Removing the Residue of Your Relationship
Updated: Apr 9, 2018
On my journey through purgatory, I spent a few days embroiled in dirt bikes & racing. I was asked to pit/mechanic for a pro Supercross rider who was also a privateer and would need a hand at Supercross in Seattle. I got the opportunity to do this because, as my friend put it, I needed to come out of hiding in the dirt bike world – as it was noticeable that despite my sponsorship of professional women athletes, I was not going to the races. And I wasn’t going because I didn’t want to run into my ex and the woman he’s dating right now.
To do this, I tabled my writing and reading so that I could spend a couple of days doing what I had done for many years for my ex but now with a stranger. I agreed because I felt that it was a reward for the work I’d done but never thanked on a podium for it. I thought to myself “It’s about time for me.” I had fun. The rider I supported is a sweet kid and I’m grateful for the experience.
But, in the end, I came home and the next day still felt empty. And as it were, a big race that my ex had never won in his career was happening hours away, and I wasn’t there for the first time in a long time to help him. So far, being “vindicated” didn’t do anything for me. And, as it would turn out, he’d win the race which only served to make me feel less impactful and insignificant.
So, I began to think of the reasons why. And what is the experience here to show me?
When people speak of personal relationships, they use words like “bond” as in forming a bond together. Which I guess is a great way to discuss a relationship, especially regarding its’ tackiness, durability, and strength.
If we imagine sticking two objects together, in this case, people, there has to be a “something” shared between them, like glue. And how well things remain connected is not only dependent upon the type of adhesive used but also on the material qualities of the two objects. Some things, for example, don’t stick together very well, especially if the wrong glue is applied. And so, perhaps there is a temporary fixation, but it won’t last.
Now, if we take two objects that meet all of the proper criteria and have the right glue applied – that is – a strong set of shared values, ideals, as well as the proper internal tools for navigating through life, you will have something that will work for a very long time. However, glue isn’t forever. Glue, when exposed to a harsh environment will lose its strength, and it’s ability to keep the two objects connected. So if your values get tested, or your life is stressful, even the best bond might not hold you together.
That can also be said about your objects – sometimes the bond is stronger than the things stuck together. And so while two people have a great connection and seem to have the right pieces shared between them to work out their struggles & enjoy their pleasures in life, it’s sadly possible that experiences may affect one or the other, and they may in fact, not be able to go on any longer. That's why your bond can only be as strong as the importance you place on protecting and maintaining it.
So when you are in a place where you are ending a relationship, you have a broken bond that is separated by the two objects pulling away. And if the bond was new, weak or never fully set, this can happen with relative ease and cleanliness and everyone goes on their way to new lives.
However in a long-term relationship, where this bond was set, matured and cured over time through a shared life together, that bond is not easily severed. As the glue is pulled in each direction, it stretches and thins, and little parts of it start to let go bit by bit. Some parts of the relationship are quickly released, but some parts may leave behind this tacky residue on one or the other person – a thought, idea or some part of the “Us Life” that has to gradually work away. And if we’ve ever tried removing old glue or adhesive off of something, we know that it can be tough work – and could even damage the surface underneath a little in the process.
In physics and relationships, it’s hard to break a bond. Especially an old one. It takes effort and inertia to completely separate two objects, which for one reason or another, do not want to remain connected to each other. Both objects may also be firmly connected by certain aspects of their shared life together and might think it’s okay to keep some of the glue between them. In my case, my ex wanted to stay friends and even business partners. But there was this part of me that knew it couldn’t be done. I desperately wished it could be because I was uneasy and unsettled about a life of not knowing him, mainly because he was my life. But to get us to a place where we could establish a new ground zero and then see if a future befit us both, we had to be separated completely.
But I am guilty of keeping some of the residues on me of our “Us Life” and cherishing that as a souvenir of our relationship, hoping it could be a point of contact that we might be able to connect over again at some future point in our lives. However, the problem is, it wasn’t a piece of my life before. It was a part of “His Life” that became a part of our “Us Life,” and I had no right to hold on to it.
And so, there became a day where I had to sit and think to myself where do I start cleaning myself off and keep getting back to re-building “My Life”? When will I fully begin to express my individuality based on my dreams, my talents & passions and let go of the tiny leftovers stuck to me and getting in my way?
For one, I had to consider the world of dirt bikes and racing. I had not ever participated in it before until I met him. Weddings & rural living – again “His Life.” I had validated my reasoning for leaving the tackiness stuck to me as “Well, it’s my life now because I’ve been in it so long.” But the truth was it wasn’t. So, letting go of the aspects of the “Us Life” wasn’t as easy it seemed.
But in this very same day, before I got sucked into the micro-drama that was this one race, I had reached out to two women who had reached out into the Universe, via Facebook, asking for help. So I answered. And then another person, who I happened to have met through dirt bikes, reached out to me to share a video about doing what you want to do in life, whether there was a paycheck or not. And then, shared with me that my posts about teens and suicide had sparked a conversation with his son and thanked me for it.
So, while feeling sorry for myself, I scrolled through Facebook some more and saw many wonderful people doing many wonderful things that had nothing to do with this one race in Eastern Washington. It turns out that not only do a lot of people not care about this race, but many also didn't even know it existed. And all of this weight I had placed on it and the fact I wasn't there, well, seemed to only matter to me. In fact, I would say that no one's opinion of me was raised or lowered by whether or not I was in Odessa.
I began to see that focusing on preserving this gunk coated to my skin was actually only taking me away from what I have truly found is my passion and the life I have earned through my experiences. Because today, while I didn’t cook breakfast, prep goggles, refill a gas tank, and cheer one man to victory, I do know I genuinely helped two women whose concerns were far greater than earning a trophy. And by doing that, I received more confirmation that “My Life” is worth dedicating every ounce of energy and focus to it, rather than holding on to aspects of this “Us Life” and pretending it was mine still to have.
In March, I already began to leave the "Our Wedding Life" behind me, but I was still clinging to, as evidenced by the weekend, the dirt bike world. And so I reflected on what actions I needed to take to get the clinginess off me once in for all. That didn’t mean I would no longer be connected to these things in some way, but I needed to be honest about what parts were real and what parts were the sentimental left-overs that I was still doing or wanting that didn't move me forward towards my own dreams and goals.
Once I had sat for awhile and then pushed a vacuum around the house, I felt satisfied that I had been able to once again, have an honest dialogue with myself. So, after I offered my heartfelt congratulations to my ex on a job well done, I put my phone down, closed Facebook on my laptop and opened up some unfinished work that deserved my attention. Work that was all “My Life” once and for all.