Exes and Razor Blades

Last night I had a dream that involved my first “real” ex-girlfriend. We were together in the dream, or at least living together. I told her things about our relationship “then” (at the “time” of the dream) that would apply to anyone who would be my mate now.

After I woke up, I wondered if she was a symbol of “The Female” in ALL of my past relationships…and if my words to her in the dream were meant to express (to my conscious self) my attitude now.

My real-life relationship with her began a very long process of extracting out of myself an inner brokenness that attracted me to females who personified something lost in me, a battle not won, a love not attained. It was like other romances (both before and since) that brought angst instead of love–dysfunction and demands, incessant emotional vitriol and high sexual energy.

I thought about contacting her today. “Hey, I had a dream about you last night. Is everything OK?” And I didn’t. There’s no reason to.

——–

I wondered today if my dream applies somehow to a more recent ex, or if it even could. But I don’t believe it could. Being in a romantic relationship is like giving your partner a razor blade and letting him or her shave your throat. When you give someone a razor so she can shave you, and halfway through the shave she tries to cut your throat, you don’t want her to “shave” you again.

Short of cutting your throat, even ranting and raving at the sky and waving the razor wildly in the air while you rest your head in front of her is plenty of reason to end the shave (and be reluctant to repeat the experience). Similarly, holding the razor to your throat and “only threatening” to cut it is sort of a deal-breaking incident…even if the rest of the shave was just fine.

I’ve had all of these figurative experiences in romantic relationships.

One ex showed me repeatedly that she can’t be trusted near my neck even with a letter-opener. After a couple of botched shaving experiences with her, I figured we could start again with that and work our way up–first a letter-opener, then a small pocketknife, then maybe a bigger one, and eventually back up to a razor–but every time I was proven wrong.

If you can’t trust someone to shave you without cutting your throat (especially on purpose, but even by accident), that person can’t be your mate. Or am I missing something? Is there value in just giving someone a razor and letting them cut your throat?

——–

Recently, in the absence of both relationship drama and the angst of the pursuit of romantic love, I’ve turned more towards broader ideas about “truth, justice, and the American way” (to quote Superman) or “the nooks and crannies of life and the human experience” (to quote myself).

And I spend time with my kids. And I work. And I write, when I can, about things that I’ve learned in these 42-plus years of living.

What matters most is what matters most, and I’ve learned that what matters most is learning and knowing myself. Romantic relationships, more than any other experience, have taught me this, and they also have brought me my life’s greatest joys: human connection, self-knowledge, the ability to express it in words…and my children.

For that, I am grateful for the romances in my past, whether or not I have one in the future–but I’ve also learned that I can shave my own throat just fine. Or I can keep my beard.

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