Or, how getting completely blindsided was the jolt I needed to finally see myself clearly
I can’t believe I’m about to admit this out loud (or even through the silence and anonymity of the Internet) – but it’s time to come clean to someone. Let me preface my story with the fact that I’m 24 now, blissfully in love with a man who, after almost 3 years, I still think is too good to be true. Handsome, smart, good family, huge heart – a Phys Ed Teacher (hello, job integrity and a great health insurance plan!) from my very own small hometown in New Jersey. But oh boy, years before he found his way into my life and into my heart, I was convinced men like him only existed in…well, nothing. Even men in books and movies are certified a-holes, these days, aren’t they?
Let’s rewind a few years, shall we? I had just turned 19, was a budding sophomore at a HUGE state school down South (ok, it was in Maryland, but to this Yankee from New Jersey, Maryland is the deep South), and was loving life as a Public Relations major. My long-term relationship with my cute high school boyfriend (who stayed at home and attended community college part-time, while simultaneously working at an auto body shop) had already withstood freshman year, and with a full plate (I was a college athlete and on pace to graduate early, juggling my sport, my 4.0, and pledging a sorority), I thought I knew everything. I would graduate on fast-forward, get engaged and move to New York City where I’d automatically be promoted to VP of Communications at a fashion magazine. I’d make a million dollars and plan my perfect, candlelit, romantic wedding in the process. Cue tires screeching to a halt.
It was Emmy Award Sunday, 2005. My roommate and I were watching pre-show red carpet fashion coverage, probably eating Baked Lays and gabbing about how fugly some of the dresses were and how we wish we could be as skinny as Ellen Pompeo (um, it was 2005. Grey’s was life). My boyfriend calls, no big deal. I answer the phone and from there, everything blurs in my memory. “I’m done with you. It’s over. Don’t ever call me again.” I could literally feel the intense physical pain of a jagged knife tearing my heart into shreds. What? Why? How? What did I do? How did I not see this coming? WTF! Wasn’t he just visiting me last weekend and everything was great? Why was he so cruel after years (I met him sophomore year of high school) of being so close? Shock isn’t a strong enough word. I honestly felt like my brain and heart were both going to instantly explode out of my body, I was that boggled. And 200 miles away.
Long story short, there was another girl. A trashy one with bleach blonde hair with black roots and what appeared to be dirty fingernails (I’m big enough to admit I stalked her photos on MySpace – and I didn’t even have a MySpace! I created one just to stalk her. And him. I was 19.) I didn’t know her. I had never heard her name. The whole time I had been working hard in college, trying to build a great life for both of us (because somehow I didn’t envision him ever actually graduating with that Associate’s in nose-picking, or whatever it was that he managed not to fail in high school) and was planning to be the breadwinner, he was hanging out with people I didn’t even know, cheating with girls who wore shirts that said “Looking This Trashy Doesn’t Come Cheap.”
I never did talk to him after that. I tried to, but he blocked my cell number. I even reached out to his mom in desperation (not my proudest moment) before I finally got the message. In the two years that followed that day – and yes it took me until I actually graduated school to get over it – I barely ate, quit my sport (cheerleading) because I had no energy, and damn near took a year off from school to seek help for my unrelenting depression. My mom (a nurse) took days off just to come visit and get me out of my dorm for the day. You get the idea – it was the lowest I’d ever been.
I’d never wish that experience – of having your heart torn out of your chest and stomped on with no warning and no reason – on my worst enemy. But looking through the clear vision I have now because of that experience is a blessing for which I can only thank my ex. I know what I’m capable of overcoming, how happy I can be on my own, and what I deserve out of a loving relationship. Years later, enter aforementioned handsome Phys Ed teacher. And happily ever after.
Below, tell me I'm not alone in my pathetisad (my own personal adjective when "pathetic" and "sad" just don't seem to cut it) funk following a devastating split from a long-term beau? Share, ladies! xo