The other day a favorite blogger returned after a very extended hiatus. There was an audible roar from the internet when she hit publish and RSS feed readers hit tilt across the world. In a very brave post she announced that a long relationship ended which was crushing and to some extent embarrassing (as the couple was a large part of each blog post) and thus the absence. But, as she can see by the (at this time) close to 400 comments welcoming her back, she needn’t have worried.
While I was thrilled to see she had returned to writing, it was interesting to think about what she was/is going through…a break-up.
I haven’t had one of those in 18 years. I don’t even remember what one feels like at close range. And on the other end of that spectrum, I haven’t had a crush in 15 years either. (But just for the record? Married beats Crush any day of the week.)
I can remember my last “real” break-up. Oddly, it wasn’t the last guy – or even 2nd to last guy – I dated. Those guys were just tools.
It was in college. He was a few years older – not really graduating on time because he had to put himself through school. A nice guy from a small town in Missouri. I’m sure we had “a song” but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. He was kind, funny, handsome, blonde and not Jewish. I knew that last thing would be a problem long-term but it was much more fun to be in a relationship than try to end it so we lived in denial for many, many months. He even said he’d convert – and I even considered letting him do it. I eventually graduated and moved home. He stayed in Missouri to finish school. We talked for hours on the phone (email wasn’t really around back then – certainly not any chatting apps). But the discussions became more and more heartbreaking as reality set in.
I considered his offer to convert. I had to. Breaking up was hard. It’s not like he was a terrible person – he was a great guy. Hell, he was willing to walk away from his FAITH for me. But that weighed so heavy on my heart. In considering it, I began to realize the reality of that for him. In a moment of true maturity (the first I can remember in college), I thought about how he would feel at Christmastime when there was no tree in the house. Or lights outside. Or any little Santa figurines. How our children wouldn’t be dressed in plaid for a holiday picture..and I knew how empty that would feel for him.
And I knew I couldn’t compromise on “blending” traditions. Even though my sense of faith was less developed in college, I knew trying to justify blending things wasn’t the right thing to do. Husband has a saying that “character is the ability to make the right decision when no one is looking.” I’m fairly certain it was this decision that taught that to me – even if I had never heard the statement before.
A few months later I went back to Missouri to visit and attend a sorority function as an alumni. (Yes, I realize how douche-y that is thankyouverymuch) It was originally intended to keep the relationship going, but it ended up being the end. There was no way to hide it any longer. My head had gone down the rational path and it was dragging my heart along with it. It was a terrible weekend and I couldn’t wait to leave.
In a strange sense I mourned the ending of the relationship before I got up there. Every argument between my head and heart ended in tears, but less and less as the weeks went on until finally there was nothing left to argue about. It just was. Period.
Of course, at the age of 22 you try to be friends, which is the most ridiculous thing ever. You only do that once before you realize how ridiculous it is and then you learn to never do that again. But, on the other side of ridiculous, we ended it not because one of us did something awful like have an affair, but because it wasn’t going to be a full and healthy future. So what is left is a nice respect and reverence for the time we spent together.
Years later Husband and I were returning from our honeymoon. We were in the middle of unpacking 37 suitcases when the phone rang. The voice was familiar, but just out of reach in my memory. Guess who was screwing around on the (then more robust) Internet and found me?
While I always appreciated the effort, I wished it hadn’t happened. I liked the way we had left things all those years ago – and this uncomfortable moment (having to tell him I just returned from my honeymoon!) cut the ribbon on the story whose bow was already tied. Hearts were battered enough years ago – and now it felt like a lingering bruise was aggravated again by me. But, in any case, THAT moment can now be called The End.
I’m glad I have this story. I’m glad that my last true “break up” was done the right way and for the right reasons. I’m glad he’s married now and presumably happy.
But more than that I’m proud of who I became because of this. And I’m pretty sure the lovely blogger I mentioned earlier will have that on the other side of her as well.