*First of all, let me clarify that some names have been changed. If you know what happened, you know who I’m talking about, and if you don’t, then it doesn’t matter anyway.
Within the span of about a month, I’d broken up with my serious boyfriend whom I was planning to move to a new city with, had fallen madly in love with someone else, and then gotten dumped.
I had no boyfriend and no plan. So that was great.
After breaking up with Cal I’d intended on hanging around Portland for another year anyway, but I’d also intended on having a boyfriend. I’d be figuring out my next move whilst being madly in love.
Now I had no future.
I mean obviously I had a future. I wasn’t DEAD. But I had no idea what to do.
I chose to be miserable. I like to refer to myself during this period as a “sad sack of sad.”
Bri and I had never opened up to each other on any sort of emotional level, so I didn’t feel like I could talk to her about it. Plus I had just been dumped HARD by the guy I had disregarded her feelings for. Kinda awkward.
Right. About that. After all this speculation and self-reflecting, I’ve recently thought of another reason why I ignored her feelings for Joshua when I started dating him. The real reason.
Up until he and I dated, my relationship with Bri wasn’t particularly destructive. That dynamic between us that I previously mentioned didn’t really manifest until after Josh and I broke up. It still existed, but to a lesser extent.
I’ve realized that my disregard for her feelings had nothing to do with spite or pettiness or our weird frenemy relationship.
I just didn’t think her feelings for him were actually valid.
Like I’ve said, I knew she had feelings for him when I started dating him. She even said some things that made her feelings seem deeper than just a crush. However, she very strongly countered those comments by acknowledging how absurd she thought those feelings were. I figured, hey, if she knows she’s being ridiculous, then it’s ok that I think so too, right? Of course I didn’t actually tell her that.
Unlike me, she was smart enough to counter her infatuation with reality.
She had a boyfriend and knew her feelings for Joshua were unrealistic and unrequited. What was so wrong with me acting on my feelings that actually were reciprocated?
So I chose to ignore her feelings.
From her point of view, what I did was pretty terrible. I can see it. If she hadn’t made her crush seem so outlandish, I would agree.
When we were dating, she didn’t seem to mind at all. I remember one night, when she and Ryan were out on a double date with us, they had secretly decided to take a drink every time Josh and I looked at each other all lovey dovey. Their drinks were gone pretty fast.
It all seemed very good-natured.
It was pretty obvious after he and I broke up that our coupling had in fact bothered her. Well, not obvious, exactly, but she rarely asked me how I was doing, and for the most part she seemed completely uninterested when I did tell her. So we didn’t talk about that much.
Really though, I guess I can’t blame her.
What I needed was a friend to buy me alcohol and Five Guys, make me watch sad movies and cry my heart out, and encourage me to hate him. I just needed a typical break up support system. That is exactly what I did not have.
Finally, after two straight years of being in relationships, I was faced with the harsh reality of what life had become outside of my boyfriends. I was alone. I’d relied on them for everything and as a result had emotionally distanced myself from my best friends, none of whom lived nearby anyway, but still.
Naturally I turned to them when things were over with Josh, and luckily for me, they were instantly there. Not actually physically present, unfortunately. They didn’t like me that much. At the time though, they did like me enough to let me go on and on about my feelings.
And on and on and on.
And on some more.
For a week, Josh completely ignored my attempts to get in touch. Because yeah, I kind of constantly tried getting him to talk to me. Oh whatever, he broke up with me in a text, said we could get together to talk, and then ignored me.
The timeline is hazy, but about two weeks after he dumped me, we finally met up for dinner. I don’t know what he was going through, but he was not having an easy time of it. I wanted to be there for him.
Because I’m SUCH a good friend.
We tried hanging out just as friends. He wanted me in his life without the commitment that I felt like I needed. I still had those feelings, and he did too, but it just didn’t jive.
Yeah, I just said “jive.” You’re welcome.
By the middle of July, we weren’t talking at all. I was just tired of his mixed signals, and he was tired of me constantly pushing him for more.
I didn’t go crazy and party every night or eat my feelings or cry all the time. I went to work and listened to depressing music and woke up every morning hoping to have a text from him or something.
I was just sad. It was kind of pathetic.
There was some good stuff though. I liked my new job and it was relevant to my field, even if it was boring. I’d also started being more social. That whole not having friends thing wasn’t working for me anymore.
As if it ever had.
My friend Kita had moved to the area a few months prior, but we hadn’t seen very much of each other. My logic regarding people was if they hadn’t made the effort to get in touch with me, I wasn’t going to make the effort, either.
I got over myself and realized that people were not just going to magically come to me.
I mean, they should, because I’m totally awesome, but it’s cool.
I was lonely and bored, and Kita is the sweetest girl on the planet. So I made the effort. She’d been hanging out with some of our friends from high school who also lived in the area.
Not gonna lie, I’d kind of forgotten about them. Not like forgotten, but I hadn’t even thought of reaching out to them. They’re dudes and didn’t promise the kind of post-break up bonding that I was looking for. Still, we all started hanging out more.
Eventually Bri pushed to set me up with a guy that she knew. Someone who, interestingly enough, one of her friends used to date. He was pretty great, in his own way. Definitely not for me, but I gave him a shot for a month or so. For a relationship that was mainly about sex (sorry, Mom and Dad), he was actually really important.
We argued constantly. We disagreed about mostly everything. He just loved pushing my buttons and thought infuriating me was funny. It was frustrating, but I liked the intellectual stimulation. Smart people are fun.
It was an interesting dynamic, but so not for me. And I was ok with that. I was learning what my standards were and to be ok with it if someone didn’t meet them. There was no need to focus on the good and try to make the rest work.
I’m not really sure why I had that “make it work” mindset in the first place. I blame Tim Gunn.
The other, really fantastic thing about that relationship is that he gave me confidence. Yeah, I’d definitely gotten a good dose of that when I started working out, but it’s not like I was miraculously self-assured overnight. That shit takes time.
He constantly, genuinely complimented me when I had nothing squeezing in that extra chub or accentuating my “good” curves. He needed no prompting. He simply liked the way I looked, and that made me feel awesome about myself. I started to accept that maybe, just maybe, that was how others saw me as well. I started seeing myself that way, too.
More friends and more confidence. It was exactly what I needed to start moving on. And I did.
Then Joshua started talking to me again.