Saturday, September 16, 2006

"As a dog returneth to his vomit..."

This has always been one of my favourite Biblical proverbs - a memorably lurid analogy for our foolish human propensity to revisit and repeat our past follies. 'Dog vomit' (as in "Don't go doing that dog-vomit thing again with Louise") has become a regular piece of conversational shorthand between me and my best college drinking buddy, The Bookseller, when we are warning each other against trying to go back into a failed relationship.

Do I always practice what I preach? Well, mostly, but not always. And The Bookseller is not on hand to snarl his discouraging scorn at me.

A few days ago, I went and had lunch with The Ex. And it was lovely. One of the nicest times I've ever had with her. Until she mentioned in passing, just as she was about to go, that she was "still in love" with the guy she had supposedly left for me nearly a year ago (but, actually, hadn't quite; and who was presumably the guy she left me for shortly afterwards), and that it was making her miserable. What exactly does she expect me to do with this information? Make another doomed attempt to 'rescue' her? Give her the 'tough love' advice she needs, that might help her to extricate herself from this self-destructive non-relationship, but would almost certainly sour - if not destroy - our friendship? Or smile sadly and say,"I'm sorry, but I can't help you with this problem." Talk about a 'conflict of interest'!!!

Quite apart from the appalling complexities of this relationship of hers - and of the brief, mad, wonderful affair that we had - I will always have difficulties in dealing with her because of the extraordinary strength of the connection I feel with her, the depth of the affinities I sense between us, the absolute adoration I have for her. Scoff, if you will, at the New Age hokeyness of this, but... minutes into our first conversation, I recognised her as a 'soulmate'. We share so many interests, ideals and prejudices, the same passionate enthusiasms, a common zest for life. We get on - most of the time - terrifically well together; we get each other (which happens very rarely with me: I am a very weird and unfathomable guy!).

We could have been, should have been - perhaps still could be - best friends until our dying breath. But then, of course, I had to go and fall in love with her, and fall into bed with her, and it all just got way too intense and complicated and messy and overwrought. I think the lesson I learn from this is that you should never sleep with your soulmate - sleep with people you fancy, not with someone who you feel is destined to become the most important friendship in your life.

I'm over the worst of it now. I think I can resist any temptation I might occasionally feel to try to get back together with her. I have managed to curb and contain the dominating lust I once felt for her. I love her, but am no longer, I think, 'in love' with her in that hopeless, dizzy, intoxicating, obsessive, infatuate way - that we all so enjoy, until it goes painfully wrong. ("Falling in love is like getting drunk. A relationship is the hangover." Discuss.)

Yes, the trouble with falling for your soulmate is that you value the friendship more than the sex, and become reluctant to take any risks in trying to initiate or rekindle a sexual dimension to the relationship. I am determined that I can be quite content with a Platonic relationship with her from here on..... but I am sure that any number of my crass (or perhaps just "refreshingly direct"?) young American buddies would say, "Oh God, man, she is SO hot - you've totally got to try and jump her again."

But I don't listen to them. And the little voice inside me that occasionally echoes their advice has been locked away in an oubliette, never to be allowed out again.

I just wish, wish, wish (since I feel her happiness and unhappiness so much more acutely than my own) that the silly girl would learn the knack of being happy a bit more often. Perhaps, one day.....


GW said...

Sounds like you still have it pretty bad, my friend.

Froog said...

No, I really think I am 'out of danger' now.

This post was a bit of a stream-of-consciousness thing: I wasn't sure where I was going with it when I started. And I suppose I started out addressing the possibility that by continuing to have contact with her I was "leaving the door open" to reviving the romance. That possibility was thrown into sharper relief by her revelations about her 'love life', and the conflicted feelings they provoked in me.

The 'conflict of interest' I referred to exasperatedly was not in fact - as it might have been - a romantic one, but simply a dilemma of friendship: I feel I ought to give her a good verbal slapping around, encourage her to ditch this guy who is (by her own frequent admission) no good for her; but I am afraid to do so because of the likely fatal strain it would put on our friendship (a strain that would, I'm sure, be intensified by her suspicions that I might have a more selfish motive in giving such advice).

The process of writing this post was very usefully cathartic for me, I think. I realised very clearly in the course of the writing that I am at last completely in control of the lustful impulses she once aroused in me, and that I really do see her just as a friend now - almost, indeed, as a sister.

A day or two ago, I played Garbage's 'Version 2.0' album - music which had become very tied up in my mind with our relationship and our breakup, and which has usually made me very weepy when I've heard it since. This time, I enjoyed it without acid flashbacks, without tears - just a good album again, disentangled from all the painful memories. A breakthrough!


In my opinion, if life circumstances are the only obstacle in the way of total happiness in a relationship, and those circumstances change dramatically, then people owe it to themselves to give it another shot, if none of the two have a second of doubt in their mind.
But one person perusing the other and trying to “convince” them to give it another shot, that’s the kind of “dog vomit” that should stay untouched.

I'm so glad that you feel the way you do about this "loved one"; that you no longer feel sad being reminded of not having her. "That is a good place to be" -a sentence I have learnt from a friend who is very good at recognising which state is a good state and which is not.