WHY GROW THEM?
Ipheion, a member of the onion family, is an undemanding bulb that flowers in spring, producing delightful starshaped blooms in white, blue and pink. The leaves give off an oniony smell, but the flowers themselves have a sweet, honeyed scent. hen a serious relat ionship ends, whether you wanted it to or not, it often marks the beginning of a long and bumpy process of recovery. No matter whether you consider your ex an angel or a devil, they may prove surprisingly difficult to forget. If they ended things while you were in love with them, it can be hard to reconcile your anger with the idea that you wanted to spend your life with them; it’s confusing to love and hate someone at the same time. If you ended it because they were a nightmare, you may have to ask yourself tough questions about why you were with such a terrible person in the first place.
When I was in my mid-20s, I left my gentle, easy-to-talk-to boyfriend of four years for someone who seemed more exciting. It quickly transpired that ‘exciting’ was a euphemism for ‘impossible’. Still, this relationship lasted more than twice as long as the first. When the second one ended, I was left with a double set of regrets: why did I blow it with someone so lovely, and then why did I stay for so long with someone with whom I was unhappy?
It wasn’t at all easy to get on with the next phase of life. No one I met could match up to the first boyfriend (who had, in my mind, become a saint). And even the second had an energy that made others seem dull. The idea that you could simply ‘forget and move on’, ‘draw a line under it’, or any other cliché, seemed ridiculous. People affect each other, and the effects can last a lifetime.
But what can be done about it? One of the worst symptoms of a romantic meltdown is often the questions you are left with: did I do something wrong? Why did they do, or say, that? If these are questions that can only be answered by your ex and your ex chooses to ignore them or to give answers that don’t make sense, your head can be left spinning. While you want him either to apologise or to explain, there is a big problem with expecting your ex to do anything that would make life better for you. In any case, while you are hoping for something from him, he has power over you. Giving up on the idea that he can ‘fix’ you by saying the right thing can be one step towards feeling less out of control.
On the other hand, if you’re left with questions about yourself, it can be even harder. You may wonder why you behaved so badly or picked such a scoundrel. Answering them will inevitably provoke more questions. Serious self- questioning is often a huge part of the fallout of a relationship. It can be extremely painful. In this state, it’s often tempting to drink/ date/damage your bank balance by buying new clothes, anything that might make you feel good. But rather than blocking the questions out, it can be helpful to try to answer them. A trusted friend or a therapist can help keep you on track and stop your questions becoming self-punishment in their own right. Psychoanalyst Darian Leader says: ‘People often rush to “cure” or try to banish sadness and depressive feelings, but they can be a sign that something is being registered or worked through.’
With luck, and good management, the first phase of recovery will set you up well for the future, but it’s inevitably not the whole story. If you’ve really thrown in your lot with someone, it’s virtually impossible to make a clean break. Years on, things can still come back to haunt you.
Lucy, a TV writer in her 40s, suddenly lost her husband to another woman 15 years ago, when their baby was six months old. Now, despite having a job she loves, a beautiful daughter and a partner of 11 years, she says: ‘You kind of forget, but then something always comes up. We have to be in touch from time to time because of our daughter, so it’s never completely over. It’ll be some old