13 Days: What to do when you’ve wasted your time in a worthless relationship

This day 2 of me forcing myself to write, largely by unearthing unwritten or published stuff and explaining why I didn’t do it.

The title of this post absolutely came from a hostile place, but I intended to do my usual thing of smothering any sign of pain with sarcasm. It was supposed to be about fantasy football, but since my ex had plagiarized my last blog title to dump me, I wanted to acknowledge that Fantasy Football wasn’t the only worthless relationship I’d been pursuing. (Take that, you jerk.)

I sent the fraction below to my mother, who I think was taken aback and wrote to me, “It’s not funny, it’s sad.” My brother also read it, and also didn’t think it was funny. He thought maybe it had been therapeutic, like a journal entry.

I was immediately hurt, because I hate that something I’d worked so hard on sounded like a journal entry. I got all worked up that people assume my writing is all off-the-cuff and fuck everyone because they don’t understand how I agonize and decide how to tell the story and edit and re-edit (although never for typos.) Did I mention I hate everyone because no one understands me?? {Door slam.} 

Then I felt upset because they didn’t get that I was about to get to the funny part. My mom said, Ok, go write the funny part. As it turns out, there was no funny part. Then I was hurt because I felt like people only wanted me to publish things that were funny and god damnit I had a sensitive side! Just like that guy in the Tears of a Clown song. I think. 

Anyway, once upon a time this meant enough to me to argue with my mother about (a higher bar than you’d think.) So here goes. 

For all but a lucky few of us, disappointment and failure are an inevitable element of the human condition. In addition to inspiring that Rolling Stones song we all love, the loss that lurks inside all of our life stories has inspired a whole series of counter-movements that try to embrace it:

  • Embracing failure!
  • Learning from mistakes!
  • Practicing non-attachment!
  • Self-actualization and finding yourself!
  • It was God’s plan!
  • Not being a sore loser!
  • MEMOIR WRITING

And the list goes on, some of the explanations more preposterous than others. Billions of dollars are made promising people that you can get heart broken and your ego bruised, then somehow manage to be cooler, smarter, better, richer, hotter for it.

So when the going got tough, I immediately tried to write the story of my Fantasy Football season. I didn’t really hope to win, but I did dream of losing with grace and dignity – and thought the written word was how I could it.

That urge to write our own stories, as grotesquely fallible as it is, is an intensely human impulse.  No matter how hard I try to be realistic, I do things like imagine that writing a blog post about my fantasy football team called “What to Do When You’re Trapped in a Failing Relationship,” will be a mystical way of cueing the Universe that my luck should change. At the very least, I hoped if I strenuously adhered to own practical plan, I could turn things around. But in fact, it seemed to have done the opposite.

As soon as I published it, close friends and family came out of the woodworks to say, “Um, is [The Man] angry about this?”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “It’s about fantasy football!”

“Well. Sure. But. Really? Ok.” Was the typical response of a firm and unconvinced friend. With my great dissociative powers, I was able to find it amusing that the poor quality of my relationship was so well-known that no one doubted the blog post was passive aggressive code for something. Plus [The Man] had said he loved the post, so I didn’t really think more of it until we hiking down the side of a mountain tensely discussing dinner plans and he said, “I just feel really trapped.”

“Trapped about dinner or in our relationship?” I clarified, cheerfully. (Hiking while fighting tends to add a certain, inevitable buoyancy to things.)

“Our relationship. I feel trapped in this failing relationship.”

It is always difficult to be broken up with; but when your partner flat out plagiarizes you in a breakup conversation, it is hard to decide whether to be flattered or enraged. If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can do both; if you’re extremely talented/manic, you can do both simultaneously. If you’re busy hiking down a mountain, you might just default to shock.

I argued with him that I was serious about the lessons I learned in my post – hard work, a new approach, staying present – might all be ways to effectively improve the relationship. He didn’t buy it. He didn’t want to be a learning canvas or put up with my experimental disinterest, intellectualized proclamations of eventual doom and crushes on other people.

In short: neither my actual relationship nor my fantasy football season was salvageable, and I knew it. I didn’t really hope to win, but I still thought maybe by writing, I could lose with grace and dignity. I imagined that I would be able to stay in control, stay methodical, carefully learn new things, grow as person and come out rosy and invigorated – eagerly anticipating next year and maybe even Fantasy Basketball, because hey why not?!
Well, if  you’ve ever lost anything you gave even the tiniest shit about, you probably know how I fared with that endeavor. But I hate to let a low moment (or season) pass without at least pretending it made me a better person. So, now, I will shift gears to actually talk about Fantasy Football, because it’s always easier to be calm when the people who have failed you aren’t the ones you know personally.

And there is where the blog post ends. Readers, I don’t know what to tell you. My Fantasy Football season was way too much of a trainwreck, and my heart was way too broken, to process any of this in any kind of intelligible way. I think perhaps the thing I’ve grappled with the most the season is that sometimes there is no upside, there is no lesson, there is no fairness. But there is often next Sunday, and there is always next year. 

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