How Getting Broken Up With in a Text Message Was the Best Thing that Could Happen to Me
As a dear friend shared with me recently, there’s a saying from AA that goes, “Sometimes God does for you what you can’t do for yourself,” or in many cases, what you won’t do for yourself. At the age of 34, I found myself in the third long-term relationship of my adult years, and this relationship was going nowhere fast. The last two months of our two-year relationship were full of long, tearful discussions, fights, and many misunderstandings. We weren’t connecting on any level whatsoever, but I thought our love for each other would conquer all and get us through that difficult patch. However, to my surprise, on an uneventful Friday evening at 5:29 p.m., I received a text message from my ex saying, “I think we should hit the pause button…until we understand why our needs aren’t being met and what to do to fix it.” I had just been hit with the 2017 version of Carrie Bradshaw’s infamous post-it breakup with Berger, and it wasn’t clear if he wanted to break up or take a “break.” But if I learned anything from Ross and Rachel on Friends, it’s that you always need to clarify if you’re “on a break” or not. Well, I got my clarification less than 24 hours later when a friend texted me a screenshot of my “are we on a break or broken up” ex, who popped up as a match for her on a popular dating app. I guess I got my answer…
It turns out, I had been too wrapped up in trying to make my relationship work (because that’s what you do when you love someone, right?) that I couldn’t see that it just wasn’t working!
While my ex chose the most cowardly way out (seriously, what man in his 30’s does that?), he at least had enough self awareness to come to terms with the fact that we just weren’t working out.
So where had my self awareness gone? I usually pride myself on being very in tune with myself, but in this case, I let myself become a victim of my own circumstances. As a 34 year-old divorcee in Texas (married at 22, divorced at 27), I am usually the odd woman out in most social circles. What I mean is that the vast majority of my friends are married and/or have children and are busy nights and weekends with homework, soccer games, and children’s birthday parties. In fact, a handful of my former students that I taught ten years ago are married now and have started having their own children too! In my mind, I still think of them as fresh-faced freshmen in high school. So, it’s not surprising with everyone around me pairing off and bearing offspring for me to want to do the same, and when you’re dating someone for two years, it’s only natural to start imagining a future together. And boy did I have a perfect future planned out for us!
Let’s call this ex the “perfect on paper guy.” He checked off most of the boxes on my “perfect guy” list. He was a grown-up with a stable and well-paying job. He had a sophisticated bachelor pad with real furniture and artwork up on the walls. He kept his condo spotless and even paid for a cleaning lady to come out twice a month. He enjoyed discussing politics, art, wine, and world affairs. And most importantly, he treated me like a lady. He took me out on dates every weekend and would always hold open the door for me. He sent me flowers on my birthday and our anniversary and sweet treats at the start of every school year. He took me on trips with his parents and on special get-aways by ourselves. He was a sweet and thoughtful gentleman. Who wouldn’t want to be with a guy like that?!
But after that “new relationship smell” wore off, we both realized something was missing…perhaps a deeper connection on a level that we just couldn’t get to no matter how hard we tried.
It was like playing Super Mario Brothers as a kid…despite my best efforts, I could never get to the level with Bowser’s Castle! I tried time and time again to get there, but Mario and I just weren’t copacetic, just like my ex and me.
After the demise of my relationship with this “perfect on paper guy,” I’ve sat here all these months, analyzing what went wrong, and I think it boils down to being too afraid to let him see the “real me.” For starters, I have a bad habit of avoiding conflict and becoming a relationship chameleon. Being a chameleon of sorts usually starts off innocently enough…being the adventurous and open-minded person that I am, I embrace my partner’s interests and hobbies wholeheartedly, because I like to try new things and show him that I care about what interests him. However, what usually ends up happening is that I tend to put my wants, needs, and interests on the back burner, all for the sake of compromise and making a relationship work (and to avoid confrontation at all costs). For example, he didn’t like that I danced salsa socially. Like many men who aren’t familiar with the salsa world, he had a misconception that salsa = sex and that guys would be trying to hit on me left and right. So, rather than get in a fight every time I wanted to go out salsa dancing, I just didn’t dance for two years. And you know what happened as a result? I lost some of the sparkle that makes me unique, the sparkle that unbeknownst to him attracted him to me in the first place. When I dance, I come alive. I feel more confident and connected with the people and the energy around me. Plus it’s a great workout and a fantastic mood booster!
Over the course of our two-year relationship, as I sacrificed my wants, needs, and interests for the sake of keeping things sailing smoothly, I didn’t realize that in reality what I was doing was sabotaging my relationship. By not sharing the real Kiki with him, we could only ever wade in the shallow waters of our relationship. There wasn’t even a deep end for us to dive into and explore, and I am partly to blame for that. I was so focused on making him happy and making the relationship work, that I lost myself along the way and in turn, sacrificed my opportunity for a deep and meaningful relationship. I know now that if someone doesn’t love you for who you truly are, then that person isn’t the right one for you (and why would you waste your time on that person anyways??).
There are no guarantees in this short, precious life. Therefore, we have to make every moment count, and that means being true to yourself!
Subconsciously, I was too scared and insecure to show him the real Kiki, because I was afraid he would dump me if he didn’t like what he saw. But ironically enough, he ended up dumping this “idea of me” that I mistakenly thought he would love best.
So, long story made long (congrats on making it this far!), getting dumped in a text message by my ex was the best thing that could’ve happened to me at the time! Don’t get me wrong, I went through all the stages of grief (grief isn’t just for the bereaved)…my personal faves were depression and anger. When you spend virtually all of your free time with one person for two years, it’s only natural to be super sad and then super angry after a breakup, especially when that person doesn’t give you the respect you deserve after all that time by ending things so impersonally (and when that person “moves on” less than 24 hours after your relationship is not yet cold in the ground).
But after having lost touch with myself for the good part of two years, getting dumped in a text message was just the kick in the pants I needed to get my groove back!
Since then, I’ve made a concerted effort to rediscover old passions and interests (like salsa dancing and traveling Kiki-style) and to stoke new ones (like this blog!). I don’t think I would’ve been motivated to pursue life to the fullest like I’m doing now if I had stayed in that mediocre relationship. I was content for a while, because it didn’t start out mediocre, but in the end, I had lost my joy and myself. Sometimes, you have to remove yourself from a situation to see that it’s not working for you, and that’s exactly what I was forced to do in this situation. As previously stated, “Sometimes God does for you what you can’t do for yourself.” Thanks, God, for my wake-up call!