Bitter Pill

Bitter Pill

Phrase: If a person or group has to accept a failure or an unpleasant piece of news, you can say that it was a bitter pill or a bitter pill to swallow.

Relationships end. It’s a matter of fact irrespective of how we feel personally. They may end because someone falls out of love with someone, because someone cheats, because they meet someone else, because of death. Whatever happens, they end. It can take time to come to terms with the end of a relationship, particularly if you are the one who discovers that it is all over. But time is a great healer and will allow a wound to become cauterised and thus repaired.

I split up with a guy at Christmas, it was absent of fireworks; no yelling, no broken plates or bones, no accusations. It was a silent slip into nothing, into the fading credits that end the movie. I was upset and surprised, I am sure that he was too. Neither of us had encouraged the end even if it came to be an inevitable expectation. But there you have it; it ended.

After a few months I happened to be in a bar that he was in. There was the determined effort to look anywhere but in the direction of the ex, to imagine that the earth had consumed them and that they were in fact no longer there in that corner of the room. Of course imagination is very different from reality and we were both still present. He left with his friends. Later, I also left with my friends as we moved on to another bar. This time he arrived while I was in the loo; evidently he saw my friends and left. Obviously he was unable to stay in the same room as me. Perhaps the break-up had been a bitter pill for him to swallow. At this point I had well and truly come to terms with it all. I was moving on, as we all must.

After a period of time and no crossing of paths, Pride arrived on our doorstep. I had recently returned from a month of travelling and was keen to catch-up with friends and celebrate the diversity that the city has to offer. I was invited to a house party where a few friends would be and gladly accepted the invitation. Arriving at the apartment, I greeted friends in the entrance hall before heading to the kitchen to stow the chilled beers in the fridge. I stopped to speak with someone when I spotted the ex; it was now 8 months after the split – surely this was enough time to bury the hatchet? The ex was sitting beside another guy chatting and it was this guy’s actions that drew my attention; he leaned in to say something, stared at me, and returned to speak to the ex. I may have been paranoid but I had the distinct feeling they were talking about me. Oh dear! I wasn’t interested in these silly games so gave a nod and said hello. He looked awkward and gave a half grimace of a smile. I had been pleasant enough so left for the terrace to talk to friends and meet people. I was avoiding having to put either of us in an awkward position.

Passing by again as I headed to the loo, I paid little attention to where he was sat, focusing on others that I passed. Deciding to move to another room to get to know other people, I was feeling relaxed. I was forgetting the awkwardness of the initial entrance and beginning to embrace a great group of people. Whilst chatting to a friend clad from head to toe in rubber, the ex emerged at the doorway. I paid little attention, focusing on my friend and innumerable stains on his rubber; well it was Pride after all. We were laughing and chatting. I felt drawn from the conversation and looked up to see the glare of a man who clearly was unhappy by my presence and my familiarity with this guy: the ex. He left shortly after this.

Later that night I was dancing with friends in a bar when I saw the ex on the edge of the dance floor as I crossed to the bar. Once again I said ‘hello’ as I passed and received the, now customary, grimace that looks like a face is cracking. Shit! Were we really behaving like this? He was evidently not over the split and harboured a grudge against me. I tried to think about primary school and how I had dealt with such encounters – this was the last time I had experienced anything like this. Fortunately alcohol prevented clarity of thought so I went back to dance. The following day I digested the events with a friend reviewing the interactions and what had gone on. My friend suggested speaking with him and discussing how to behave when we see each other out. No. I dismissed this; I can behave like an adult and am happy with my single status. There was no need for such a conversation but it did get me to ponder, how long does it take to move from embittered ex to civil individual? In this case I am not sure it will ever happen but I am beginning to become accustomed to the scowl that meets my greeting. I think Dashboard Confessional got it right, although I certainly feel no despair and no need to glare:

‘And this bitter pill is leaving you with such an angry mouth
One that’s void of all discretion, such an awful tearing sound
With it’s measure only equalled by the power of my stare
Glaring over you and over you this feeling of despair is never wearing out’
(This Bitter Pill by Dashboard Confessional)

Author: Ralph

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