that it makes you feel better to focus on the negative aspects of an ex to help you get over them, and you certainly had alot of things listed which didn't jive well with you, so I think you made the right decision about breaking up. I did think, though, that the vast majority of things which you listed were really quite mundane. If you are holding out for the perfect (or even near perfect) man, you certainly won't find him. There will always be characteristics in your partner that you would like to live without and that you find a bit of a turnoff- my husband is frustrated with me that I'm not more careful with my money, while I wish he didn't use the computer in the evening so much. I guess you know when you're in love because you can't live without the lovely good traits, and you learn to accept the not-so-good ones. At any rate, good luck finding that special man that at least fulfills all the important needs.

Dolly said...

Anonymous,
I get what you're saying. Of course there are always going to be little things that are irksome in a relationship; I don't expect a fairy tale. And there were bigger issues with Ex David, which I discussed in the post mortem. This post was my way of venting all those mundane things and taking a moment to appreciate the fact that I no longer have to deal with them. Silver lining and all that.

Doc Love said...

He's sounds like a really nice normal dude. The 10% was kind of jacked, but the rest was pretty normal in my eyes. He isn't from the midwest is he?

Doc Love said...

With that being said, I'm happy you're single again. Your blog was way more interesting when you were being promiscuous and writingabout it. Go get em Dolly! ;-)

Dolly said...

Doc,
He was nice and normal. A little too normal for me in the end (I like 'em a bit edgier). And no, we wasn't from the midwest; east coast all the way.

As for my blog being more interesting when single, I agree. It was less dynamic when I was in a relationship and happy, though I still tried to keep it interesting. I don't plan on going back to my old promiscuous ways, though.

NotCarrie said...

You reminded me that NotRoger has something of mine still...dammit!

clarissa said...

i wonder if it is better or worse that the flaws were so mundane.

i have never dated a single person who wore cologne. i dated one person who, i guess thanks to a super combination of phermones and deoderant, smelled fantastic, but that's been it. the rest of the people i've been with have not provided any sort of olfactory excitement.

mr. clarissa sometimes wears incense oil, but that is pretty rare.

Dolly said...

NotCarrie,
I guess the question is whether the missing object is worth the trouble of getting in touch with him?

Clarissa,
I think the mundane flaws say something about the relationship: it was good, at first it was even great, but it was not earth-shattering and spectacular. As for the cologne thing, I am very sensitive to smell and love love love it when a man wears a nice cologne. I mentioned this to Ex David more than once, and he seemed open to the idea, but it didn't go anywhere. I mean, I don't particularly like lingerie, but I'll wear it if it's a turn-on for the guy. Cologne is my male lingerie. I have made out with guys that weren't that good-looking because they smelled incredible. It's actually a big thing for me. I know there's the whole argument of whether cologne masks the body's natural pheromones, but I think for me certain scents enhance them.

Isabella Snow said...

Breaking up sucks. But there's that inevitable day when you meet someone else and thank God you're single - so you can date them.

Hugs!

CoatMan said...

This is so sad... I have been so busy that I have not read your 'blog for ages, and I come back and find out that you broke up with the boyfriend that made you so happy when I last read. My commisserations: may you find somebody truly worthy of you one day soon.

Ally said...

I totally understand your desire to make this list. Sometimes it's just easier to move on when you remind yourself that the relationship wasn't perfect (especially when you feel like the ex never really completely knew you) and you focus on the bad rather than the good. It's not to say that "the One" won't share some of these "bad" qualities, but for now, you're remembering the bad to help you move on.

I hope you feel like this relationship is completely behind you soon--I know how hard it can feel. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

The bodies-not-fitting-properly was reason enough. I had a GF like that once; she looked great, but at night in the sack she was was like a bag of corners.


Silver

Dolly said...

Isabella,
I like the way you look at things!

Coatman,
Thank you for your sympathy. I'm sure the right guy will come along eventually.

Ally,
I'm glad you get it and yes, I do expect that the man I end up with will have just as many (if not more) of these minor flaws. But in the meantime, it's comforting to know I don't have to deal with these particular ones.

Silver,
"Bag of corners" is one of the most descriptive and hilarious phrases I have seen in ages. I love it.

Anonymous said...

I made one of those lists once, and it was a good thing. Burn it, and make a list of what you want in your next man, and burn that too! Burnt offerings remind us that we truely are "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust".

Moket

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