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Posts Tagged ‘broken heart’

The girl sitting across from me on the subway was an exact replica of me at fourteen years old: chubby face, disobediently curly hair, a slim body struggling to develop and a slightly rowdy innocence that would one day cause some trouble. She looked so much like me I had to do a double take, convinced a miniaturized version of me was within arm’s reach.

I may have gone on without giving the matter much thought, except that there was something even more me-ish about the girl than her plump cheeks. She was pining away over a boy who apparently was giving her the run around. Moreover, she was testing the limits of friendship by giving the pal next to her every minute detail of their last conversation.

Me much?

The boy had told the girl to stop calling him. He didn’t want to talk to anyone right now. He wasn’t replying to any of her texts or returning her calls. Every so often, she’d call late, sometimes after midnight, and was surprised when he wasn’t home.

Fourteen-Year-Old Me was confused. Older Me knew there were only a few causes for such behavior and they all revolved around other girls, lack of interest and overall jerkiness.

“He says he can’t handle a relationship right now,” the girl told her friend. “He’s worried about his mom and he has to get a job.”

The girl lifted her chest and proudly said, “And I was like, ‘you expect me to wait for you?’”

Older Me hoped either the guy fell to her feet in tears or she gave him the grand heave ho.

“’He told me, ‘no.’ So I asked, ‘do you want me to?’”

It took everything in me not to take the girl by the shoulders and shake her senseless. “Get some strength in those knees and stiffen that spine. You cave to this creep and you’ve got years of male crap to put up with. Get out now!”

“Honestly, Mary, I don’t know,” the girl continued. “I was like, ‘I can be your girlfriend and support you through this.’”

No, you can’t, I thought, trying to use mental telepathy to communicate with her. You can’t because he doesn’t want you to. Or someone else is his support. Or he doesn’t have a problem, he’s just making up bull malarkey because he’s afraid to cut the cord.

“I was like, ‘I’ll be waiting for your call.’ He didn’t call me, so I called him.”

You just earned another year of lessons from the Relationship School from Hell.

“He was on the phone with his cousin.”

Yeah, right.

“He kept crying and crying and I was like, ‘I’m right here for you.’”

Man, was this girl tugging at my heart strings. How many times have I begged some big wounded boy to let me love him? In fact, nearly every female I know has blubbered to me about some damaged soul who won’t let her heal his pain. Few things are as confusing to women as men who turn away love and support.

I wasn’t angry at the apple of Fourteen-Year-Old Me’s eye. Sure, guys like him can be selfish and plain mean. But they’re just snot-nosed little boys and it’s up to the women who adore them to cut their losses when the writing’s on the wall.

Unfortunately, it can take decades before a woman learns to stop hanging on to dead end love. I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me, but will confess to making tons of stupid decisions, dating scads of nincompoops and coming face to face with lots of not so pretty truths about my own inner workings. Most importantly, it took the real love of a couple good men to show me true connection isn’t something you have to beg someone to share with you.

I wanted to tell Fourteen-Year-Old Me to let this cad go and avoid love she has to wrestle to the ground. Spare her the agony of heartbreak or an on/off affair with someone who only kinda likes her. But like every hard lesson, you’ve got to learn it on your own.

All I could do was give her a smile that said, ‘you’ve got a long, hard journey ahead. But you’ll get there.’

She probably didn’t grasp my message. But maybe she will in twenty years, when her own Mini Me sits across from her on a train.

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A good friend in college once admitted to feeling miffed when we were together in public because men sometimes checked me out instead of her.  Apparently, she was attempting to build trust by revealing these monstrous feelings and I was supposed to be touched.

I won’t pretend to have been a saint at the time, somehow immune to male attention.  But the last line of attack I’d have considered for securing guys’ interest was scorning my friends for taking it from me.

Still, like lotsa gals, much of my twenties was spent hoping guys liked me.  A cute one would come ‘round and I’d feel pressured to become a sexier, smarter, sassier version of myself, all smirky and eyelashes aflutter.  When dudes weren’t around, I was relaxed and keeping it real, praying for the day I’d be freed from stressing about being a hit with the boys.

I used to be afraid that day would never come.  But yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

This weekend, a gal named Christina proved those days are long behind me.  We met at a two-day writing conference.  Christina was naughty librarian sexy with the kind of combustible “not quite sure who I am yet” energy that makes folks in their twenties both charming and exasperating.  At breakfast, Christina formed a friend crush on me and a regular old boy crush on Billy, a handsomely tortured grunge king who had all the girls at the workshop in a tizzy.  Ten years ago, I might have had eyes for Billy, too.  Now, I’m wise enough to know self-important hot guys usually have little to offer, especially if they’re flirting with everything in a bra.

Christina wasn’t as wise.  When Billy noticed her, she feigned indifference even though stars were shooting out of her eyes.  When he walked away, her entire being deflated like a popped balloon.  When Billy chose to spend his lunch sitting with a pretty blonde instead of us, Christina sat quietly seething as if plotting her next move.  On the conference’s second day, she showed up in a low-cut shirt and bright red lipstick.  Then she spent the day saying raunchy things super loudly and emanating a willful sexuality as if mind controlling the boy to come to her.

Christina didn’t seem smitten, she just seemed pissed.  I assumed she wasn’t as much interested in Billy as she was bothered he wasn’t noticing her.  Still, she didn’t care when I suggested the boy was obviously a player and not worth the effort.  She didn’t buy my theory that not being desired by every male on the planet was no big thang and that all a gal needed was one decent man to love her.  Ultimately, I stopped offering support altogether once the recurring question of the conference changed from “how can I be a better writer” to “why doesn’t Billy like me?”

Thank God I’m not there anymore.  Really, it’s been ages.  Sure, my relationships or attempts at entering into relationships haven’t always been smooth.  But I’ve been myself every step of the way and couldn’t care less about any man except the one who makes my heart go boom.  Even back in the day, when I was more concerned than I should’ve been about being the cat’s meow, I always knew there was more to life than boys.

However.

Not long ago I met a woman in her fifties who had recently ended a five-year romance.  The woman had no children and had never been married, though she’d had a bunch of boyfriends through the years.  She proudly announced herself finished with men, finished with the anxiety of trying to appeal to them, finished worrying about whether she’s desirable.

I could tell the woman meant it.  Like wives who finally divorce after decades in a rotten marriage, she looked forward to starting life on her own terms.  On one hand, I envied the inner peace she claimed to feel.  On the other hand, I was sad to imagine a life without love.

So, I’m glad to be way past the point of obsessing over boy love but pray I never arrive at the place where I’m glad to be out of the game completely.  I’m not positive how to avoid such a fate, but there’s one thing I know for sure.  Needing to be the prettiest girl in the room ain’t it.

 
[Image from vanityfair.com]

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I have a friend, we’ll call him Buster, who’s in a marriage most people might refer to as “shitty.”  He’s got the bitter wife, the resentful kid, the budding alcohol problem, whole nine yards.   Buster caters to his woman’s every wacky whim and exhausts himself trying to put himself in her dainty shoes to empathize and bridge the divide.  For Buster, saving his marriage has become a second job.

Those of us who are his friends have mostly been in the “dude, cut your losses” camp.  When a good pal finds more comfort in Jose Cuervo than his wife, not a lot of folks pitch their tent at Camp Hang in There.

The recurring sentiment amongst Buster’s pals when we sit around talking about him is that he’s staying in the marriage because he doesn’t want to be alone.  Apparently nothing is more offensive to the average American than someone else’s fear of being alone.  I know lots of unhappy couples whose inner circle whispers about how their pansy asses stay together just to avoid ending up solo.  As if remaining single is a courageous act on par with traversing the surface of the moon.

However, I think I’m abandoning Camp Cut Your Losses.

Ever been alone for longer than, say, two years?  I have and I can tell you.  It blows.  No one wants to be alone.  What person prefers sleeping in a cold bed to snuggling up against a warm body?  Isn’t talking to your best friend better than talking to yourself?  Doesn’t life feel more consequential when someone else is watching you live it?  Knowing your mere existence plops another human being onto cloud nine?  That’s pretty rad.  And who wants to be on his death bed with some nurse he’s never met holding his hand as he transitions to the sweet hereafter?  I can’t think of a better incentive to work your tail off in relationships than to avoid being alone.

What are ugly are those relationships where folks have stopped trying.  Dead romances where people who used to love each other go through the motions of loving like state employees nearing retirement.  Should those people bail or just start noticing each other again?

Certainly, some circumstances call for hightailing it out of a relationship.  Like if your partner comes to you one day saying, “Wowza!  Two free tickets to the next Tea Party rally!”  Walk away.  This can’t be salvaged.  Otherwise, maybe put in the time.

Buster has a family and a woman who has known him for ages.  These are the building blocks for the one thing everyone wants most in life: forever.  Buster wants to grow old with someone and have his kids at his bedside when he kicks it.  He wants a satisfying relationship and contented family, and so will do what he must to make it happen.  He may also love his wife even if the rest of us think she’s Cruella DeVille.

There may come a time when Buster’s marriage should officially be pronounced dead and both parties should save themselves from being buried with it.  Until then, ain’t no shame in working toward forever.

[Photo of this completely awesome panda from rootsgpk.blogspot.com]

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Months back, my friend Corey got a peculiar email from a woman with whom he’d gone on one date.  The email included an invitation to a second meeting, a string of compliments…and a picture of the girl buck naked.

Corey spent the next several days titillated and curious, but mostly confused. What did the Naked Girl, as we named her, hope to achieve with such a move?  If she was offering herself up as a booty call, should he dial her digits?  If she was a damaged soul, how could he make a clean break?  Ultimately, Corey was convinced to put an end to the madness.

I checked in with Corey about the Naked Girl the other day.  He’s still seeing her.

And how ‘bout this?  My friend Tommy introduced me to his pretty, sweet, kinda quirky new girlfriend at a gritty downtown pub.  We were sharing a plate of nachos when a glob of sour cream plopped onto the table.  Tommy’s girl plunged her finger into the glob then sucked the cream off it.  She ate food off the table. Did Tommy blush or chide her under his breath?  Nope.  He lovingly rolled his eyes then kissed her on the forehead.

Then there’s Jay who just caught his girl lying about dating other dudes online.  A few months before, she’d come home with an STD.  Jay was a wreck last week when I spoke to him about these recent events.  This week?  They’re working it out.

One more.  A chick who works with a friend of mine had a whirlwind, week-long romance with a guy visiting from out of town.  After the week was over, she “surprised” him by showing up at his apartment half-way across the country.  Although the act freaked him out big time, the gal continued to call constantly, send obsessive emails and make surprise visits.  You’d think the guy would move to Mars to avoid such insanity.  But he didn’t.  A few weeks later, he asked her to move in with him.

Boggles the mind.

I feel sorry for all the kind, stable, lovely single gals I know still struggling to find a partner.  The kind of gals who offer humor rather than nudie pics, wit rather than venereal disease.  These are women who don’t have to follow some arbitrary set of rules to land a man, they’re decent people so know them already: be considerate, give a man space if he needs it and love when he’s ready, be yourself but don’t be afraid to be a little dazzling and feminine.

Certainly, everyone deserves love, including the aforementioned females.  But how come so many gals who break every rule in the book are walking hand-in-hand with the apples of their eyes, while ladies with their act together stay solo?  I believe when someone feels a connection, nothing his or her partner does is wrong, including eating nachos off a table.  But I also wonder how many odd situations come together simply because people don’t want to be alone.

Regardless, I’m changing my tune as far as doling out romantic advice goes.  Screw the rules, I say.  Be a slob!  Be a psycho!  Give ‘im the Clap!

Worse case scenario, you suffer some embarrassment.  Best case?  You fall in love.

Want to know how Corey and the Naked Girl first met?  Check out “The Naked Girl.”

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The other night, I had a wonderfully romantic dream about my high school crush.  Though I haven’t thought of the boy in years, he’s always been the one infatuation I’ve regretted not having a chance to explore.  Back then, he was popular, studly, too cute for my ugly duckling high school self.  For two long, rather ridiculous years, he was the light of my life, the fire of my loins, the name scribbled on the inside of my locker.

In the dream, we were at a reunion, where Crush lamented not having had his act together enough to see how special I was back in school and thus, become mine forever.  I woke up in one of those dizzyingly rapturous post-dream spells where, despite everything good awaiting you in real life, you only want to go back to sleep.  Already, I’d been having dreams of ex-boyfriends and now here I was dreaming about my very first gut-wrenching love.  Obviously, my subconscious had something to tell me.

The next morning, I eagerly fired up Facebook to do a search, and wouldn’t you know, up came Crush’s name.  As the page loaded, I was as nervous as I’d been when the two of us were partnered up in an English class reading of Hamlet.  What if our destinies were about to become enmeshed?

At first I didn’t recognize the somewhat handsome, though mostly chubby, grey-haired papa bear in the profile pic.  Where was the serpentine smirk that used to make me go gaga, the lustful twinkle in the eye that made all the girls go gooey?  Maybe this old guy was my Crush’s uncle.

But alas, ‘twas he, the Jake Ryan of my Sixteen Candles-esque high school fantasies.  How odd to see a person jump in your imagination from seventeen to near middle age.  What a disconcerting way to be reminded of the passage of time.

Equally odd was the life my crush had built for himself.  He was an accountant.  He and his family were living in some weird town in Texas.  He was a raging Conservative.

Strange ‘cause this was a guy who dated foreign exchange students and girls from the other side of the racial divide, he was one of the first kids in our school to dig hip hop, he was popular because he was gorgeous but also because he was ahead of all kinds of cultural curves.

Crush looked happy and I hope he is, yet I still kinda wondered what happened.  Mostly, I regretted ever feeling so lousy for not having made it fully onto his radar.

I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in touch with many of my exes and though I admire their lives, I’m glad I’m not in them.  I would never want to live in a weird town in Texas and attend Tea Party rallies, just as I’m glad things never worked out with my ex in the clink now for shady ties to the mob.  Boy, was that a close one.

Knowing I’ve dodged a bullet would make the whole mourning process easier.  Not because my exes lives are terrible, quite the contrary; but because knowing we were on different paths makes the breakup a good and right outcome.  I know full well my exes probably check out Facebook and thank their lucky stars they didn’t end up with that goofy writer who spent her twenties gallivanting around Europe rather than paying a mortgage.

So I hereby make the following request to, let’s say, Google: would you guys mind making some kind of application in which one could project ten or twenty years into the future to see what kind of person a current, prospective or ex partner becomes?  That way, the poor girl who goes unnoticed by the jock in study hall, the husband who gets dumped by his wife, the crazy-in-love gal whose man suddenly asks for an open relationship, can stop agonizing.

People say ‘everything happens for a reason’ when a relationship goes sour, but we all know that’s a load.  Imagine how much better you’d feel if in the midst of a breakup, a quick Google search could assure you, ‘no worries.  In ten years, he’ll be living in a trailer park in Kansas.’

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Bitch.  Skank.  Homewrecker.  Whore.

It’s hard out there for a mistress.

At first, it’s fun to pore over the salacious details of love triangles, whether in popular culture or our real lives.  Wondering whether all men stray, contemplating whether a woman should take a cheater back; all strangely entertaining conversation topics for us ladies.  Besides, picking apart the “other woman” in order to confirm the myriad ways the wife is better offers gals both solidarity and a false sense of security.

Because the truth is, the mistress of Sandra Bullock’s old man, Michelle “Bombshell” McGee, and her counterparts in the real world scare the shit out of us.

Knowing there are legions of lusty, busty carnivorous ladies whose most desired romantic snack is some other woman’s husband or boyfriend is enough to make even the most poised female shake in her boots.  We see her coming from a mile away: the gal who gets her kicks from securing the attention of every male in the room, who relentlessly pursues attached men like a cat preys on mice, who uses her carefully constructed feminine wiles to manipulate some poor sap right out of his pants.  These are women without boundaries or a sense of propriety, girls who can’t seem to get their self-worth from anything other than boys.

We know they’re out there and know how hard it must be for a guy to tell them, “no thanks, I’m good.”

My Big Ex was tempted by a Bombshell McGee.  She was a hair-flipping, mini-skirt-wearing giggle monster who worked at his company.  Although the gal had a limited range of interests and considered TV Guide heavy reading, she was the wet dream of all the men in the office.  But Giggles only had eyes for my guy.  If he gave in, I knew the fling would mean nothing and he’d regret it.  I also knew we’d have a giant mess to clean up.  All I could do was stay out of his way and hope he did the right thing.

Still, it was no fun having Giggles talk over me at parties or follow my man around the room.  All I wanted was to pull her aside and ask, “Why are you doing this?  Do you know how bad this’ll feel when it happens to you?  Because believe me, girlfriend, this will happen to you.”

Man, I hate the competition between women.  Boy, does it stink.  I can’t stand walking alone into a dinner party and watching all the married women put their hands on their husbands’ knees, just as I can’t stand some chick elbowing me out of the way to talk to the guy I’m with at a bar.  I was as grossed out by Michelle McGee’s attempt to validate herself by stealing a seemingly nice person’s husband, as I was disappointed by her success.

My other woman “a-ha moment” came in college when I interviewed a local blues musician for a newspaper then got invited to one of his concerts.  Dancing at the foot of the stage was his girlfriend Nancy, a fetching groupie with a spectacular body and long, blonde hair she masterfully whipped around with the same jazzy rhythm with which she rocked her hips.

After the show, the musician, Nancy and their posse came over for a chat.  It soon became clear the musician had the hots for yours truly and was making an ass of himself in showing it.  After several agonizing moments, Nancy walked up to me with watery eyes and said, “Please don’t steal my boyfriend.”

Rumor was Nancy had made her way through a number of local band dudes, most of whom had been left completely annihilated by her mouth-watering charms.  And she was threatened by me?

Being the gal a guy wants to screw is flattering, sure, but not something to put much stock into. A man who’s open to betraying his woman may very well want to sleep with you.  But “you” could be any pretty, available female (which Jesse James is now proving).  We’re all just as apt to be the unbeatable Bombshell as we are the betrayed Bullock.

Weeks back, I read an article written by a girl who said she slept with someone’s husband because she could.  The writer felt “powerful” because she had the sexual muscle to sway him.  My only hope is that she, Michelle McGee and women like them, think of this notion of “power” when their future husbands come home one day smelling like snatch.  And I hope they imagine how much easier life and love would be if we women were nicer to each other.

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If you’d like to figure out what’s wrong with you relationship-wise, don’t read a self-help book.  Get an online bank account. 

Every time I log into my checking account, I’m asked a “security question,” the answer to which only I’m supposed to know, so the bank can confirm my identity.  Thus far, the only question the bank has asked me upon logging in is the name of my first boyfriend.  And what a joy it is to be forced to recall that relationship on a regular basis.  

When I was setting up the account, I had to select three possible security questions from a handful of rotten choices.  The only questions I could answer with any certainty were my mother’s birthplace and the name of Bozo my first boyfriend.  But choosing the third question threw me for a loop.  The street I grew up on?  Geez, I moved around so much, I barely remember what my high school was called.  The name of my favorite pet?  Well, there was Mitten, my first cat, but we had to give her away.  Then there was my Grandma’s dog, Maggie, but she got hit by a car.  My best friend in grammar school?  Which grammar school?  I had a best friend in each one.  I could say Molly Bartasevich, she was a decent chick.  But am I going to remember ol’ Moll every time I log in?  

Still, the worst question has to be about my first boyfriend, a self-loathing man/boy who cheated and made fun of everything I did.  Now, every time I log into my account I have to think about this hideous example of masculine turd-headedness and what a dip I was for digging him.  

Could there be worse memories to unearth from the past?  How ‘bout, “what was the name of the kid in grade school who used to make fun of you for buying your clothes at KMart” or, “what was more embarrassing; having food in your braces throughout the entire fifth grade or tripping over your shoelaces in front of your quarterback crush in high school?” 

Based on the answers to my security questions, I’ve deduced the following: I may have a fear of intimacy due to a history of rootlessness, mean kids on the playground and pet trauma, culminating in a damaging first love relationship with a complete heel.  

Thanks, Bank of America! 

If we must remember personal information about ourselves with such frequency, how about more forward thinking, more enjoyable security questions?  Here are my suggestions: 

“What is the most interesting city you’ve ever visited?”  

“What do you love most about puppies?” 

“If you had five minutes in an elevator with George Clooney, what would you do to him first?” 

“How much money do you wish was in this bank account after you get through these lameass security questions?” 

Personally, I’m glad to have discovered this banking treasure.  My financial institution is really helping me out in the most challenging areas of my life.  Their exorbitant fees keep my piddly budget in check, the crickets I hear chirping whenever I’m on hold with customer service teaches me patience, and now their covert love counsel is getting my romantic life back on track. 

Who needs self-help when you’ve got a bank?

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