A question was posed by someone once: Why is it that some people seem to get over the end of their marriage/relationship so much easier than others? The person went on to posit that perhaps some people don’t form deep attachments and that’s why it’s easier for some while others continue to be haunted for years.
I’ve given that question some thought because, as most of you know, once I found out about Harley the second time I was done. I knew I was going to leave his pathetic ass, and every feeling I had ever had for the man disappeared in the blink of an eye. So I wonder sometimes if there’s something wrong with me. I’ve actually wondered before if maybe I’m a sociopath. Do I have no feelings?
Thankfully I’ve come to the conclusion that I am NOT a sociopath. I also realize I absolutely do have feelings. I think what it comes down to is how practical a person is. Maybe even how prideful they are.
I had a friend from high school remind me that back when we were juniors or maybe seniors my friends questioned me on why I never talked about my boyfriend. Now, Dave was a shit. He brought me flowers before our very first date and that one act gave him far too much currency throughout the duration of our relationship. There was a crazy ex-girlfriend who was actually stalking me and leaving threatening messages on my car; she came pounding on his door one day. He stood me up numerous times- so many times I couldn’t even begin to estimate how often he did it. He didn’t spend much time with me. I’m 99% sure he cheated on me- a lot. We broke up several times. I recall being so depressed after one of our breakups that I would literally go to school, come home, and stay in my room the rest of the day. Sweet J finally staged an intervention. Took me to Chick-Fil-A for a slice of lemon pie and a beverage. Looking back it was a cesspool of a relationship. And at some point I stopped talking about it to my friends.
Why? Oh, it wasn’t because I was embarrassed. Hell no. I was far more practical than that. When my friends asked me why I never talked about him anymore I told them the truth: I’m going to complain about his behavior. You guys are going to tell me to dump him. I’m not going to. So there’s really no point in wasting your time.
I was 17 years old at this point.
A couple years later I had a different boyfriend. His name was Derek. Derek cheated on me, too. Like a dumbass I forgave him (after kicking him in the shins). This was very close to the end of the semester and the beginning of the summer break. In fact, he was supposed to take me to my best friend’s college campus right before I found out about the cheating. After I found out I recall putting on my Stone Cold Sam face and telling him I still wanted him to take me to her. He had a car. I didn’t. I was practical.
It was at the end of that trip that I was trying so hard to get drunk and it just wasn’t happening. Finally, right before we were set to leave the alcohol finally did it’s job. I could no longer pronounce Jon Bon Jovi. I believe it came out Jon Bon Bovi and Jon Von Jovi and a whole host of other combinations. But Jon Bon Jovi was not something I could say at that point. I got the brilliant idea to have my best friend come back to Purdue with me. While she’s getting ready I start pouring my feelings out to Derek. I don’t remember much of it and what I do remember was probably filled in for me by my best friend. I was crying. I was screaming, “You hurt me. You hurt me!” According to my best friend he was remorseful. He was hugging me and kissing me and telling me how sorry he was. So, so sorry, and I’m sure he undoubtedly promised he would never break my heart again. Until he did.
One weekend I came down to see him and his response was not exactly welcoming. “What are you doing here? I told you I don’t like surprises.” His plan was to leave me sitting in the apartment while he tied up some loose ends. I’m assuming those loose ends were to tell his ex-girlfriend that I was in town so he couldn’t spend the weekend with her. This did not sit well with me.
Once he left to take care of his “errands” I got in my car and I drove once again to the college my best friend attended. Her school wasn’t out until June and this was only May. So I spent the weekend with her and I never talked to Derek again. I did run into him one time at a Subway where he was working. He smiled and was all, “Oh hey! Hi!” like he’d never fucked me over and broken my heart. I did not acknowledge him. Like, he said, “Oh hey! Hi!” acting like everything was perfectly fine and I was just some former co-worker and I looked the other way, completely ignoring him. Thank God he wasn’t the one making my sandwich.
It was during the Derek period that I coined the phrase, “Your past may explain your actions but it doesn’t excuse them.” I was 21 at the time.
Fast forward another few years. Now I’m involved with a guy named Mike. He was never someone I thought I would ever end up with and our whole relationship started because of sharing a table at a restaurant for an English assignment. I’m not going to go any further with this part of the story because this is not, “The Many Loves of Sam Awesome.” Suffice to say he would say things that made me think he wanted more and then he would push me away.
One day I had driven down to see him (he was still in school and I had graduated in December). On my way back I slid on some ice, took out a mailbox, and shattered my driver’s side window. When I finally got back to my apartment I called him to let him know what had happened.
“Are you trying to worry me?” was his response.
At some point I sent him a card. I don’t remember what it was for. But I do semi-recall saying something to the effect of, “Not as though you care… blah, blah, blah.” I’m pretty sure when I sent the card I sent it as a goodbye.
He ends up calling me a month or two later. He was hurt by my message, but upon reflection he realizes that what I said was true. Well, duh! He goes on to say a bunch of bullshit that I lapped up like a starving kitten with a bowl of cream.
I didn’t think I could love anyone but maybe I just wasn’t letting myself.
I’ve never felt like this about anyone else before.
You know the drill. I’m amazing. He’s a fool. Let’s see where this leads. He’s talking about possibly spending three or four days together because of our schedules.
Then, of course, the time comes. I call him. Let him know which days I’m working. He’s suddenly working a lot of hours but we pick a day for me to come down.
We go out to lunch. We see a movie. I was looking amazing. We go back to his apartment and are sitting on the couch. And then he hits me with a variation of, “I just want to be friends.” He really likes hanging out with me but he’s been talking to a friend and thinks that really that’s all we should be.
Fool, I am not driving 2 hours to go to the movies with you! I’ve got plenty of friends locally that will go see a picture show with me!
I let this news digest and then I got up, calmly collected my suitcase, and left. I said nothing. Just got my stuff and left.
Approximately six months later I run into him at a breakfast club down at school. I was down there visiting my friend Molly. Numbers were exchanged.
I know. I know. When will I learn?
I think it was probably the first time we talked on the phone he said something like, “I’m glad you called. I didn’t know if you would or not because of how things were left the last time,” implying that there was some kind of hysterical scene.
I’m thinking to myself, “Scene? You call that a scene? I picked up my shit and left. I didn’t say a damn word. A scene would have been me throwing shit all around your apartment, destroying it. A scene would have been me screaming at you, clawing your face, and kicking you in the balls, all while telling you how much I hate you and wish you would die. Dude, Derek has a whole song. You got off easy!”
Seriously, Derek does have a whole song. I changed the lyrics to The Bangles, “Eternal Flame”. Instead of, “Am I only dreaming? Or is this burning an eternal flame?” I sing, “Are you only dreaming or are you burning in an eternal flame?” And instead of, “I believe it’s meant to be, darling,” I sing, “I believe you were meant to die, Derek.” 33 years later and I still sing my version of the lyrics. Here’s the funny thing- I don’t think about Derek regularly and I don’t give a shit about him. But I still sing those lyrics.
Back to Mike.
Once again it was baiting and switching. He had the nerve to complain to me about his new girlfriend. She was really sweet but he just wasn’t attracted to her, and he wonders if he’ll ever find the total package- great personality, great physical attraction. I’m sitting here thinking, “You had the total package. It was me. You threw it away.”
At some point we must have talked about getting together. Again, I know. Bad move. My birthday was coming up. I let him know I would be in town. He acted like this was terrific news. And then pretty much ignored me.
Apparently, that was finally my breaking point. I was not on my best behavior that night so let’s just say I shared some secrets of his with other people at that bar. And elsewhere. Finally, when I came home I typed up a lengthy letter. I outlined every shitty thing he’d said and done, pointed out where he had been the one to engage with me and try to turn this into something it wasn’t. I explained. I probably had pie charts and an Excel spreadsheet. And in the end I told him if he ever saw me again, and I didn’t happen to see him first, to cross to the other side of the street and leave me the fuck alone.
Why share these long ago stories? In each of these scenarios there was a guy I really liked, probably even thought I loved. And in each situation I didn’t react with emotion. I eventually reacted with logic. Oh, I was an absolute idiot during the relationship. But once I finally accepted what was really going on…
I did eventually break up with Dave but the main point in sharing that story is because even at a young age I realized the fruitlessness of bitching about him to my friends. I knew exactly what was going to happen (they were going to urge me to break up with him) and I knew exactly how I was going to respond (I was not going to break up with him). Why do this dance? If I was determined to roll around in the mud with this guy the least I could do is spare my friends the show.
With both Derek and Mike I didn’t want things to end. In both cases I was young and dumb and thought that he could be “the one.” But I was also smart enough to see the writing on the wall (at least for a little while in the case of Mike). Was i going to sit in Derek’s apartment and wait for him to come back and then act like everything was perfectly fine? No. I did the only thing I could do. I saved myself. Believe me- it hurt. I cried. I was devastated. One day my brother lied and told me Derek had called. I was so pissed. My hopes were raised and then dashed immediately when he admitted he was joking.
And Mike? Well, I hung in there for quite some time. I really did think we could have something remarkable if he’d ever get his head out of his ass. But then I realized he would continue to do this push and pull routine as long as I’d let him. How long was I willing to be toyed with? The answer to that question was about a year.
Did I not form deep attachments? I think I did. I also think common sense finally won out over emotions.