Now I’m Just Somebody that He Used to Know


March 2, 2014 by lucieromarin

This weekend, while trudging through the rain with a bag of groceries on my back, I suddenly remembered lines from the musical My Fair Lady:

There’ll be spring every year without you.

England still will be here without you.

There’ll be fruit on the tree,

and a shore by the sea,

There’ll be crumpets and tea

Without you!

I thought it was some kind of tribute to the British national character that a musical which I detest could produce some of the most sensible advice ever about romance – to wit, that it’s fine to be in love with someone, but this mustn’t mean thinking he’s the actual centre of the universe and life must be meaningless and joyless without him.

As I walked, I kept thinking:

He hasn’t spoken to me for two years, but only now, in the past month, have I been able to hear my phone ring or see a text message arrive without rushing to it in the hope that it’s him. If I saw a man on the train wearing his colours or his hat, I’d break out in a cold sweat, feel my heart race (not in a pleasant way) and, if I was particularly startled, cry. The first time I forced myself to cross the street so as to avoid his office (it was en route to my bus stop) I felt sharp, stabbing pains in my heart and chest; the second time, it was like being knifed in the stomach.

His tastes governed how I prayed, how I dressed, what I ate, and how I spent my free time. He never bullied; he didn’t have to. He only had to shrug and say what he liked, and that was conviction enough. He’s the reason I go to Mass more frequently than once a week, the reason I wear the Scapular, the reason I made the nine First Fridays, the reason I practise mental prayer. He’s also the reason I watched ‘Farscape’ (which was rubbish), the reason I read ‘Gotham Central’ (which wasn’t), the reason I stopped wearing brown (he didn’t like it). I used to cook for him sometimes; he used to pray for me; he used to listen to my woes – and, every now and then, just for a moment, I’d listen to his. Then, he disappeared, and, after two years of waiting to hear from him again, I know, now, that I’m never going to.

It’s hard to discover that you’re dispensable. It’s hard to learn that your friend, however rightly he may need to go away and create a new life for himself, does not even need to say ‘goodbye’ before he does so. But one thing is certain – waiting and hoping for him to discover that need will not, in fact, generate it, and the only person who stands to lose by waiting and hoping is me.

It isn’t true that grief disappears with time – but it can be overlaid by other experiences and emotions, and it can, sometimes, be managed by acts of the will. So I think that this is the only real plan available now: pray for healing; pray for forgiveness; identify and avoid triggers, however painful that may be; let him recede. Let him become part of the life story, rather than the life itself; let time distinguish between that which any Catholic might have given me (the Scapular) and that which was peculiarly his (not wearing brown), and, above all, never make the same mistake again!

2 thoughts on “Now I’m Just Somebody that He Used to Know

  1. Team Alto says:

    You are very brave. I know I’d compromise in a thousand ways rather than go through that pain. I am about to pray a Memorare for you.

    • lucieromarin says:

      Thank you! (It all makes me realise how completely I’ve underappreciated my friends who’ve rebuilt their lives after betrayed marriages or abusive relationships or both.)

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