The Break Up

Sometimes, polar bear facepalm is the only appropriate reaction.

It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve had to break off a relationship. I’ve never been any good at it. I stammer and stutter my way through with it’s-not-you-it’s-mes and you’ll-be-better-offs. That said, I’m not the type to stay in a relationship if it’s not working for me.

I have a friend who has been with the same woman for ten years now. They’ve never belonged together, not since day one. About a month into their relationship, he asked me to go to coffee. He wanted my honest opinion. I gave it. It went something like this: You want different things out of life. She wants kids; you don’t. Even outside of relationship making/breaking things like children, career and life goals, and political and religious beliefs, you don’t have anything in common.

Ten years later, they got engaged. Last week, they broke up again for at least the fifth time (I’ve lost count) and the wedding is off. At least, for now it is (and I’m totally ok with that seeing as this is the same woman who dropped a save the date card at my door the day of Male’s memorial.)

After the second time they broke up and got back together, most of us have learned to keep our mouths shut about their breakups and not to count our breakup chickens before they’ve hatched. Last time they got back together, they got engaged. The time before that, they got a dog. Maybe this time, they’ll have a kid “to strengthen our relationship, of course,” because that always works. Why would you want to stay in a relationship that clearly makes you miserable and isn’t right for you?

I’ve never been one to do that, so I’ve had more than my share of break ups. Over the course of my life, I’ve been the one doing the breaking a lot more times than I’ve been broken up with, mostly because I beat them to the punch if it isn’t working.

I’ve never had a real one year anniversary with anyone. Male and I were togetherish for fifteen years, but only the first eight months or so were a proper declared relationship. The rest of the time, we just circled the issue. Even in the last five or six years or so, when we were, for all intents and purposes, in a serious monogamous relationship, we didn’t declare it as such. We knew, but rarely acknowledged it (except, strangely, the last time Male visited, he started a very out of character conversation about “us” wherein, I chickened out again).

I’m not saying that my approach to relationships is all that healthy. Far from it, actually. I’m pretty much a walking what not to do. I’m not very good at relationships. I tend to feel trapped and sabotage them–either consciously or subconsciously–which is why my non-relationship relationship with Male was so perfect. Because I was never put in a box like “girlfriend” or “wife,” I never felt trapped.

Anyway, it’s been a very long time since I’ve been dumped or dumped someone, but I made a breakup call the other day. I broke up with my psychiatrist.

Last Monday, I asked your opinion on my psychiatrist‘s obsession with my non-existent substance abuse issue. Most of you told me to stop seeing her. I thought about it all week and the more I thought, the more I realized you were right.

I was absolutely dreading going to therapy on Saturday. I talked to my sister about it. We’d had a post facto conversation about what has happened in every session except the last one. I told her that shrinkydink said she wouldn’t be able to work with me if I “continued using” and that she saw my taking half a Klonopin to get through Male’s memorial as a “red flag.”

My sister, normally much more even-tempered and nice than I am, got pissed. She’s also registered nurse: “Does she really think that I would have allowed you to take Klonopin if you had a substance abuse problem?! How dare she question my medical ethics! Dump her!” It’s rare to see my sister angry. Plus, she reiterated what the rest of you said.

By Wednesday, I’d pretty much made my decision to stop seeing her, but in typical Goldfish fashion, I didn’t do anything about it right away. My appointment was on Saturday at 1pm. I waited until Friday at 12:30 pm to call her, just under the 24 hour cancellation limit. And it was a very awkward one-sided conversation.

I had rehearsed what I was going to say with my sister. She and I decided that it was easiest if I didn’t give any details; just a clean break. My sister, being a medical professional herself, told me that I didn’t need to give a reason. I could end it any time I wanted and there was nothing she could do about it. “I won’t be coming to my appointment on Saturday and I have decided to end our sessions. Thank you for your time.”

But when I actually made the call, and thank bog that I got voicemail, it went more along the lines of this: “I won’t be coming to my appointment on Saturday…. I’ve decided to see a grief counselor instead… and… oh… I’m not rescheduling? I mean, I’m ending our sessions… for a while at least. Starting now. Thanks for your time… Talk to you later…” Talk to you later? DOH!

Sometimes, polar bear facepalm is the only appropriate reaction.
Sometimes, polar bear facepalm is the only appropriate reaction.

Why didn’t I just stick to the script? Why did I decide to throw a lie in there at the last minute? I have no idea. I guess I felt bad. I wanted to give her some reason she could cling to in her hour of emotional turmoil. I pictured her listening to that voicemail and taking some small comfort from it. I’m also an idiot.

But, the awkwardness of the voicemail aside, I had ended it. I had broken up with my psychiatrist. Once the “DOH!” wore off, I did a little happy dance. I felt less guilty and more free, like a big weight had been lifted.

My sister and I went out to lunch when I normally would have had my Saturday cut in half by an inconvenient 1 pm appointment. I kept my phone out, expecting her to call, but knowing I wouldn’t answer if she did. She didn’t call on Saturday and she hasn’t called since. I guess she got the hint.

When was the last time you had to break up with someone? How did it go? Have you ever dumped a therapist?