Monday, June 18, 2012

He Just Wasn't Your Lid

An Instant Message conversation with my best friend in late February...

BFF: so how have you been doing?
ME: i'm ok. i guess i miss him.
BFF: what do you miss?
ME: the good parts i guess, the little things, the good things. just not all of it.
ME: not the whole magilla
BFF: yeah.
ME: the whole picture wasn't really a good one, you know?
BFF: i know. of course not.
ME: i miss the sweet things he did, or the little ways we fit, or laughing with him about something.  
ME: just the good stuff. but i dont miss all the fighting.
BFF: of course not! 
BFF: that must be a relief. 
ME: it really is actually. im so relived. its pretty wonderful to not have to fight with someone
BFF: i bet!
ME: i hope he realizes that too.
BFF: i know
BFF: he just wasn't your lid.
ME: exactly
BFF: i love that your mom says that.
BFF: there's a lid for every pot. i had never heard that before you said it!

ME: i know! its true tho. he wasn't the lid to my pot.
ME: he wasn't mine
ME: and i wasn't his.

Break-ups are hard and I think they're hard for this very reason. Eventually, you can come to understand that the relationship had to end, it wasn't working, it was broken. Your head can think that, but your heart of course has other plans. In the months following this recent break-up, I found that I did miss my ex quite a bit, every day. I missed the all small moments, the good things, the happy times, the ways we fit in ways I never expected to fit with anyone. What we did have, when it was good, was very special to me and I missed all of it. So much so that I eventually found myself stringing together the good times into a better narrative, one where we were happily skipping down the road in perfect harmony, and I thought for a second that, Hey! If we were so goddamn happy then we must have made a mistake by breaking up!

Um, no. Not reality.

After a little while of doing this, I remembered that I'd done this exact same thing before. After break-ups in the past, I'd start retelling the story of the relationship to myself in a much more idyllic way. But that wasn't the truth in the past and it wasn't the truth with this one either. The truth was that we disappointed each other almost constantly and we weren't very happy with each other outside of those good moments. Breaking up was the right thing. For both of us.

One of the things my mom has always said is, "There's a lid for every pot." Meaning there's someone for everyone. I like to think that's true, or at least I certainly hold onto the idea that I haven't yet met my lid.


My best friend and I have this ongoing joke about how her son is a genius and is potentially psychic. He's three. I know every parent says their kid is off-the-charts, bordering on genius, is calculating quantum theory in their cribs alongside their Everyone Poops book. But here's the thing, he is surprisingly smart for a three year old. And that's not just because I love and adore him beyond words. He has this amazing memory that's almost kinda eerie. He remembers things that happened to him a year ago, when he was two. This, and a slew of other super smart things he's said in the past, has fueled an ongoing joke between us that he's so super smart that he knows things are going to happen before they do. Like he has psychic abilities. He "knows" things. (We find creative ways to amuse ourselves, what can I say.)

A month before my break-up, she called me and told me about the latest cute thing he had just done. She said she had been walking around the grocery store with him and when they walked down an aisle that had kitchen utensils, baking sheets, etc, he apparently grabbed a pot from the bottom shelf and declared, "Auntie V needs this pot! We need to get it for her!" (That's me, I'm Auntie V to him.) Why a pot? Out of all the things in a store he could want to get for me -- and he certainly could have chosen candy since my name is pretty much synonymous with candy to this kid (I've been the giver of much candy in his life) -- why did he choose a pot?

It's because he KNEW I had not found my lid yet (or pot for that matter). He knew I was searching for it and wanted me to find it. To tell you the truth, I knew it too. I knew I hadn't found my lid yet.

My three year old nephew was right, as he usually is. I trust that kid. He "knows" things. And, as I'm starting to remember it now, I do too.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Having vs. Wanting

I tend to dream up blog posts while I'm drifting off to sleep. Don't you?

Back in January, as I was trying to fall asleep, my mind spun around the idea of how I was going to continue to tell the story of this recent break-up. As I considered how to explain it all, I thought about the length of the relationship. It was eighteen months long. Then I starting thinking about the number eighteen, seeing the numbers in my mind, floating above my head, hanging in the air Sesame Street style, and I thought,

1 + 8 = 9

At that exact moment, as I was laying in my dark, quiet bedroom, I flashed my eyes open, stared at the ceiling, and said out loud,


This blew my mind and I thought the following things in this order: (1) That's pretty fucking weird, (2) That's pretty fucking cool, (3) That could be a prolific coincidence that solidifies the fact that my journey out of this 18 month relationship will end with me feeling awesome about my life again and that I have made the right choice (much like I felt at the end of the journey out of my 9 year relationship), (4) That could be a prolific coincidence that solidifies the fact that I make some pretty shitty choices in relationships and stay in them longer than I should, and finally, (5) This thing with the number 9 is pretty deep and whatever it is, I gotta listen to what it's telling me.

And then I fell asleep.

So here I am, trying to understand what this connection is trying to tell me, and most of all, trying to understand my choices (shitty as they can sometimes be). Dear Readers, I have to admit that I was at first very hesitant to tell this story. I always thought that the relationship that followed my last one would be "the one." I figured that my story, and this blog, would end with my successful return to dating and the eventual meeting of the man with whom I would spend the rest of my life. I didn't expect to be writing about another breakup, but here I am. Again.

For a little while after it all ended I couldn't even remember why I had been in the relationship in the first place. I kept trying to remember what the relationship felt like when I was in it and all I could see, as best as I can describe it, was a blank spot. Just a big, blank spot. I couldn't figure it out. Why did I fall in love with this person? And why did I stay after I had so many good reasons to leave, so many times?

The Beginning

As I remember it now, it had all started out as innocently as you might expect. When I met my now ex-boyfriend I was charmed instantly. I thought he was insightful, thoughtful, and interesting. He didn't gesticulate wildly when he talked, he looked me in the eye when I talked to him, and didn't seem to be telling me what I wanted to hear. He was not on a frantic wife search. And he wasn't overly sweaty either. I thought he was adorable, dapper, loving, family-minded, and committed. He listened to every word I said and was interested in everything about me. He seemed like a true partner to me. A person I could love, no question. In our first few months we spent all our time together. It was seemingly idyllic with long walks along the beach, hand in hand, and exchanging "I love you's" on the second anniversary of our first date. At that time I stopped jokingly calling him my friend, chum, or pal and began calling him my boyfriend. I was a girlfriend again. And it happened fast.

After "I Love You"

Quickly after "I love you," we saw our futures open up in front of us and for the first time ever, I started to make plans with the man I was with. It was all blissful and fun and felt extremely honest and open. We both thought we had finally found the relationship we had been searching for so long. It all felt ideal. Perfect.

And that, my friends, was ultimately one of the things that kept me in it for as long as I was (and probably him too). I know I don't speak for everyone who has baggage (the only kind of baggage a long-term relationship that dissolved into a big, heart-wrenching break-up can bring), but when I found a guy that began talking to me about "our" future, "our" life, and plans he wanted to make with me that included a family, I was sucked in. In my last relationship, this was simply never talked about. And for him, I think it was very similar. He had a string of unsatisfying relationships and had been single a long time before he met me. So to meet me and think of me as the one he was waiting for, well, that was everything. And it was everything to me too. I haven't wrapped my mind around exactly what happened yet but I will eventually. But there is one thing I'm sure of.

The Catalyst

For two people looking for perfect, searching for the kind of relationship they always wanted, thinking they found it, and then seeing anything wrong with this vision of perfection, was a powder keg just waiting to go off. There was so much build up, so much expectation, and two very different visions of what love was going to be, that when those expectations weren't met and what was WANTED was not had, it led into a long string of disappointments and a conflict between what we had vs. what we wanted.

I think that one of the ways relationships break in half is when two people try to force a fit that just isn't there. When I think about that, it seems so simple. A very similar thing happened in my last relationship, my boyfriend and I didn't make each other happy. We wanted different things and ultimately we kept forcing something that wasn't working. Holding onto comfort, history, security, and great desire to avoid conflict at all costs, we stayed together for years. The same thing, I think, happened here again. My ex and I didn't make each other happy. Happy the way a true love should be. I knew it and he probably knew it although I can't speak for him. But we stayed, clutching onto what we wanted to happen between us.

I remember my ex and I going out with another couple a month before the break-up and saying something that night, out loud, that rings in my ears now. We went out with a couple that was close to my ex and who I really enjoyed being around. This couple had a relationship that I know he wished we had. Theirs seemed effortless, happy, long-lasting, free of conflict, and easy. So the night we went out with them, his female friend and I found ourselves alone while the guys walked up to the bar to get us drinks; after they walked away she leaned over to me and quickly asked, "So how are you guys doing?" She knew about most of the fights we had over the last year. I remember saying quickly to her, as the guys were walking back, "We just want to be with each other so much." And I meant it. (I know that when my BFF reads that last line she's going to throw up in her mouth a little bit. Sorry, dude. I really said that.)

The Reality, for Realz.

So why did I say that? What does that even really mean? I think what I wanted, and I believe what he wanted, was something very much like the relationship his friends had. We both wanted to be in a happy relationship, an easy one, a good one, the right one, the one that was going to make all the bad and disappointing relationships from the past look like they were the unruly and hard-fought path to this one, the one that would be the last one. The one that would make it all worth it. But it wasn't. We didn't have the love we deserved from each other, we just wanted it. There is a big difference between wanting and having, and I'm understanding that now.

I have got to believe we were not the only two people in the world this has happened to.Wanting a perfect relationship is a strong pull for some people, not for all people, but for some this is a huge goal especially when past relationships have been so disappointing. I wish I hadn't gotten sucked in by my own visions of a future that wasn't really there, and I'm guessing he probably feels the same today, or at least I hope he does. I wish I had seen the writing on the wall and cut my losses much earlier, but I held on soley to a fantasy and not exactly to what was right in front of me. And what was right in front of me was not the right person. Again.

Deep down I knew it, but I avoided it. More to come on that, Dear Readers. Bear with me as I process this all, albeit very slowly. And if you can relate in any way, drop me a line because, as you know, you are not alone.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wise Words (Part 4) -- Revised

On second thought, I need to revise my last post (Wise Words (Part 4)) which was basically a bunch of things that my parents said to me over the last six months about my relationship which I thought were pretty wise but apparently came off as a little too negative. You see, I was contacted by a reader, one who knows me, who felt as if my last post was just a long list of negative things about my ex that I wrote to prove that he was a bad guy. Yikes. That was not my intent at all. He wasn't a bad guy. I don't harbor any resentments towards him. And in case you were wondering, he wasn't an evil genius who set out to make me unhappy.

He was in fact a genuinely loving person with the absolute best intentions who just so happened to participate in a relationship with me that went on far longer than it should have, and as a result we disintegrated into arguments and bad behaviors due to the fact that we were fundamentally not a good fit and should have ended things sooner than we did.

My intent with my last post was to explain that my family, and the people that loved me, were telling me some very wise things that although I heard I just didn't listen to. And that was the point really, and it's what I'm trying to figure out within myself these days. The real question is, why didn't I listen to them (and all their wisdom), and more importantly, why didn't I listen to myself (and all my wisdom) when things went awry?

When my mom said to me many times that it seemed like my ex and I were "trying to fit a square peg into a round hole." She was right. When I shared with her my confusion over my ex telling me that the result of our problems were due to me failing him in a number of ways, she was right to say, "Oh give me a fucking break." When my dad said my ex and I were nit-picking things we didn't have to deal with as a couple who hadn't even been married yet, he was right. When I told my mom that I would rather go on a string of bad dates or be alone then spend the rest of my life fighting with my ex, I was right. All of this was wise and good advice (even from me) but I just didn't believe it until the very end.

The image from my tumblr summed it up very nicely for me. If life is this simple, if all we have to do is find the person (and the thing) that makes us happy and then we're all set, then why didn't I leave when I clearly wasn't happy?

If I didn't listen to myself and I didn't listen to anyone else, then who did I listen to and why? Stay tuned, I think you may already know the answer, and as always, there is oh so much more to say.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Wise Words (Part 4)

In an effort to keep the Valentine’s Day love going, here are some wise words from my mother, and one from my dad. I love them! So funny. So wise.

Sometime in the summer, after telling my mom about the biggest fight to date, before the biggie in November that broke us up.
Me: I just don’t understand. He makes it seem like I'm constantly letting him down. At least that’s how it looks to me. But that doesn’t seem right, how can I be so wrong all the time? How can it always be me?
Mom: You know, you tell me these things and I can’t help but think you two are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. I think you’re forcing something that just doesn’t fit.

November, after telling my mom about the most recent earth shattering fight with my ex. (You can read about it here, Celebrating Valentines and Love.)
Mom: What could you two possibly fight about? I don’t get it. You’re supposed to be having fun here.
Me: (earnestly telling her) I don’t know; everything it seems. I don’t know, it always seems to be about how I’m failing him in some way.
Mom: Oh give me a fucking break.

November, talking to my both my mom and dad about the recent fight. (Again, you can find it here, Celebrating Valentines and Love.)
Dad: What is it with him? He shouldn't be picking at every choice you make, nit-picking every little thing. You aren't even married yet. What he should be doing is trying to figure out how to get you into bed every chance he can!
(We all laugh.)  
NOTE: When you're own dad says something like this to you, you gotta know there is something seriously off about your relationship.

December, a week before the break-up.
Me: You know what I think? I’d rather be alone or go on a string of bad dates then spend the rest of my life fighting with him [my current ex].
Mom: Yes! Exactly. You are absolutely right. Don’t ever forget that. (pointing her finger at me.) Remember that!

You better believe I'm gonna remember that. And one more thing, I think this image from my tumblr is very, very wise indeed.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Celebrating Valentines and Love

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day, Dear Readers. I spent this year's holiday in San Diego with my best friend and her family. You may not know this, but her little family of three has grown to a family of four. Last year on March 21st I spent 2 weeks in San Diego helping her family when she gave birth to a baby girl. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever been a part of, and now in addition to my wonderfully brilliant 3 year old nephew, I have a little 11 month old niece who is the sweetest little ball of sunshine.

So this Valentine’s Day I could think of no better way to spend the day than with the people, and the kids, that love me totally for who I am. I am so grateful for not just them, but for my own family and closest friends as well, because they show me over and over again that I am loved not just in spite of my quirks but because of them. They laugh at my stupid jokes, the things that I question, and the things that I don't. They love me for all the neurotic things I do and for all the ways I make them laugh. And I'm the same way with them. We accept each other. We love each other.

As I thought about this on my way to California, I thought about one of the last fights I had with my current ex. It revolved around my unwillingness to temporarily move in with him for about six months while subletting my apartment. This was going to be an effort to save money on my part after racking up a shockingly large vet bill when my beloved cat, you knew him as Scrambles, was very sick over the course of five months and then eventually, and heartbreakingly, passed away.

A month after Scrambles passed away, I started to think about how I would deal with the debt that I took on to care for my little man in the last months of his life, and so I came up with an idea to move in with my then-boyfriend (who I had been with for 16 months at this point) and sublet my own place for about six months so my rent could be taken care of and I would be free to make a dent in my mounting stack of bills. We both liked the idea and I set our plan into action. After about two weeks I began to think more about it. You see, we really only had about two consistent months up to this point where we were happy, getting along, and not fighting about anything at all. Things were going great in those two months, and that’s why I had the faith to come up with this plan. But after a week or two with this idea, I re-thought it and realized that that two recently good months were just not enough to prove to me that we could handle living together albeit temporarily and I started to feel like we needed more good months before living together. I also wasn't honestly ready to give up my home for half a year.

For those of you that don’t know me, I love my home. It’s my happy place. After sharing a home with a boyfriend for years, and then to move to my own home that was all mine was an incredible thing for me. Thinking about leaving it was making me very nervous, and not just leaving it but doing the following things, a) moving in with not just my boyfriend but his two other roommates (I haven't had a roommate, besides living with a boyfriend, in 10 years), b) giving up any semblance of privacy for six whole months and sharing a very small bedroom with my boyfriend whom I had almost left a few months prior, c) moving in with him for the reason of solving a money problem, and d) giving up my almost nightly ritual of taking a hot bath and reading a book (his tub was well…unbatheable, and I wouldn't have been able to do this), which is a tradition I started when I first started living alone and one which I now still love. And those are just the high-points of why it wasn't going to work out. With all this in mind, I found myself an alternative. I researched taking out a loan through my company and this was ultimately the best solution for me and one I am so grateful for. Parents, friends, and co-workers all supported the choice. When I explained all this to my ex I expected to hear the following:
I understand. Moving into my place isn't the best thing for you. I know you and I love you and I know that you won’t be comfortable at my place for that long no matter how we try to fix it up for you. It sounds like you've found another way to save money and when the time is right we’ll move in together and start our life together right, not because of an answer to a money issue but because we are going to build a new home for us. And I agree, let's have some more time together before we make this big step.
That did not in any way happen. Quite the opposite, Dear Readers. Instead I was faced with a full-on assault of unbelievable bullshit that shook me from whatever high I was on during the two months we were doing great and plummeted me to the ground, hard. He, over the course of maybe a week, told me that I was more interested in my own comfort than any other person he had ever known, I was allowing my fear of losing my privacy and the fear that the strain of living together in this situation would further weaken our unsteady relationship to stop me from doing something positive for myself (saving money... in a way he thought was better than a loan), and ultimately the fact that I was not willing to sacrifice my personal comfort and privacy in an effort to save money (not just for myself but for us, since if we eventually married my debt would be “our” problem) meant to him that I was not a person that was capable of self-sacrifice and because of this I would not ultimately make a good wife.

Yeah, that really happened. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. You might want to go back and re-read it.

Ready? Ok, let’s move on.

To think that I am a person who would do or think any of those things is to not know me at all. And that's the kicker really. He couldn't accept that I wasn't ready for the commitment or ready to give up my home. He couldn't accept that I needed  more time to be in the relationship with him and that I wanted to wait until we were both ready and not just rush in to solve a money problem. He couldn't accept that my home, my privacy, and my daily rituals are all a part of the glue that fuses me together in this neat little package that is me. Nope, instead he did what he always did when faced with something about me he didn't understand or like, he attacked me. He probably did this out of fear or discomfort, and I don't think he realized he was doing it really. He wasn't a bad person, it's just how (I believe) he dealt with people or situations he didn't agree with, and as we all know, that didn't fly. A few weeks later, we broke up.

Ask someone who loves me and they’ll tell you that one of my qualities is my usual non-judgmental and accepting nature. In fact, just ask my best friend, she gave her daughter a middle name that sounds just like my middle name for this very reason. She admires this about me so much that she hopes her daughter grows up to have these same qualities.

I don’t want to get into every detail of this relationship for the interest of his privacy and my sanity. Just typing up that story right now and re-reading it pisses me off to a serious degree and I don’t care to reiterate every fight. I'm moving on with my life and not re-living the past here. But I do think it’s fair to tell you some of the story so you get a better sense of what happened.

But here’s the punch line.

A few weeks after the break-up I stumbled upon a rerun of Fraiser and found myself laughing out loud and then having a full-on deep revelation about myself and my relationship. (Yes, late-night sitcoms really do help us with our lives.) There was this episode where Fraiser secretly helps Daphne throw a dinner party with Niles. She insisted that instead of the tradition where Fraiser and Niles throw dinner parties together, that her and Niles would throw one instead. But of course she needed help but didn’t want to admit this to Niles, and so Fraiser comes to their home to save the day and hi-jinks ensue while he repeatedly has to hide in the kitchen pantry while frantically making his “signature sauce.” In this one scene, Fraiser hurriedly asks Daphne for a set of ramekins for the table, she pulls out a few but some are mismatched, he huffs and insists that this simply cannot do and frantically calls his father to gather up his complete set from home and rush them over.

For some reason this cracked me up and I instant messaged my best friend, relaying the scene to her. Then she wrote, “You know why you find this so funny, right? You’re Fraiser!” I laughed so hard because well… I kinda am. I love my things, I love setting the proper table, I love my collection of kitchenwares and if I had to set a table with a mismatched set of ramekins for a dinner party I sure as shit would make someone go get me a set.

A week later, as I was going through tumblr, I found this image.

For this reason, the people that love me, love me because of this, and although it’s not ideal, no one should ever want to change that about me or make me feel bad about it. In the end, I'm grateful for the barrage of bullshit that toppled over me in the last month we were together because it helped shake some sense into me and finally brake apart two people who should not have been together.

I have to believe that if someone loves you, they are going to accept your quirks, will love you for them, and will absolutely not make you feel bad about anything that you either believe, want, or need. This, my Dear Readers, is the absolute biggest thing that has come out of this break-up for me and one that I'm finding myself writing about more and more as I start to share this story. So stay tuned please. More to come.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Somebody That I Used to Know

I heard "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Goyte yesterday. When I heard the first part I felt this startling moment of recognition, it was almost alarming, and it touched my heart -- feeing it so close to me that I felt this pain in the pit of my stomach when I related to the words.

Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it's an ache I still remember

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I'll admit that I was glad it was over

Then I heard the female part and a grin flashed across my face. In my last relationship I was constantly made to believe that I had done everything wrong. Even though I know that wasn't the truth, it still hurts to have been treated that way.

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I'd done
But I don't wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say

It's such a good song that describes the sadness that you can feel when a relationship is over, and it got me thinking about the feelings you can feel that you almost feel guilty for feeling.

Feeling lonely in the company of the person you love.
Feeling glad something is over even though it breaks your heart.
Feeling terribly about all the hurt that two people can cause even though they've loved each other.

But slowly you start to realize that despite all that happened, all the fights, all the disappointment, and all the anger, that you absolutely no longer need to live that way anymore.

And that feels good, even though it breaks your heart.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Additional Suitors and The One that Stuck

Since I never fully committed to the surgeon we kept things open and I kept dating.

Amongst the guys I met was one who talked so wildly with his hands that I found it off-putting. Now I'm a girl that often talks with her hands. I emote, I gesticulate, I'm emotional; I'm Italian, that's what we do. But this was almost to the point of being aggressive. I was so side-tracked, focusing on his hand not accidentally smacking me in the face as he talked to me, that I could barely follow the conversation. Interestingly enough, the conversation was great, what I could catch of it. I think he admitted later that he was nervous and this was why he was so frantic. In the end, my instincts said no.

I met another guy who I thought seemed great. He was very intelligent, potentially normal, successful, and had lots of interesting hobbies and interests. He loved to garden, take care of his home, and cook for family and friends. I liked him -- on paper. In practice, however, he fell flat, and I didn't listen to my instinct which was telling me that it was not a good fit and because of that I gave it one more date. You see, after the first date I knew there wasn't much there between us but I thought, "Give the guy a shot. You may me missing something really amazing about him." So we went out for a second date and I remember sitting there as I was trying to ignite the conversation and have a good time, and thought to myself, "Nope, I'm not missing a thing." After the second date, that was it.


During most of this I was still dating the surgeon and I started to realize a few things about him. I realized that when he told me he was falling for me, he may not have been falling for me exactly. He barely knew me. How could he know I might be "the one?" I think it was because I fit the bill for him in terms of what he was looking for in a wife, but all on the surface. To him I was attractive, smart, responsible, and creative. (Yes, that's me.) I guess that's what he was looking for. But he didn't really know me beyond that and I never got the feeling that I could know him any better either. After a few weeks our conversations began to fall flat and although we talked all the time, we never talked about who we were as people and what we really wanted from our lives. When I tried to dig deeper I began to see that his life was consumed by his career, as challenging as it was, and without his job he didn't have much to share with me. He didn't have time for anything else but his work and that's not what I was looking for. I was looking for something more shared. I wanted someone who was as interested in their own life (outside of work) as I had become interested in mine.

You see, after my ex and I broke up, I took the time to think about myself again. I realized that I had put so many things that I used to care about aside and had focused only my relationship and what I was going to do about it, as well as the biggies like school and work. My life didn't have lots of hobbies, interests, or anything that I really loved anymore. And so after the break-up, I worked on all of that, developing my interests in running, blogging and writing, playing with make-up, photography, making new friends, cultivating a new home, and basically trying to creating a better life for myself. And if there was going to be a guy in my life, I wanted someone who was invested in themselves too. With the surgeon, I could tell that he didn't have time for that. I mean, let's face it, he had a very challenging and rewarding job and it's understandable that he had little free time. I understood that, its just not what I wanted to be a part of. I knew the pitfalls of only focusing on your relationship and not yourself. I had been there, done that. In some way, it reminded me of my ex.

Now hear me out, my ex was not a surgeon, in fact he really didn't have much of a "real job" in the traditional sense, he was a full-time musician. He spent all his time focused on his job, every ounce of free time he had was always directed to his goal of "making it." I totally accepted that and encouraged it, but he could never just stroll around a museum with me for no good reason or lay around the house on a Sunday. Every minute of every day was spent cultivating his career. So perhaps I saw the surgeon like this, someone who has to spend all of their time developing their career and nothing else. Yes, I know surgeon is the opposite of musician, but they share something. Each career choice takes a person's full-time focus to achieve it, and any time spent not working on that career could feel like a waste of time.

I imagined that any relationship I would become a part of was going to be something different. I wanted someone who had a good job, but not one that took all his free-time to achieve success in. I wanted someone with interests and hobbies that he could share with me and who could have his own life outside of our relationship. This was really important to me, because, like I said, I knew the danger of having your relationship be your sole focus. Of course, I wanted to be the most important person to the man I was with, but I wanted him to have a fulfilling life outside of me too -- because that's ultimately what I wanted for myself.

I think in the end, this was really beneficial for me. I practiced how to listen to myself, voice what I felt was important and take care of myself without being swayed by what someone else wanted. I was able to see the red flags for what they were and decided how to deal with them. This was a pretty big accomplishment for me at the time, knowing that I'm someone who hates to disappoint people and often gives in when pushed.

And with all of that in mind, with my life back on track, my confidence at an all time high, and my goals clear and focused, I went on a date with someone new on June 1, 2010. As I drove home from the date my instincts told me that I had just met someone special. Two days later, I broke up with the surgeon and moved into a new relationship.

I then spent the next 18 months in my first serious relationship (after my ex). It started with a great love and shared admiration and then somehow, much to my surprise, a lot of the confidence, happiness, and strength that I had gained eventually faded over time -- and on December 28, 2011 the relationship ended.

So bear with me, it's time to explain just what happened and try to understand why it happened so that it hopefully doesn't happen again. You see, I'm willing to bet that some of the same things that happened to me as I navigated my way through my first serious relationship after a serious break-up has probably happened to other people. Hopefully, telling this story can be helpful to not just me but to anyone else out there who can identify with it. Because, as always, its good to know that you're not alone, Dear Readers.


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