Dial and Switch, Among Other Things

Ah, bless me faddah, for I’ve have sinned. It’s been more than one month since my last blog post –

Wait. A month? What the hell have you been doing all this time, for Pete’s sake? Besides trying to put back the pieces of your broken heart, keep your head on straight enough to get a modicum of work done, and search for whatever sense of goodness remains in your soul so you can pull yourself away from the abyss and back into some semblance of normality?

Well, not much, actually. That about covers it.

OK, as per usual, some slight exaggeration there. In the midst of the daily routines and the impending marital dissolution travails, I have done a few things. I have cooked. I have cleaned, often, as I prepare the house for showings (too few, too few) and visualize the happy young couple who will free this albatross from my neck. And I have contemplated going to many movies, though have only made one or two. I have never been adverse to seeing films alone; I’ve done it hundreds of times. But in this phase of the Crisis, I lack the motivation to sit by myself in a darkened theater. It’s too much aloneness, after the typical workday solitude; even sitting at home with the TV on for companionship seems more comforting somehow. And during movies, my mind wanders too often, with my thoughts invariably coming back to the IMD.

Still, I do make some effort to get out, even if only to go the bank or grab a cup of coffee, when I can convince myself that just one cup won‘t make me a pauper – yet. The economics of divorce are hitting home, especially as I live in a house I can‘t afford on a salary that has shrunk quite a bit since the last time I lived alone. (Such is the unpredictable world of self-employment in trying economic times…)

And of course not all the  time out of the house is spent alone. I have seen more of my sister and mother than I did in the previous year, I would reckon. And there are the friends. I try to rotate the calls and visits among the closest (emotionally and geographically) of them, so as not to wear out my welcome. It is a delicate balancing act. I still wish I heard more from some of them, unsolicited, just the quick checking in, but I realize their days are busy, they have demands, life goes on. And how long can any one person take hearing the woes of the newly unexpectedly single?

But for the most part, the friends have been good. Indispensable. I have sought the insight and advice of most of them, who almost without exception have their own tales of dissolution (though nobody has the track record to match mine, for which I’m sure they’re all grateful). And to show you how big some people can be, even a previous spouse, one I dumped so many years ago, received my plea for advice and wisdom and perspective  – and graciously responded. She will forevermore be known as The Good and Kindly Ex.

In some cases, my friends are like the Fex, a female initiator after a long period of dissatisfaction. Others are like me, male and female – the dumpee. And in some cases, there was a mutual sense that the marriage should/could not go on – which did not make the separation any less painful. Most have children, which added an element of complication thankfully lacking here. Some (mostly the Catholics) had the same sense of guilt I have been wrestling with, that urge to take full responsibility for whatever happened before and during the divorce. Others are quick to point out the sheer nonsense of that belief and urge a quick bolstering of self-esteem, self-love. For some of us, getting that fix is easier said than done.

One friend also introduced the concept of the dial and the switch, a theory a marriage counselor she went to once tossed out. Men have a dial when it comes to divorce: They say they want it, know they will be better off without their partner. But then some time passes and the internal dial moves back into the area of love, or misgivings, or uncertainty/fear, and the hubby once so sure he wanted to split now wants to slow down the process. Talk about reconciliation, perhaps. Plead stupidity in ever thinking about divorce. Until he doesn‘t feel any of that anymore, and the dial turns back the other way. And repeat.

Yes, I have used the dial before.

Women, however, are endowed with an internal switch. Once the decision to divorce is made, articulated right away or not, the switch is thrown. That sucker is over and there ain’t no going back. I have seen the switch in action the past few months; I‘m sure it serves some deep emotional purpose for the female dumper, but for the male dumpee, its use is the epitome of coldness.

The dial and the switch are, of course, generalities. I‘m sure either sex can have either one, and perhaps neither comes into play in some cases. But hearing my friend talk about it in the abstract, then relate it to her particulars, made me realize it seemed apropos here too. And in a way, it was helpful. Knowing the switch is down, I can maybe move on with my life a little better/faster (though the emotional rollercoaster of the last few weeks seems to belie that; no real improvements, even if I do no longer hold out any hope for rapprochement, which, in my most honest, least self-delusional moments, I already knew really wasn‘t a possibility). Or maybe the idea of the  switch-and-dial dichotomy is just something to toss out at the next cocktail party, to get your friends talking about the differences between the sexes (assuming people invite you to such parties; people like me are not too much fun at social functions during this stage of the dissolution process).

So, there it is. The dial and the switch – take it for what you will.

Whether my friends have concrete advice/observations or not, they do to a person provide a few things: Comfort. Understanding. Hope that I will survive, just as they did. I try to take solace in that. And in the goodness of people you have wronged forgiving you. And in my ability to forgive, some day, as well.

OK, time for that penance.


~ by mburgan on August 19, 2010.

5 Responses to “Dial and Switch, Among Other Things”

  1. You’re right about the switch. My take? Life is too short to waste on people who don’t want to be with me. There are simply too many people to care about without giving one second to people who just don’t care. I’m too competitive – makes me feel like they’ve “won” if I’m unhappy, so I refuse to be. It really is your decision to simply flip your own switch. Here’s hoping you do!
    p.s. I’m glad you’re posting again – writing things down has a way of freeing you, no?

  2. hi,
    I just accidentally found your blog while trying to write a review on the Nikola Tesla Signature Lives series…I believe you wrote. After reading your blog I am depressed and wish I could offer some kind of Nirvana advice…But I think you should write a story and use the people around you as characters…change stuff and recreate your acceptable environment…a writers greatest power

  3. @Colleen: Thanks as always for reading and writing. I thought I’ve thrown a switch a few times now, but I’m stuck with this damn dial…But you are absolutely right about people to care about and people who don’t care. It is time to move on. And you are right about the writing too. Gotta do more of it. Actually have been brainstorming about a new blog/website, so stay tuned.

    @Nan: Sorry you got depressed reading this. And if you think this post is bad, you should see (or not…) some of the others on the IMD. But you are right about this: “change stuff and recreate your acceptable environment…a writers greatest power.” And yes, I do need to write about my situation, though I have been criticized in the past for using my life as fodder for creative writings. Oh well. Thanks to you too for reading and responding.

  4. So does this mean that males are more likely than females to drunk-dial an ex?

  5. That’s exactly what it means.

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