my mother saying that it was not just about trying and that you can’t just try. I didn’t quite understand her
back then, but now I do, and as much as it irks me to admit it, she was right. You
can’t just try. Because believe me, I tried everything.
suggested meditation. So I tried. “Clear your mind of all heartache,” a waif-like
creature whispered. “Enter the pure white light, allow it to surround you.
Breathe it in. Become one with it.” Unfortunately, at what was the expectant
moment of spiritual ascent, an itchy nose and rather grounding sneeze thwarted
any attempt to leave my aching heart behind in my allergic-to-incense body.
yoga. Not just mental release, but physical too. Well, certainly I could do
with a little of that. Again I tried. What my esteemed advisor failed to communicate
on this occasion was that certain positions demand that my chin be firmly
tucked into my chest.
For most people, it seems, this is a perfectly comfortable
place to tuck a chin. Most people however, have not been blessed with my unique
physiology. And, as much as I may be the envy of many who are perhaps less well
endowed, chin tucked to chest for me results in suffocation and no doubt,
should my chin remain tucked there, certain death. I felt bad, sure, but not
suggested yet another concerned friend. Date? Wasn’t this the very thing that
had resulted in the death-defying positions in which I had recently found
myself? “Aah,” my worldly friend said, “there is nothing like a new man to help
you forget an old one. You’ve got to try.”
So try I
did, and did and did and did. At first, I approached each new date with a well-feigned
enthusiasm. I mean, who knows, right? But sitting through endless conversations
about South Africa’s GDP, the petrol price, the vagrancies of inflation, the
intricacies of project management (never quite understood the actual project,
but it was big: two hours of conversation big) and other such stuff, left me
cold. More than cold. Deeply, deeply
I tried to
look beyond the uni-brow. I tried to brush over the centre parting, the toupee
and the mullet. I tried to get to grips with the dirty fingernails, to see
through the mismatched shirt and tie to the good and wonderful person beneath.
I tried. I really did.
In fact, I
tried so hard I became exceptionally good at dating. I could sit for at least
two hours – I timed myself – without betraying the slightest hint of boredom. The trick, I learnt, is to cock your head to
the side and nod appreciatively every minute-and-a-half or so.
help. A ‘hmmm, really’ or ‘oh my’ seem to go a long way in lubricating what is
otherwise hair-tearingly slow conversation. To keep myself occupied while my
dates warbled on, I began to count how many nods, ‘hmmm, reallys’ and ‘oh mys’
I could fit into a two-hour session (100, 65 and 45, respectively, if you’re
curious). And then it all fell flat.
It was a
sham. A silly, stupid attempt to kid myself that I was okay. I was not okay. And
despite what everyone tells you, the thing is, not being okay is okay. Why try
to stop feeling what you’re feeling? Where in the ten commandments of
relationships does it say, “Thou shalt not mourn the loss of a lover”? I do not
believe I have ever come across this commandment. And if it does exist, it was
written by an insensitive cad. Possibly the very cad whom I mourned. But never
mind. That’s not really the point.
is that my mother was right. You can’t just try, because trying implies a goal
and that goal is generally realised through some sort of success. And success
can only be achieved when you have the right attitude, the right beliefs. It
can only be achieved when you are emotionally and mentally and spiritually ready
for it. And, sometimes after a breakup, that takes time. So I gave myself that
time. Allowed myself a mourning period. Felt
sorry for myself. You should do the same. It’s ok. You’re cut. You’re bleeding.
No one can see your wounds perhaps, but you can feel them. And they hurt,
possibly more than any physical injury can.
the thing you need to do is self-destruct, your way. Just a little. Smoke too
many cigarettes if you have to. Invest in Jack Daniels; one thing’s for sure,
he won’t let you down. If it’s ice-cream or peanut butter or pizza that makes
you feel good, do it. Indulge. Even, although it is certainly not my thing, go
to gym – work out too hard and too often. As long as what you do takes away the
pain. I am not saying my advice is healthy or good for you in the long run. But
let’s be honest, after a breakup, who sees a long run?
One thing I
can promise, however you choose to lick your wounds, one morning you’ll wake up
and the sun will appear to be shining just that little bit more brightly, the
air will seem fresher and the birdsong chirpier. And somehow, against all odds,
you will be completely and unexpectedly better. You will be ready to try new
things like meditation and yoga and, yes, even to start dating again.
well-meaning as your friends may be, you don’t have to listen to them right
now. You know what you need and you know what will make you feel better or feel
nothing or feel whatever it is you need to feel. The only person you have to
listen to is you. And, perhaps, your
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