By: Elizabeth Galewski
Am I afflicted, or is this bliss?
With just the thought of him,
my stomach dips like riding a swing,
or the first drop of a roller coaster.
My pelvis blazes, a molten star.
Arching my back, I grind my hips into the bed,
imagining where his body would fit,
pressing me down.
My arid desert mouth and moist eager palms
manifest his absence.
How can he have such a powerful pull?
Being with him would not be healthy or safe.
He has surrounded himself with razor wire
over which he would insist I crawl.
Upon these grim ramparts
my dignity would be lost;
my pride, shredded; and
my reason, frozen, hewn out, and discarded.
But Eros tugs me forward from the gut.
My body reacts against my will.
I cannot avoid noticing it,
the betrayal of this wet.
My tuning fork is so tense,
a flick would strike high C.
I cannot win this battle.
Drowning in nectar,
sweeter than dignity, pride, and reason,
I relish my own defeat.
“Every once in a while, when the avoidant partner makes him/herself available… you achieve extreme closeness – leading to the feeling of a ‘high.’ This closeness, however, is perceived as a threat by the avoidant partner and is quickly followed by withdrawal on his or her part.” – Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller, Attached
After more than a month,
he agreed to a date
and actually showed up.
His hair styled, face shaved,
nails polished black,
washboard abs hidden
under a crisp white shirt.
He relaxed, leaning back,
running his hands through his hair.
We launched into a bout of laughing
that never seemed to stop.
Just looking at his face,
scrunched up so tightly his eyes disappeared,
set me off again.
We played half a game of chess.
He photographed the board
so we could finish next time.
I walked him to his car,
now alone in the lot.
He opened the driver’s door and slid inside.
Me: I don’t get a hug?
Him: I’m emptying my pockets.
Finally, he opened his arms.
I dove in.
Him: Do you have time next week?
His bottom eyelid crinkled
as though surprised at himself.
Finally, I thought. Finally.
He won’t say where or when
I can see him again.
The only thing connecting us
are these texts.
Even this thread frays,
as he pulls away.
He doesn’t respond after two days, three…
Not even after a week.
Things mean the opposite of what they should.
This void means I’ve gotten in.
Am I supposed to celebrate it
and mourn when he writes?
I stop asking what I want.
Obsessing over strategy and tactics,
I scour websites.
Some say: Run.
He’ll never change.
He’ll only hurt you.
Some exhort compassion.
Was he neglected as a child?
Some interrogate my motives.
Were you abused as a child?
My interest in him proves
I am defective.
I can’t argue against these truths.
I mute him on my phone,
then check hourly for notifications.
Loving him means getting angry,
remembering anger covers hurt,
feeling it, all of it, before finally
letting him go.
That’s when he texts again.
“Studies have found that the same areas in the brain that light up on imaging scans when we break a leg are activated when we split up with our mate.” – Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller, Attached
Happiness catches me by surprise
the second I say goodbye
and hit “Block this Caller.”
As I paddle across the lake,
the weeds transform into lace,
the sequins on the waves blink in welcome,
and closer to shore, a whole belt of them
erupts in applause.
in the bowing palms of the black walnut branches,
and the waving reflections of the water in the trees.
the crescent moon points upward,
a white arrow in the sky;
gulls take flight,
chevrons passing overhead.
I can trust myself again.
All the what-ifs return.
My head pounds as though hung over.
I’m bleeding inside along preset tracks.
Empty caverns gape down my body:
mouth, throat, stomach, intestines, bladder.
I feel full of holes.
Ride it out. Ride it out. Ride it out.
It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.
This is the last time I’ll have to
go through this for him.
Not even a full week has passed,
yet I press my cheek against this wall
of my own construction.
I flatten my palms against it,
straining my senses to pick up
the least sign of him.
I press my forehead so hard
against the bricks,
their grains leave dents.
But I must not use him
to distract myself anymore.
I pull myself off the wall,
stagger over to my cushion,
Here I am, planted
in the center of midlife,
The fire-scorched ghost town
of my abandoned hopes
arises from the dark side of my eyelids.
The fact I must face:
I disavowed these dreams
but somehow must try again.
As featured on the Price of Business radio show, PR News, Communications Intelligence Magazine, and SheVentures, Elizabeth Galewski is a professional writer and media relations expert. In her previous career, she taught English composition at the college level for more than twelve years, and she periodically serves as a guest columnist for her local newspaper. In 2008, she won a Travelers’ Tales Solas Award for the short story “Out of India,” which was published in The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2009. She earned her B.A. from Wellesley and her M.A. from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as completed doctoral coursework in Rhetoric at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Outstanding!!! “Dismissive Avoidant” gives me chills. Reminds me of my avoidant fiancé who finally disappeared forever. Good riddance!! Takes years to recover from the damage that kind of man inflicts on your psyche. It’s easy to tell this poet has been there too. Excellent poems from first line to last!!