NOTE: The following post was based off this writing prompt: write a weather report. This is the first post about misguided romance and my unpredictable, somewhat tragic, and darkly humorous love life. There will be more. For now, you can view the description of my memoir (in-progress) to get a sense of what this is all about. Thank you for reading this note.
Maybe if I were reporting my love life like a meteorologist and saw the rise and fall of my relationships like a stormy weather pattern, breakups would have been easier to cope with.
Like the weather, relationships always have the possibility of changing. They are always a prediction, never a certainty. And, like the weather guy, there would be no need to beat myself up because I had gotten it wrong.
I may have saved myself x number of years in therapy, sorting through a whole bunch of self-blaming, self-shaming, mis-defining bull shit. I probably would have been nicer to myself; more forgiving. And I certainly would have felt more confident to show up to Life the next day still being (and liking) myself. Plus I would have assumed people automatically forgave me for my poor judgement or decision-making.
Think about it.
If I were a meteorologist on the local news, I could be wrong 50% of the time (or more) and still keep my job and still have people like me. This is how the usual punchline to weathermen jokes go. These folks just stand in front of a green screen, predicting patterns and temperatures for your daily local forecast with no fear of performance improvement plans for messing it up. People make this joke because never could someone be so frequently inaccurate and continue daily ‘doing their thing’ and doing it with confidence.
I mean you don’t see the meteorologist coming on to the screen the next day in a slump because he fucked up the previous day’s weather report. He’s not beating himself up that he had everyone go out and buy generators, flash light batteries, and extra gallons of water to prepare for the impending storm with an 80% chance of snowfall at a total accumulation of 16 inches. But we all went out and did it because we believed him.
This is it.
The storm of the century.
Only we wake up the next morning and realize that there’s barely an inch on the ground. And, no, work did not call to say the office was closed. But, there he is again on the news that morning. Still smiling when the camera rolls and he’s hot to tell you about today’s precipitation. The rest of us sigh or grumble at the lies we were told or the new predictions for today, but we, too, keep going. We let his mistakes go. And we give him another chance. Again. And again. Each day a new day.
New day equals new chance to get it right. Be it in my love life or not. Right?
Never have I been as forgiving and accepting of myself when I found myself on the other side of a relationship blunder. I have treated the weather guy far better. Over the years it’s been difficult to let my mistakes go. Didn’t you see that? Wasn’t it obvious? Why did you put up with it? You’re smarter than that! You’re better than that! He doesn’t even believe in the same things! This was your idea of something special? Why didn’t you say something? FINALLY!
If instead I had approached my post-breakup self-talk in the manner of reporting my love life like a meteorologist, it would have sounded more like, “This storm too shall pass” or “After rain, comes rainbows” or “Storms don’t last forever,” or any number of other cliché, but true, and sometimes helpful metaphors that involve the use of weather. I would have gotten along with myself a lot better. Recovered a lot faster. And not carried on so long in my response when a friend asked me what happened. I could have made my answer brief for the benefit of both of us. “It just didn’t work out.” would have sufficed a number of times. I could have found shorter ways to share my failed love stories.
(I’d like to take this moment to apologize to all of the friends over the years who were very caring and asked me about my romantic woes to which I then verbally dumped years’ worth of emotional baggage onto them when they were just doing the right thing and really didn’t need to know all of the details. Thank you. I’m sorry. Feel free to forget anything I ever told you. Correction. PLEASE forget anything I ever told you. I’m much better now. You may continue reading this post now.)
As anything else, hindsight is 20-20 and with experience comes growth and maturity and wisdom. Maybe not always, but this is the hope. And for me, with experience also comes a really large dose of humor.
Humor has been my umbrella.
I’m not afraid to poke fun at the past and some of the people in it, including myself. And I believe that part of reflecting on what has happened often means having to look and see things differently. So, here I am, sticking myself in front of the proverbial ‘green screen’ and going to give you the historical forecast of my unpredictable love life. If I were doing it like a meteorologist it would go something like this:
(Cue that weird beeping noise that comes across the screen for special reports.)
This is a special broadcast:
A.Y. Berthiaume here and happy to be bringing you this morning’s special report: Stormy Weather Trajectories of the Last 30 Years.
In the late 90s, there were several days of high precipitation followed by several days of drought. These shifts were liken to monthly hormonal shifts and hard to track or predict. Nothing serious however and no lives were really lost as a result of these weather inflictions.
The early 2000s saw Hurricane “Hero” which mostly hit the northwest corner of Vermont – somewhat repeatedly. A small town just along the Canadian border especially took a hit and some houses were overwhelmed with destruction. Families turned on each other. Aid was provided and most folks were able to rebuild and put the past behind them. (Most. People.)
Mid 2000s in the Midwest were record-breaking for extreme weather conditions. There were great floods, a great period of sadness and loss as people were swept away, unprepared for the rains that came. Following the flood, an extreme twister came along and tore down any sense of security or wholeness.
Sunny summer days eventually came around 2005/2006 which was a nice change in precipitation and vitamin D levels.
But over in Australia, the world was seeing cyclones and winds that could bring you to your knees, wipe you out, leave you with no memory of who you were, where you came from or why you were there.
The mid- to-late 2000s in all locations back in the United States saw global warming affect every season. Falls were crisp with the need to make change. Winters were cold, dark, and deep with snow. Springs brought floods, mud and muck oozing even from the prettiest of places. Summers lacked enough sunshine to make up for the three seasons before and brought little hope.
Finally there was a tapering off as 2010 approached. Weather patterns settled back in to more normal trajectories. And it was a good solid seven years of steady patterns, a mix of sunshine and clouds, but mostly even temperatures and predictable seasons.
Well folks, that’s all we have time for this morning. Thanks for tuning in. Remember, nothing is predictable and you can’t plan for anything, so be prepared to just ride out the storm.
See you tomorrow for our episode of When it Rains, It Pours.
My romantic life has been far from perfect. It’s been one hell of an adventure really. But if I had just seen each relationship as a rain to withstand or a storm to ride out or a pile of snow to plow through, it would not have always felt so dire in the moment. If I had the ability to take a step back and give it the fifty thousand foot view (or however that saying goes), I could have cut myself some slack and kept going at a faster rate than I was.
We all make mistakes in our love life. That doesn’t mean we give up on the idea of love or on ourselves. It doesn’t mean we are hopeless. Sometimes we just need some distance and a clear perspective to see it differently. Reporting my love life like a fallible weather guy is a nice reminder that these heartbreaks were just ebbs and flows in this journey.
And no journey is entirely sunshine and rainbows.
We all have to deal with some rain every now and then. We might get wet, but we shake it, wipe it, or dry it off and keep going. Melting isn’t really an option. But growing is.