I know that many of you are on the edge of your seat to find out how I reacted to last week’s big news; yes, that long term boyfriend, in fact, is engaged. I received the message after one of my friends texted me (and then another one of my friend’s called me, and stumbled over her words before she could spit it out). To be honest, I have stuck to my rule of not stalking him on social media, so the only way I would find out is if someone told me. My reaction? Doesn’t surprise me; I figured that would happen (see proof here, under “You careless what happens to other people”).
I think we get upset when our significant others “find someone before we do”, because we have this false narrative that marriage has to be a game; that, for some reason, he is now ‘#winning’ because he found someone before I did. But, it’s not a race, and we have to remember that things happen differently for different people at different times. Some people earn their first speeding tickets at 16, and others wait until they are 70. Some people experience an existential crisis at 22, and others when they are 45. Some people find their One True Love when they are 17, and others when they are 30. He obviously found his One True Love at 23 (or, earlier—who knows), and I obviously still have not found mine, but that is ok, because my life is meant to lead into a different direction, and it does not make me any less of a person, nor him any greater of one, that he is getting married now, and I am not.
We also get upset, because we don’t like it when people have ‘power and control’ over us; this is why, when you break up, you try super hard not to say anything to them, you post a bunch of pictures of you having a GREAT TIME with members of the opposite sex, and you pretend like they never even existed; you want to prove that your life is just fine without them, and they have NO control over you (which, to some extent, can be true). However, there are such things that are central to the human condition, and I have to remind myself that, no matter how early he checked out of the relationship, he still had to go through the same things I did: he still had to adjust his life without me, he still had to answer questions to people when they asked, and things still probably float up that will always remind him of me. I still get random reminders of his existence; I will occasionally find a sock that I thought I got rid of, or his mom’s e-mail will spam me, or I will run into a friend we used to hang out together with, and it reminds me of being together. We dated for six years, and so much of who I am, and who he is, will be based off that relationship, no matter how repulsive, negative, or harboring it actually was. Just because he now has a fiancé does not change any of those things that are universal to the human condition. He will have to answer to his new fiancé about me, and I will have to answer to my future fiancé about him; we cannot erase the time we spent together (Read: My Connection to Jana Kramer’s New Song). Although healing from a breakup is NEVER a fun process, I certainly have done a tremendous amount of personal growth since, and can genuinely say that I am the happiest I have ever been in my life.
I think it’s also difficult when we see people jumping right into another relationship, because it makes us think that we are replaceable, that nothing we ever did was significant, and that our influence can just as easily be removed. In some situations, this could be true. Or, it could just be true that some people just don’t like to be alone. I personally knew that, for myself, I had to take time away from being in relationships; I forced myself to be single, because I needed to experience Valentine’s Day, Christmas, my birthday, going to friend’s weddings, etc all by myself, and that also allowed me so much personal growth. If he has NOT taken the steps to deal with the relationship, repressed memories always find a way to surface themselves, whether it be through addictions, other unhealthy relationships, a poor quality of life or self-perception, etc. But, maybe this girl was planted to help him through that time, and if she was, she deserves some credit for being so faithful.
And, I have to remind myself that there is no way in hell that I would want to be married to him. If I were stranded on a desert island, and my options were to be perpetually sunburned, or to marry him, I would probably choose the sunburn. The way things went down between us was terrible, and I sincerely hope that he treats her better than he ever treated me. Most second marriages are stronger than the first; it’s kind of like teaching. The first time I teach a lesson, it’s always horrible, and by the second and third times, I have refined my transitions, anticipated student questions, and changed my directions to work better. I hope this is true for him, and I know it will be true for me someday. Everyone deserves to be loved (except for child molesters—they do not deserve any love), and from what I gather, it seems like she truly does adore him, and that’s all anyone can ever ask for. And, that box I packed up and set in my mom’s basement is probably still there if she would like me to mail her any of his old lacrosse t-shirts that certainly serve ME no purpose anymore.
But, most importantly, this announcements signals to me that my ‘how to heal from a breakup theory’ really does work. We always say we may react in one way, and when it really happens, we actually react in another. For example, I would probably tell you that I didn’t really need paradise pie in my life, until Chili’s officially took it off their menu, and as it turns out, I went through withdrawals. However, in this situation, I actually legitimately did not care. I laughed, and then thought immediately about my book. Along with a string of other events, this announcement encouraged me to get on the book brigade that I had been dragging my feet on. Once I tie up a few loose ends, I am hoping to have ‘Happily Never After’ to your Amazon Kindle bookshelf by the end of September!
To them, I would say, “Congratulations on your future together” (but, you will have to read my book to figure out what that really means!)