I mean how the hell is this "staying close to both of you" baloney supposed to work? Let's just imagine it, shall we? I go to stay with my old friends for a weekend. The weekend before, Beloved and Bonk have been doing what comes naturally in the spare bed where I am now expected to sleep. If I look carefully enough, I'll probably find samples of their hair entwined on the carpet. And what do my old friends and I talk about? Everything except "them". Our work, our gardens, where we are going for our holidays ... it begins to approach the level of conversation you have in the hairdresser. I'm too polite to ask how many screams they heard coming through the wall of the spare room and just exactly how Beloved is looking 10 years younger since he started wearing bright orange silk shirts on a regular basis.
But I suppose "staying friends with both of you" is all part of the belief that we should live in peace with our ex-partners: that I should have Beloved, and Bonk, round to dinner, and let him talk about how wonderful life is now that he doesn't have to endure me anymore; that Bonk and I should exchange knowing glances about Beloved and all his little ways that we both adore and know oh so well; that I should set a calm example to my children - "Oh yes, darlings, Daddy did break my heart, but it's just a silly old heart and I don't really mind a bit now we all eat mushroom risotto together." What sort of example is that? How to be a completely unfeeling bastard, that's what sort.
No, if that is civilisation, you can keep it - from flying buttresses to desktop publishing, from stuffed olives to power showers, stick the whole thing in a skip. I'll go and live in my hermit's cave and keep the right to be incandescently furious, the right to scream when it hurts and throw big heavy destructive things.
In truth, of course, most of my friends do want either eye-spitting or jaw-breaking options. Some want both. Which is terribly gratifying. But really, I know that in the long run I must be able to see Beloved's name in lights, see him snogging Bonk at awards ceremonies and not want to make voodoo dolls. I'll never want to have dinner with the bastard, but I don't want to go on wishing he'd end his career under Waterloo Bridge. Because it's a waste of my time.
And the first step is to stop crying. One of the "punch his lights out" friends made a very useful suggestion. "It's like giving up smoking," he said, "you do it a day at a time." So now when I get up I say "today I choose not to cry". (Some mornings that in itself is enough to put me back down the bottom of the duvet for an hour.)
This involves a good deal of "turn Albert's fact to the wall, Mother, never more mention his name", a giving-up of all the little wallowing rituals I have adopted for the last few months: no more stroking Beloved photo, playing Bob Dylan in the dark or sniffing Beloved's last remaining T-shirt. Also, no wearing of clothes he's given me, going places we've been, or talking to friends who still talk to him, and could if they wanted to tell me exactly how beautiful Bonk is and how well and thriving Beloved is looking. It's all a tad limiting, but like my mother always said. "If you pick it, it won't heal."Reuse content