I’ve been dumped. What do I do now?

An African Dump

Breaking up with someone is a really shitty experience, isn’t it? I mean, no-one likes a loser, and when it seems obvious that you have failed, then you’re a loser, aren’t you? And who likes themselves when they’re a loser? After all that time together, after all that work together, after all those good times together.. and after all those bad times together. Yes, I felt like shit.

But hang on a moment. Does shit have feelings? How can someone feel like shit? I stopped to think about it. We know that the stomach has neurons, brain cells, so the stomach can think. And certainly it can feel. Our stomachs can feel fear before we are even consciously aware that we are afraid. But shit? Shit has no neurons. And it has no nerve endings either. No, we can’t feel like shit.

But hang on another moment. There’s more to this. Shit is excrement. Oh, yes, of course. Excrement is something that has been excreted, expelled, cast aside, thrown out, dumped. Yes, that’s it; like shit, I had been dumped. No matter that I had initiated the process, no matter that our not getting along was a reality, no matter that she said bluntly what I had been reluctant to say myself, although I had silently admitted the evident truth for some time already. I had seen it coming, but had been reluctant to accept the obvious consequences and so had prevaricated until she caught me out and called me out like a poker player who knows she has the winning hand although it’s a losing one.

I wasn’t suicidal. I didn’t need to be. To be so unequivocally and officially alone was enough anguish in itself. I had preferred the illusion that things might really not be so bad, that things could always improve, that maybe, somewhere, maybe just around the corner, there was coming a brighter day. So I had called time out, not the end of the match. But she called time, and blew the whistle.

There’s still more. The third episode of the first series of the web show An African City is called A City Dump but it isn’t what you might expect. What you might expect is the setting of a mine dump, or perhaps the squalor of an inner-city ghetto or even the offloading of some illegal drugs or contraband; what it is actually about is men’s habits and quirks and how they can be a turn-off for the African women whose romantic and sexual lives are the focus of the series. At the beginning of this episode we see the women discussing what turns them off about the guys they know. One women complains of the boyfriend snoring; a second complains of how much her man sweats; a third tells of how the man was pulling on her expensively-coiffured hair; the narrator then relates how she has got a new boyfriend who is sexy and well-educated and with a promising career but on the morning after, she, still all lovey-dovey, innocently asked, “What d’you wanna do now?” He responded, “I need to take a dump,” got out of bed and rushed to the toilet to perform a noisy release. This is apparently his morning practice and she dumps him because of his dumping. Real scatological stuff.

Before you gross-out, let me simply say that it’s often on such basic moments that success or failure in relationships depends. He snores, she farts in bed; he leaves the toilet seat up, she leaves the toilet seat down.There are a thousand little things that can make or break a relationship. A thousand little things working away day and night like ants, always hungry to eat your relationship, a thousand little things that can drive you both scatty. “If you pick your nose again, I swear I’ll scream…”

Is this logical, to think that we’ll find a perfect match? To imagine that I’m just a half and need to find another half to make us both whole? We may well be an illogical species. And in any case, logic itself is a cultural phenomenon.

There is always going to be a problem with finding the man or woman of our dreams because dreams are by definition never real.

So what are we to do? Throw the bones, download an ebook? Go online, go to church, hang out by the mosque? Drink wine, join a gym, find a new bar to frequent? For sure, there’s no point in becoming a recluse or/and nursing a broken heart.

If there’s one thing that falling in love teaches us, it’s that we can also fall out of love.

With romance, it’s clear that broken hearts are made to be mended. Consider a piano. When it’s new, perfect, just from the showroom, it’s actually not perfect: it needs to be tuned first. And it will always have to be re-tuned. A guitar also needs to be tuned first and then played and then re-tuned. Being dumped breaks our hearts, but as we learn how to re-tune them we become stronger. There’s a music and a rhythm to love. And the best thing is, with time our playing gets better. Maybe one day we will have enough skill to turn what is so discordant in our lives now into a beautiful harmony.

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