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.


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