Sunday, June 05, 2011
I have read your blog for almost a year, and I have always thought to myself 'I will probably need to write rabbit' every time I read your replies to those in need. In other words, in the back of my mind, I knew that 'disaster' would strike in the near future. I realised tonight that the 'future' is now. I finished reading your book yesterday. I am convinced that I'm stuck in the exact same place as you were during your 'my future husband wouldn't do this' phase of your life. Let me give you some back-story.
About a year ago, I met a guy that I thought was interesting, mysterious, totally sexy and above all- totally not right for me. Being the 22 year old girl who decided life was too short, I decided to give this guy a run. Along the way there were moments where I thought we would be together forever, they were rare, but they lingered. For the most part, I just happily went along with the excitement of a new relationship and didn't think to much about the future. I did know that he has major commitment issues in terms of the thought of marriage,but it was not like he didn't want a steady relationship with me either. I knew he was ambitious, but I didn't know he would leave the country a year later. Half way through the relationship, he told me that he wanted to leave the country, without any plans to return. I was shocked, but told myself that a) it wasn't going to happen b) it wasn't going to happen anytime soon c) i would be prepared for it if it did happen. I was wrong in all of the above. The reality is d) he's actually leaving in 2 weeks, I've known about it and tortured myself over what to do.
To him, long distance is just pointless, and I agree that it's one of the most painful things to do in a relationship, especially when there are no long-term plans to be together in the future. But in the back of my mind, being the hopeless romantic that I am, I secretly hoped he would turn around and say to me 'no, I think we should give it a shot, we shouldn't just throw away our whole relationship without even trying.' It didn't happen.
I guess I'm just trying to illustrate the point that preparing for disaster is really an impossible task. My friends comfort me that 'well at least you saw this coming', but it does not make me feel one bit better. Worse still, I think some of them expect me to be OK with this imminent break-up, BECAUSE i saw it coming. I'm puzzled as to why I'm not doing better this time round too? I knew this was not my future husband to be, because there were just too many incidences where disgusting behaviour was displayed on his behalf, but yet it's still so hard for me to admit that I was so so so foolish to tell myself all these lies, just to feel temporary happy. It's just so sad and pathetic, and I can't believe I've gotten to the point where I see my boyfriend as this self-centered, stingy, uncommitted jerk, yet I still don't have the courage to break up with him before he leaves. I sort of just wanted it to pan out naturally and let the relationship die once he left (romantic again). Here I am, one week to our 1 year anniversary, trying to make the plans perfect, and he does not even give a shit. He's too busy worrying about packing. I have never felt so foolish in my life.
Rabbit, how do I recover from all this stupidity? I'm starting to question my own judgment, rationality and intelligence. I cannot believe that I've wasted a whole year of my youth on this prick. How do I gain my dignity back?
Dear Foolish One,
Right now you're suffering because this story isn't ending the way you'd like it to end. You want some control over the ending. You can't stand that he doesn't care, but you're obsessed with the notion that you can do something to make him care before he leaves, and then he'll send you love letters once he's gone, magically redeeming the last year of your life and making it possible for you to sally forth without him. You don't want to spend your life with him, you just don't want to feel like he wouldn't kill to spend his life with you.
I'm making it sound a little shallow, but anyone who's felt this way (almost any woman you ask) knows how painful it can be to cling to the last few moments of a doomed relationship, trying to change the way the story ends so that you don't have to pine forever. It's easy, when you're young, to be consumed by the idea that you can control the way things unfold. Your boyfriend's feelings are malleable: you can change them! You just have to come up with the proper strategy. And even if he skips town without much fanfare, you're betting that he'll miss you so much that he'll be heartbroken. He'll beckon you to join him! And you just might, even though... you know he's totally wrong for you, he doesn't care that much (even if he temporarily thinks he might), etc.
Your friends aren't all that sympathetic because your suffering is partially self-induced. It's understandable, mind you. I did this kind of thing a lot in my 20s. Many women do. But you're making a choice to suffer right now. You already know he's wrong for you. You're angry at him. You feel like he doesn't appreciate or love you all that much. And yet, here you are, kvetching over the last days of disco. It's time to simply break up with him. That means no teary goodbye (demeaning, anyway, since he won't be crying), no fare-thee-well sex (also demeaning), no pledges to write or send photos or whatever. Just call him and say, "You've already moved on. That's ok. You're not that invested in this relationship, not JUST because you're moving, either. That's ok, I guess I'm sort of over it, too. I find myself wishing that you loved me more, but that's probably just my ego talking. I wish you the best in everything you do."
Yeah, sure, I'm oversimplifying it. But when you look back on this in five years, or even five months, you'll oversimplify it, too. You'll say, "I was wasting my time with that guy. He wasn't into me for the last half of our time together, he just didn't know how to get out of it." And then, since you're very young, you could end up doing the same thing again. But look, the next time you have to break up with someone, or the next time it's clear that someone is trying to slowly but surely break up with you, you probably won't take it quite so badly. The shitty thing about break-ups is that, the first few you go through are always insanely difficult, no matter how much you like the person you're breaking up with. After that, you start to say, "OK, I've done this before. It's not that bad." You'll remember that the bad part actually comes BEFORE YOU BREAK UP.
You're in the bad part now. Why not just get out of it? You're mourning something preemptively, which is torturous because you're still trying to hang out and be lovable and convince him of something -- your essential value as a person? Fuck, it all sounds so ridiculous, so how do we fall into these traps? Your essential value and appeal have nothing to do with him. You take every slight as a sign that you're not good enough for him. That's why you won't get out of it now. You keep waiting around for some little gift, some little crumb, to make it clear that you do have some value, that he just isn't seeing you clearly.
But really, in the big scheme of things, who cares what he's seeing? He doesn't care about you that much, for whatever stupid reason, we don't know. Why bother trying to figure it out? I'm pretty great and I've been dumped at least a dozen times, by all kinds of different men, some hot, some not hot at all, some smart, some not nearly smart enough, some nice, some not all that nice. They didn't like me enough. Why was that such a heartbreak? Because I suspected that there was something wrong with me, that I was, at my core, someone who didn't deserve to be loved. I was too needy and too weird and too talkative and too intense and too critical. And I was a pain in the ass, for sure. Don't get me wrong there. But did I have a big fucking problem that would prevent anyone from ever accepting me for who I was? No. The big problem was my suspicion that I had a big problem, period.
Once I decided: "I will only consider men who accept me for who I am, pointy, intense edges and all", then I could fucking relax, and dump people who needed to get dumped. Mostly what I did after that was, I refused to spend time with anyone who encountered the weird or heavy shit I said as inappropriate. When people reject you in little, mundane ways over and over -- well, you either think, "Yes, I suck, I should change this," or you think, "Um, you don't like me. We probably shouldn't spend any more time together."
Dump the guy, and feel good about it. Then resolve to spend time only with men who really, genuinely are predisposed to enjoy you, exactly as you are now. That doesn't mean that you can't improve yourself. Just don't get stuck on the idea that you need to be improved in order for someone to love you. The only thing you need to improve is your ability to stand up for yourself and accept yourself for who you are. You are already lovable, believe me. You are already radiant and interesting.
Call the dummy, break up, and then step out into a new world and breathe new air. No one else gets to tell your story for you, from now on. Everything gets better from here.