Heart Rot

The Alaska Blogs #3

Rejection.

Re- jec- tion.

Can we say that, class? Class? Who here has been rejected?

Oh god, flashback to 8th-grade French with the always-proper and bitter spinster Miss Adams. What was her back story, that got her to that place in Glastonbury, CT, circa 1973, teaching wiseass nascent potheads the subtleties of irregular verbs? What were her emotional rejections?

I remember the day so well: I had bronchitis, probably shouldn’t even have been there, but this was an era when kids were not coddled, when they had parents who survived both the Great Depression and the Big One, so suck it up and get your ass to class, ferchrissakes. Yes, there I was sick but not too much, yet still coughing more than Miss Adams could tolerate, her fake strained smile quivering a bit. This outbreak, this coughing, was breaking the decorum of her class, a stifling air of fear and boredom she worked so hard to cultivate, and that became easier to impose with each passing year.

I cough. I cough again. We have just learned the verb tousser. To cough. My timing, for once, is impeccable. “Qui tousse?” Miss Adams asks. “Qui tousse dans cette classe?”

So, writing the opening lines of this post, I think back to that moment. Of being singled out for – well, if not ridicule, then undesired attention. But certainly not rejection, which was the point of all this when I first sat down to write it. Though, in a way, the IMD is a singling out. Of all the happily married men I know (OK, yes, the number dwindles as we all approach middle age and face divorce or “issues” or the sometimes-numbing routine of marriages getting long in the tooth) I have been singled out to be rejected.

Oh, boo hoo. Happens all the time, bub. The statistics bear that out. And hey, you got a pretty good track record. With a third divorce almost under your belt, you’ve only been the dumpee once. Think about the two women you dumped.

Well, I do. This process has made me reassess all my past relationships, looking for patterns, feeling guilt for the times I inflicted pain and heartache like those I’m feeling now. I’m sorry, to all of you (well, there is one exception, but the legal agreement prevents me from disclosing names…). It’s so trite, yet I heard someone else use the term lately, to describe the end of one of her past relationships. The dumper, this dumpee said, broke her heart. Yes! At times, that is exactly how I feel. Heartbroken. When I’m not feeling consumed with rage or wracked with fear for the future. Heartbroken.

Tongass Rain Forest, where heart rot runs rampant.

[An aside: In a learning moment on our trip, a tour guide pointed out a dying tree. It had what he called heart rot. It dies from the inside out. Heart rot. Yes, I suppose that applies to humans too.]

And now doubly rejected. It’s my own fault. Hearing the FEX wanted the IMD wasn’t enough. I had to ask her for something, something she could not in good conscience give. And while I’m not surprised, I’m still hurt. Twice rejected. But maybe that’s good. Maybe that second one, and any subsequent ones, will make it easier to move on. Once everything is neatly wrapped up, as neatly as divorce ever is.

I survived Miss Adams’s lightly sneering rebuke in 8th-grade French. Eventually, the bronchitis ran its course and I no longer toussed. And some 35 years later, this current malady will pass too. The heart will mend, the rot will stop, the rejections will end. It’s just wondering how long it will take to reach that point that’s hard to endure. And imagining the point beyond that seems almost impossible. A distant day. I am still searching for the strength to reach that time.

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~ by mburgan on May 30, 2010.

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