Not long after The Ex left, I found myself watching Last of the Mohicans for the zillionth time. But instead of salivating over Hawkeye as I’ve been doing since I was seventeen, I found myself in puddles of tears over his bond with Cora.
“Look at how much he loves her,” I wailed to Divorce Dog, honking my nose into a tissue. “He never takes his eyes off her. He stays during a siege for her. He tracks her for, like, weeks! He runs up a mountain for her! Straight up a vertical freaking mountain! He’d never leave her because she doesn’t like the same movies and TV shows that he does. What happened to all the men of honor?”
Divorce Dog regarded me through one open eye, then went back to sleep on the couch.
After that, I avoided love stories. But the hideous things ambush you if you’re not vigilant.
This spring, I decided to catch up on my Darynda Jones and read The Dirt on Ninth Grave. I love this series about Charley Davidson, a Grim Reaper and private investigator, who solves supernatural and mortal crimes in every can’t-put-it-down book. In Ninth Grave, she’s got amnesia (long story) and is living and working far from home. Her scorching-hot love interest (literally, he’s the Son of Satan), Reyes Farrow, follows her, watching over her but not revealing his identity. Some other husbands I know might have taken this opportunity to be an amnesia bachelor, but not Reyes. His heart, soul, and body are one-hundred-percent focused on Charley. The two of them are achingly, beautifully, powerfully drawn to each other.
Not only did I bawl like a colicky baby, the book triggered intense memories of loving and being loved. So much so that I softened my boundaries with The Ex, which lead, as it always does, to a giant fight. I retreated back to the safety of limited contact and murder mysteries.
I’ve been careful about my reading material and TV since then, until a friend lent me a copy of Longbourn by Jo Baker, a novel that takes place alongside the events of Pride & Prejudice but tells the story of the gritty, precarious lives of the servants. The book started out safely enough with a graphic description of laundry day in the Georgian period, making me immensely grateful for modern washer/dryers, feminine hygiene products, and latex gloves. But a romance blossomed in the book, one filled with longing and insurmountable obstacles and deep, abiding love.
Reading Longbourn on an airplane yesterday, I tucked the book into the seatback pocket in front of me and cried. A lot. If the people on either side of me had any reaction to my meltdown, it was annoyance. I finished the book at home and sobbed out my broken heart again. Divorce Dog reacted with indifference.
The flare-ups of the love blues happen less frequently, but they roil me for a day. The next day, inevitably, my emotions rebound from sorrow to rage. The nostalgia for what I thought I had wears off and my mind replays the dark side of my marriage: lies, manipulations, and always, always his moods and anger dominating our lives. Yesterday was my sad day. Today I’m dry of tears and flush with anger.
That’s why no good—NO GOOD—comes from love stories during this season of life. Instead I suggest stories that are uplifting and/or inspirational such as: She-Devil, 9 to 5, The First Wives Club, The Other Woman, Bad Moms, Carrie, Fatal Attraction and Kill Bill.