Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Putting the Pieces Back Together

I sat in the car, eyes closed, summoning the courage to do what I had come to do.

The October sun beating through the windshield seemed strange and out of place and I thought how a gloomy rain would have suited my mood far better than the glorious New England fall day.

I didn't know what I was going to say, but hoped that the words would be there when I needed them. I wasn't even sure if there was anything I could say to make it easier. To explain it to him.

He probably wouldn't understand anyway. He thought he was perfect. That I was to blame for everything. It had been that way since our first date at the beginning of my sophomore year of college, and it took me more than two years to finally understand.

He was never going to change, so I had to.

Until that day, it never occurred to me that our relationship would end, and certainly not that I would be the one to do the ending. I thought that if I was agreeable enough, and clairvoyant enough to anticipate his moods and his whims, we could really make it work. That if I could just stop making mistakes, he would stop getting angry, and we would stay together, and happily.

But that day, my eyes opened for the first time in twenty-six months. The words of caution from my sisters and friends that I had been ignoring pushed to the front of my brain. That day I glimpsed my future, and I did not like what I saw.

I didn't recognize the girl I had become. The one who was insecure. The one who walked around with her stomach in knots. The one who waited by the phone for her boyfriend to call. The one who put her boyfriend's needs far above her own. The one who sat silently through torrents of verbal abuse. The one who probably tanked the LSAT just four hours ago because she was too consumed by her boyfriend's moods to study properly.

The most important parts of myself had fallen away so slowly over the past two years that I barely noticed they were gone. But sitting in front of an important test for which I was woefully unprepared, I suddenly felt the missing pieces so acutely that their absence stole my breath.

I opened my eyes and looked up at his dorm, imagining him inside, oblivious about what was about to happen. Thinking about how he would respond when I said what I had come to say. Waiting for the guilt and fear I would always feel when I knew I was making him unhappy.

But for the first time in more than two years, I felt neither.

A glimmer of the girl I was before he walked into my life was still inside of me.

I opened the car door and stepped out into the sunshine, ready to find the rest of her.


39 comments:

  1. This could have been something I wrote; I relate with that broken girl trying to relocate herself. "If I was agreeable enough, and clairvoyant enough to anticipate his moods and his whims, we could really make it work" - gah! I have thought those thoughts. Thank goodness you got out when you recognized it - I myself stayed much longer than I should have, and the rebuild was long and painful.

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    1. I also stayed much longer than I should have, and the rebuild took a really long time. There were many, many missteps after that first day, but it was an important beginning.

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  2. And I hope you did. It certainly seems that way, reading your words, now. I'm so glad you realized that you had to take care of yourself.

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    1. I definitely did. It took the better part of a year, but once I started focusing on me, I was a much better and healthier person.

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  3. Why do we bright, confident girls let this happen?! I suppose it is an important lesson to learn and we obviously don't listen to our sisters and friends until we see it for ourselves.

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    1. It is an important lesson. After that experience, I started always listening to my sisters when it came to relationships because they were always, always right.

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  4. yay! brave you! that's not easy when you're deep in a relationship. i was so into reading this. can you have a part two where we follow you into the confrontation?

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  5. What a wonderful story of taking back control and empowerment. Even if you stayed too long, you did the right thing in the end, and that's what's most important. I also request a part two!

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    1. It didn't feel so empowering at the time, but looking back, that's exactly what it was.

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  6. Good for you! it's so tough to make changes!

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    1. It is, but this one was a serious necessity.

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  7. So glad you found the strength to leave him.

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    1. Me too. It was a pretty bad time, but I didn't see it until I was out of it.

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  8. Interesting to see a piece of you from so far back. . .especially knowing that you passed the LSAT and eventually found a great guy!

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    1. It took me awhile to decide to write about this, and even once I wrote it, I thought about not publishing it because it was so long ago, and I am a completely different person now than I was then. But looking back on it, the mistakes are so obvious to me, and I can see so clearly the path that I should have followed, so I think that's a healthy lesson to take from all of this.

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  9. I had one of those relationships in my freshman -- junior year in college. Totally messed with my head. I've often thought thank goodness he moved on to graduate school. Married life with him would have been painful. Nice writing.

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    1. Thanks so much. I think almost every girl has a crappy relationship at some point. I'm just really glad that mine was confined to college, and it was long over by the time I was ready to settle down for good.

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  10. Making changes, especially big ones like this, is so hard. I"m glad you were able to get away from him and find a guy who deserves you!

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    1. Thanks so much Michelle. It was a complicated couple of years, and we were both so young.

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  11. I'm guessing you did not tank the LSAT. And go you!!!

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    1. I didn't tank it, but I definitely didn't do as well as a could have. It's hard to be upset about that though, because it all ended up right in the end.

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  12. It takes a lot of courage and strength to finally end it, for good. With my ex-boyfriend, something happened and my mind was screaming at me that this is wrong, very very wrong but I wouldn't listen because I was just too weak to take that final step of ending it. I can imagine how you felt, how you would have mustered the strength to do that. We, girls, do that, putting the boyfriend's needs before us. No relationship is worth more than you and you took that correct decision. And told the story of it here, very beautifully, :)

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    1. Thank you! It was really tough to end it, and even tougher to get over it. When I look back, the red flags were absolutely everywhere, but I mostly ignored them until I just couldn't anymore.

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  13. The first clue: "He thought he was perfect." Anyone who seriously thinks that way is deluded. Glad you figured it out, even if it did take a couple of years.

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    1. Tell me about it. This all happened almost ten years ago, but when I look back, my current self wants to just scream at my younger self. It never should have gone on so long.

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  14. Sigh....I stayed longer than I should have too, and I'm still finding snippets of the woman I lost over the years. Beautiful, beautiful post.

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  15. Ooof. Toxic relationships are the worst. I'm so glad you rediscovered your inner self. I feel like some people just never do. I really enjoyed reading this.

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    1. They so are. It's amazing to me that absolutely every person I know has had one at one point or another. I'm glad too that for most of us, it was just a stage and we eventually let it go. But ugh, looking back on it still makes my skin crawl.

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  16. We've all been there at some point. I'm glad it worked out well for you, and that you wrote about it. Sometimes our past selves can almost seem like strangers.

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  17. Beautifully written! I pray that my daughter never goes through this but, if she does, hope she's also brave enough to get out. Glad your sisters had your back...

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  18. So much courage to make a break and not just fade away. Well told.

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  19. I know the feeling of being annoyed that the weather didn't match your mood. I hope the breakup went OK and that you moved on easily.

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  20. Nice job! Yeah , Im talking about the writing but Im talking about the cutting loose as well....never easy.

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  21. Wow, this is very similar to my last relationship/breakup! Congrats on breaking it off. You are very strong, and I know you've moved on to much better things since then.

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  22. Samantha, this is one of my favorite posts of yours. It's very well written. Congratulations on reclaiming your confidence and your life.

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  23. Totally had that relationship once. And it about killed me. How did independent, confident me become so changed and affected by some other (not worth it) guy's moods and behavior? Lovely writing as well. Glad you're out.

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  24. Although some time has passed since this occurred, your ability to hone in on your emotional state and draw us in? Very powerful.

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  25. That made me take a deep breath at the end. I know that feeling, and so glad you were able to end it and get back to yourself.

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