With Game of Thrones ending so badly (which I’m both furious and curiously ambivalent about at the same time) it reminded me of possibly my favourite ending of any series ever – The Sopranos. Normally I’d add a spoiler alert here, but if you’ve not seen it by now you probably never will, and the ending isn’t really a spoiler as such.
Picture the scene. Tony Soprano, gangster extraordinaire and loving father, sitting enjoying a meal with his family in a diner. You hear the door opening and closing. Staff are walking around. They place their order and get some food. Tony looks up and slightly to one side. The screen wipes to black.
There are countless theories as to what happened, but in my mind that’s the end of Tony Soprano as he is finally whacked for one of the many misdeeds of his life. Out of the blue, with no warning; bang and it’s done, as was hinted at several seasons prior.
I often write about funny or interesting thoughts and experiences when it comes to dating, but this isn’t one of those times, as it’s about my very own Tony Soprano moments. Times when I’ll be doing something, listening to music, watching tv or visiting a place and the next thing I know, out of nowhere – bang. My ex is back in my head.
The breakup of my relationship at the very start of 2017 was pretty brutal. I don’t claim for it to be unique or special in this regard, only that personally I’d never been through anything like it before. Over the last few years I’ve grown and evolved and changed, for the better if people I know are to be believed. I’ve done enough to fill a lifetime in that period, and have much more to come in the future too.
I’ve also changed emotionally. I’ve come to terms with what happened and know that, whilst in hindsight there were things I could have done differently, at the time there was nothing I’d done wrong. Her decisions were not my fault and I do not blame myself. I’ve moved beyond that phase a long time ago, and have moved from someone looking for validation and simply for someone to hold, to instead being someone already beginning the next chapter of their life.
Which leads me to question why I get almost PTSD-like flashbacks about it all. Flashbacks which take me back to those brutal months, knowing what I now know and knowing all that has happened since. Out of the blue, with no consistency or reason behind them. They suck.
As an example I give you the aforementioned Game of Thrones. I watched the final two seasons on my own, having watched every single prior episode avidly with my ex. We were real fans from the first episode, so it did feel a little like the end of an era as I watched those (frankly pathetic) final few shows clumsily bring the epic story to an unsatisfactory conclusion. Sad, but overall it’s understandable that thoughts of my ex should come up in that context occasionally, and all of that is easily foreseen and prepared for.
However, whilst I am pretty good at spotting these things coming a mile away, sometimes I miss them. If I know I’m going down a certain path mentally I’m able to lead myself away from it, but sometimes it evades my prescient gaze and takes its own path. I’ll find myself on the brink of sleep and something will pop into my head, thwarting my attempts at drifting off. I’ll wake up in a terrible mood and instantly know what is behind it.
My rational head knows what it’s all about. My ex is still in a relationship with the young man she had an affair with, whilst I’m still single despite my best efforts. I’m still futilely angry at the unfairness of it, at her lack of remorse, at a lack of apology, and at a total and utter lack of consequences for the two of them. She left all of her financial debt behind and was supported by her parents to set up in a new home. I don’t believe she has significantly suffered for a second throughout any of this, and I am certain her boyfriend has got off consequence-free.
It doesn’t help that I still live in the same house that was our family home for several years, as finding an equivalent property near enough to the children’s schools is impossible. I’m still surrounded by some of the things that we bought together throughout our 18 year relationship, though I’m actively replacing everything possible as quickly as I can. We still have shared friends and family, and I have to see her regularly at school events and the occasional handover as kids move between houses. Every time I see her I get angry, partly at her but mostly at myself for feeling anything.
Most others will say I need to let go. To forgive him and forgive her. I need to accept it and move on, wish them happiness and concentrate on my own. I can completely see where they are coming from, but also know that I will never be willing to do that until I feel some sort of balance has been found, balance I am in no way able to control or influence. It won’t happen, leaving me in purgatory.
Most others will also say I should go to therapy of some kind. Again, I can completely see where they are coming from, but it’s hard to think that I’m going to get anything from it that I don’t already know, or that I’ve not already heard from the small number of people I’ve spoken with about this. I know what would help, but am also self aware enough to know that it’s, at best, unlikely to ever get near happening.
I have to remember, though, that overall I am in a good place. A very good place. I’ve got closer with my friends than ever, and live a full and varied life. I am travelling and adventuring like never before, and actively sorting out the financial mess she left behind. I have four amazing children who are growing into human beings that I’m proud to have played a role in shaping. I am in a good place, which makes the occasional flashbacks all the more infuriating.
Game of Thrones saw many unexpected plot twists. Character arcs were cut short out of the blue, individuals were swept around continents and thrown together in all sorts of ways that few saw coming. The journey was varied and rich, and brought so much to all our lives. I just hope the ending of my own journey is a lot more satisfying than that of the song of fire and ice.