New learning experience this week: getting dumped sucks. It sucks real bad.
So I’ve been seeing this Fella. I wasn’t “Looking For a Relationship” when I met him, as well I shouldn’t have been since I met him literally within days of moving into my apartment. I mean, seriously. Some of our first chats were about how I was trying to figure out how to hang my TV on the wall. So though I stuck my toes into the online dating world, my focus was on stretching my legs in my new life as a strong, independent, single lady, on feeling what I feel, and on self-discovery.
I wasn’t Looking For a Relationship–but the Fella was. We hung out for a while pretty casually and chatted regularly. Time passed, we kept hanging out, and eventually what we had was A Relationship. And it was pretty stellar!
And then he dumped me.
I’ve never actually been dumped before. I met Lou when I was 19, and he was my first boyfriend. I think I went on dates once or twice before that. I also had a short, forbidden romance right after high school with a boy who was supposed to become a priest. He didn’t dump me so much as he went away to school and stopped talking to me, which really doesn’t count since that wasn’t A Relationship. (Though it was rife with adolescent torment! And secret hand-holding! And professions of love in the form of parables! The whole episode deserves its own blog post one of these days.) I broke up with Lou once before we were engaged, which was really painful, even though I was the initiator. Then, of course, we got back together, and we married when I was 22.
A few days before the Fella dumped me, anticipating that we might be headed in that direction, I read an article titled “Your Post-Divorce Rebound is Guaranteed to Destroy Your Heart.” The writer explains that when the rebound ends, you have to contend with emotions you didn’t finish dealing with after your divorce in addition to the emotions surrounding the end of the rebound itself. She describes her feelings about the end of her post-divorce rebound thusly:
When that relationship ended, it hurt like a motherfucker! Holy shit did that bloody hurt. Ochie!! Owwie ow ow ow! Mommy! Make it stop! Please, ow ow owie ouchie ow I can’t take any more!!!
I read that and thought, “That’s weird.” I mean, I didn’t want to break up with the Fella, but I had the clarity of mind to realize that I’m in no position, emotionally or legally, to say what type of future any ill-advised relationship I may engage in should have. Besides, “Owwie ow ow ow”? I’m better than that. Come on.
Plus, I’ve been facing my divorce-related emotions pretty head-on. I’ve by no means resolved them, but I’m also not running from them.
For another thing, I felt it was a misnomer to call what the Fella and I had a “rebound.” I mean, yeah, I still had plenty of baggage from my marriage. But “rebound” seems to be taken as a superficial, meaningless sort of thing. “Oh, that’s just a rebound.” No, my relationship with the Fella was not “just” anything. It was definitely not meaningless.
And oh my lawd, when it ended last week, it hurt like a motherfucker. Holy shit did that bloody hurt.
I may not have the perspective to be writing this right now, but I can say that being with the Fella has been really important to me over the last few months. I learned a lot from this relationship about relationships. About feeling what I feel and not being afraid to talk about what I feel. When I realized I felt like I loved the Fella, I trusted myself. If you feel like you love someone, you do. It doesn’t have to be quantified or qualified. Love takes many forms. I learned about vulnerability–oh, was I vulnerable! The Fella was a huge source of strength and encouragement to me in these first months of my separation. I brought him my fears and my tears, and he gave me back love and gentleness and compassion.
I think that’s part of what stings so much now. I let myself seek validation from him when I knew better, when I knew I had to find my validation inside. At one point early on, I told the Fella, “Don’t make me need you!” And of course he didn’t “make” me. But I let myself need him.
Now, six or seven months into my new life, I have to remember where my strength is stored. Strength it’s necessary for me to tap into in order to recover, now, from two ended relationships.
So that’s something else I learned, and I hope I will be able to internalize that and take it forward with me.
And I learned what it’s like to get dumped! I wanted new experiences, right?
I am not lost to the irony that I left Lou, and now I’m complaining about someone leaving me. Karma, right?
Maybe. But I’ve also considered that in an illustration where this relationship parallels my marriage, where I am Lou and the Fella is me, then the Fella must know what he’s doing, even if I don’t understand it. Sucks for me, but everything will be ok. Why would I want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want to be in a relationship with me?
Besides, I don’t believe in karma, I believe in grace. Grace doesn’t mean painful things don’t hurt. It still hurts like a motherfucker to realize I made myself vulnerable to someone, let him into my life and my heart and my head, and he took all of that in and then rejected it. But grace means that none of that is tied to my worth as a human being. Nor his. He’s still a good man; I’m still a good woman. Grace means I can take out of that relationship a number of useful lessons.
And it’s not so bad to feel what I feel, even if what I’m feeling is unpleasant. In the roller coaster of the last few days, I’ve also felt surges of love and strength from the support of my friends and from the beautiful hearts of my children. My Sunday school class this week discussed how “the engine of life is death.” The food we eat is dead matter that nourishes us. Plants grow from seeds that die and from substance that once was living and has died to make way for and provide sustenance to new life. That resonates with me. One love will die, but other loves will grow, nourished by the substance of the old love.
But for now? Owwie.