I freely admit I have attachment needs.
When I am involved with my love interest it is intense and persistent, and I am loyal and committed to her. I have a strong need to defend her, take care of her. And enjoy her.
I don’t think it is blind loyalty – I feeI it is reciprocated. I hope it is reciprocated. I enjoy her, she enjoys me in her way. I take care of her, she takes care of me. I am driven.
The root of this is what is known as Attachment Theory. I have spoken of that before in previous blogs, and my book. (See Chapter 38, Mental Health, and Chapter 73, Travels with Myself.)
And when the Iove affair comes to an end, as seems inevitable, I am saddened, if not to say devastated, certainly despondent.
They say the quickest way to get over a lost love, for a man at least, is to get back in the saddle again (Gene Autry wrote a song about that but I think he was actually talking about falling off a horse); or for a woman, the saying goes, the quickest way to get over a man is to get under a new one, but the metaphor may take my story in the wrong direction.
But for me, the romantic with strong attachment needs, at the end of an affair I grieve. Even if I have a new love to go to I still lament the loss of the old one. Oh I suppose if a sufficient period of time has gone by, where my despondent amygdala has repaired itself, I could get excited anew at the prospect of a new affair. The excitement of the newness, the halo effect of all her charms – you overlook her shortcomings and avoid comparisons with the old lost love.
And it’s not like I don’t have experience with endings, as William Bridges would say. I’ve had plenty. In fact, I have a new bout of loss and depression every four years. Sometimes, in remorse and guilt, I extend the relationship for one more year but somehow it doesn’t get easier. I have to face the inevitable and end the affair. Oh, I do all the usual CBT to corral my emotions from hijacking me but it still hurts when I have to give her up. Parting is not sweet sorrow for me. I think of all the time I spent with her, the music we loved, the places we visited, the crises and conversations. I struggle with emptying the place of our memories. I wonder if she feels the same.
The lease on my Honda Accord coupe was to end at the end of September. I had to make the decision, as I have every four years, to keep the old girl for a few more years or turn her in on a new model. I decided to turn her in. Downsize even. I don’t like it. I want to hang on. But the numbers talk. Head over heart.
I emptied the trunk, and glove box, and seat and door pockets of four years of accumulated stuff. It needed cleaning up anyway I told myself. Why do we let our lives clutter our relationships like that? It’s called living I guess, which by definition is a bit messy.
Letting that Accord go feels a lot like two years ago when I sold the family home and downsized to a rental townhouse. It was a stage of life thing then – I didn’t need that much space and all those gardens, and the economics were compelling. Now, replacing that Accord with a smaller, economical Civic feels like I am leaving more than an old love behind, I am shedding some of my identity too, even if the new affair is a coupe, and red to boot. I’m sure in time I will develop new attachments to her.
Flipping my Accord for the Civic is not the only affair that ended this month, even though this one was two years in the making. I’ve finally accepted the loss of Emily in my life too. I sent her a card in the mail seeking closure. I am not surprised she did not answer.
August is my mensis horribilis. I have at least six dates in August that ‘trigger’ bittersweet memories. I do apply a certain amount of CBT to these annual milestones so that I am not paralyzed by them, but the memories nevertheless draw energy away from Eros – living life vigourously. August 8 is Marlene’s and my Wedding Anniversary, and it must be acknowledged and honoured, not buried and forgotten. August 9 is the date two years ago when Emily said she would ‘jump with me.’ 2017 August 19, Marlene died. [A year later] August 20, Emily broke my heart for the fourth and last time. (Evidently Emily did not have the same attachment needs I as did, or perhaps, more honestly, her attachment needs were pulling her to her old affair. Or even put in other transition terms, maybe for her the restraining forces for endings were greater than the driving forces for new beginnings.)
August 27 is my birthday and with it comes the annual evocation that I will have fewer and fewer of them; August 30 is Marlene’s birthday. (For 50 years Marlene reminded me that those three days difference in our ages were crucial in her decision to marry me: she would not have married a younger man! But her time has ended and daily I get older and older.)
Still, as Bridges also advises, endings are complemented with New Beginnings. The beginning of something new makes the endings more palatable, if yet poignant. I have many new beginnings to savour and value and look forward to: I have Carmen, who loves me and is totally devoted to me, the perfect partner for someone who has attachment and trust issues; I have my new car which I will also grow to love, and wonder at what the next four years will bring; and I have my latest project – research has begun for The Treasure of Stella Bay; a trip to Amherst Island is set for next week.
I should also like to report that there are now seventeen copies of Travels With Myself in circulation! – five complimentary copies (including one to the Ottawa Public Library), seven cash sales and five sales through lulu.com, the identities of (most of) whom are not disclosed to me, and so I can’t thank them personally for their purchase. (Curiously, one of those buyers also bought a copy of my management effectiveness book, The Dynamics of Management.) One copy was in exchange for a copy of good friend and colleague Bev Patwell’s new book, Leading Meaningful Change. Many of these buyers have done so even though they have read the eponymous blog, or much of it; their thinking evidently is they would rather have a physical artifact of my writing than an ephemeral web version. I get that. If you’re thinking the same thing, visit my web site and click through to lulu.com, or contact me directly if you are in Ottawa.
One of my purchasers was the salesman at Ottawa Honda who convinced me to end my affair with my Accord and redirect my affections to the new Civic Sport. Somehow it doesn’t quite make up for the loss.
3 thoughts on “20-6. The End of the Affair”
Thanks for humouring us, Doug! Always a great perspective on our relationships in life. Cherish your last day in August for 2020.
So glad I was in the know about what the End of The Affair was about before reading this. When you brought me my book (and thank you for that, I am enjoying it and so is my husband) we spoke about your new car and how you felt you had ended a relationship; I hate to see a past vehicle leave me as well. You told me then the title. Had you not told me this, I would have struggled with reading this blog thinking ‘oh poor Doug, he and Carmen are no longer’…. instead, I was chuckling how you reeled in everyone making it certainly sound like it was 2 people breaking up. Good one!
Wow Nice tito😍so generous😊