I read an article this week that shifted my worldview a little. It said that the reason people decide to break up is usually because one person sees a promise of something better. It’s not directly because that person is unhappy or fearful in their current relationship. Unhappy, fearful people stay. Read More
I’ve told you all about the worst things the boys ever said to me. This one’s a little harder to write, though. I am not blameless, which I try to be honest about here. I’ve done some pretty rotten, crappy things to people, and especially to the exes, probably because things get messy when love is involved.
I spend a lot of time on this blog thinking about what I said and did and wishing I might have said or did something a little different. I also spend a lot of time trying to decide what I’d say now if I had the chance, and what better chance than Valentine’s Day? In honor of the occasion, here are the Valentine cards I wish I could send my exes.
I suspect Luke recently got dumped again. I’m reading between the lines because it’s not like it’s all over Facebook or anything (and that’s the only communication I get from him nowadays), but I’m pretty sure.
When I was about 11, I was absolutely convinced that I should have had an older brother. I needed one. He would protect me from all the evils of the world and I would not be the oldest (and, to my mind, most neglected) child in the family anymore. Of course I knew it was impossible, but I wished really hard for an older brother. Prayed for one even.
I’ve had to watch more than one of the exes go through an incredible loss. Mostly I just tried to be available, and didn’t know what to say, but if I could go back and tell them what I know now, I might have said something like:
Dearest heart, I am so sorry you have to go through this. I wish, more than anything, that I could take away the suffering for you.
I read romance novels. Disparage if you like, but really, what’s not to love about romance novels? You get to experience the joy of falling in love, the pain of heartbreak, the many facets of love and you’re guaranteed an ending that will not make you want to drown yourself in the nearest body of water… Read More
I may have mentioned before that Luke and I were good kids. Weird, yes. Loud, yes. Probably annoying, too, but as far as high school kids go, we were good. We weren’t mean to other kids, we didn’t do drugs or drink, we didn’t vandalize things.
I can’t claim to have any misgivings about hindsight, really. This entire blog is written in hindsight. I know that, necessarily, as you age and grow, you learn things either from an experience, or from navel-gazing about that experience very thoroughly. (No one’s ever accused me of not being thorough enough.)
But sometimes I wish I hadn’t learned some things.
I wish I hadn’t learned about negging. It colors my memories of so many of my interactions with Shane. Was he a pick-up artist? I highly doubt it, (1) because that was in like 1996 and it wasn’t even a thing yet, and (2) because I think he was a good guy and wouldn’t have done that on purpose even if he knew it was a thing… but now I have a label for it.
I wish I’d never experienced a hurt so complete that I never want to talk to an ex again. (Looking at you, Matt.) I especially wish it when I realize that’s how Luke and Shane must have felt about me on the few occasions when I tried to rekindle a friendship. Double hurt for the price of one.
I wish I’d never known that Joe thought of me as a passing fascination.
In some ways, I even wish away the wisdom of my older years, because it leaves my memories of my “firsts” (first love, first kiss, first time) muddied, confused, and a little yucky.
So sometimes I pretend that I don’t know things.
I pretend I don’t know that Matt was manipulative and narcissistic– it makes those memories seem charming rather than scary.
I pretend I don’t know that Joe wasn’t really that into me– it makes my first love seem worthy of the depth of feeling I gave to it.
I pretend I don’t know that I hurt Luke and Shane, probably deeply enough that they’re completely done with me, in the sense that they don’t even devote a second of their time to remembering me fondly (or at all)– because then I don’t have to feel hurt that they’re lost to me, or guilty that I did that.
In general, I think a lot of the “rules” of personality typing are bogus.
Some of that is because I’m a twin, so astrology makes no sense to me. My sister and I have exactly the same astrological sign and we are two very different people. And the birth order stuff? Well, when you’re a mere minute younger than your older sister, turns out that birth order doesn’t really matter much.
Also, the birth order thing hasn’t really demonstrated itself sound in my relationships. Joe and Luke were firstborns, like me (well, sort of– we’ll say I’m a firstborn for purposes of this discussion). That means we should have always been fighting for the leadership role in the relationship. Not the case. I was all too happy to let Joe take the leadership role, and with Luke, he bent over backwards to accommodate my every whim. No power struggles.
Matt was a younger brother with an older sister. According to the science, this means we should have been a great match, since I am an older sister with younger brothers. But, oh the fighting. To be fair, I can’t say it was really a power struggle. Most of our struggles came about because he needed me to give him more attention– and that certainly fits with the youngest kid personality stuff. But shouldn’t I, as an oldest child, be good at dealing with the neediness of my partner, then?
Apparently not. Matt and I did not make it. And a good portion of the relationship was a hellish spiral of drama about all the stuff I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give him that he needed in order to feel loved.
So, for me, it was back to the drawing board on all the personality tests that tell you your “ideal match.” And first item on my list was “not an asshole.” That’s probably a more important qualifier than birth order anyway.
I have some bad habits. I mean, yeah, sure, there are the not-so-bad ones, like leaving my shoes on the living room floor and scraping my spoon on my teeth when I eat and failing to wash my hair more than twice a week…
And then there are the biggies. One of those is my horrible habit of the push-away.
In my defense, I don’t realize I’m doing it when I do it. (Fine, it’s not much of a defense.)
Here’s the scenario: I know something bad is coming– a break-up or a fight or a stressful life change– and I don’t want to deal with it. It makes me uncomfortable even to think about it. And so, I pick fights about stupid stuff. I get grouchy and distant. I am bored. I am cranky. I do my best possible impression of a person who wants to be all alone forever and ever, and, indeed, who deserves to be all alone forever and ever.
Then maybe it won’t hurt so much when the bad thing I know is about to happen actually happens because I will have already distanced myself from the person I love, via my funk-pants shenanigans.
When Luke came with me and my family on a beach vacation a few weeks before I started my freshman year of college, I was in full push-away mode. When he got out his guitar and noodled around with it, I sniped at him for not playing any real songs. When he went for a jog with me on the beach because I forced him to, I got mad at him for making me run through the sand. We went up to run on the road and then I got mad at him for making me run in the heat. The whole week was like that– him trying to keep up with my swinging moods and me doing my utmost to make him hate my guts, all without my conscious knowledge.
Luke was a better-than-good guy, and managed to stick with me through that hellish week, and even another year after, but God, I don’t know how.
Of course, you know the ending to this story. College sucked, my whole life sucked, and I eventually dumped poor Luke. My bad habit tried real hard to make it easy for me, though, and scare him off before that ever happened.
So, if I love you and I ever start doing the push-away, now you know– I’m probably being a giant ass because I love you so much I can’t stand it.