A few weeks ago my Daddy and I had a big fight; trust was broken, horrible things were said, and several times I felt I was right on the brink of losing him altogether. The key part of that sentence is not to do with the loss, but to do with why I felt that way. It occurred to me, in the aftermath, as things were slowly coming back together, and we were picking up the pieces, that in general I am incredibly quick to pull the trigger on my relationships. This may explain why I’ve never been in a relationship that survived this kind of conflict; I always bow out. Now, for the first time, I am standing on the other side; and I’ll confess, in the cold light of day, the notion of bowing out doesn’t seem quite as heroic as it once did.
Over the (admittedly few) years I have been actively dating, I seem to have accumulated several assumptions, based primarily on my earliest experiences in relationships. It was perhaps bad luck that the first two men I ever called “my boyfriend” both displayed a huge amount of cowardice when it came to ending the relationships. Both withdrew and communicated less, but, despite their clear unhappiness, neither of them were willing to break up with me. I’d like to be able to blame this on age – when you’re eighteen you have a lot to learn – but whilst one of them was my age, the second was a good twenty years older than me (and, as I maintain to this day, really ought to have known better). Ultimately, these two experiences left me with the overwhelming sense that if it was important to me to avoid painful, drawn out break-ups I would have to learn to cut the ties myself. And so I did.
In some ways I am still glad I found – and maintain – the strength to say goodbye. Because whilst there are times when I ought to try harder and hold on for another beat, there are also times when shaking hands gracefully and parting ways really is the best thing to do, for everyone involved. I do also have a sense that I’m choosing the lesser of two evils: I would rather rip the band aid off than draw out anyone’s misery.
But there is, perhaps, something a little callous about it. From the outside I understand that the speed with which I can end a relationship and move on might appear almost cruel; and it is true, I don’t dwell on these things. I sob my heart out for twenty-four hours, scream, feel close to madness… but when it’s done, it’s done. I am good at picking myself up, at moving on; and truth be told I struggle to see the value of wallowing in sadness. I like to move forwards. Don’t get me wrong, there are people from a long time ago for whom a part of my heart still aches; but I don’t indulge it. I would always rather the pain were swift and deep, than mild and drawn-out. And so, when it comes to break-ups I try to give what I’d want to get. Nevertheless, I do understand why I may seem somewhat uncaring from time to time.
Whilst I wouldn’t describe myself as uncaring, I do at the very least (as the fight with my Daddy seemed to illustrate all too clearly) carry a desire to be hasty with my farewells. Despite the numerous reasons, and all the justification I have given for acting swiftly, and leaving suddenly, it is all based on the assumption that the other person wants out; that ultimately I am saving not him, but myself, a lot of grief. And having finally come through a fight of this magnitude, a little scathed, but no less loved, I’m beginning to see what I might be giving up by way of my hard learned flight instinct.
I suppose I could have surmised, from this experience, that my Daddy is simply the first person I’ve ever been with who loves me enough to fight for me; and there may be some truth in that. But at the end of the day, I think it’s more important that I watch my trigger finger and, yes, stop playing the misguided anti-hero.