Turning Her Into Literature
It seems now that she’s been fiction all along. There was always something not exactly believable about her - usually in the best possible way. She was always more than reality and never failed to take me out of mine. She would always do something that as a writer I wished I had thought of first for a character still forming in my mind. She was fiction and yet she was an undeniable fact. How, then, do you turn someone like that into literature?
It was Arthur Miller who advised that “the best way to get over a woman is to turn her into literature” and it’s something this writer has been doing for a very long time. Truth be told I’ve been doing for as long as I’ve been interested in girls. Like most writers I draw from my life for inspiration because, as they say, all fiction is based in fact. Until this particular woman that had been an easy task. Every woman has a trait one can exaggerate for effect; something that makes her just out of the realm of actual believability. The problem, as I see it, with this woman is that she fosters an immediate suspension of disbelief the moment you make her acquaintance.
Are you beginning to see my problem?
I’m sure if I thought about it even momentarily I’d recall myriad ways she was nowhere near the perfect specimen of womanhood I have in my long term memory. Of course she isn’t. That stands to reason. Hindsight is supposed to be 20/20 but once your vision is clouded with the heartache of a break up that vision becomes unreliable at best.
And now that I’ve typed that memories are flooding back to me in an avalanche of mistakes and, more often, instances when I knowingly painted over the obvious personal insults. The mistakes were many and spread out of the years. Letting her get her way every time - assuming that made me some kind of martyr. It didn’t. It simply gave her the permission to continue to walk all over me. Then again, that wasn’t exactly permission she required. She would do it regardless just as she had done to almost everyone else in her life for years before I came into the picture. She was unique in a way that I never thought possible, even after decades of fiction writing: she never knew what she wanted but she would take and take and make the plan up as she went. When everyone was used up and they all caught on to her ways she would call it a win and move on too. It was horrible yet brilliant at the same time; an unfortunate perfection.
The personal insults were a different story. Those I saw and understood and knew exactly what was happening in real time. But I allowed it to happen. Every day was a new version of the same thing: be told I was a good person and good dad and good provider and then when the fangs came out because she didn’t get what she wanted I would become the worst at everything. Instead of trying to understand why she lashed out I smiled and apologized and did exactly as she requested. That’s not living and that’s far from a healthy way to maintain a relationship. I wasn’t growing for the better part of six years. I was instead building an inner wall, one no one but myself knew was there. But it was - and is - there. I was able to get through those years because that wall gave me distance from the hurt, distance from the inability to understand exactly what was going on in the mind and heart of a woman I thought I knew. A woman I swore my life to. A woman who is no longer mine and most likely wasn’t mine even back then.
She isn’t that way anymore. She’s grown. She’s seen the error of her ways in many more instances than I was expecting. I’m sure she’d be the first to say that she still has more growing to do, as do I. But I think we’re both in a good position to begin looking back with more realism and less nostalgia. Nostalgia is drug and she and I have been sober far too long to get addicted again. Perhaps I can chase the Arther Miller advice and put the past behind me as much as one can. Which is to say, of course, build upon it. But this time the foundation will be stone and not hollow cliches from 90s teen rom-coms. What do Freddy Prinz, Jr. and John Cusack really know about love anyway? Arther Miller had Marilyn Monroe. I think I’m better off with Mr. Miller.