Monday, December 10, 2007

The Burden of Story-Telling

I have always maintained that people (especially extroverts) make sense of disastrous or even wonderful but hugely-life-changing events by telling the story. Sometimes, you have to tell it over and over and over. (Ever listen to a woman who just had a baby? You have to hear about every single labor pain. It's unspeakably boring, but essential to her process, somehow.) I'm discovering, though, that there's another side to this.

I do keep telling the story of this relationship disaster over and over, hoping to find some sense in it. To Dave, it apparently feels like I'm trying to remind him of his "sins", but that's not what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to understand. It still doesn't make sense, and I have a perfectly adequate mind. If there were sense to be found, I think I could have found it by now.

But I never thought about how much pain can be involved in the repetition. This is a small town. I keep running into acquaintances. Friends already know the drama, of course. But what about all those people I've known forever, maybe even been to their house for dinner, but we aren't really close friends? I see them at church, the gym, the grocery store, restaurants.... Naturally, they want to know when Dave's coming home, what our plans for Christmas are.... And it's once more around the block with the sad tale.

How many times do I have to say (using more neutral words, of course) that I've been kicked to the curb? My friend Terri wisely pointed out that it helps just to get out there; fairly soon the rumor mill takes over and does some of my work for me. But there are still people who don't know, and that's starting to weigh on me. But the telling of the story weighs on me, too.

And there's a little bit of aggravation that the burden of this, too, has fallen to me and not to Dave. What price is HE paying, one wonders? (And would it even help if he were suffering, too? Probably not, I suppose.)


Lexy said...

I got people, A. Making him suffer would make ME feel better, that's for sure.

I eventually become numb when I have to repeat a story over and over. And I'm not sure that's a good thing. The original had so much passion; it was a bit healing; it got rid of stress. The repeated version has none of that, for me. Maybe the story is just a story with no emotional attachment once it's "overdone" and that could be a good thing.

Oh, just make up cards and hand them out. ;)

Barbara said...

Oh Andrea, I really hear you on this one. And again, I'm so sorry. This part of your finding your way home never occurred to me.

What a hard thing. But, the rumor mill will eventually take over. But not entirely.

I remember a favorite babysitter I visited when I had all grown up, in my twenties. She kept asking about the family until finally I had to spill it: Dad had died fifteen years earlier.

This is so much fresher, so much worse. I really feel for you. While, like Lexy, I'd like to hurt Dave, I also can't help but feel that it's his loss. I'm angry, yes, but more sad for you than anything about him.

I'm probably going to regret this in the morning, but I wanted to reply. Take care, and keep warm!

Andrea Rusin said...

Don't regret your post, Barb. You're saying something that I am trying to work my way towards. I would like to have enough confidence to say "his loss" about this whole thing. Since I can't, I'm counting on you guys (and Lexy's people!!) to hold that thought for me.

Renee said...

The price he's paying is looking like an ass, even if he hasn't received that particular bill yet. It will come due.

Elizabeth said...

He will eventually discover what a jerk he has been and then will be full of regrets. It will happen although the time frame is uncertain. I've never known anyone who got away with something like that without figuring it out at last. On a much lesser scale, people around my neighborhood are just realizing they haven't seen my dog Bear for a while and are asking me how she's doing. I can't come up with a good answer. Oh, um Bear is in a box now, I'm keeping her out on the console. She was well loved around here. I probably should have sent cards. Maybe you could do that???

Renee said...

I think you should ask your priest to make an announcement in church on Sunday.

"Parishoners, please pray for Dave Rusin and hope that he makes it out of his tragic and embarrassing midlife crisis without buying a sports car or dying his hair. And please, pray that when his comeuppance arrives, his soon-to-be ex-wife Andrea will be feeling charitable enough not to laugh soundly in his face"

Andrea Rusin said...

You guys are GOOD ;) Add to that Terri's idea that I have cards made up that have Dave's phone number on them. When people ask about the relationship, I can just hand them the card. The picture is starting to come clear to me ;)

Renee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Renee said...

Or you could lolcat him ( sent it around to all of your friends.

"Midlife krisiz...i gots wun." (Although personally I like "I can haz Argentinian mathwhore?" better.)

Um, feel free to delete this if you think it's too harsh.

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