A Dog and A Broken Heart…
Life’s a funny thing, isn’t it, when you think about it? I mean, right from the very start it stacks the odds against us. There we are, tiny wrinkly individuals tucked neatly inside the poor woman who’s going to have to give birth to us very soon. So, we’re there, all tucked up inside a rather comfortable uterine sack full of squashy walls and amniotic fluid, doing quite nicely, thank you very much when suddenly! Wham! No, not George Michael and the other one and anyway, he’s dead now. George Michael, that is, not the other one whose name I can never remember. Yes, suddenly – dead pop stars aside – a primeval evolutionary process starts to contract the comfy uterine sack, and the squashy walls suddenly give you your marching orders thus you catapult down your mother’s birth canal into the World At Large, head first. Oh, and don’t do it the other way, please because it’s much more painful for your poor mother and her vagina may never recover.
So, there you suddenly are – born! Well done, but before they give you a slap on the back by way of congratulating you after your gargantuan effort to simply exist, they’ll turn you upside down, then throw you in a weighing machine before they stick pins in you and hand you over to two virtual strangers who’ll tell you what you’re going to be called for the rest of your life and God help you if you were born in the 80’s because you’re probably called Kylie or Jason. Or worse still, Waynetta.
It doesn’t get any better, I’m afraid, because depending upon whether or not your parents are religious (those two virtual strangers are apparently ‘parents’) you’ll end up either being dipped in a font by some bloke in a frock or have bits of your genitalia cut off if you’re a boy and they’ve chucked a skull cap on you once they’ve turned you the right way up.
After that, they’ll look after you to a point, but eventually, they’ll tire of 24 /7 contact with you and shove you in a building with a lot of people the same age as you, all being bossed about and taught things by people a lot older than you. This sort of treatment continues into a bigger building, and eventually you might be deemed ‘bright’ – as if you’re a lightbulb – and they’ll moan about the cost, but they’ll send you to a place far away called University where you can earn a piece of paper that tells everyone that you’re ‘brighter’ than they are so you can get a better job and pay copious amounts of money to a government making a muck of things, as usual.
Now, it’s around about this time – when you get a job in the vague hope that you’ll ever earn enough disposable income to buy a house and a car, let alone eat every now and again but don’t think of going out. Seven pounds Fifty Pence an hour won’t run to that, and anyway, you won’t have the energy because the house you’ve bought is about three hours’ drive each way from where you work, and you’ll have only eaten twice in the last seven days. So, yes, along with the car and the house purchase, you might have also acquired a heart. I don’t mean that you weren’t actually born with one, I just mean that it’s usually around this sort of time in your life that you realise that you have one and it starts playing around with your brain and causes you to do the thing that those two virtual strangers have been dreading, because they’ll have to give you some money towards it now – you Fall In Love and Maybe Even Want To Get Married.
This, my friends, is all where it Starts Going Horribly Wrong and unfortunately, it doesn’t improve with age, I’m afraid. You’re as likely to fall in love at 30, 40, or 50 and feel like a teenager as when you’re, well, a teenager. Yes, even when you are officially deemed an Old Person, because you’ve got the job, the house, the car, and you shop in Lidl or Aldi now, like all the other pretentious middle class twats who used to shop in Waitrose but discovered that everything in there can be bought for half the price in Lidl or Aldi. I must admit, the last time I went to Aldi (yes, sadly I am both an Old Person AND a middle class twat, there’s no saving me!) I was amazed at the amount of German luxury cars parked in the car park. Are we all short sighted and have we mistaken the sign for Audi? Anyway, all I know is I had trouble parking my Mercedes.
So! Yes, back to love and you falling in it. It’s a chemical reaction, you know, within your brain. It’s nothing to do with your heart, although that does tend to get the blame more often than not. You always tell people, when a love affair ends, that you’re ‘Broken Hearted’ never ‘Broken Brained’. Yet it’s the brain that’s responsible for making you fall in love in the first place.
Yes, the old grey matter is the thing responsible for your heart turning flip flops at the mere thought of your loved one; it’s responsible for the sweaty palms, the increased heart rate, the flushed skin and the excitement surging through your body and making you act like an idiot whenever you come into contact with the person you have fallen for.
I did it myself quite recently, and as I said before, I am both an Old Person and a middle class twat, so I probably had it coming (no euphemism intended, although that was rather good, as I recall). Yes, at my advanced age, I fell for someone and started acting like a love sick teenager – spending inordinate amounts of time on WhatsApp, smiling goofily into my phone every ten seconds, I restocked the lingerie cupboard (I’ve got a lot of it, it won’t fit in a drawer), started using far more body lotion that usual and at one point, I even started flicking my hair and giggling whenever the object of my affection looked in my direction.
But it wasn’t my heart that was responsible for my actions, even though I started telling friends that I’d ‘lost my heart’ to someone – stupid bitch, it was inside my rib cage all along and it was my brain which was flooding my body with dopamine, increasing my norepinephrine levels and spiking my serotonin to dangerously ‘in love’ levels. In fact, in a recent article published in Psychology Today, research has shown that as welcome as falling in love with someone actually is, science has also linked the experience with higher levels of the stress hormone Cortisol – so if you’re feeling more anxious, jittery, and tense, this could just be a normal response to the very state of being in love with someone. This is why relationships are so hard for people who suffer from mental illnesses such as anxiety and PTSD – they are anxious, jittery and tense anyway, so falling in love with someone increases their symptoms and suddenly something which is essentially a fantastic and wonderful state to be in – love – becomes a strain and a bind and all too often, the relationship will suddenly be blown apart not because they don’t love you, but because they do. Sometimes, they don’t even know it themselves.
Sadly for me, besides being an Old Person AND a middle class twat, this is what happened with my recent foray into the realms of romance. After what I have to simply say was the best six months of my life, my boyfriend and I have split up because his anxiety and PTSD wouldn’t let him be happy, and so now both of us are sad, and I’m left on my own with a dog and a broken heart.
Oh, and for those of you who want to know, Andrew Ridgely was the other half of Wham!
© Amy J Steinberg 2017