Earlier this week I had some time on my hands (as I was trying to avoid studying) and so I began Facebook check-in’s with my friends and acquaintances. I do this every so often just to see who’s had a kid, who’s getting married, who’s bought a house, who’s sick and who’s annoyed with work (and to what degree.) It’s good reading and I highly suggest it, though highly recommend you stick to people you know otherwise you cross the line into weirdo territory. I digress.
Anyhoosers, as I was doing this, I came across someone who is FB friends with an ex’s family member and I was immediately hauled back to memory lane recalling how God-awful that ex was and seriously took a second to THANK GOD I was no longer in that atrocious relationship.
From there (again, all in an effort to avoid studying for this upcoming exam on Saturday morning), I decided to take a moment in my happily married life and contemplate the road I walked (or crawled depending on the relationship) to get right where I am at this very second. It’s good to reflect on where you’ve been, if only to cherish even more where you are. Another thing I highly suggest and not just with ex’s but in all aspects of life.
I was always a long-term relationship kind of girl, beginning with my first boyfriend ever which I “dated” for about a year and half. I say “dated” because when you’re 15-17 years old, how much of this is really, truly dating … isn’t it more like, obsessing about one another, feeling sick with insecurity and locking lips? Or is that just me? He broke up with me to date a girl from another high school and as a result, I remember being traumatized and stripped of any desire to get out of bed. That lasted about two months, as I listed to Pearl Jam’s “Black” on repeat (CDs were widespread then so it was easy to just press one button and instantly hear the anthem of my broken heart.) It was that or Guns n’ Roses “Don’t Cry.” What can I say? My 17 year old heart was shattered – and worse! It had been replaced by a girl at another high school!! I remember doing some questionable investigating to find out how they had met in the first place and I came to find out they had met at the gym. The gym! I didn’t even own running shoes…
Boyfriend #2, looking back, I can now identify as a creep-o with an inferiority complex so severe, he actually chose to date me, someone 7 years his junior! I was still in high school, he was a college drop out. Need I say more? In short, looking back, the me-now can definitely identify the him-then as a Grade-A LOSER … but the me-then didn’t know that. I blame him, really. Shouldn’t he have pointed out that an 18 year-old should be hanging out with other 18 year-olds? He was a nice enough guy, helped me with term papers and the like, but his antisocial antics got old AND the fact that he lived at home and didn’t have a job became beyond embarrassing. We broke up after about 3 years when I finally met someone closer to my age with the same values as me (hi, work ethic anyone?) and who would actually hang out with my friends. I felt like I had struck gold!
Boyfriend #3 was fun, smart, came from a good family, and was a lovely boyfriend for the year we dated. In fact, I’m FB friends with him! He’s married now and has a very cute daughter and in short, looks very happy and I’m happy FOR him. Seriously, the only bad thing I can say about that is that I liked him a lot more than I think he liked me at the time… as a result, I of course drove him away. Don’t get me wrong, I think he really did like me. I just seemed to think it wasn’t enough … Which led to yet another broken heart and feelings of “What’s wrong with meeeeeeeeeeee?” It wasn’t him, it was me. I see that now. And because of that, I can look back and think “he was fun. I liked him. Good guy to date, glad we hit it off,” walking away with no ill feelings and instead, feelings of complete neutrality. I find this to be a good thing.
After Boyfriend #3 I entered a period when I bounced around a lot, not really finding myself in anything that stable or promising. I dabbled in dating the first boyfriend ever (high school guy) again but that ended sourly and I have nothing good to say about that second time around. I did learn that it’s no good to re-date someone. What’s that book called? Something about being called a break-up because it’s broken? Point being, don’t re-date someone. Does it ever end well? I guess it can, but in my case it (thankfully) didn’t. After that, I dabbled in a long distance relationship with a Chilean I met in San Francisco… he was in the Chilean navy, still is actually. He’s another guy I’m friends with on FB and he too is now in a long-term relationship. Again, feelings of happiness (for him) and neutrality can best describe what I feel when I remember him.
That’s the thing though. I never even remember these guys except when one thing leads me to another, as was the case the other day, and I remember something. But even that thought is so fleeting, it’s like all of this happened to another person. But that’s how it goes, right? The me I was back then was a less developed, less evolved version of me now.
If I have a daughter, I’ll take her through all of these lessons on dating. I’ll tell her that sometimes, guys look awesome on the surface (“on paper”) as was the case with the first guy I made mention of at the beginning of this post (remember? I said I came across an acquaintance’s FB page who is friends with a family member of his). What seemed to be, wasn’t really and I got caught up with all that glittered about him. Turned out he was a lazy, unmotivated, racist (yes, racist), uber conservative little punk with delusions of grandeur (and yes, I really DO need to learn to form an opinion.) Our break up seemed detrimental at the time but looking back, all I can think is “There is a God and he’s definitely looking out for me.” The funny thing is that he (and his entire family) probably thinks I’m a crazy, Latina Jezebel who ended up looking for a relationships on Cragislist “Women Seeking Men” section. I’m not gonna lie. I came this close and decided against it. :o)
But I’d also tell my daughter that sometimes, really nice guys come along and you date them for an eternity of four years. I’m not sure what number this said boyfriend would be but let’s just say he was Mr. All-American Nice Guy. No complaints, bad juju or ill-feelings come about in relation to him and actually, we had a great time together. He’s now dating someone who is far better suited for him and honestly, I’m happy for them both. It didn’t use to be like that. Sometimes one’s ego gets in the way of being happy for those who deserve it but time takes care of that discrepancy in personal judgment.
The final thing that happens before finding THE ONE is this: you meet someone and you instantly click. You think, “OMG what have I been doing my whole life when this person was floating around, existing without me and I was doing the same thing! Blasphemy!” You can’t conjure up anyone who is cooler, has a better story, a better career, a cuter face, better taste in music or personal style and you immediately become convinced that this is what life has been saving for you. This, right here, this guy, is your prize for all your failed relationships past.
HA!! Except that’s not how it works. See, right before you meet the one, you meet the one who could-have-been or almost-was (which is VASTLY different from the one-who-got-away). This guy is the one who gives you the final reminder that a guy who is in it for the long run, in it because he’s convinced you’re the best thing since sliced bread, will do insurmountable things to be with you. Will climb every mountain and swim every ocean just to be near you (so to speak). Simply put, the guy who’s in it to win it will follow through with some integrity. The guy who almost-was but didn’t quite measure up was the guy before G and it was a fresh SLAP IN THE FACE reminder of all the sh*t women need NOT go through with the opposite sex.
That’s how it goes you know. You have to be crawling on the ground, licking the floor miserable, having endured the most pathetic of showings by a guy, to realize that it’s far better to be alone than with the guy who could never measure up.
So maybe some people never had to be alone in order to find themselves before THE ONE came along. We all have our own roads and this just happened to be mine. Still, I don’t think I would have changed it all that much. Yeah break ups suck and there were some that were horrid for me … where my face would be a disfigured mess in the mornings because of endless crying the night before. But it helped me learn that each time I became someone’s ex-girlfriend, I was closer to becoming someone’s THE ONE (or wife). I always like to say that dating was like trying jeans on for size. You have to try a million on, and endure pure frustration (some too long, some too tight, why do those look better on her than me, I have no butt, etc) before you find a good pair.
What a long strange trip it’s been …. and where I am because of it, is worth its weight in gold.