Relationship breakdowns, personal (unscientific) kaizen… and a tattoo


Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967)

The unexamined life is not worth living.
Socrates (469 BC – 399 BC)

Relationship breakdowns suck. A friend and I had a couple of reds last night and the topic of our respective relationship breakdowns became the focus of the night. She told the story of her relationship breakdown – she doesn’t want to have anything to do with her ex and doesn’t want to expend any energy thinking about him, shes moved on. Good for her – nothing wrong with that. Maybe.

The relationship with her ex was a lot longer than mine, nearly fifteen years, and the breakdown relatively new, around six months. It is a very painful and difficult time for her – as the period of time immediately following the failure of a relationship is for all of us. She went on to tell me an anecdote – she and her ex both attended a concert of their daughter’s recently, she attended with some of her girlfriends, her ex went alone, they sat apart but he had bought the tickets for them both. It was a rainy night, my pal arrived sodden , she has naturally curly hair which becomes really curly when wet. She met her ex before the show to get the tickets from him, their exchange went something like this-

“What is it with your hair”
“You know my hair”
“Yeah I know”
“Have you got a problem with my hair? Have you got the tickets?”

He gave her the tickets, walked off by himself ; they didn’t exchange words again that evening.

Pretty brief.” What was it with that?” she asked me. I know she wanted me to back her up on this, but I just couldn’t. Frankly he doesn’t deserve my support, he lied to her and he cheated and left her.

” Do you think it was possible he was trying to be nice, in his own socially inept way?” I asked.
A pause.
“I suppose so.” came the reply.
“He was trying to find common ground, have a shared moment?”
A longer pause

Here’s my point. Its probably not good to see an ex for some time following the dissolution, let the pain pass, let the resentment dissipate- but isn’t it best and reasonable once that period has passed to try to remain friends? Isn’t that best for everyone? if not for everyone at least for the child/children – if there is one/are any, to retain some semblance of mutual respect and maybe even affection. At one time you enjoyed each others company you both shared intimate moments; its probably not unfair to suggest that at the very least you liked each other. While the relationship will never be the same, there is no harm in recognizing and even treasuring those times, decency, if not friendship, is the very least that we should do for each other and ourselves. Anger and hatred and resentment just fester within. Remembering the good, joyful, giving and loving times and forgiving releases us. We are all flawed. This doesn’t mean attempting to re-ignite the extinguished flame, it doesnt mean being a doormat or remaining in a situation where there is unrequited love. It’s an inner peace thing and good for all concerned, a guilty party always has to live with their decisions and M.O. I’ve been on both sides of the equation and I can assure you this is true.

Too often one party or both demonizes the other – a ridiculous and destructive practice. If love has died thats all the reason needed to part, actually, no reason is needed at all , just exercise your free will. Demonizing someone’s character whether they are guilty or not, only succeeds in allowing them to justify their dishonest actions to themselves. To demonize your ex-beloved is really tantamount to saying I am an idiot and my ex-partner had no values that were worthy of my love – it is self critical.

Over Christmas I contacted the women I have loved and offered my friendship and simply asked how they had been , it was good to know they were okay. I loved them once – and truth be told, I still do – just not in the same way I once did. Re-building burned bridges is part of my kaizen practice.

My friend disagrees with me about remaining friends , she is still recovering I think, but will hopefully reconsider her position, given time. She was particularly surprised to hear that I am considering getting the initials of those I love/have loved tattooed on my chest. My parents, my Reason,my brother, the children I love and the initials of the few women I truly loved. The way I feel is that they all hold a piece of my heart and I a little of theirs. They have all given to me and I to them. So I will have it done – I will shave my mat of a chest and have their names inscribed there, of course after a while my chest hair will grow back ..but I’ll know they’re there.

My non-judgemental friend thinks I’m crazy – in “love la-la land” she said.

I’m okay with it.


A quick caveat – this doesn’t hold true for abusive relationships – psychological or physical.

Aaaaaah The Housemartins

The 80s lacked style? I think not! (With thanks Valerie)

About Simon

Simon Houghton creator of The Bloke Show started life as a baby, going on to become a boy and then a man, at which time he became an actor. As time passed he went on to be a director, later still he became a sales guy, then a business owner. Most recently he regressed and became a writer. Then a driver, then an actor again. Decisiveness is not one of his strong suits.
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