When people in healthy relationships offer me advice, they’ll usually mention that “no one is perfect” somewhere in their story. People in unhealthy relationships will also claim that they’ve stayed because, “no one is perfect.” Okay, I get it, no one is perfect, but how do you know when to walk away?
Being heartbroken was one of the most painful seasons in my life. I’ve been through physically painful experiences, but nothing could even compare to the gutted feeling of being left behind. There are two very different people involved in every break up, the one who wanted out and the one who got dumped. This is a reflection of when I got thrown away. Too dramatic? It’s always a Taylor Swift song on repeat in the mind of Scenario B: the girl (or guy) who got tossed back into singledom.
It’s been nearly three years since I experienced the rock bottom of my first real heartbreak. These days, I laugh when I hear Taylor Swift’s “Back to December”. It was the song that I kept on loop while I sat at my dining table sobbing, wishing that my ex would regret the day he left me. It got so bad that my neighbor would pound on my paper-thin wall and scream, “That’s enough!”
It was never enough. I would just pop in my ear buds and continue crying sans pants on the floor next to a thicker wall. Looking back, my sadness didn’t have much to do with my ex, but rather the emptiness I mistakenly thought he left behind. In reality, I was finally confronted with the voids I’ve always had, but used relationships to fill.
He was my best friend. He made me laugh and we got along well. He didn’t steal money from me or try to prostitute me. He was much better than the usual scum I dated and I thought “better” meant he was destined to be the one. I was wrong. We both used each other. He wanted casual intimacy and I wanted someone to make me feel pretty. For men, sex requires very little intimacy. If I wasn’t in the picture, I’m sure his sock drawer would’ve provided an equally suitable candidate. “Better than before” is hardly a title to translate to “forever”.
We inevitably parted ways because he found someone he actually wanted as his girlfriend. I was gutted. Instead of seeing him as a selfish jerk that led me on for months, I could only focus on my own inadequacies. I stalked his FB page like a maniac and constantly compared myself to his girlfriend. After much deliberation in the confines of my own broken-hearted insanity, I concluded that I was a hideous beast!
The sadness acquired during a breakup has a hallucinogenic tendency. No matter how many times I tried to be positive, I had a horrible habit of focusing on everything I lacked. “I’m not pretty enough.” “It was probably because of my walker.” “I don’t blame him for not wanting his family to know about me.” “Of course he could do better than me, I suck at life.” “Was it was because he felt judged by my reaction in regards to the finger-in-the-butthole request?”
It was my fault. I’m a horrible, selfish bitch and I don’t deserve love!
Now that I’ve had time to heal from the sadness, I’m utterly embarrassed of my behavior. I’m forever indebted to my friends who allowed me to soak their sweaters with tears as I verbally shitted all over myself. I never believed them when they tried to affirm that I was indeed (insert anything pleasant here) and would find love again. To me, they were all horrible liars! Now, I realize that the hallucinogenic power of sadness heavily influenced everything I felt and said.
Time eventually healed my emotional wounds. Well, time plus the work it took me to fill my voids with a more truthful sense of myself. My sadness was wrong. I wasn’t a complete shit who didn’t deserve love. I just needed to figure out why I had such a negative self-image and why I only looked to relationships for validation.
I am particular humiliated that I begged my ex to give me another chance. As he packed his things, I remember holding onto his arm pulling all of my weight in the direction opposite of the door. I pleaded with him to stay with me because I couldn’t take the pain of losing him. I ugly-cried like a lunatic as he picked up his belongings and walked out of my life.
It was so silly to beg him. What did I really think would happen? His affections for me had obviously disappeared and at that point, he’d just be with me out of pity. I’m so grateful he walked away. Had he felt an ounce of sympathy for me, he would’ve continued to live a double life and I would’ve accepted it. At the time, I didn’t mind living in a delusional bubble as long as it protected me from the reality that I didn’t know how to love myself.
At the moment, I still have loads of issues. I have a better sense of self, but I still notice several insecurities when I get involved in a new relationship. I actively try to separate myself from my fears, but it’s a work in progress. I’ve since dated a few people and each person was an improvement from the last. The true delight of dating is allowing yourself to discover great qualities you never realized you wanted. It’s also a great way to come to terms with characteristics that you definitely DO NOT need in a partner.
Since my first break up, I’ve improved in many ways. I no longer feel an intense pressure to be in a relationship. While it would be nice, I don’t want to settle for someone who isn’t ready to invest in the relationship. Like over-indulging on an entire package of Oreos, I just can’t binge on any more garbage. I don’t just want a relationship for the sake of having one. I want a partner. Someday… when the time is right.
No one is perfect, but the right person will move mountains. He/she won’t just use you as a hiatus until he finds someone better. I think that’s the difference.