I have just finished reading this story by this writer and feel encouraged to write about one of the times I have been dumped. I have been dumped a number of times; I tend to be the dumpee. The clinger. The hopeful.
This is the tale of Thom, with an h. I feel you should maybe have some background knowledge of what his existence substantiated in my mind, just for the purposes of now.
Drama Society. First meeting. Name games. He was ‘Tired Thom’. I watched him fixedly after his turn. He noticed. I was ‘Anxious Anna’. He was tall, dark and handsome. I was infatuated. Somehow, fate was kind and kept dropping us in each other’s paths. We spent a little time. We patiently let that crush feeling build up. We held hands. He told me how his housemate called him ‘Thomas’ and pronounced the ‘h’, and that he liked it. Anyway, after four months of that and not a huge amount more (we’re both fairly quiet people, and it was a very young relationship) I got dumped. Or rather, I dumped myself.
I should have seen this as a warning flag long before this point, but Thom had recently left his previous girlfriend because he just wasn’t in the right mindset for a relationship. Or that’s what I had gathered, anyway. It seemed now, shockingly, that I wasn’t that special exception to the rule that would turn his world and preconceptions upside down, and somehow, I had fooled myself into this false sense of security that was now fraying.
One evening, Thom was out seeing a friend. A good friend, a female friend, one I knew. He had told me earlier that day, and there was some hope that I may see him later on. Normal, happy day. Not really knowing what to do with myself, as young love doesn’t when it’s left alone for more than a minute, I took myself down to the riverside and sat between the tall trees and the railway tracks, reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. The book was full but written in a very distracted ‘and then’ kind of narrative, suited perfectly to my attention span. I ate it up. The sun set, very slowly. It was Summer. This was a Summer romance, by the way.
Hours later, (I think it was very late, because I remember rushing to his house when it was pretty dark, in that flowing, hippyish top he referred to as ‘Shakespearian’) having tried to reach him and heard nothing, I got desperate. I hurried round in need of reassurance, and found none. I sat on his bed, leaned on his chest, tried to be patient and understanding of this sudden empty silence and occasional ‘I just don’t know, I feel weird’ sort of noises that he was emitting. He seemed almost ill, pained. I tried staying with him. It was incredibly quiet and awkward. I got up in the morning, feeling even more alone than I would have felt at home, and went to try and sleep in his shared living room, in the daylight, in my pants and top.
I couldn’t. I carried on reading my book. When I was nearly at the end of it, (of course) Thom-with-an-h awoke. He walked into the room, voiced mild surprise at my choice move, and then left again. Not really knowing what was right, I eventually went in to him again. Things were awful and awkward still, and I think (some of this memory has obviously been lost in the bowels of pain) he asked for some space. I left. I called him later, impressing upon him that I thought we should have a picnic by the river later. I’d make it.
Hours later we met, and collapsed under a tree on the opposite side of the river to where I had sat alone the night before. I pulled out some sad sandwiches and possibly some wine, which he declined, and then he sighed and lay down. The hands went on the head. I started to really worry.
The details of the rest are pretty paltry, but it involved a lot of silence, gathering unease in my stomach, and a vacant determination in me to do what was ‘right’. It’s like I was trying to make it easy for him. I asked him all the questions, tried to get to the bottom of what he was feeling. I lead the conversation. I was the one who finally said, “You don’t want this, do you?” I held in my cry until after we had hugged goodbye for the last time. I had accepted it, made it acceptable. I had dumped myself.
If there’s one thing I learned from that day and the ensuing grieving period, it’s that you shouldn’t make it easy for them. Dumpers have it easy already. They do feel weird, but they don’t feel what the dumpee feels. And also, you should never let them go without telling them how much you want them. Don’t be mistaken and think that it’s better to come off cool, aloof, over it, already there. It is important that they know that, even if you aren’t tugging at their trousers and screaming wounds into the grass, you love them with all your heart and you don’t want them to leave.
Tomorrow – photographic dwelling on this fateful riverside that I have spent so many nights at, high and low, and the introduction to a new series of blogs inspired by today’s musings.