I read somewhere once that the deepest pain is being left by someone who used to love you. I don’t actually think that’s true. I think what’s worse is what comes next. The indifference, being forgotten by the person you can never forget. Seeing someone whose first thought upon waking up used to be you then go about their day without you ever crossing their mind – THAT is pain.
I’m not doing well with this breakup, can you tell?
It’s not just that it’s my first tough one, though that certainly explains the sting. I’ve had dating relationships end before, stopped seeing different guys, even really nice ones. But never have I been through the slow, lacerating detangle that is the surgery of removing someone you adore from your daily life. I’m still at the unfortunate stage where everything – and I mean everything – reminds you of them. Trees, breakfast cereal, air. Every truck I pass on the road makes my heart leap. Every song on the radio is either about him or is one that I wish was.
Of course, nearly everyone around me is just ready for me to get over it already. Funny, actually, how quickly sympathy fades. Not because they don’t love me, but since my relationship stayed pretty private, very few of my friends had met him, and in their minds, he’s as dismissable as a character on a TV show they don’t really watch. That, and the idea that “we’ve all been there.” That’s true, somewhat. Everyone’s dumped or been dumped. Most everyone’s been in love at some point. We’ve all been through desperately heartbreaking situations. But the truth is, no one has been YOU and no one has been HIM, with your specific personalities and histories and hopes. No one else has lived through the uniquely unfolding story that was your connection to each other. No one else would be affected the way you were when he told you he “just loved your natural self”, because no one else has lived the personal journey of your self-esteem. The trust he has in you, his taking a chance on you, wouldn’t mean as much coming from someone who’s never been betrayed like he has. No one else would ache quite the same way remembering how he wrapped his arms tight around you on a porch step as you lost your balance and said “I got you” in a way that meant much more than just that moment, because no one else has walked through your exact struggle of trusting men and feeling desperate for a safe place to land. Sure, countless people have been in those same situations, maybe even heard the same words and been deeply affected by them, but not the precise way you have.
I’ve come to a place where I accept that it is okay to feel desperately, crushingly sad. It doesn’t make me less of a strong woman to hurt deeply. It simply shows that I love deeply. I’ve also accepted that I will move on when I’m damn well ready – not in anyone else’s time (including his). It wouldn’t do me any favors to rush anyway – unless you let all the steps happen when they should, you’ll pay for it later.
One of the most difficult parts of this situation to accept is understanding what was and is God’s plan. I’ve been experiencing major doubt, because I was so absolutely certain (as was my inner circle of friends and family) that Cowboy was the result, the blessing of following God’s lead for my life. I asked Him for direction and purpose, and suddenly, instantly Cowboy appeared. Everything was right until everything was wrong and now I fear that I can’t tell God’s voice from my own. Looking back over our time together, I can’t identify one moment to say “Ahh – that’s where God said no and I didn’t hear it.” Not one.
So where does that leave me now? If I was right, if Cowboy was sent to me at that exact time and I did everything right, what is it I’m supposed to do with this horrid tangled knot of Christmas lights that is my heart? *That’s the best visual I can think of – you know that feeling of despair, rage, and hopelessness that happens when you have a giant trash bag of lights to untangle for the tree? Everything started so lovely – yay, time for Christmas decorations! – and yet now you sit, a defeated heap of uselessness on the floor with no idea how to proceed.* For the first time since I’ve been rebuilding myself, I feel like I don’t have the next baby step to guide me. I’ve always seen a way forward. I didn’t always like it, or understand what it was going to lead to, but there was always some step I knew I had to take next. With him, no clue. Do I savor every wonderful memory and believe that there could still be a future, or do I shut him out of my consciousness completely and go ahead as if we never met? Unfortunately, as with all things, moderation of the two is probably wisest, and there I’m lost. I don’t know how to hold him fondly in my heart and memory (which he is completely worthy of) but move on to the next season and new possibilities.
In light of this awful combination, I just continue to cry, pray, pray, cry, pray, cry, cry. Repeat as necessary. I cycle (often multiple times a day) through believing this is just one chapter of the story we’ll one day tell our grandchildren (“Let me tell you what a fucking fool your Grandpa was once…”) to being sure that I am the most undesirable woman to ever walk the earth (“Hmmm, what did he loathe most about me? Too fat? Too old? Too city? Too brunette? Too prudish? Too available? Too bookish? Too talkative? Too insecure? Naaaah couldn’t be that last one, it’s not like I’ve made a list of everything wron—-ohhhh.”) to just pure numbness, staring into the distance or the fire or my feet.
The only answers I seem to hear to my prayers are some combination of “Wait” or “Take care of other things”. The first scares the living daylights out of me, because I don’t know what to do with my heart in the meantime (see previous freakout – do I hold on or move on while “waiting” for whatever it is He has next?). The second is equally terrifying, because I DO NOT WANT to go back to the person I was before, only finding things to distract me from the fact that what I most wanted was to find a good man to love and be loved by. I do not want to fill my days with work so not to think of him, or fill my calendar with friends and family so not to spend nights at home wishing I was with him. I know some would respond to that by saying “Start dating, have those friends set you up, find someone else.” There is certainly wisdom in that. I don’t at all believe Cowboy is the only good single man left on earth. What makes it so utterly unthinkable for me is just how uncannily Cowboy filled out the list of all the lovely quirks and qualities that I never for ONE SECOND believed could be contained in one man. Most of this list would mean nothing to you or anyone else, since it is highly personalized to me. It’s made of up of big things (loves God in action, not just in words; puts his family above all; serious, hands-on work ethic) which we can all appreciate, but also so very many small things (example: a shared mutual obsession with 90’s country, surprisingly emotional for me) which make no sense to anyone else and don’t need to. But when you find yourself at my age, having seen, dated, and been underwhelmed by many of those “fish in the sea”, and you FIND YOUR FISH, it feels very, very pointless to cast again. This isn’t my first guy, I’m not naive, and I know with complete clarity what I want and what’s right for me in a man. It took me 32 years to find ONE MAN that captured my heart, with no one else even coming close in the past. Forgive me, but going back to the dating pool is the single most depressing thought I can imagine after falling in love for the first time with one of the best men on earth.
So, I wait. I take care of other things. I start a new job next week and I’m genuinely excited to begin. I have money to save and farmhouses to dream about and books to read and friends with weddings to attend and babies to hold. And I’ll still cry into my coffee in the morning and at my desk in the afternoon and in bed alone at night. But I will fight no matter how hard to trust that God is going to make a story out of this somehow.