One of the things that has complicated my recovery from a breakup that happened (sort of) recently, has been the fact that I'm embarrassed about how deeply it managed to impact me. We didn't even REALLY go out. We hooked up a few times, and sent a lot of emails and texts, that's it. We never made anything official. Only my closest friends even knew I was talking with him and considering, maybe, possibly, someday, dating him. The whole (non-)thing lasted just a few months.
Why would I be so crushed, devastated, hurt? Why have I been grieving so much for at least 6 months now (maybe 9, depending on which point in history you start counting from), that I've become physically ill? I have felt bad telling friends that I feel like I am going through a
bereavement. It seems irreverent to those who actually have gone through bereavement, since my experience was "just" a breakup. But, valid or not,
that's what I feel like nonetheless.
He was a friend who slipped over into "benefits" for a few months.
There isn't even a "thing" to recover from. The relationship didn't really exist in normal terms.
GET OVER IT ALREADY!
Of course, such self-judgements aren't productive or compassionate, but they are there anyway, as part of the tapestry of my self-talk. Trying to figure out "why I fell so hard" has been part of the journey. My mind just goes around and around. I don't know why he was so important to me. I don't know what happened. I don't know why I hurt so much. But I want to know all these things! So I replay memories over and over, trying to figure it out. As a contemporary poetess says:
"I [have been] ransacking the moment for understanding."
And today, miraculously, I had a revelation.
We were distant friends for 10 years, since college. He was part of a group of friends that I really enjoyed. They were smart, savvy, culturally savante, creative, ambitious, opinionated, and technical wizards. Everything I wanted to be. I loved hanging out with them whenever I could. I knew that it would be impossible for me EVER to fit in with hoi polloi, but with this group, I thought I had a chance. They were just nerdy enough to be distinct, but they weren't snobs or elitists. Just quirky enough not to be mainstream, but in-touch enough to be cool.
However, there was always this nagging feeling that I didn't really fit in, wasn't fully welcome. And it wasn't just a feeling. I had evidence. If I wanted to hang out with them, it was usually I who asked to join them; the invitations seldom went the other way. They never demeaned or treated me poorly when I was actually with them, but they didn't go out of their way to include me either. It finally hit me a few years after college when I realized that I had been invited to none of their weddings. Despite my efforts, I never made it to the "in" status with them.
And this is a life pattern that has haunted me since childhood. There's always been some compelling reason that I don't belong to whatever group I find myself with. And when I finally find a group that I SHOULD be able to belong to, looking at it logically (common interests, beliefs, approaches to life, personalities, intelligence levels), I can't seem to make it "in." And I have no idea why. Why am I rejected? What is wrong with me?
This issue runs deep. This may be THE core wound of my life.
Unconsciously, part of what might have been happening with this (non-)relationship-thing last year, was that I was using him to try to heal my wound. If HE would accept me, and HE was part of the "in" crowd that I wanted to be associated with, then I would finally be worthy. His rejection of me activated the old wound. His rejection of me ripped the scar off, and the blood began gushing out again. His rejection of me was not just about him (though I lost something very real, and I'm not trying to diminish his objectively great qualities), it was about every other person and group I've wanted to receive acceptance from but couldn't. It's about my lifelong journey to find the Self I really want to be, but keep finding my(current)self falling so short of. The quest to be cool. To be validated. To be amazing.
Consciously, I tell myself "Of course, I already am amazing and cool and accepted and OK just the way I am." I don't feel, most of the time, that my self esteem is badly lacking. I recognize that while I've made some poor choices in the past, overall I am doing my best and have a lot to be proud of. But unconscious patterns are not so easily changed. Most of the time you don't even know they are there until something --like a strange (non-)romance, for example-- comes along and pushes you slightly to one side, and you step on a landmine, and you wake up in the hospital with a disfigured body and wonder what hit you.
Knowing a little bit more about "what hit me" does bring some relief, though. It helps me find some meaning in the experience. Maybe some day I'll even thank my lucky stars that this happened, because it exposed an area of my heart that needed healing, and allowed me to heal it. (Not that I'm a fan of the redemptive suffering concept, but... whatever...)