Monday, January 2, 2012

An Open Letter to My girls

Often when I write on a topic I wonder to myself, "What makes me think I am an expert on this or that people will care what I have to say about it?"  But since turning forty I believe I have earned a certain amount of "wisdom credits" and I am ready to impart some of that wisdom to those I love who are much younger and often go through the pain I have gone through in my past.  And so, today, I want to write about males who break our hearts. 
There is so much truth to the following:  "We cannot always control what happens to us, but we can control our reactions to what happens to us."  It is with this quote in mind that I remind you of the following story and how I felt for years after it happened to me and I how I feel now looking back on what happened to me. 
When I was in my late 20s I fell in love.  It was not the first time I had been in love, but it was the first time I knew the love was going to be forever.  He and I discussed marriage and made plans for our future.  I still remember the night he called and said he was too tired to drive to my place after work, but five minutes later he called and left this message.  "I thought I just wanted to go home because I was tired and then I realized that home was wherever you are so I am on my way."
Everything about that relationship felt so right -like finding the missing piece to a puzzle you have been working on for years.  As you know, that was not my first serious relationship, nor was it my longest.  I had even lived with someone before that so I had plenty of experience with relationships and the feelings associated with "Is this the real thing?"  "Is this the one?"
But then things started to change and like many young women the more he pulled away the more I tried to pull him back.  It started with his new job and colleagues.  He began to spend less time with me and more time with them.  I pride myself on saying whats on my mind so that the man in my life doesn't have to guess and I asked him about it.  He clarified that it was true and not in my imagination, but that it was nothing to worry about because he needed to get to know his new colleagues.  Next came a night at work that he told me he had worked with a female colleague until 3 a.m. on a big project.  Looking back I guess he thought that was enough of a signal to me, but why would I question it?  He told me she was nice.  I didn't realize I was supposed to understand he was falling for her.  The next situation was calling him and not getting him for an entire weekend night.  The next day he said he had gone to a pink floyd laser light show with some friends but hadn't told me because he knew I would be jealous that I couldn't go.  Now at this point, things are weird.  He is not acting like himself and I am not understanding why.  I should have understood why, but I did not.  The final straw came when I went to a work party with him.  Some friends of the "3 a.m. colleague"  came to me and told me what  a "cool girlfriend" I was for letting him stay overnight at their apartment.  When I asked him about it at the party he said I must have forgotten and that of course he had told me about it. 
Reading this through you can probably predict the ending before I did at that time.  I broke up with him by phone and he didn't stop me because that is what he wanted.  Within that year he became engaged to that 3 a.m. colleague and the last I knew (years ago) they were married and had some children. 
I was bitter for about ten years.  Really.  Isn't that awful?  I was so angry at how much he took my trust and crumpled it up and threw it back in my face.  I was so angry that he didn't have the balls to tell me he had found somebody else and I had to do the break up.   Luckily I got over the bitterness BEFORE meeting my current husband.  And so, here is what I know.  I thought he taught me never to trust again, but what I know now is he taught me something much more valuable.  He taught me to trust myself, to trust what I am thinking, to lean on myself and know that I am smarter than I give myself credit for.
To my girls- you are going to fall in love and think it is real and you ARE going to get your heart broken.  But each time that happens your heart comes back better and stronger.  When someone starts to pull away, let them go.  It hurts like hell but it is better than the hell you will be in if you stay with someone who doesn't love you.  I do not regret ANY of my past relationships because they helped me become who I am today.  Who I am today is a strong, imaginative, trusting, joyful person who trusts myself enough to love with all my heart. 
"We cannot always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to what happens to us." 
Be Strong. 


  1. Call it hindsight - I think I would have broken up with him after he said he want to "Pink Floydd Laser Light Show". So that's what the kids are calling it these days? I always was more cynical than you but appreciate your optimism!!!

  2. Absolutely, Kristin. In hindsight I would do that, but it took me so long to figure it out....and to let go!