The detritus of a relationship

The breakdown of a relationship is no fun at all.

Those plans and ideas about a joint future are like suspended tendrils reaching out into the distance.

As the relationship is terminated, they all come crashing down, cut off at the source. And they just look silly lying there on the floor. You feel embarrassed because everyone around you can can see them. They can see what you’re NOT doing, what paths you WON’T take, and they can see it’s YOU not having that future anymore.

The tendrils are detritus that needs to be cleaned away before you can think ahead to something else. They block your path and your mind.

The clean-up process is painful. Especially if you’re the one left to clean up while your partner is off dancing in the moonlight, living another future.

Everyone seems to watch on balefully as you wind back and discard the vague and firms plans for the possible futures you designed together. Reeling each tendril in, you feel the pain of each incomplete and unfulfilled plan. You find some of the tendrils tangled with those of someone else or your ex-partner and you have to find ways to untangle them before you thrust them untidily into a trash can. You discover that the trash can isn’t big enough for all the tendrils and you have to look at them each day, even as you try hard to look somewhere else instead.

Eventually, the tendrils that once represented a future you both planned for rot away. They fit nicely into the trash can. You can put a lid on what is now that past and start gathering the raw materials to do it all again.

The good news is that eventually time passes, the detritus is gone, and you can see in color again. Your newly-healed heart is ready for its next adventure, you feel a stronger person again, and you try to make only mistakes that you haven’t made before. You definitely don’t want to relive the pain of any you can remember…


About Single Dad

I married young. Now, after more than 20 years of marriage, 3 wonderful daughters, and many ups and downs, my wife has decided the marriage is over. The "About Me" and "My Background" pages on my blog have more details.
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21 Responses to The detritus of a relationship

  1. Lost in France says:

    It is hard to be left being the one who has to clean up the crap.
    But it is better to get them cleared out of the way, rather than having them left as a constant reminder. Or worse letting you think that you can actually save something and grow it back again.

  2. Lady E says:

    Yes, breaking up sucks SD.

    • One day I should somehow re-sort all of my posts so they follow a more natural sequence. The ups and downs of separation doesn’t help. Also, it would help if I didn’t have drafts that I come back to long after I started them. 🙂

  3. Yep. Yep yep. I know this so well. Exceptionally well articulated. Heartbreaking and inspiring.
    Lady E is right…it does suck. It seems unjust. Let’s just say the stronger of you two is left to this task and call it an honor to be the one showing your girls how to get through these worst of times.
    Peace to you

  4. Caroline says:

    Yes I cleared up. I sorted through all the joint memories, the things we’d purchased together both near and far, the photos….. the list seemed endless. On his own admission he just couldn’t face it! Great and he was the one with a secure future where someone new was spreading her arms round him (and a great deal more……!!)

    I still have some tendrils left. Some which refuse to die or rot away. Time – I hope and believe – will finally secure them in the trash can.

    So well put. Thank you

    • Hi Caroline!

      It must have been tough for you to deal with the emotional and physical clean-up almost entirely by yourself. It reminds me of a post by Lady E talking about her recent move to a new house and the emotional turmoil it creates.

      Time seems to heal our body and mind most of the time. I think we can speed along the process by our actions. In this case, reflection to ground ourselves, reaching out to friends to receive succour, and getting ‘out there’ to explore new possibilities…

      • Caroline says:

        I agree. In many ways now I wish it had all been quicker but the clearing up process took 2 years – I was finally pushed into doing the ‘tough stuff’ when I had to move last january! And all the way through he said he felt too guilty to help! Brilliant!!

        Doing new stuff certainly helps!

  5. TikkTok says:

    Compost. Something really GOOD can come from all that garbage. It may take a while, and it probably won’t look anything like the original, but it WILL be just as good, and really fertile ground for something else to take root…… the waiting sure can suck, though. {{{hugs}}}

    • Hi TikkTok,

      Compost. That’s a very good way of looking at my post. Is it your rural character or your good sense that brings this excellent idea? Let’s go with good sense!

      And you bring in fertile ground for new things…excellent imagery! Thanks!

  6. backonmyown says:

    Your “tendrils” image is perfect. Used to be–one of those rogue tendrils would reach out and grab me and take me back to a place I didn’t want to be. Most of them have now been carried away in the trash. The few left behind are small and looking rather withered. Time marches on and we do heal. Good post. You sound nostalgic but also sound, as in sane.

    • I think there’s always some sorrow over a failed relationship, at least ones where there’s a history and/or plans for the future. There are things to look back on (nostalgia) and/or things that will no longer come to pass (disappointment). I’m not sure if it matters whether it’s a marriage or even a shorter relationship; that’s just a matter of the scale of the hurt.

      I’m glad you’re finding that your own tendrils are mostly ineffectual in their influence over your emotions now. You’ve got it under control now. Yay…

  7. So very true. Dealing with what’s left behind and constant reminders is painful. I love the way time heals even when we think we’ll never be ok again. Good post! Love it.

    • Thanks T! (Or are we going for MJMR?)

      I think that from our very first crush we experience some of this. There’s some very fundamental part of our emotional make-up that pushes us into a grieving process when a relationship fails. How fast we can skip through each of the key bases depends on our nature and how strong we are.

  8. All I can say is AMEN!!! Great post 🙂

  9. ღ Amy... says:

    Your last paragraph says it all. The world doesnt stop for us. We have to keep on, keeping on. Chalk it all up to experience. If the stove is hot, dont touch it. 🙂

    Enjoy your weekend.

  10. Pingback: Pandora Has Nothing on Me. « divorcedandangry

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