When I think back over this last year and reflect on the laundry list of things that I wish I’d done differently, there are a few things that really stand out in my mind. Ironically, the number one thing that I hated about my behavior was my pathetic inability to talk about anything besides this crushing betrayal and its effects on my life. Yes. Verbal Diarrhea. Not only had he broken my heart, but it would seem he’d broken my brain as well. That first month was littered with one psychologically smelly episode after another. No one told me a side-effect of being cheated on was dysentery of your very soul.
Overnight, I seemed to develop a magical ability Ito turn any benign comment into something about my recent marital trauma:
Friend: The weather is a little cooler today, don’t you think?
Me: My cheating husband is an a**h***.
Friend: Why don’t we go to a movie or something today? Let’s get you dressed and out of the house. I’ll even help you pluck your eyebrows. I’ve never seen a blonde uni-brow before. It’s unnerving.
Me: I don’t really want to see a movie, and you can just get used to the uni-brow…I’m finished trying to be another mindless piece of meat for men to use and discard when they’re finished. Shaving and plucking are a thing of the past, my friend. I’m officially letting myself go.
Friend: That’ll teach him. Who wouldn’t want a stinky, angry ex-wife with a large, bushy uni-brow instead of a clean, smooth girlfriend with two distinct eyebrows and no arm-pit hair?
Me: Damn right. Now, let’s go sit outside of his house and watch his door. I want to go through his trash again before the garbage men pick it up in the morning.
Friend: You need to get your mind off of all of this. It’s been a whole month now. I’m starting to get worried.
Me: Look, I’m trying. I really am. But I have this deep, carnal need to make him cry like a girl.
Friend: I don’t think the answer is in his refuse. What we need here is a distraction. How do you feel about vodka?
Me: No, thanks. I had to stop drinking after I drunk dialed my pastor. I’m positive stoning a cheating, lying husband is allowed, and even rewarded, somewhere in the Bible, but he insists on being politically correct. The days of Martin Luther nailing the 95 theses on the church walls are truly gone. It’s all about missionary trips, choir practice, and avoiding prison these days.
Friend: The vodka is for me. Brush your uni-brow back into a ponytail and get in the car. You can’t be left alone in this condition.
God only knows how many of my friends are alcoholics because of me.
My mouth became a phenomenon I couldn’t control. What really made it worse was that even I was tired of hearing me talk about my ex, his girlfriend, and what all of his bad choices had done to my life. The world is filled to the brim with people who had worse problems than I did. Starving Ethiopians; civil wars; the Tea Party. I tried reasoning with my heart, pointing out the shallowness in my perceptions.
My heart spit on the ground and made a rude comment.
There is a real time limit for what most friends can handle listening to you obsess about your problems. The people who were barely stepping from the Acquaintance Category into the Friend Category tend to drop off very quickly. After a month of your psycho rants, some of the established friends start to disappear as well, vaguely making excuses about being so busy and calling you later. After six months, only the tried-and-true friends are still answering their phones when you call.
I knew I had to get a grip on myself soon, or even those people would fade away. I had spent months being an black-hole of despair, sucking the light out of everyone’s lives. I dated three men, and all three had to listen to me obsess about my ex-husband until their ears bled. I would listen to myself in horror, as one rant led into another into another. I have no idea why any of them ever called me back after our first dates.
This whole verbal diarrhea thing really totally freak me out. It got so upsetting, I began to isolate myself from everyone completely. I no longer trusted myself to speak.
The day finally did arrive that I made it through without even once mentioning the jerk’s name, and that was pivotal in my recovery. I felt better about myself when people didn’t dive for the exits when I stepped into the room. The world seemed bigger; less about just me, and more about others. The ability to turn my mind towards happier thoughts came quickly on the heals of these calmer days, and the victory came on the day I not only didn’t talk about him, but I didn’t even once think about Chef.
The sad truth is that no matter how we wish we’d act when life kicks us in the face, strong emotions born from true pain tend to have a life of their own. Just like a stab wound doesn’t heal overnight, neither does a broken heart. I look back at those embarrassing, uncontrolled anguished words, and it seems to me that those conversations were the blood that jets out of a vicious wound. I would have preferred to have clotted quicker, but it was too powerful for me to control. Be a little lenient on yourself when you grade your performance post-heartbreak. If you aren’t institutionalized or incarcerated, chalk it up as a victory. I am.
Stuff that helped me:
Betrayed Wives Club Blog – Commiserate with others who need to talk about their own wounds as much as you do.
My Best Friend Audra – My healing started when we made fun of the other woman’s Facebook picture and planned the Nair Incident that we wisely abandoned before completion.
One or two friends that know when to let you spew and when to help you staunch the flow.