Jana Kramer’s new song, “I Got the Boy” has been running on repeat on my iTunes, and I can’t help but marvel at the brilliance of the song. It’s sad, it’s painful, and it’s truth.
After my long-term boyfriend and I broke up, and I started dating another guy, and when he started sharing with me his childhood and high school and college stories, I remember feeling a sense of sadness that I wasn’t there to experience those memories with him; I knew that I would have been so proud of his accomplishments, and I would have laughed along with his practical jokes and shared his miseries and disappointments with him, and I was genuinely sad that I wasn’t around to be part of those stories. Because, since I knew my long-term boyfriend since we were in middle school, I was used to being the girl that was around for everything: for picking colleges and graduations, for winning those triumphant games and the celebrations that followed, for friends’ weddings and break ups and hospital visits and everything else that comes out of ‘growing up’.
I realized that, whomever I date hereafter, I will never, ever hold that same connection to. I will not have been there when you received your diploma, and didn’t know if you should awkwardly go in to shake your advisor’s hand or give her a hug. I will not have been there with you when you went through the terrible-emotional roller coaster of interviewing, and then finally receiving, your first job. I will not have been there when your brother proposed to his girlfriend, or your grandpa passed away. I didn’t know you as a boy, and never will. Instead, I would have to surrender myself to listening to the stories told about these experiences. It was something I had to succumb, and give up: I would never hold that role ever, ever again. I didn’t like that.
I like Jana Kramer’s song, because I think it sets up a brilliant parallel about these kinds of relationships. For most of us, I think we need to encounter two kinds of relationships: the first, the image of ‘the boy’ serves as our backboard for relationships; we go through some really crazy, really irrational, really dysfunctional things with these people. I remember, one year, I got really mad at my long-term boyfriend, booked a trip over spring break, and “forgot” to tell him I was leaving, until he called me that night, and I told him I was out of town, and he obviously got mad, threw his phone, and we didn’t speak for a couple days. And then, we have those second time around relationships, the image of ‘the man’, that serve to reflect all the learning that we did from the messy first one. In retrospect, that was incredibly immature of me, and I would never do that again, but I learned so much from that relationship.
As Jana Kramer suggests, we kind of become two different people: both equally representative of our ‘self’, but, as painful as it may be, we have to recognize that people change, we are not fixated but rather fluid, and that who we once were is probably not who we are today; we are all made up of a ‘boy’ we once were, and the ‘man’ we have become, or the ‘girl’ we began as, and the ‘women’ we grew up to be.
With the second guy I dated, I was always really reluctant to share details about my long-term boyfriend with him, for many reasons; I wasn’t quite over it yet, I was embarrassed, my pride a little bruised by the way things went down, and I didn’t want this new guy to think poorly of me because of how I let myself be treated, and didn’t want him to feel the same sadness I felt about someone else being there for me during those crucial ages, when he couldn’t be. I wanted him to have me to himself, just as I wanted to have him to myself; I didn’t like this ‘sharing’ thing that happens (Jana Kramer sings, “we each got something the other will never have”). But, as it turns out, as Zac Brown Band sings, “I guess God didn’t make me a one woman man” (or, in my case, a one man woman). People fill our lives for certain reasons, and certain periods, and my long-term boyfriend did serve a purpose; he kept me afloat when I needed it. I can never erase the years I spent with my long-term boyfriend, because so much of who I am today is interwoven into the things we went through together, the lessons I learned from it, and just like I will have to, whoever dates me hereafter will have to also reminisce in my memories, because those shared experiences made me who I am today, and that’s just a facet of ‘growing up’.
…I hate how love leaves us so broken, so weathered, so jaded, and yet so enlightened, wise, and centered all at the same time…