I’ll be honest, my blog is late this week because I simply could not get my thoughts together in time yesterday. And I still am debating whether or not to post this because it is still such a jumble and some of it feels like self-indulgent whining, but I think I will because I think honesty is important. I made a commitment to write every week about what’s on my mind, and this is what has been plaguing me for the past two weeks, whether I like it or not (I don’t).
I used to think about my never-ending pursuit of love constantly, and for the past couple of years I’ve been thinking about it a lot less, or at least in a different way. I moved back to the city, I was having fun, making new friends, and I did have a couple of short relationships that just ‘happened’ when I wasn’t really looking for them.
But now that I’m living on my own, it’s all I can think about again. All I can think is, “I am enjoying this, but I do not want it to last forever.” I’m afraid that I’m going down a path that will end up being not just a fun experiment or chapter in my life but the whole story. Without the distraction of another person around all the time I am thinking about my past relationships and how much I miss them. I think about these people who acted like they loved me for a couple of months and then stopped.
And I keep thinking about the fact that all of my exes are in those happy, healthy, loving relationships that I want so badly.
Those thoughts were stronger than ever yesterday, on the same day that my most recent “proper” relationship ended a year ago (I don’t date a lot, clearly). I wish I could do some kind of “IT WAS ALL FOR THE BEST, LOOK HOW GREAT MY LIFE IS NOW, DON’T GIVE UP KIDS” post about that situation but I can’t. It wouldn’t be totally honest.
But I can say that my perspective on the situation has changed.
Here’s the thing – this day last year was the worst day of 2015 for me. It physically hurt in a way that I had not experienced in many years simply because I didn’t see it coming. There was no gradual decline in our relationship like any I’d seen before. We didn’t start fighting constantly or anything like that, which is what I’m used to leading up to a break-up. We were still best friends even the day it happened. We weren’t together for very long at all but we spent a ton of time together. It felt like we went from 0 to 100 right back to 0 again.
I’ve since realized though that I was not the only one going through that. It takes a lot of courage to break up with someone who you are still best friends with, who you want to continue to be best friends with, knowing that you might lose that person completely. It takes a lot of courage to break a routine, to break away from something that feels safe. I still wish it didn’t have to end that way, I wish he felt differently, but given the circumstances I can respect that. He did the right thing.
One year later and where are we? Well, we’re friends, which is sort of a miracle and really does speak to the fact that we did have something real. I wouldn’t change that for the world, and I can see now that we are not quite right for each other. That’s okay. It’s okay.
But I still haven’t fully healed. It’s a year later and I haven’t moved on. I’m still not totally ‘over it’. I still care. Even though I can accept that we probably shouldn’t be together, it still hurts. Less, but it’s still there under the surface, waiting to remind me how inferior I am whenever it gets the chance. He’s happy and I’m not. He’s found someone else and I haven’t.
That stings. Of course it does. Why do all the people who hurt me get to be happy but I don’t? Not just him but all of them?
Expressing thoughts like that is generally kind of rough and inadvisable because as soon as you say something like that, people see it as vengeful and vindictive and bitter. But I don’t see it that way. I don’t want to take anything from them. I wish them nothing but the best. I’m happy that my exes are happy. They’re all great people and they deserve it. I’m happy and somewhat proud that I could help them get there and be their own personal “Good Luck Chuck” in some cases. Just because they may have done some not-nice things to me and hurt me and ultimately didn’t choose me doesn’t make them awful.
I just want to be happy too. I want to be the one that someone wakes up to, not just during month one, but during month 3 and 6 and a year or two later, thinking, “Yes. I love this girl. She is adorable. I want to be with her and I will do what it takes to keep her,” with ‘that look’ in their eyes. I’ve had that in month one and even month two. I know ‘that look’ well. But it always fades far too quickly as if they’ve suddenly woken up from a dream and can now see the cold, harsh reality.
I’m starting to think that this is because I rush in too fast. I do this because when I meet someone I like I KNOW it, and I know exactly what I want. However, most people aren’t like that. My ex is the one who taught me that. We didn’t work for many reasons but one of them is because we both jumped into it without thinking but for different reasons. He just wanted to see where things would go, but then once the initial newness and excitement wore off he realized he actually wasn’t that into me sexually (story of my life). I already knew where I wanted things to go and wanted to appreciate the moment.
The day that it ended was horrible. I remember it more vividly than I remember any other day from that year. But I learned things. Lessons like that that will help me in the future, and things about myself and what I like that I needed to know to have the experience that I wrote about in “The Real Thing“. Which I am also very sad about, but I learned things from that too.
The point is…I can’t say that it was all for the best. I can’t say that my life is amazing now. The truth is that I was happier when we were together. But I can say that I now believe that there is even greater happiness out there, and I believe that I am getting there because I learned those things.
Sometimes I wonder why it is taking me this long to learn those lessons and to find someone when it seems to have taken all of them no time at all. But then I remember all of the pain they put me through.
Not just because it happened – although it’s understandable that I would be hurt,
damaged, and a little confused with a warped view of relationships because of that, those things happen to lots of people. Not lots of people I know, but lots of people. Rather, it is because I feel some emotions on a deeper level than most people, which I’ve written about before. It’s about how those painful experiences impacted me. I love people so completely that when a relationship ends, I can’t just go out with my girlfriends a few times and then be over it. And the rule that it will take half of the time you were together to get over someone does not apply to me. I hope that someday this will be a blessing, but right now it is a curse that I need to learn to manage.
The things I’m learning are about how to identify someone who will not cause that pain. Not how to find someone I like, but how to figure out which of those people will like me enough.
I want a relationship that lasts more than 3 months. Forget forever. 6 months to a year would make me feel like a success at this point. And to do that I need to find someone who has the same priorities as me and who knows what they want. Not someone who is just coasting and wants to see where things go. I need someone who takes this shit seriously and thinks long and hard about whether or not they want to date me instead of just rushing in, because to me it’s not a game.
Maybe that means that I need to slow down to allow that to happen.
And like I said a couple of weeks ago, I think I’m ready. I know who I’m looking for, and I know they exist. There will be someone who thinks I’m beautiful and dedicates a ridiculous amount of time to proving it. There will be someone who appreciates the fact that I sometimes write novel-length texts and who expresses their feelings just as much as I do and who wants to hear about mine. There will be someone who actually loves the things about me that I thought people would only ever tolerate or accept at best, and that was the most I could hope for.
I may not be in a great place right now, and that feels shitty when everyone else in my life seems to be really happy. It feels shitty to look back on this sad anniversary and realize that I haven’t come as far as I would have liked since then.
But I am prepped for good things to come my way.
And when they do, I will know what to do with them.
Chelsea Ricchio is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the SPEAK OUT blog. She is also the Communications Manager for Healthy Minds Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 2015 with a BA in English Literature and Book & Media Studies. She was the former president of the student group Active Minds at UofT, which hosts SPEAK OUT events on campus (from which this blog takes its name). She was diagnosed with Dysthymia and Social Anxiety. She is 23 and lives in Toronto with her cat Genie.