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Predicament of the Week
In which Breakup Girl addresses the situation that has, this
week, brought her the most (a) amusement, (b) relief that it is happening to
someone else, and/or (c) proof that she could not possibly be making this stuff
Dear Breakup Girl,
I want to share with you the recent story of a fellow heartache fighter.
Let's call her Compass Rose.
This wandering knightess-errant (for she doesn't yet aspire to superheroine
status) found herself quite stuck in the land of LDR
Limbo. Caught with nonrefundable plane tickets for two separate trips, she
struggled valiantly against the demons of Insomnia and Inappetence using
Exercise, a weapon of choice. Email and the telephone were of no avail in
freeing her from her condition. Weeks later, a few pounds lighter, and more
sleep-deprived than usual, Compass Rose reached the hour of her first plane
She equipped herself with a little optimism, phrase books and travel guides,
and clothes contained for overhead storage space. Her Quest for Closure, or, at
least, An Answer, had begun.
Her crusade led her to a fabulous country where she doesn't speak the
language but feels a fascination and comfort. Immediately, our heroine was
confronted with a change in attitude and behavior from the Object of Affection
(OA). Stressed and jet lagged, she decided to pick her battles wisely and wait
for a more opportune moment. Instinct told her that the dreaded beast, JF (as
in Just Friends), was afoot. Rage and panic overtook Compass Rose. Her head
filled with escape plans and thoughts of Thanksgiving turkey with the family.
When the beast manifest itself fully her first night, sleep came in short
Somehow, she survived to morning. OA chose lunch for the first exchange of
Words. Compass Rose acted quickly to postpone on the grounds that she cannot do
battle over a meal when plagued by Inappetence. And she prefers privacy to
public confrontations. A generally civilized opponent, OA gracefully
Our heroine used the rest of the afternoon to marshal her thoughts and
resources. To her surprise, she decided to see out at least a few more days of
her situation. She had seen the beast JF and knew she had choices: to chew off
her leg to get free from the trap as a desperate animal might, or to stay and
face her Fears and Emotions. Compass Rose chose the latter; she likes drama but
didn't want to go home a Scarred, Bitter Woman.
The next two days she indulged in anger and pain when necessary, took
comfort in what she could, and tried to maintain amiable, even friendly or
sometimes flirty, relations with the Object of Affection when possible.
Fortunately, fate smiled on her in the form of one wonderful day -- she enjoyed
her surroundings, found silent allies in OA's friends, and temporarily put
aside her problems. Refreshed from her reprive, our heroine was ready again to
face the quest at hand.
When it came, she was armed with tissues and a clear conscience for what she
knew had to be done. Confronted, OA became moderately defensive and hurled a
snide comment or twoat our heroine. She let it bounce off, knowing larger
issues were at hand, and stood firm. As she faced the full form of the dreaded
JF dragon, it almost beat her. Defeat was one step down the hallway. Poised on
the edge of walking away angry, painful, and still confused, our
Compass Rose sensed weakness in the beast. OA has thick armor, but something
didn't seem right. Almost without realizing it, she began to attack the dragon,
methodically dissecting it away into big pieces. She used her best
fair-argument skills, pausing with patience, abstaining from blame. Without the
JF to protect him, the Object of Affection became somewhat pliant, yielding
previously withheld information about the shattering state of confusion in his
life -- exactly what she needed to hear all along. She tried to be insightful
without assuming or being manipulative. There was no scalpel-like precision to
her actions; the beast was vanquished with broad, but true, sword strokes.
When the dust had finally settled, our heroine headed for her room tired but
feeling freed of a pressing weight. An agreement had been reached; OA conceded
that he still cares (we are unclear how much); things are put "on
hold" while both lives get straightened out.
Compass Rose was just glad to have things done. There would be no looking
back. She believes that neither side won and knows the treaty at hand holds no
promises. As much as she wanted to hold the Object of her Affection and tell
him everything will be all right, she gave him his freedom instead. They parted
at the airport amicably, she, looking him in the eye and knowing she may never
see him again.
Back from her crusade, Compass Rose is feeling tired, ragged, and a bit
worn. There is still some pain to investigate (like probing the tenderness of a
recent injury or bruise) and some tears to be shed. But she knows the colors
will fade and the cuts aren't too deep. She's glad she doesn't have a whole leg
to regrow. She does have some questions for Breakup Girl, though:
1) Why did I attack the JF dragon? Would it have made any difference if I
didn't? Did I potentially do more harm than good? (Does anyone ever
"win" by attacking it?)
2) How do I proceed now?
3) Where do you get your superheroine costume cleaned? My travel clothes are
looking a bit shabby, especially now that I am slaying dragons in them...
-- Compass Rose
Dear Compass Rose,
High, high points on strength, intelligence, wisdom,
dexterity, etc., etc., etc.
1. Why'd you do in the dragon? See intelligence and
dexterity, above. Because (and this should also answer your spinoff questions)
you sensed that a slain dragon, messy though it may be, is way better than a
Remember, that's Breakup Girl's deliberately cumbersome nickname for the big
ugly thing sitting between you that gets bigger and bigger the harder and
harder you try not to talk about it (which in your case would have been,
"This really isn't working, is it?"). Getting rid of the head --
doable only by talking about the thing you're not talking about -- is slightly
less urgent in the slightly more fantastical, significantly more
leaveable-behind world of a LDR in a Foreign Country. In other words, the
beastie is not sitting on the coffee table in the house you bought after your
marriage. But hey, Compass Rose had her quest. And anyway, you said it
yourself: you got answers, a concession or two, a weight lifted, an amicable
farewell. Just like in all the stories: when, finally, ding-dong, the beast is
dead, all the captives -- feelings, futures, slaves to love -- are set
2. Proceed? What do you mean? Where is there to go?
You're already just fine. You said it yourself: you may still poke a bruise,
shed a tear. But you have done the healing in the telling. That is, the
re-telling, the sense-making, the meaning-finding that you have performed in
your letter. Mabel from Duluth* may know what the heck just happened overseas,
but Compass Rose does.
3. My cleaners? Sorry, that's a secret. Can't have my
archenemies, the Senate Judiciary Committee, Breakup Mom, et. al., tracking my cape-cleaning habits. For dragon blood,
* not your real name ;)
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