Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Work in Progress: The Breakup

For the last six months, I have been writing out my anger, frustration, sadness, and all of the other conflicting emotions that I felt after my boyfriend of two years abruptly dumped me. The whole work is still a mess of scribbles in my journal and stream-of-consciousness typing, but, as I think I'm finally approaching the day where I'm finally over my ex, I'm starting to develop it into something I can share. In that spirit, this is a preliminary introduction of sorts, and part of the conclusion, to my as yet untitled breakup saga:

I went through every imaginable emotion after the breakup. First I was sad. I cried constantly. I didn’t want to go to sleep because it would just be me and the dark, and the last thing I wanted was to be alone in the dark with my sadness. There were nights I stayed up until 4 am, only shutting off my computer and turning off the light when fatigue pressed my eyes closed. I was angry at my ex for abandoning me, especially since so much of my life was a mess. I was out of money, in debt, unhappy with my job and couldn’t find a path for my life. I was stressed already, and losing him just added to my emotional weight. But for him, everything seemed fine. He went back to his job, always his first and only love, and his life without me was hardly the empty hole that my life was without him. At least that’s how it felt. I wanted him to hurt. I wanted him to cry. I imagined him asking me to take him back, only to have me reject him. At that point, part of me wanted him back, but the part of me that wanted him to suffer and cry was far stronger. As I concentrated on getting my own life together, even the frustrating process of trying to find a decent job, I slowly stopped thinking about him. I wrote, threw myself back into my serial killer obsession (the emergence of England’s “Crossbow Cannibal” about six months after the breakup helped my recovery immensely, however troubling the presence of a serial killer is for any community), and started going out and seeing friends again. I had the requisite rebound fling (more than one), which gave me immense pleasure and confused me at the same time. I enjoyed my brief flings, but I wasn’t anxious to date again. The thought of being vulnerable to emotional intimacy frightened me. I had to get a lot stronger and more confident in myself to be ready for that. But I was slowly getting better, and, when the time came, I would be ready to open myself up to another person again. I had to fully heal myself before I could be prepared to possibly get broken again. If I was strong and solidly put together, maybe I wouldn’t break into as many pieces the next time.
While going through the breakup, my emotions flowed back and forth. Some days, my ex was far out of my mind, and I was focused on my own life and my own desires. But other days, I couldn't stop thinking how much I missed him. It was particularly frustrating because these bad days often came after good days. I'd think I was over him, but then I'd catch a glimpse of him in a store window and, for the rest of the night, I'd think about what I had lost. As the months went on, I could bounce back from these bad days far faster than I did before, but I wanted to get to a place where I wouldn't have any of those days. How long would that take?
One constant through all of the pain was my friends. After one dinner with a good friend, I felt better than I had in weeks. As we talked and laughed about our past relationships and our lives, I realized that there were people out there who liked and appreciated me for who I was, and those were the people I should be concentrating my energy on, not someone who had left me and was now nothing but a negative influence on my life and well-being. I forgot this realization many times, and sunk into post-breakup despair, but it became easier and easier to remember.
While getting over the breakup, I turned, as I always had, to music. On one of my bad nights, I was listening to Radiohead, and "Fake Plastic Trees" started playing. The line "She looks like the real thing, she tastes like the real thing, my fake plastic love," hit me hard. My ex, and our relationship, were fake. It all looked real, and felt real, but in the end, it wasn't. He was never going to give me the commitment I needed from him, because he was perfectly happy keeping our relationship superficial and incidental, only seeing each other once or twice a week to have fun. He wanted us to stay friends, because if our relationship was so shallow anyway, why shouldn't we just immediately go into an even shallower, platonic one? But I couldn't do it. I felt the love between us far deeper than he could ever be capable of feeling. I wasn't about to hide or deny my feelings of resentment and pain toward him in the interest of civility, or whatever he was trying to achieve. He was always so polite and smiling to everyone, even if he told me later that he didn't like them. That was something that annoyed me horribly. This led to another realization, another one I frequently forgot as the sadness temporarily overtook my rationality. He was fake. Our relationship was fake. I despised falsehood. Therefore, maybe I despised him, even though part of me still loved him. There weren't, and still aren't, any simple solutions for me to get over him. But out of this mess came a wealth of self-discovery, which would ultimately help me not only in attempting to get over the breakup but also in figuring out my future. Even if I forget it while suffering through another relapse, the knowledge of myself remains inside me, as a guide to steer me back out of the depths.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A general post about my favorite topic

While I am currently following the trial of England's suspected "Crossbow Cannibal" Stephen Griffiths, I don't feel ready to post a complete opinion on the case. Like Dennis Rader and Missouri serial killer Timothy Krajcir, captured in 2007, Griffiths was a student of criminology, which is interesting since many factors of his case recall previous killers. The Crossbow Cannibal's hunting ground was the same area plagued by Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe in the 1970s. Also, the law firm that represented Sutcliffe is now representing Griffiths. Griffiths' lawyers are also petitioning for Griffiths to be moved to a mental health facility, and Sutcliffe's attorneys pursued an insanity defense, which succeeded. The only difference between Griffiths (if he is the Crossbow Cannibal) and Sutcliffe is that Sutcliffe's victims were not dismembered. Last week, Griffiths attempted suicide in the same prison where Harold Shipman, possibly the most prolific serial killer in history, killed himself. As I said, my examination of Griffiths here is extremely preliminary. Knowing little about how the victims were killed, or Griffiths' upbringing, except that he reportedly hadn't spoken to his mother in several years, I don't have much to say in the way of psychological examination.
That the Crossbow Cannibal targeted prostitutes is hardly unusual. From Jack the Ripper onward, prostitutes are frequent victims of serial killers. While some psychologists suggest that prostitutes represent the depravity and evil of women that the killers loathe, criminal profilers say that prostitutes are merely available targets. Most women will not get into a stranger's car, but a prostitute's livelihood depends on doing just that. Also, to a woman-hating serial killer, all women are whores, regardless of occupation. All the killer wants is a woman to destroy. Prostitutes are simply the most convenient.
One question I've been asking myself lately is: Why do we focus our fear on serial killers when there are so many other dangers facing us, like car crashes, domestic disputes, on the job accidents, war, and other random dangers. As crime writer Harold Schecter wrote, a person is far more likely to be killed driving home than by a serial killer. Those dangers are scattered, and a serial killer on the loose in a community gives a face and, later, a name to the general fear we feel in an often scary world. The apprehension of a serial killer, although only making us marginally safer, because all the other ills of the world are still out there, is still considered a major victory in the fight for public safety. We feel powerless against all the dangers that face us, because we never know when or how, or which one, will strike. Our own bodies could develop disease and kill us, as could family members and the morning commute. Bringing a serial killer to justice is a symbolic control over these ills, since the killer has become the personification of all that is bad in our world. Locking up, or killing, the killer is a minor victory. But in a world full of uncertainty, it's still a victory, a triumph over the evils that haunt us.