Retrospective

(Concluding chapter of the Ordinary series)

by EvelynC January 2005

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The worst wasn't over. The hard part about breaking up wasn't about walking away or facing the hard truth, it was unravelling the threads of their life that still clung and thwarted a fast recovery. There's a measurement of three months mourning for every year of a relationship, but Ella wasn't thinking about that, she was still reeling from the abrupt end of the relationship.

She took small comfort from accepting the failures on both sides, even if it was an important step. Ella didn't want to spend the rest of her life expending energy on something that could not be undone, but her confidence still plummeted each time she saw a happy couple, watched an intimate scene in a movie, heard a love song or had to explain her single status.

"Dee won't be joining us. No, I don't know where she is."

"We're not together anymore."

"We haven't spoken in weeks."

"I don't know who she's seeing."

And the encompassing white lie, "I'm fine."

If not for Sally's total support, Ella would have fallen apart. It was so difficult to hide her pain. She would berate herself for denying her relationship and grief each time she gritted her teeth against well-meaning friends. She started counting failures on her part and playing "what if" games. Then, she would privately rail against Dee and her actions. Familiar scents, places and moments when she would automatically look for Dee became the barometer of her recovery. The less it hurt each time, she would be convinced that she was just another woman who had survived.

Loud noises from a family with unruly children nearby drew Ella's gaze. She saw their frazzled mother struggling with too many items, but when her husband arrived, she beamed a grateful smile at him and he gave her kiss while holding on to their nearest child. In her heart, Ella wished them well, she had no illusions or expectations of a steadfast relationship in her near future - she wasn't sure if she wanted one.

After she got over Dee's infidelity, she saw where they had slipped easily into comfortable coexistence. The companionship they shared wasn't a substitute for a thrilling relationship, they were simple, practical women who were happy together. They had never really discussed monogamy, it was just assumed. It would seem they assumed a lot of things - like who would pick up the check, who drove, how they made joint decisions.

Ella's pride recognised that the emotional impetus behind their relationship had waned even if their commitment had not. When Sally berated Dee's ignoble behaviour, Ella's fair nature would remind them that Dee had been a generous and affectionate girlfriend. She had never asked for more than Ella could give and always accepted her terms. The betrayal wasn't about falling out of love or the adulterous episode, it was that neither of them wanted to face the truth of their apathetic relationship.

Ella knew that she and Dee had something special for a time. There was affection, passion and even love, but a relationship was only as good as the commitment behind it and, obviously, what they needed was now elsewhere. A part of her hated the way it ended, the pain she felt upon catching Dee still gave her nightmares, but she was tired of crying and fighting phantom suspicions. Ella refused to give in to the crushing bitterness of torn expectations. The respect and trust between them had been ripped to shreds - but she would give herself time to heal, otherwise, she could not have a future free from the past.

Picking up her shoulder bag and ticket upon hearing the boarding call, Ella felt hopeful that this holiday would clear her head. A few relaxing weeks on a remote island resort was just what she needed.

The end.

I hoped you enjoyed the series. It started as a glimpse into the life of a regular couple, which became more dramatic. When we forget to appreciate the life we share, another Hallmark card goes up in flames- lol j/k.

On a serious note, the statistics for adultery are estimated as high as 50 to 75% - depressing, but also a lot more common than I thought, possibly as common as relationships that stay together for ease or convenience. Ella's journey doesn't end her, there will be another chance for love as I feel she deserves a happy ending.

This story would not have been possible without the input and encouragement from Carol, Nancy, Dunan and Tamara. I am also grateful to the readers who took the time to send feedback, you really kept the story going.

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