There was nothing I would have changed about the way I had been relating to Derek over the almost five weeks since we first connected on the dating site. I had never been so open and transparent with a man, and I not only liked it, I knew there was no retreat from it. When I dated in my thirties, I was a different woman. Since completing my shamanic apprenticeship, I could no longer be anything but myself, and that person was open, transparent, and guileless. And I had completed that apprenticeship many years ago. I would make a very bad poker player.
But by the time I got home from Derek’s house that Saturday morning, I was restless and discontented. I could feel him pulling away. The weather gods gave me a little symbolic confirmation that a wrecking ball was about to hit the nascent relationship by bombarding my yard, flower garden, and potted plants with tiny hail that afternoon. The hail pinged off my skylights as if to taunt me.
I was concerned about Derek being out in the hail on his motorcycle and texted him. He texted back that he was at the fourth bar in the poker run and that he had only gotten a little damp. That was it.
Sunday and Monday were no better. I was busy, but there was an undercurrent of gloom to things. On Tuesday, I was scheduled to do work with one of my apprentices, and as I drummed, journeying her, I felt some of my own power come back into my body. I noted it and set it aside. Then, shortly after my apprentice left, the e-mail came.
Some part of me was incredulous as I read the message because I suspected he might have done little more than change the name on the breakup message he’d sent the woman before me. He had disclosed the fact of that message the night I read the shamanic journey to him, and I had muttered that sending a message instead of talking to the woman had been lame. Apparently, he had not thought it lame enough to avoid doing it a second time.
His message spoke of how good things were when we were together, but that when he was alone, he had no peace. He wondered what he was doing. He could not get comfortable with the idea of being with a woman. He pointed out that he could tell that I was more comfortable in the relationship than him, that I was falling for him, and that it seemed better to end it now instead of later, when we were more invested in one another.
He had been trying to make it work, he assured me, but when he was alone, rattling around in his own head, what he felt was angst instead of exuberance, happiness, and hopefulness. No woman likes to contemplate the fact that the man she cares about feels stressed instead of joyful when he thinks of her. It was a painful read, but it also invoked something in me that rose up. I deserved a man who thought of me with joy in his heart, who adored me, as I adored him, not one who struggled with the very idea of being in relationship with me, or any other woman, for that matter.
We were two very different people, he pointed out. Once the infatuation wore off, he was unsure what would be left.
Ultimately, he said he just thought it was too soon after his wife’s death for him to have a new relationship. He was sorry for hurting me. Perhaps we could talk on the phone once his feelings were better sorted out.
He signed it, “Your friend, Derek.”
I read the message over and over, as if I could cipher something between the lines if I read it enough times. Then I got out a bottle of Jameson’s I’d bought on my way home Saturday. I had a hankering for scotch no more than once a year or so, but when I bought it that Saturday, I had apparently intuited that I might need it soon. Sometimes you just need to be drinking something stronger than herbal tea. Tears running down my cheeks, Jameson’s over ice in my hand, I read the message a few more times.
Then I hit the reply button and, in one of those timeless moments when a person is completely lucid and looking at their situation from a vantage point a bit outside their body, I typed a reply.
Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.
Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall