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On moving forward

If Wenger were the solution, he’d still be here.

Paris Saint-Germain v Arsenal FC - UEFA Champions League
you can’t see it, but a torch is passing
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Most people in this world have experienced a bad breakup at least once in their lives. The broken-up-with are left facing a reality in which the target of its affection has decided that life would be better if the breaker-up’s life moves on without them in it. And it’s up to the person who was broken up with to get a handle on how to navigate the days and nights without their former partner beside them.

At first, it’s rough; every song reminds them of the ex, and turning on the TV, there is seemingly nothing but happy couples, blissfully living their lives in love, strolling through the park without a care in the world. How can they be so happy when everything’s obviously so miserable and pointless?

Sooner than later, the clouds that once hung perpetually above their heads begin to clear and the rays of the sun begin to appear again. It’s a gradual process that takes time, as well as a commitment to stay busy, and focused on setting and maintaining a daily structure centered on ensuring that some sort of normalcy of life is as uninterrupted as possible. As the days turn to weeks and then turn into months, the person whose existence was once defined largely by their ex-partner suddenly lose the feelings of attraction and desire for that other person, and regain a sense of self as life gets back to whatever definition of “normal” one wishes to use.

There are other people, though, who struggle with this ability to let go of their old flame. They obsessively stalk and monitor their lives from afar, watching and critiquing their every move, while jealousy and pettiness replace love and kindness. The constant refreshing of Twitter and Instagram feeds for clues to the ex-partner’s whereabouts, activities, and associations, all in the service of a hopeless quest for reunification.

This inability to grasp reality, or the desires of their ex, prevents them from moving on and finding the joy and intrigue of what new things life has in store for them. This transition period isn’t an easy thing to do, but the ones who continually fail at it hinder everyone involved.

Which brings us to the topic of Arsene Wenger and Arsenal fans.

There is certainly a segment of fans that are more than happy and relieved the legendary manager is no longer leading the club, as evidenced by many a “fan” video published throughout the final years of Wenger’s reign. There is another, much bigger section of the fan base that acknowledges that it was time for Wenger to leave, knowing both that his legacy and impact to Arsenal should never be forgotten, and that the club has the level of status and allure it currently enjoys around the globe thanks to the efforts of Arsene.

And then, there is the tiny cult of fans who have failed to move on from Wenger, for reasons that border on either a deeply entrenched, muddied narrative or in a belief that he was still, truly, the best man for the job. If it’s the former, it’s usually concentrated around an idea that the higher-ups at the club are an unfocused pack of yokels who consistently fail whenever a decision is needed, that those in charge pushed out the innocent man and then compounded their mistake by hiring the wrong man for the job, and until that wrong is righted it’s up to these Wenger Truthers to hound out the new man in charge.

If it’s the latter, well, these fans certainly were not paying close attention to the club the last few years in charge and are not being realistic about the state of things in N5 (but, taking an educated guess, this section of fans is much, much smaller than the former).

After a few months of letting the narrative play out during a time when the discourse of the club was engrossed in off-the-pitch matters, we’re now at a point where it’s finally time to tell this group of people that cling to Arsene, like he is some mythical lifeboat that would magically be better this year than in the past five, that it’s well past time to move on.

It’s time to find a new way to keep yourself busy, with activities geared to get your psyche through this stage of grief. It’s time to take a step back and accept that, right or wrong, your old partner is just that - is a person who is no longer with you, and who is trying to make it in this thing called life in a different way than you had hoped. And a person who, if they are who you fell for in the first place, wishes you nothing but the best as well and hopes you’re also moving forward.

It’s time to allow them to flourish on their own, and the easiest way to do that is to put one foot in front of the other and to start allowing yourself the ability to let your ex go. And it’s time to notice that there, waiting quietly for you to notice, is a new partner. A partner who, while lacking the longevity of the last one, is every bit as intriguing and new at this stage as the other one was at a similar very, very early stage.

Only time will tell if your partner made the right call in leaving you. Only time will tell if the new partner, shyly hoping you’ll develop as strong a bond with him as with the last one but willing to give it the time to find out, is The New Best One or merely The Next Best Thing. But it’s still far too early in this new relationship to know whether or not your anger and assumptions are placed accurately. Now it’s down to allowing for time to play itself out.