"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Monday, July 28, 2014

smitten kitten

this post-breakup life has been one surprise after another. thankfully, things are tending towards the upswing.

let me walk you through the stages of post-breakup grief as i experienced them:

  1. denial (refusing to accept what had happened, pretending that twisted relationship was worth saving)
  2. bargaining (trying to accept blame for more than i was responsible for, trying to change to make him happy, trying to do more than it was in my power to do and do it for the both of us since he was unwilling to make any effort)
  3. denial II (saving mementos, pretending like things would magically return to a better place again)
  4. depression (so much crying and wallowing)
  5. anger (vile hatred for someone you thought you knew, who promised they would never hurt you, who could treat you like detritus and discard you once he was done with you and you weren't satisfying his purposes any more)
  6. anger II (seeing your ex-partner wantonly posting pictures of him going camping with a woman, who you suspect was the one he said "he [is] interested in" when he broke up with you... this hurts because: 1. you always wanted to go camping together and you used to talk about it, 2. he brings up the camping trip he planned and you never went on as a pivotal moment in your relationship, 3. it's been how many fucking DAYS since we broke up?! 4. let's be honest, it hurts the most because it looks like he is just fine and moving on so much quicker than you expected him to and the fact he's posting it on facebook has a smidgen of spitefulness to it.)
  7. acceptance (you remove him from your friends list in facebook and put him in "acquaintances", block his news feed posts, and remove facebook entirely from your phone. you stop feeling angry and feel a bit sorry that he is so quickly moving on to another woman... you think for a moment about them getting married and having babies and feel the rage rise in your stomach but let it pass because you realize "better her than me" and that you are lucky you got away from that dick bag. you remove him from your phone, you delete his emails, you take all the pictures out of their frames and save them in a box to burn at a later date.)
  8. survival mode (clawing my way out of a funk like my life depended on it (it kinda does). applying to jobs like crazy, going to the gym and getting into fighting shape, learning uke and singing until my heart feels happy again, reaching out to friends to buoy me, branching out and meeting new people, consuming literature, news, movies and music, cooking by myself, cleaning furiously, gradually putting all the pieces of my life back together more whole and complete than before. reclaiming my life for myself.)
  9. confidence boosting (i didn't realize until after our relationship ended how unhealthy and destructive it was, for my self-esteem, my sense of purpose in life, my sense of self, and my relationships with other people. now that i have, as my dad would say, "cut that cancer out of my life," all the energy i once spent making sure Ben was happy has turned towards making sure i am actually happy. i'm doing things i love again and not worried about being judged for it. i'm finding space to express myself and be happy and meet people without worrying about how to explain it later to someone else. i'm living my life as me rather than as being defined as "Ben's partner." i'm talking to people again and having conversations i care about, rather than trying to exist in a context and parameters dictated down to me by Ben's circumstances. i am meeting so many good people who were previously hidden from me because i was 1. too afraid/not allowed to talk to them; 2. prevented from meeting them because Ben's and my life never allowed for me to grow and reach out to communities i cared about. post-Ben life has seen a wealth of wonderful people, rekindled friendships that had been starved of attention, new friendships that were allowed to flourish once Ben was no longer a hindrance, and most surprisingly of all, a flurry of new romantic encounters that i never would have had the opportunity to explore while tethered to an extremely jealous and possessive but at the same time noncommittal jerk. now that my confidence is back up and i'm happy and free to do what i want, i have seen the difference it makes in my ability to meet people. hopefully it helps me meet people who i want to be around and maybe eventually, help me find someone to love who deserves everything i have to give and will give equally in return.)
  10. adventuring (once i rebuild my confidence, which will likely take a long, long time, i hope to challenge myself to go outside my comfort zone and push myself to pursue the life i want, to live without regrets, to live and love furiously)
i'm at the 9th/10th stage right now, i think. the last few weeks i've been making efforts to forget about ben and whatever residual guilt/responsibility i feel. it had been so hard for me to even talk to a guy when we were dating, out of guilt and fear of ben being upset, that dating post-Ben has been an exceptional mental/emotional challenge. even meeting up with a guy just to talk and share food felt scandalous. 

this past weekend i made huge strides in that i flew out to Madison, WI on a whim to meet a guy i started talking to through the internet! OkCupid of all places! craziness! he and i started talking because we both used to be teachers and he works at the company i am currently considering a job with. we somehow really hit it off and he offered to buy my plane ticket out to Madison. if that wasn't crazy enough, i agreed to do it, which is totally unlike me. we spent the weekend together, getting to know each other. he's totally unlike anyone i've ever dated (younger, athletic, my height (ok, a little taller), clean (like, seriously, his place was spotless!), a former business major, has a cute Midwestern accent, totally charismatic and sweet (he can sing! Justin Timberlake songs! swoon!), and really, really into me). we shared desserts the night i got in after he picked me up from the airport, walked around Madison holding hands (i want to pause here for a moment just to illustrate the crazy levels of Stockholm Syndrome i had going on: even holding hands, months after Ben and i have broken up, felt WRONG. just touching another person's hand still felt like i was doing something shameful. that is the ridiculous degree to which i had programmed it into my head that i was Ben's possession, that i belonged to him, that being with other people was an act of betrayal. thankfully, i got over it, but come on, how insane is that!??), went to the farmer's market to buy food to make later that night, looked at apartments for my move, went to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens and saw the butterflies, made dinner together and watched a movie, had brunch, went mini-golfing (where i beat him in the first half of the course, even hitting a hole-in-one on the obligatory windmill hole), bought pots and soil and repotted his plants for his office, went out for a "fancy" date on State Street and went back to his place to fall asleep and wake up early, he held my hand while he drove me to the airport before going to work. 

it was a crazy weekend on so many levels, but the weirdest thing for me to understand is how... good it felt. to be with someone new, exciting, and excited (by me!) and start over. granted, there were a lot of difficult moments when i felt my scars exposed, when i felt guilty or afraid or uncomfortable or sad. there were times when i asked myself what i was doing, when i questioned my motives and commitment, when i questioned his. but to be able to enter into a new situation with another person and be aware of the good that could be, the bad that was, and embrace the opportunity to experience something new was... liberating. i felt like it finally allowed me to shake off the shackles of that last relationship and enter into life with a mind open to being better to myself.

i don't know what the likelihood of that encounter becoming something more is. we may never see each other again. but we shared a weekend together and we were good and we were kind. that is the weird/magical thing i need to constantly have reaffirmed to me: that total strangers can be extremely good to each other. that's what makes love seem so beautiful to me: it turns two total strangers into best friends and partners for life. i don't know what will happen with my friend in Madison, but the fact that we met randomly through the internet and then managed to spend a whole weekend together and were happy doing so endears me so much to the idea of keeping your heart open to anyone you may meet. i no longer fear being alone or never finding another companion who will make me happy. those people abound if you are open to finding them and if your heart is open and courageous enough to be happy. i held onto Ben longer than i should have because i feared i would never be able to find someone else. i never should have let him put me in cages. 

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