Falling out of love is very much like falling in love: sudden and sickening. There is a pinpoint moment of clarity in which something inside says Yes or No. Your heart or soul or endochrine system has made its decision and after that your brain is just playing catch up.
Of course, what you do with that instant depends very much on whether you got the answer you wanted. If you didn’t, you will fight it with every rational neuron you have. You won’t win, but well done for trying. If you did, then you run the risk of doing something Spontaneous. How alarming.
Recently I fell suddenly out of love with my profession. Not my job, being fed up with your job is standard, this was different. I sat in the staffroom one lunchtime contemplating a rather unwise sandwich choice, when I overheard a conversation between teachers and support staff. They were setting out to sabotage a plan the Deputy Head had put together. For no good reason; it was a good plan that benefited the children and did no harm to anyone. They just didn’t like the Deputy and spared no thought for the effect their games would have on the children in the school.
Something inside me went twang. I felt an instant loss of all the ties that bound me to teaching and an urgent need to be apart from all this. I walked out of the staffroom, into the Head’s office, sat down and announced my resignation, pausing only to put the sandwich in the bin en route.
Spontaneous. Frightening. A snap decision acted upon the very second my brain heard the “No” and thought, “Yeah, I’ll go with that”. And most definitely the right thing to do. I’m so glad I didn’t fight it, because I know where that can lead.
Many years ago I fell out of love with a person. It was a bolt from the blue. I was sitting in the car on the way back from the shops when my subconscious tapped me on the shoulder and told me I didn’t love him. The next thoughts, in order, were:
- Hmm, moving to the other side of the world to live with him’s going to be a bit tricky then
- Oh crap
- I wonder if it’s too late to back out
- Oh crap.
The sick feeling that went with the mental spinning was quite the opposite of the delicious giddy nausea that goes with falling in love. But after some deep breathing, and very impressive logical thinking I calmed my nerves and convinced myself I was deliriously happy. Two weeks later I moved to Australia, moved in with him & got a job for a waitressing agency. It was a complete disaster, and not just because of the septic blisters I got on my overworked feet.
You can’t ignore the moment when the truth hits you. Well, you can, but you’d be fooling yourself. It’s why despite the grief I feel right now in not teaching, despite the loss of a key part of my identity, if I ask the question “Did I do the right thing?” a quiet voice always says, “Yes”. Falling out of love demands action and acceptance. As does falling in love. We’ll talk about that another time.