The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Getting Over It

February 28, 2009

Getting Over It

A question about The No Longer was recently posed to me: why is it, after close to 12 months, does this break-up still color my every day?

It was a good question. A fair one, even . But it was a question that made me sad. Because it is true -- the No Longer broke up with me in April last year, it's now February, and there's still a lingering pain that will not go away. If Hallmark Channel, Oxygen Network and Lifetime, Television for Women provide any framework for getting over breakups, all I need is a group of good girl friends to tell me I'm worth it, a few good nights on the town to shake off the doldrums, and hot new man to give me the love I truly deserve. Good girlfriends? Check. Night out on the town? Check, check, check, check. Hot new man? Check and double check!

I know I do not have any lingering romantic feelings for The No Longer. I know I do not have any nostalgia about "how things were." I know I do not believe that this was the man that I was supposed to love, to marry, to build a future with. I know I don't even believe that we were all that great a personality fit.

Other things I know include: I left the relationship feeling less like myself than when I entered. He was sometimes downright unkind to me. There came a point in our relationship that he was no longer interested and he failed to let me know directly. He was always careful to obfuscate, dodge and convolute so that I could never tell which path we were on, or, as it turned out, about to get off. And I'm fully aware that I bear some responsibility in this -- I let him treat me poorly.

So, knowing as much as I do about why the relationship was bad for me, the question still remains: why can't I just get over it?

I wish it were that simple -- Encouragement + Margaritas + Jorge The Hot Houseboy = Broken Heart Mended. And I suppose if it were just about the dating relationship between The No Longer and I, Jorge would have been enough to make me forget. But what I am so torn up about is really this -- I was out-and-out lied to, and like a fool I believed. Just writing this phrase makes me tear up. In fact, there hasn't been a time in the last year that this very thought hasn't made me cry.

Now let's be clear, I'm not saying by breaking up with me The No Longer had somehow violated some trust or some promise. Dating is not a promise for a future. Dating is all about trying to see if this person could be the person you would want to spend the rest of your life with. It's a risk for all parties involved. I took a risk and he took a risk.

Where the lying began was when he knew he was no longer interested in taking such a risk and didn't tell me outright. Instead he chose to avoid my calls, criticize my heart, and withdraw even the most basic physical affection. This didn't happen over weeks, it happened over months. And in this time, I watched it all through a haze I could never shake. Something in me knew there was a problem, but sitting in Los Angeles, with only a crackling cell phone line as a connection between us, I just couldn't be sure. Was it realistic to expect every conversation to be sparkling, witty and deep? Were the awkward pauses when I asked pushing questions just the bad phone line? When I could never get him directly on the phone, was he just busy with work? I always defaulted to the "benefit of the doubt" rule. And so, with every missed call, every unanswered e-mail, every statement that seemed to be a criticism of who I was, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Even right up until the night before he called to break up. I was with a girl friend at Korean barbecue relating the story of how The No Longer and I first got together. Every other phrase I uttered was, "He's such a good guy." So much so that this girl friend all but sighed and wished that she had a man like mine. The next day, he called, broke up and wouldn't tell me, with any clarity, why his feelings had changed.

So you see, what I mourn isn't so much the loss of a relationship. I mourn that for some reason unbeknown to me, I let some guy mess with my head and my heart. For all my independent spirit, my wit and my wisdom, at the end of the day, I saw the demise coming but wouldn't believe it. I defended this man to all my friends, even when they counseled that what he was saying and doing seemed odd. Even after the break-up happened, I said that he did the right thing by ending it so swiftly and so cleanly. What sort of Kool Aid had I been drinking?

This sort of mourning doesn't lend itself to getting over things quickly. And so I live with the lingering pain, taking moments to process and consider where to go next. The lingering pain, however, has had its constructive purposes.

The pain reminds me that I did take a risk. No matter what the outcome, the risk that comes with dating is a worthwhile risk to take. All the breakup aftermath doesn't minimize the benefit of standing up, saying yes, and letting someone see who you really are. Dating is a risk I'd happily take again, and a risk I recommend anyone taking. (I wouldn't, however, recommend that you date The No Longer. I think his dating privileges should be revoked until he gets some counseling.)

The pain also reminds me to raise my hand and ask. Ask questions, ask for what I need, ask for direction of where things are going. The right person, the one that cares for me and loves me for who I am, should not and would not hesitate to answer. And even if he doesn't know the answer, he would certainly tell me so.

But most of the all, the pain reminds me that I too get to have a voice. I am as much a part of the dating relationship as the person I am dating. I get to decide what I like about the person and what's a red flag, what is a good fit for who I am and who I think God wants me to be, and what is behavior that is applaudable or abhorrent. When it comes to finding someone, I'm not the only one that should have to "pass the test." I should be administering some of the quizzes myself.

A wise woman once told me that the pain of the break up will fade over time and some day, I will look back on this, and it will no longer elicit an emotional reaction. This will just become another colorful strand woven into the fabric of who I am. I'm finding this to be true. As much as I struggle each day over the questions of why, how could I, and what if, I find myself feeling less pain over the relationship itself. I can barely remember the man's face, how he sounds, or even what we ever talked about. The dates we went on in the 14 months have become fuzzy. I imagined we must have laughed and had some fun. But what was so fun or funny? I couldn't tell you.

In the meantime, Someone Very Special came knocking almost six months ago. He is pursing me with clarity and integrity. I'm proud to say I am still taking risks, standing up, saying yes, and letting him see who I really am.


Anonymous said...

It's Me. The Question Asker. It was a fair, but selfish question.

I want you to be happy and to forget the pain that No Longer caused.

I asked so I could figure out the source and help find a way to stop it's negative affects.

I guess, I just get so angry at No Longer for how he chose to end the relationship. I am not a big fan of passive-aggressive people who don't communicate well.

Anyway, my apologies if I caused you additional pain with The Question.

David said...

I certainly hope you're using your voice and are making Mr. Jorge Hot Manstuff jump through hoops and pass tests. No free rides there sister! Give him the scrutiny! :)

Cindy said...

Oh Janice. This made me tear. I know what it feels like.

Moving forward, I hope Jorge turns out better.

Posh Lady said...

Betrayal sucks - hooray for hope!