The One That Got Away

I’ve dated the same guy three different times over the course of 7 years. The first time lasted a month and a half, the second time lasted a week or so, and the third time lasted two years. He changed so much for the better over the course of that timeframe, but he also changed for the worse in the worst way.

I got a very first-hand, eye-opening experience to what happens to a person after years of heartbreak, baggage, compromise, co-habitation, rejection, and emotional turmoil. There was a HUGE difference from when we first dated to when he was actually my boyfriend. When I first met him he had a carefree energy and was much less guarded. He was completely go with the flow and excited to try new things and very open to sharing every part of our lives together.

When I met up with him this third go round, he had lost a little bit of his sparkle. He was the same guy I had remembered, just more reserved, cautious, and careful. I chalked it up to maturity, but as we got further and further into an exclusive situation it was clear that he was also untrusting, unemotional, and damaged seemingly beyond repair.

I was CONVINCED that I could get him to snap out of it. I thought that if I was patient and open and loving that he would eventually let his guard down and give himself over to me fully. But in two years time, that never happened. I don’t know that if I had held on longer that it would’ve changed or not but I had lost my will to find out. And my rejecting him because of it is probably only going to make him steel himself further. But in all fairness, his fear of commitment is what got us into this mess. And his fear of commitment got him the result he was fearing—losing me.

I get it. Relationships are scary and the fear that comes with opening yourself up to someone new all over again gets harder and harder every time you have to do it. And as we all get older, the more times we have had to start the cycle over again. But at some point it’s going to have to end unless you want to end up a lonely bachelor for all eternity.

And I say bachelor because I have found that men are overwhelmingly more prone to become damaged with multiple heartbreaks than women are. We have a nice little bounce back quality which most men seem to lack.

And what kills me is that I’ve found that most men drag all of their bullshit into the new relationship and hold it against YOU!

“Oh, my last girlfriend was very ungrateful when I brought her flowers one time so I don’t do that anymore.”

“My last girlfriend’s mom didn’t like me so, NO I’m not ready to meet your parents after a year of dating.”

“I was dragged around the wedding circuit with my last girlfriend so I don’t have it in me to go to your best friend’s wedding, sorry.”

“My first marriage ended badly so I’m never getting married again.”

COOL. Well that works out swell for me, thanks! I’m paying for all the problems that your last girlfriend caused? That seems fair. And on top of that you are a shell of the guy you once were so I have to be tasked with helping you unpack a bunch of emotional baggage before you can even consider moving forward with me? Sign me up!

Obviously we as women want to take the damaged little bird under our wings and help them, but sometimes that only makes it worse. And sometimes they never come out of it. So we could spend precious years wasting time trying to get this poor man that we love just literally back to zero!

It’s such a bummer to have a guy not excited about certain things because he has, “done it so many times before.” What a buzzkill. Why should I get the shit end of the stick just because your last relationship sucked the life out of you? And if it’s going to ruin everything else in your future then you might as well just get back together with the ex and have her fucking deal with you.

With every failed relationship we always learn valuable lessons and what not to do. We gain a lot of wisdom and tools that can help make the next relationship better. And what would make the next one successful is if we could all just focus on the future instead of allow our past to put us into fight or flight mode.

Women seem to be pretty good at it, why aren’t men? Why is it easier for us to give each new person we’re dating a fair shot and a clean slate? The only conclusion I can draw is that even though we may be damaged and fearful, we tend to trust a new person FASTER. Men take too much time and when they finally come around to you after years and tests and assurances it’s usually too late.

I’m really starting to worry for my own future because as I get older, the men I date are only going to be more fucked up. I guess I could date younger, but then I would have to deal with inexperience and the immaturity factor.

I don’t even know anymore. I’m so confused. Maybe we all missed the fucking boat and should’ve married our high school or college sweetheart like our parents did. Get each other before any other person can take a dump inside their heart and ruin them beyond repair.

I’m just tired of seeing girls becoming the “one that got away” to these guys who can’t seem to get over their pasts. Drop the bullshit and get over yourself. To feel great pleasure you also run the risk of feeling great pain. But that’s life and holding yourself and your emotions hostage are sure to make you end up alone.

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Let Go and Let it Flow

I was at a bar with my friend Emily* the other night and we were talking about my recent breakup. For the most part I’ve been handling it pretty well, aside from some residual anger and PMS tears, and I think it really took her by surprise.

“One of two things are going to happen. I’m either going to get back together with Ben* and things are going to be different or I’m going to find someone else who is better suited for me,” I told her.

“How are you able to be so at peace with everything?” She wondered. She was mostly asking that question to help her learn how to move forward after her own heartaches.

“Honestly, Abraham Hicks has changed everything for me,” I replied.

I promptly set her up with my favorite Abraham Hicks channel on YouTube so that she could begin listening to some of her lectures. If you don’t know who Abraham Hicks is, she teaches about the law of attraction through, in a VERY simplified explanation, the same ideas as The Secret and the Buddhist religion.

Emily was confused after the first lecture she heard, but I encouraged her to keep listening. This essay is not an advertisement for her teachings and I have nothing to gain from telling other people to seek her out. I just know how miraculous the changes in my emotions and behavior have been since I started listening and making an effort to shift my perspective.

And I started to realize something. Most of the pain and disappointment in my life comes from a place of feeling out of control. Abraham, Buddhists, and probably the authors of “The Secret” (I’ve never read it), know that trying to control everything is the complete antithesis to leading a peaceful and happy life. I’m a control freak by nature and while it can make me a good leader and allow me get a lot of shit done, it also causes me so much anger, sadness, and anxiety if things don’t go how I imagined them to go.

So while I was in peak heartache mode of my relationship as it was crumbling, I was able to realize where all of the despair was coming from. I was feeling a lack of control so strong and I knew the only thing that could make me feel better was to just let go and give up. I’m using the phrase “give up” purposefully because I could’ve stayed in the relationship and let go of control. But I was too far gone. I was spinning so far out of control because of my desperate need to control.

I had to start from scratch and get rid of what was causing me to be so “out of alignment” (that is a phrase that Abraham uses frequently.) And once I let go of that need to control how the relationship was going, I felt such an intense feeling of RELIEF. I felt so much better than I had at any point in the 6 months prior.

And now I know that in the aftermath of what happened, the way to feel really bad about it is to freak out about what’s going to happen in my love life now or despair about the loss. SO many people can’t stand the uncertainty and they jump into something else, or they jump back with the ex, or they sign up for every dating app to make sure they’re desirable again, or they focus on what went wrong and how they should have done things differently. I’ve been there so many times and it’s completely useless.

I have no idea what the future will bring with Ben or with anyone. It’s not my job to know or to force it. It’s only my job to control what I can and should control, which is how I’m feeling. I choose to feel good so I’m only going to focus on what feels good. And that means letting go of the need to fill this gap. Being single again is not at all what I saw for myself and my future with Ben, but I’m making the best of it. All I can do is clean up my vibration. Good things come to those who are vibrating good things.

And after feeling so at peace about that, I started thinking about all the other areas of my life that have caused me to stress out. My career being the main one. A type A person like me can’t STAND not being able to control my own destiny through sheer hard work and determination. I’ve followed the steps and taken all kinds of action and I still am not where I want to be. But I know how much my need for control has been blocking the law of attraction from working its magic. The harder I worked at the success the more frustrated I became and the less I believed it would happen.

Anyone who is in the business of the arts knows that no matter how hard you work, sometimes you never catch that break. Some of the most talented people aren’t working today. But those same talented people might have a disbelief that they deserve success and it blocks them from attracting what they are seeking. Some people are afraid of feeling out of control once they achieve the success. There are many reasons it might not be happening for those people, but it’s absolutely necessary to know you are going to get what you are wanting and not try to control how it gets there and when.

So as that becomes the main focus in my life I’ve started feeling better and better and more encouraged than ever. I don’t need to know how or with whom I’m going to build a life with and I don’t need to know when or in what way I’m going to become successful. It’s all going to happen one way or another.

Let go and let it flow.

Soulmates

Soulmates can manifest themselves in any kind of physical being. It can be a friend, an intimate partner, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a pet, a parent, or a sibling. I just finished reading a book for my book club called “Many Lives, Many Masters” by Brian L. Weiss (read it right now, it’s amazing) and it has me thinking that a soulmate might be someone showing up from a past life that had a large role in your previous life. Because how else do you explain that immediate connection, familiarity, comfort, and intensity that you feel with only a handful of people and not with others. What is it about them that makes them so special to you?

And this is where it gets super complicated and you might need to hit a bong once or twice to even let your mind go to this place, but if a soulmate is someone from our past life, do they carry over difficulties that you experienced with them in that previous life? Because I don’t know about you, but I find that the people that are my soulmates are also the people I have the most dramatic and challenging relationships with. Right from the jump. They almost feel like people who I have to keep at an arms length distance because they make me feel SO high but also SO low. I love them more than anyone else, but I also fight with them more. I feel closer to them but I also want to kill them.

I’ve probably just explained most romantic relationships, and to be honest, if your relationship isn’t like that, it probably isn’t worth having. Or is it?

Maybe we aren’t supposed to be with our soulmates because of how turbulent and intense those relationships can be. Maybe we really are supposed to be with some vanilla partner who will “make a good father” or who “is very loyal and stable” or who “treats me well” but doesn’t necessarily stimulate me mentally and always keeps my emotions at an even level.

Because when you think about all of the turns that life can take, don’t you want to make sure that, at the very least, your life partner doesn’t have the ability to make you feel borderline homicidal? When children come into the mix or when a parent gets sick or one partner loses his job our has to relocate for the job it seems like you can only get through that with someone who doesn’t set your brain/mind/heart/body on fire with how they respond?

My ex had (and has) the ability to completely change the course of my day with one text. One single text can cause me to come completely unglued and not be able to focus for the rest of the day. This person who I shared two precious years of my life with can affect me THAT much with one text. He knows it and I know it’s the same on his end too which is why we’ve chosen to reach out so sparingly.

It feels like a drug. I need more. I want more. Once I get a taste of even the slightest bit I become obsessed with the idea of giving up everything I worked so hard to repair just for one day, one night, one kiss.

I hate that he has that much control over the stability of my emotions. And that’s why it feels so dangerous to even entertain the idea of reconciliation. How can I possibly spend the rest of my life with someone who knows that with a couple words tossed out without restraint can ruin me?

A relationship with a soulmate is never going to be easy. It’s going to be a constant, daily exercise of treading lightly and holding oneself back. Because everything between you two is on fire. Passionate, burning, hot, beautiful fire. To survive the day to day it requires putting all that desire aside just to function.

But why then do we have the ability to experience this kind of deep relationship with someone who we aren’t meant to be with? It seems like a cruel joke the universe is playing on us. Because any relationship we have that is less than that will feel unfulfilling, even if it is with someone who is MORE stable and MORE supportive and MORE caring.

I guess the obvious answer is that they are just there to teach us the lessons. Maybe that’s why they show up from the past life. The lessons still haven’t been learned even across lifetimes. But what a dope setup it could be to be with someone who you learn and grow with and also have a stable, healthy relationship with! Is that not a thing? Maybe it is a thing just for a short period of time and then you move on. And you mate and procreate with the one who will be like a faithful dog. Unconditionally loving you and making you feel at peace no matter what.

Or…OR…you and the soulmate are too underdeveloped and unrefined to make a relationship work at this time. But at some point in the near future it can be SO good. Once the fire turns into a deep desire to make things work with the one who makes your heart sing. It might be painful sometimes but it will be more beautiful than any other experience you have had across ALL lifetimes.

The Post Breakup Rage Stage

I’m angry. No, correction, I’m FUCKING angry. So angry, in fact, that I have these dream fantasies about screaming in my ex’s face about how selfish he is. I want to get revenge in some way. I want to say something that will really hurt his feelings so that he will experience the pain and anguish that I had been feeling.

Notice that I say “had” been feeling. Apparently once you move out of the stage of crying every night and randomly throughout the day, feeling numb, eating your feelings, and watching too many reruns of Sex and the City, you move into the I FUCKING HATE YOU stage. I guess anger is better than sadness, but anger makes you want to DO something whereas sadness makes you not want to do ANYTHING. I want to punch him in the face, fuck one of his friends, or post some really provocative shit on social media.

And speaking of social media, the thing I’ve latched onto lately as making me the MOST angry is that he seems to be fine and going on with his life according to his Instagram photos. He’s all over New York smiling and making jokes like he didn’t just lose the love of his life. Asshole.

And then because I’m angry about that, I start feeling angry about all the things he didn’t do and all the ways he disappointed me in the relationship. Which is good I guess, but those feelings have no where to go. All it does it ruin my mood and put a bad vibe out into the universe.

I was the one who orchestrated the breakup, I know. But that doesn’t mean that I wanted it. Part of me feels like he wanted out and so he let the relationship get to such a bad place that it forced ME to end it. I’ve analyzed every possibility in the book and yet thinking about it and trying to rationalize any of it only makes me feel worse. But the least he could do is fade from existence for a while until this has all blown over.

Stop thinking about him. Focus on yourself. Move forward. You deserve better.

I have to repeat those statements to myself all throughout the day. Some days are fine and I can make it out alive with only fleeting thoughts of what was or what could have been. But other days I feel like I’m just floating through life without any direction or purpose anymore. Everything feels weird and not quite right.

And the weirdest thing is, about a week after it happened I felt mostly okay! I felt like I was being released from the shackles of my own pain and suffering from within the relationship. I was free from the disappointment and crushed expectations. But now what’s left is the empty hole where his presence used to be. Even though I didn’t have his presence as much as I wanted it or in the way that I wanted it, I still had it.

So it comes to a point where I either have to accept that it’s really over for good and treat it like a death, or hold onto the idea that we will get back together eventually. Those are really the only two options. The latter is a very dangerous path to go down and will keep me stuck and hanging on instead of moving forward. So death is it, I guess. I mean how do you reconcile going from talking (or at least texting) with someone everyday to absolutely nothing?

The only other option is to use the pent up energy for someone new. But the idea of being with someone new is way too scary for me. Plus it only prolongs the mourning and isn’t really fair to the other person. I’m not going to be able to fuck my ex out of my mind and heart.

Part of me feels like he owes me something. He owes me an apology for not giving enough of himself. Or he owes me some fucking tears because I sure gave him a lot of those! I don’t need closure or anything, I guess I just wanted more of a reaction out of him. All I have is silence. One of the biggest problems I had with him is I felt like he didn’t care enough. About anything. He’s showing me that I was right. Whether that is deliberate or not.

As we get older, each new failed relationship just piles on the baggage and the cynicism. It’s hard to believe that I have to go back into the horrible dating world. Or get used to someone else’s quirks and habits. Ease myself into showing someone new my face with no makeup on. Go back into the cycle of: does he like me? will he call? what does this text mean? It’s exhausting to even think about.

I know, I know. Obviously I’m just not ready to move on yet. I just need to find a new outlet to manage this anger and come to terms with the finality of the breakup. Because if not, I run the risk of becoming that girl who thinks there are no good men in LA or that they’re all afraid of commitment. I don’t want to become an angry, bitter person. I’ve been that person before and she was not fun to be around.

He did the best he could. I can’t be mad at him for only going as far as he was capable of. But I might have to block him on Instagram so I don’t have to see him thriving without me.

When To Say BOY BYE!

My friend had to knock some sense into me the other day about my relationship. I was feeling sad and depressed and very much like a victim in my current circumstances. I had assumed that feeling was coming from the fact that I was scared of losing my boyfriend, since I had just confided in her that I didn’t think the relationship was working anymore. And she told me that she didn’t think I was sad about that, she felt I was sad because I wasn’t being true to what I want. That for a little over two years I had been lying to myself.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You have been in this same cycle pretty much since the two of you have been together. He isn’t providing you what you want and you have continued to accept that.”

As the saying goes, what we put up with we end up with. Subconsciously I’ve known for a long time that that is what the problem in our relationship has been, but I was avoiding much conflict about it because I didn’t want to let him go.

Any time I feel sad or want to complain about my circumstances, this particular friend serves me up a healthy dose of tough love.

“If you keep accepting things for the way that they are then you are in a much worse position than moving forward. Do you feel good right now?”

“No,” I admitted.

“Exactly. You’re accepting nothing but crumbs from him and then trying to emotionally manipulate your way into getting what you do want. You’re never going to get it that way.”

I had to meditate on that for some time. My boyfriend accuses me frequently of being emotionally manipulative, something I believe has been practiced into a habit since early childhood. (I blame it on being the middle child.) It’s interesting to me that I use that technique and my friend suggested it had to do with my constant need to control.

You see, it takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you want and not accept anything less. It takes courage because the alternative is potentially losing someone you care about. But if they aren’t willing to meet your needs then they aren’t the right person for you anyway. In an effort to not lose him I keep the tightest hold that I can onto him while acting desperate and borderline hysterical in the process.

It has taken a long time for me to understand the difference between the things that I need and the things that I want. It turns out, you can really tell what you need by how you feel about not getting that thing for days/weeks/months later. For example, my boyfriend was out of town on my birthday. Not for work, and not because of some preplanned trip. He was out of town because his dad had a free plane ticket for him to come home and he couldn’t turn it down. Not even the celebration of the birth of the person he loves the most could keep him from going on that trip. And so, he went and didn’t invite me, and so I was left spending my birthday giving my friends excuses for as to why he wasn’t present.

I was upset and angry when he told me and we had a massive fight about it. And I was upset many weeks and months later. But then I started in with all the excuses in the world for as to why it makes sense that he wasn’t there for me. He has to see his son, he comes from a family that doesn’t celebrate birthdays or holidays, blah blah blah. I was the lowest priority on the totem pole and I (begrudgingly) ACCEPTED that position. I cried and I told him how hurt I was and how unacceptable that behavior had been and then allowed everything to go back to normal. He gets a hall pass for missing his girlfriend’s birthday? Wow, what a doormat I am.

And the thing that feels the worst to me is that I’m a very strong and confident person in my real life who never accepts less than what she wants. It’s become increasingly confusing as to why I would allow that to be okay in my intimate relationship. The more it happens, the more I come to expect it, the more he thinks it’s okay. I’m on this vicious hamster wheel of disappointment and yet I’m so AFRAID to get off.

Well, FUCK THAT. I’m done. I’m done being this sad girl who is able to do nothing more than express when I’ve been slighted. I’m an empowered woman who will no longer accept a bunch of bullshit excuses for treating me like an afterthought. The women who get what they want are the ones who say, nothing less than that will do. If you’re not willing to step up, then BOY BYE. I’m channeling my inner Beyonce so don’t give me a baseball bat or I will smash up some windows.

There is this fear inside of me that wells up that says, I’ll never love someone as much, I’ll never connect with anyone as much, I’ll never be as attracted to someone as much and YET…I’ve felt that way about at least 3 other men in my past so I guess I’ve been wrong every time. Fear is what will keep you complacent and stop you from growing and moving forward. I have to get clear about what I want and what I can’t accept and only vibe from that place. I will never be happy otherwise.

If I need my boyfriend to be present for my fucking birthday then that is what I’m gonna get. It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant the request can seem. If it’s important to you then make sure that you get it. The result of not getting those things is built up resentment, anger, frustration, and eventual breakup anyway. Leave with dignity so you don’t have to leave when you’ve become a shell of a person and are so beaten down that it might take months, or even years, to recover.

 

Keep Going or Give Up?

How do you know whether to give up or keep going in relationships?

I think about this at least once a month. “I want to give up. It’s too hard. I’m disappointed all the time. I’m unhappy. I’ll never get the future I desire with him.” Those thoughts run on a loop in my head anytime I don’t get what I want or have my expectations dashed by him. Sometimes I feel like a petulant child or that I’m pinning too much of my happiness on him and other times I feel like he goes out of his way to disappoint me and show me that I’m not his main priority.

But then I think about having to start over with someone new and it sounds awful. I say to myself, “just hold out longer. Keep your mouth shut. Be agreeable. If you’re patient and cool you may get what you desire.” And then that dialogue runs on a loop until I convince myself that it’s really not that bad. But I think the problem lies in trying to decipher if I’m being too pushy and controlling or if what he is and who he is isn’t enough for me.

He complains that I get my heart set on timelines and goals and if he doesn’t meet those in the time frame that I have decided on in my head then I get upset and pick a fight or try to end it. And I’ve definitely done that. I’ve definitely been close to ending it 4 or 5 times and ended it for real for 6 days once. I don’t want to be the girl who cried wolf but I also don’t want to be the girl who held out for as long as she could stand for a guy who was never going to give her what she desired in the first place.

And he almost has a point, I guess. If he tells me things will happen but they just haven’t yet, shouldn’t I just be patient and relax and know that he just takes more time than me with all of these milestones? But what it he’s just telling me these things will happen to shut me up and keep the peace? He might keep delaying progress until his face turns blue and then I’ll be in a worse position than I was before with even more time wasted and resentment built up.

Relationships are hard and they take work and we have done so much work and have made progress but I just don’t know if it’s enough. I don’t want to feel like I’m begging him to move forward with me all the time and I don’t want to feel as if I’m waiting for the moment when I’ll finally be happy.

Sometimes it just feels like it will never be enough. Never enough time, energy, attention, or care put into cultivating our partnership. I feel like I’m giving everything I have on my end and not getting enough in return. No one wants to be with a needy person and if that’s the vibration I’m putting out, then he will feel that and want to pull away. So at times I don’t even blame him for the way he behaves, but if I’m not getting enough of what I want then obviously it’s going to manifest itself somehow.

Isn’t the point of being in a relationship to share all of the important moments with the person you love the most? Do I just have to come to terms with the fact that I will be going alone to most events and experiencing a lot of life without him or with friends instead? Is that so bad? Or do I want my boyfriend to always be there with me all the time for everything?

Maybe adult relationships are about separate people with separate lives doing their own thing and coming together only to enhance each others’ lives. That sounds really nice and independent and shit, but what about those moments when I feel more alone than I did when I was actually alone? Because you only miss someone who isn’t there. You don’t miss someone you don’t have. When I miss him it feels worse than being single.
I should be grateful and appreciate what he DOES do, right? I need to focus on the ways he tries to make me happy and respect the progress that he HAS made, no? But then why am I always in tears about things that he has failed to do and opportunities he’s missed to bring me even the slightest bit of joy? But if I give up, will I be MORE sad than I am now?

I definitely don’t expect too much. I expect way less than I would’ve in the past because he’s forced me to lower those standards. So the result always feels like I need to express to him that I’m not fulfilled and walk away to find my desires elsewhere.

And then the cycle starts over with someone else at some undetermined point in the future when I’ve kissed enough frogs to find someone suitable. And then what if I don’t like that person as much? What if I realize I’ve made a huge mistake and he won’t take me back? Assuming that this person is good enough and respects me, what if I discover the same problems and then I’m back in the same position after even more years of waiting, wishing, pushing, and hoping.

“Just keep going. Stick with the one you love so much. Give him a break. Relax. Focus on yourself/your career/your friendships for happiness.” This is the cycle of thoughts I usually settle on. But I honestly don’t know how many times I can keep doing it.

So will it always be something? Will I never be satisfied? Once I get the things I’m asking for now is there going to be some earth shattering glow of happiness that will suddenly wash over me? Why can’t he just fucking do everything I want so we don’t even have this issue to begin with?!

For now I guess all I can do is take a breath, have a glass of wine, and wait for the PMS to pass.