Henry’s Women (Part II in a Series of Really Long, Really Sporadic Posts)

Hey, it’s never too late to continue a serial that you began to post 8 months ago on a blog that you had forgotten you even kept until you–literally–chanced upon your WordPress account while searching for a recipe on another blog that is completely unrelated to yours, right?  It doesn’t matter that you actually wrote the whole long series of posts that you never posted, literally, 2 years ago, right?  Sometimes the inspiration to post just seizes you, once in a while–or, more precisely, every few years.  What does it matter, this is my blog, after all, and I write the rules here.  Following is the second part of a bunch of long-winded monologues meandering through all flavors of dross, from heavy-hearted anxiety attacks to Henry VIII of England.  See Part I for some context.  Though, “context” may be a bit generous to use for a descriptor, given my idiopathic style of writing:   

Before I finally fell asleep amidst the unremitting heart palpitations and anxious stomach churning, my best friend dutifully called me in response to the text I sent her shortly before with the news.  “Henry has captured what will be his next victim,” my message to her had sneered, masking my grief in snarkiness.  (Well, I actually used a much less honorific, much crasser epithet to refer to him in this particular instance, but it’s not a reference I’d be wise to make on a public platform.)  She read right through my bravado, of course, and offered what comfort she could.  I wanted to cry to her, but didn’t want to give my ex that satisfaction either.  And more than that, I was too ashamed to cry–I mean, this is a scenario universally understood to be the pettiest, shallowest thing a person could ever cry over:  your ex has found another.  The earth is swallowing everyone alive in the mountains of Nepal, ISIS is running around torturously slaughtering every poor soul in its path, Baltimore is burning under oppression-driven unrest that has been fomenting for generations, 4,500 people in the US find out they have cancer each day… And me?  I’m pining for the ex who has replaced me with another.  

And there furthermore is the question of why I would grieve this man to begin with: this is a manipulative man, a selfish man, an abusive man, a bad man who I know I’m better off without, who all the many (many) women who came before me also know they’re better off without.  Someone who the rational part of me knows is absolutely not worth crying over.  I should feel only sympathy and concern for this latest unfortunate girl who is up next at the gallows.  And I do, with the strongest sob-sisterly solidarity.

But this is also a man who the vulnerable human part of me didn’t want to leave, who I resisted leaving until his unassuageable rage and delirium gave me no choice, and who I wanted to go back to when he appealed to me.  I wanted to go back all the way down to my core, despite the fact that his appeal came without the slightest bit of contrition for the despicable treatment that drove me away in the first place, and has since been followed by more despicable manipulation, and disparagement, and slander and smear campaigns.  Despite the fact that he’s a bad man and his love wasn’t really love as much as it was neediness and possessiveness and thirst for power, I still wanted to go back, and still do, and still love him even though I wish I didn’t.  And more loathsome still is my foolishness–no, recklessness–for letting myself be drawn wholeheartedly into his trap in the first place.  

“So.” my best friend summarized, after patiently listening to me tell all of this to her, tear by stifled tear and one heartstring after another, for another, countless time.  “What bothers you most is not that he’s found another woman, but that you made the mistake of letting yourself become involved with him to begin with?”

“Yes.  And ashamed that I miss him even though I know I made a mistake by letting myself become involved with him to begin with.”

“So fine, you made a mistake.  Don’t be angry at yourself or ashamed, you need to forgive yourself and move on.”  The conversation continues, following a pattern of her finding a way to rationalize my idiocy with respect to men and my insisting that I’m a dumbass the nevertheless.  

“This wasn’t a completely futile relationship.  It served a purpose,” my friend persisted.  “. . . .I mean, you finally had the opportunity to lose your virginity!  By the time you were 30!  And we thought you never would,”

“Mmmmm,” I rolled my eyes to myself.  She she was looking high and low for words of encouragement, and now she was grasping for straws.  I was starting to feel worse at this point, not better.

And then more seriously, “You said before that you’ve grown from the experience of being with him.  Remember, when you shared your open letter to him, during our closure ritual, you talked so beautifully about how your relationship with Henry allowed you to affirm so many things about yourself as a person.”  I brightened a little (though, just a little) upon being reminded that in some remote sense I might have a morsel of resilience and fortitude hidden inside me, and I flushed with appreciation for her being so loving.  Or trying to, at least.

“You’re so level-headed and zen about these things,” I dumbly reply with envy as much as with gratitude for her patience and moral support.  “I don’t know how you manage to pull it off when it comes to the heart wrenching shit in life.”

“I’ve worked hard at being zen for a very long time.”  And I know she has.  Her library has everything under the sun from DT Suzuki to Tara Brach.

Her zen didn’t suffuse me after I hung up, though.  My chest just would not calm down.  At all.  All weekend long.  I went to bed with my heart pounding and woke up with my heart poeunding after hours and hours of restless sleep.  It remained that way inexorably, despite my thinking zen thoughts and all that shit.  I felt too putrid to eat anything at all since the interrupted chocolate binge.  Food literally revolted me; as you know, such an aversion is very rare for me, when I am staying above water mentally, at least.  Not that the loss of appetite bothers me, of course.  It comes as a respite to the usual gnawing hunger.  But nothing is a more peculiar and enigmatic experience for a bulimic than that of losing her appetite.




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