Free Again!?

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Free Again!?

After my session with my therapist, Greta Clewe, I realized that while it would be nice to have a steady girlfriend, I'm just not ready.  

I told Autumn, the woman I've been dating, that I needed some time apart, and she said that she understood. She was so patient and understanding, and I felt like she really heard what I was saying and totally got where I was coming from. Those are the things I like most about her, how patient and understanding she is. I'm really going to miss her, because when I suggested that we could still hang out and be friends, she declined.  

Autumn told me from day one that she was looking for a serious, long-term relationship. I told her from day one that I wasn't looking for any such thing. We decided to try dating anyway, and it was really great... more than great, it was wonderful. But as time went on I started to feel more and more like I was in some kind of trap that was going to spring closed at any moment if I didn't get out soon.

I feel like a stupid jerk, right now, thinking about how sad she looked as she hugged me for the last time I could see that she was trying to keep from crying, and I was, too, but it had to be done. It just doesn't make sense to have a relationship with someone when you can't be all the way there. I'm sure that Greta will agree with me when we have our next phone session tonight.

“You did what!?  Have you lost your mind?”  

This was my therapist, Greta’s, very untherapeutic response on the telephone last night when I told her that I had broken up with Autumn. 

"I just wasn't ready," I explained. "Everything was moving so fast. Now that I'm finally ready to get over my relationship with Faith, I thought it would be best..."

Greta interrupted me, in another uncharacteristic violation of her professional neutrality, "Sissy, just how long are you going to let Faith run your life? Isn't it enough that she made you question your relationships in the past? Are you going to let her destroy all your relationships in the future?"

"It's not really Faith," I argued. "It's me needing to get over Faith."

"No, it is Faith. Faith, and your father, and Annapolis, and heaven knows what all... The bottom line, Sissy, is you've got to take charge of your life and decide where your happiness lies. And stop using the past to build walls against your future."

Then, to round off the triad of things you wouldn't expect your therapist to do, Greta hung up on me. 

I sat for a while, holding my cell phone against my ear until the friendly, recorded voice of the "If you'd like to make a call, please hang up," operator gave way to impatient buzzing. I hung up, deciding that, yes, I would like to make a call, but not by phone. 

Before I could think myself back into indifference, I got out my bicycle and pedaled over to Autumn's place. I could tell she was home, because the blinds were open and I could see the silhouette of her head against the glow of the TV. From the way she kept shaking her head in disbelief, I could tell she was watching Real Housewives of New Jersey. I locked my bike to her gate and rang her bell. 

That was quick,” Autumn said, taking my bike helmet and handing me the bowl of popcorn she was holding. “If I didn't hear from you by Sunday, I was coming to your house to get you.” 

"What if I didn't come?"

Autumn shrugged, "It would have been worth a try."

We settled down together on her couch in what was becoming a familiar position, with one arm around each other's waists and her head resting on my shoulder, munching popcorn and tsk-tsking at the unbelievably foolish real housewifery.

During the first commercial, she leaned over and we kissed, and I felt the icy stone in my chest relax. I felt finally free, but of what I couldn't say. 

"The next time, it won’t be so easy," Autumn cautioned me, as we settled back onto the couch. "I know you've got issues, Sissy, so I'm willing to be patient with you. But the next time you try to dump me, there will definitely have to be expensive gifts involved, and maybe even a trip when you come to your senses and want me back."

...I agreed, thinking that even then, I'd be getting off easy.

Comments [5]

Marcie Bianco's picture

the romantic in me loves

the romantic in me loves loves loves this! ha ha!

WriterInResidence's picture

Love this!

You are SUCH a good story teller. This is terrific stuff, hun!

Tosha's picture

duh! as a mostly nonfiction writer myself

i forgot that you give your 'characters' intentional names...pretty funny....and yeh, the break-up feels like ancient history, it was definitely all for the good...but it took till now (this weekend's eclipse) to feel open to newness so appreciated yr story!

Sissy Van Dyke's picture

Metaphoric Names

Hi Tosha,

Thanks for noticing my naming thing.  Her full name is Faith Leslie (Less Faithful) and now her name is Sister Faith Morehead (More head games).  I try to make most of my characters names aptronyms, a nod toward one of my favorite humorous writers, Charles Dickens.  :)

I'm sorry about the breakup, but I'm sure you're better off.  Love can be so violent, even when no blows are exchanged.

Thanks for your comment!

Tosha's picture

great story Sissy

of course, as a poetic soul who sees the world thru the lens of symbolism, I can't help but notice what Faith's name was.

  And the perhaps the idea that you needed faith that you could love and be loved again?  

(the girl can't help it--after all I've got a bumper sticker on my car that says "Metaphors be with you." lol...and after a brutal breakup of my own last summer, I'm getting the same lesson so your story was lovely.)