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Feeling lost in April and making changes

Feeling lost in April and then on into June 2013

A moment for rehydration in the summer heat of Buenos Aires

A moment for rehydration in the summer heat of Buenos Aires

It may be that on this recent hiatus from my prescribed mood altering drugs I have found my confidence on a shaking foundation or it may just be part of the inevitable decline in self worth that one experiences on the termination of a 13 year relationship.
Either possibility becomes a moot point as the search for stability in heart and mind begins again.
Warm weather, sandy beaches and friendly new faces in a tropical community are quick remedies for the personal traumas of rejection and relocation which result from an unexpected end to what I had seen was a loving, albeit sometimes strained, and mutually satisfying lifestyle. A return to the realities three months later of finding common ground for discussion and mutual respect and understanding as to why this ever happened in the first place is where the wounds are opened and the healing starts.
It has been 4 months since I learned by way of an email that my partner of 12 years had made a decision, with apparently much thought in the previous 3 months, to return to a solitary lifestyle as had been her situation for 20 years prior to my arrival on the scene in the year 2000.
I too had been single and living an independent and fulfilling existence, both economically and emotional since 1990 and arrived in Nova Scotia with no intention of changing lanes. We encountered casually and our mutual respect and interests led us to a number of years of what I thought of as a rich and loving partnership and excited to establish a common, but still structurally independent, direction in her personal residence near Wolfville Nova Scotia. It is now evident to me that the trauma she experienced with even considering our mutual habitation was a warning that should have been more seriously heeded.
My understanding of our relationship as I left for a South America trip in November 2012 was that we were experiencing a number of issues that related to the repair and maintenance of the older home in which we lived and in which I had willingly and with enthusiasm worked to maintain and improve for the past 12 years.
My personal physical inability, one year out from major thyroid surgery and my increasing age to continue as the primary provider of maintenance service and as well my ensuing inability to contribute more financial support in monthly upkeep became a focus of unrelenting concern. Understanding this to be a major issue I assumed I would have to find some way of equalizing the contribution to our mutual costs to accommodate outside help to take over house maintenance and I was never sure how this would happen, and wondered if this were truly a loving relationship why it should happen at all.
As for an obvious change in our treatment to and of one another, there had been no indication up to the month preceding my departure for South America that there was any bristling issues between us. We had engaged in our routines with the same energy and respect as always and as I reflect back over our texts and emails it is impossible to find some indicator that the end was near. Our conversations were civil and varied, our communications were sincere and no less humourous than in the past and I never have imagined there was such an emotional tempest brewing. With no glaring reason to wonder I continued naively into the abyss.
In a general observation over the previous year a distinct edge had developed to most of our mutual activities that would always have some element of disappointment that I was finding more and more difficult to bring harmony to. It was evident in our eating routines as she chose to eat more grains and fewer meats and was disappointed I would not do the same. Our choice of recreation seemed always to have contentious element of money or style and our leisure moments would rely on short drives rather than a more intense mutual agreement on a direction or destination. Her unrelenting commitment to her work and newly agreed to position as president of a national social association, which I encouraged and applauded without reservation, had squeezed our mutual time into more intense segments. It was becoming more difficult to see any mutually experienced comfort in the next few years.
There were few moments of spontaneous joy in the past year of 2012 that were so much a part of our early years together. It was apparent to me that my status as an older man with an potentially incapacitating disease (prostate cancer) and a very modest pension was becoming a major handicap in terms of my worth to the relationship. I still never equated these well known issues as revealing reasons for a termination of our relationship.
In any relationship of more than 10 years there will be difficulties that arise, many of which are not solvable, but instead are dissolved into the fabric of the lives of the people who lay claim to them. It would be a safe bet in any mutual existence that more unsolvable issues are tolerated than those that are successfully compromised. This never appeared to happen in our relationship as insurmountable issues piled up and I plowed on believing all things would resolve themselves or be forgotten in time.
There are those who dedicate their lives to making changes and then there are those who let things change as they may. We were two very distinct lifestyle philosophies.
Five months later I see that my disbelief in the breakdown of this relationship has been fueled by the long held belief that there actually did exist a mutual understanding of love and respect and quite incorrectly that 10 years should have cemented the belief that what I had found in 2000 and nurtured for 12 years was there forever. My mind and body were gently accepting that this lifestyle and love may be the comfort I would take to my grave and while not with total finality it would be a safe assumption that would comfort me when I recognized my reduced productivity and needed to imagine my long term security.
Time to reflect has led me to understand, now and without judgment, that it was no fault of my partners’ to, finally after I am sure much serious thought, confront me with the reality of her feelings as to our relationship. With some trepidation she had to admit that our relationship was not as I had imagined and that I must leave the relationship in body and for me to recognize there was no longer a connecting link of love. I had to realize the inevitable emotional separation as well. The ensuing frustration which has lasted these past months wakes me from deep slumbers and questions not of why, but rather how did this happen.
How I could have appropriated so much faith to this relationship without even a whisper of doubt in the strengths of our emotional connection.
To have given my unwavering commitment to a forever framework for a life in the couples lane was extraordinary and naive. As I peer back over my shoulder I should have understood the questions of :
“why do I not have any friends to share my time” or “where might I live if not here” and “you should try to sell your pictures for extra income”.
I had no idea that what appeared as innocent observations were serious inquiries in preparation for the Y in the road ahead.
At this time, after much thought, I recognize the fault in the execution of this breakup lies not with my partner and her heartfelt proposal to dissolve our relationship but almost entirely with me for my innocent acceptance that the world around me and as I saw it. I believed it was as good as it could be for both of us. A truly naive and uninformed understanding.
I am furious now with myself that I could have imagined after 2 previous failed relationships of 12 years each there would still be a chance to find a loving and enduring potential with another person. My anger at this disruption in my 70th year of what I had always seen as finding peace with another kindred soul has not yet cooled even to the point of finding some comfort in my drawings, photos or my travels and wondering how long, if ever, will it take to believe I can exit this body with my own mind content that I have given what I can and taken only what I have needed.
Having let my guard down before and losing my way should have been experience enough to know that when you wrap your days and dreams around another ones’ vision you will lose your own. It seems I am doomed to repeat my “need to let another lead” while all the way straining to hold on to the reins and now that I have been given my freedom I pyne once again for the structure that suffocated me.
I am not wishing a return to the house of many faults nor the days of many hours nor the feigned affection that familiarity breeds but rather the sense of home and routine that allows an escape from responsibility, obligation and convention. The water, trees and silence are now distant impressions and are supplanted by a coarse and functional urban social scene. I came to Nova Scotia in 2000 to get a new start and I leave, reluctantly, 13 years later looking for a new start. I can do this only one more time.
I thought I had conquered my recent fears of returning cancer tumours but only when I develop that dull ache in the area of my lymph nodes do I begin to emotionally exagerate my condition.
Until the return to the needle and the pills to shrink the cancer I was finding fault with all those around me. I am always encouraged with the reintroduction of the hormone therapy since the drugs convince my body to attack the metastasized cancer tumors and I relax knowing that the grim reaper has been left at the door once again.
Coping as I have been with a reduction in income and an increase in costs that had been covered by my partners’ insurance and willingness to cover medical and social extras, the dissolution of a 13 year relationship, no personal, travel or auto insurance and the prospect of my bicycle being my principal mode of transport for the rest of wheeled life I have been defiant in accepting depression into my now quiet world.
Periodically I mentally fall apart as I sit and imagine the walls of my new room in my daughters home in London without having at least one of my favourite photos on them.
As time passes it baffles me that with all the friendships, associations and sharing with my Nova Scotia community, that only 3 people have offered any emotional support to me or have even acknowledged the difficulties I have had with leaving my home and the need to relocate with my family in Ontario. I am grateful to those 3 friends for the skype calls and email and restoring a fraction of hope for what constitutes a friendship.
The numbers of burgers that have been flipped, scotch poured, lobsters boiled and evenings of laughter shared should surely have earned me more respect than I received these past 6 months. Whatever must the rest of them think of me.
Bitter and frustrated at the whole process I often wonder how I could be kicked out of my home. Not that my name was on any document of ownership, but that my personal place of being, where my hand prints and hammer left their marks on walls and windows, now has been pulled out from under me leaving me at this moment 6 months later in a very lonely place. Unable to feel my place, home, community and affection for my dog leave me a very deep hole.
It is difficult to contain my anger at my inability to clearly read the past several years and then to now have to prepare for a life that would afford me the safety of those familiar relationship and creature comforts and find again the soft blanket of practical protection they gave me while adapting to my singular relationship.
If there were another person involved in the decision that was made to put the brakes on our shared lifestyle the script would be much clearer but cautiously excepting that is not the case I feel that our relationship status could still have continued with a change in our obligations and responsibilities. Altering any of our personal characteristics and disruptions to either of our lives would have been minimal.
Then again maybe not.
My internal rage stems from my own inability to fully examine that possibility.
Loneliness trumps rage. The loss of intelligent conversation, the sharing and preparation of meals, mutual love and affection for pets and home all bubble to the surface and make evident the needs and dependency that we acquire in our early years and cultivate in the later ones.
Memories of all that I cherished during the years at Lumsden Pond flood to surface to remind me of my vulnernability which I have proudly denied the existence of for the past 40 years.
The tears find their way through the comic facade and provide a release from the unrequited love. Only now as I skim back through 13 years of experiences and difficulties do I see that I had created my own independent version of the happy couple being able to live out their respective goals and ambitions while contributing to a mutually loving relationship. I was comfortable and patient in all that I lived while my partner was frustrated in most every turn.
Simply said, I ran out of things to bring to the table and so lost my ability to participate in our relationship and therefore became redundant.
Consistent with my past efforts to pull myself through another knothole, I am confident that as time goes by and my economic situation improves as well as my health that I will paste another smile on and pedal into what will probably be another surprising decade of my life. As I pass each day active at the Y or straining to guide my little fold up bike over another knoll I think about how much my friend and partner of 13 years will miss the adventure ahead. She always seemed to enjoy our travels when she wasn’t thinking about her work. I am beginning to look forward to tomorrow.

Thanks for listening.

PostScript: It should be said that, as many men do, I approach relationships with women wearing my heart on my sleeve knowing full well that to do so opens every possible door to eventual disappointment and rejection but that by not leading with your most powerful card would make you a bluffer and would forever put your sincerity in doubt.

Bill O’Brien
London, Ontario
June 5, 2013

Filed under: Personal Progress

About the Author

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Working with @SumthngStnks at twitter to uncover the unspeakable truths of the world.

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