It’s a standard break-up line, “Just give it time, time heals everything”. But when you’re in the midst of heartbreak hell and have been lying on the floor for 2 days straight in chocolate-stained pyjamas, the idea offers little solace.
But it’s right though, isn’t it. Time makes everything fuzzy, softer ’round edges and offers clarity. Looking back, you can see where you went wrong and make sense of something that, at one time, felt overwhelming. Time is the one thing that will make you feel better, but you’ve got to wait for it to pass. Obviously. Unless you’re Doctor Who or that scientist guy from Back to the Future.
Last year I was in a bad place with a guy. Long story short, I thought he was the best person in the world. He thought I was kind of alright. Despite telling me several times that he didn’t want to be with me, I couldn’t let it lie and forced us into a damaging non-relationship for 18 months. I lost my mind, my confidence and any perspective, and ending up moving cities to get myself out of it.
But it turned out to be best thing I ever did.
We met at an event and straight away, I felt a strong pull towards him. But I was in a long term relationship and I’d heard several rumours of his playboy antics. I pushed it aside, but he remained in the back of my mind. Naive and (back then) a hopeless romantic, I mistook physical attraction for a real connection. My innocence told me that we’d met for a reason and that I shouldn’t ignore it. When my 6 year relationship broke down a year later, we were finally free to go on a date and that strong pull was still sparking in my chest. But as the ultimate commitment-phobe, he soon made it very clear that this was not going to be anything serious. Ignoring the voice in my head which was persistently screaming “YOU CANNOT BE CASUAL WITH SOMEONE YOU REALLY REALLY LIKE”, I made out that I was totally cool with it. Call it stupidity, but I thought it would be ok. Call it vanity, but I thought he’d change his mind.
It soon transpired that I was very much not ok with it, yet I’d go back to him time and time again. I squashed the feelings of inadequacy and ignored the emptiness I was left with. This is fun, Lauren! You’re sleeping with your perfect guy AND you get to enjoy being single. Wow, you have it all! Only the reality isn’t quite like that. As time went on, he made a few half-arsed attempts to protect me, “You told me you need to break this cycle, let’s not do this”, but at the end of the day, he enjoyed the attention and couldn’t resist the ego boost of having me hanging off his every word.
I didn’t want anyone else. I saw him every day at work, thought about him every evening and refused to see that he didn’t care. He was busy getting drunk with his mates and dating several girls, and I was broken by one too many cold shoulders after the night before. It’s hard to admit how crazy I was about him. It’s tempting to pin all the blame on him and question how could he mess with someone who was hopelessly falling for him, but it was my fault. I was unjustifiably obsessed with him. For 18 months, I tortured myself with the idea that maybe he would change his mind and want to be with me, but it never happened. I mean, he point blank told me it wouldn’t happen, so for the love of God, I have no idea what I was doing.
But then something snapped and I decided enough was enough. I told myself I was worth more, packed up my life and moved 200 miles away. It was like a cancer – I had to cut out the root and get the fuck away from all traces of it.
Throughout those 18 months, I hated him as much as I liked him. I hated how he’d pick me up and drop me. I hated how I’d fall for his games and that he knew I needed him. I called him a dick to whoever would listen and preached about what a bad man he was. But in reality, I was the problem. I devalued myself and was relying on him to make me feel complete. Sure, he was no angel, but for all the questionable things he did, he never led me on. I just wish he hadn’t cashed in on my affections a few times a month when he had no other options, but we all make mistakes.
No matter how hard those 18 months were, I learned a hell of a lot of lessons. And now, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I’ve forgiven myself for being so batshit crazy. I’ve realised that using sex to make someone like you is the worst thing you can ever do to yourself. I learned that not everyone will like you back and sometimes, no matter how much you believe that something is meant to be, if it isn’t, it won’t happen.
I see him every now and then and still think about him. I continue to compare every man I meet to him (I’m yet to meet anyone who I feel as attracted to), but again, this is softening. Time and distance has made me see that he was never right for me.
And when it’s not right, it’s not right.
You put it down to experience, take the lessons, toughen up and move on. But keep the ugly pj’s on standby, you never know when you might need them again.