We've all lost someone at some point in time that we loved, not by any choice of our own. It's heart wrenching isn't it? As adults, I wonder if it's easier for us to deal with because of our tenacity, life experiences and coping mechanisms.
Last night, I finally got the Christmas wrapping done, put my editing aside and finished watching photography webinars. It was time to give my brain a break and just sit back and unwind. Time to slow down a bit. Let the creative juices replenish themselves.
Michael set up the new Adele concert, live at Royal Albert Hall. I'm telling you, I have always loved this woman's smoky soulful voice but there is something about sitting down and listening to someone's story woven in between her love songs. It gives new meaning to the lyrics, to her experiences and the song itself. It's like you hear the music on a different level, like you feel the song, like it moves your soul when you take the time to understand the proverbial place it was written and performed from.
I think it is a mistake to dismiss heartbroken teenagers' relationship woes. It is far too easy for us as grown adults to haughtily roll our eyes at their puppy love and treat their sadness as trivial. Do you remember your first love? Chances are, you also remember your first breakup. The first time someone cheated on you. The first time someone you loved left you. With no choice but to deal with it. Accept it. This was your reality.
I've had relationships. I've been the dumper. I've been the dumpee. I've shed some tears. I've made some friends from lovers. I've made mistakes. I've had good times. I've been treated like shit. I've treated some like shit. As the years come and go, these memories and the emotional attachment of these relationships and their endings slowly fade into the dust of my past life.
Almost fourteen years have passed and the memory of my first real love's betrayal still stings my heart like it was yesterday. Not because I miss him because I certainly am thankful that I never ended up with him. It's because I remember the feeling of being left for someone else and not being able to deal well with the lonely realization.
I remember sitting in my room at 2:30 in the morning, waiting for a phone call from him, only to receive a call from my girlfriend that she saw him with another girl making out in the corner of a Toronto nightclub. I wanted to fucking die. I leapt out of bed like a crazed madwoman on a mission. I grabbed the yellow pages (these were the days before internet and cell phones) and looked up this girl's phone number. I was confused as to which last name belonged to her phone number. Then it all started to unravel and make sense. I saw her last name next to a street name in a prominent Ancaster neighbourhood. My ex was fascinated by wealth and money. He would always talk about this certain part of Ancaster, specifically this street. And then it hit me when I saw her street name. It all started to unravel and my thoughts raced back to the events leading up to this moment of clarity. The vague and wide gaps in his stories started to narrow.
We had matching tattoos. He gave me his grandmother's ring, with his mother's permission. I would have dinner with his family and stay over and go for jogs with his mother. Our parents met at Christmas time. I was sure he was the one for me. When I met him, he was overweight and nobody saw the allure that I did. I was so attracted to him and so madly in love. We met in University. We started to workout together. He lost a bunch of weight. Everyone started telling me how hot my boyfriend was. I never saw it that way because I fell in love with him for the person inside, as corny as that sounds.
I couldn't accept the fact that it was just one day over. In hindsight, all the signs were there. I was just too blind to see it. When it was all pulled out from under me, I just had to deal with it. There really is no thoughtful way to break up with someone is there? I mean, obviously it would be nice if someone treated your 3 year relationship with dignity and respect but not everyone is capable of doing that. It was no post it note, but it may as well have been a Jack Berger moment because that's how raw and blunt it all felt.
I remember crying. Losing my mind. Driving to his house. Calling his girlfriend. Calling his friends. Emailing his mom. Trying to get some answers and getting nowhere as all these people were just as confused, or so they let on. I tried to stay home. I tried to go out. I lost a shit load of weight. I dyed my hair bleach blonde. I started to date someone else and go places he would see me, as if jealousy would somehow win him back. And then it happened. I was with my friends. And they all sort of held their breath and told me under absolute no circumstance, was I to turn around. It was summer time and we were enjoying a cocktail on a patio in a downtown Hamilton street of bars. And then I did what I wasn't supposed to. I turned around. I saw him with her. They were together. I wanted to be sick. I literally felt queasy. Of course everything in my proud body wanted to keep my cool. But the woman in me was anything but cool. The heat, the fire, the red that I saw and felt, well, you know how it is. I casually walked by him. So awkward. He let me know that I looked great but he couldn't talk to me. It just was so incomprehensible to me. He was once mine. And now someone else owned the right to his loyalty? WHAT THE FUCKKKKKKK???????????
I waited outside of his house until 6 in the morning when he arrived home. He told me to leave. I cried. I begged him not to go. I threw his grandmother's ring on his lawn. That seemed to infuriate him and I now gave him a reason to be angry and justify him leaving me. I pleaded I was sorry. Then I screamed at him. As the sun started to rise, I drove home in a slump. I smoked cigarette after cigarette. Tracy Chapman's Fast Car came on the radio. That was our song. I was sure it was a sign.
The summer continued like this. My friends would patiently listen to me but I could tell they were getting tired of the same story. I would seek out new acquaintances, just someone, anyone to listen to my story and help me through this god awful time. Then, a divine intervention of sorts appeared. My friend was going back to school in Toronto and wanted to move there. I was working downtown Toronto and thought to myself, this was my ticket to freedom. The freedom to escape the ghost of our relationship. The constant thought of running into him. Running into them.
I met another friend who I believe in my heart of hearts we were destined to cross paths. She too was going through a devastating break up. She too was looking for a way out of the Hamilton haunt of ex-boyfriendhood. She helped me and I helped her. A group of friends got together for my birthday. Things were starting to come together. I had arranged to move into a house of four girls in Toronto. I was promoted to an amazing project at work. I was getting my shit together. There we were, on the rooftop of that Toronto Queens Quay patio overlooking the city. It was my 23rd birthday. I was surrounded by people who loved me. The breeze was warm. I was looking and feeling my best. And then it happened. Again. By now I should have been familiar with the look on my girlfriend's face and the warning not to turn around. I never heed warnings very well and this time was no exception. There the two of them stood, side by side, hand in hand, in my place on my birthday. My friends all surrounded me as if to form a protective shield but with my new found fabulousness, I mustered the courage from the balls I had grown and maturely walked over to them. All was fine, all was cool, until she smugly jabbed: He's mine. Get over it Wendy.
Oh my. Oh my God. All that hard work I had put into becoming the new and pulled together me was just flushed down the toilet. Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn? Is that how the expression goes? The blue drink that was in my hand magnificently flew out of the bottle and into her face. Nothing in my entire life had ever felt sooooo good. And then reality hit me as hard as the pavement that I was thrown out onto. The drink also spilled on the bouncer and he screamed at me, picked my tiny self off the dance floor, carried me down three flights of stairs and told me to get the fuck out and to never come back. The whole time, I smiled, waved to my friends who had just arrived for my birthday, feet dangling in the bouncer's massive arms and sung/chirped BYE GUYSSSSSSSSS!!!
Thank God I moved cities. Years later, I would still be reminded of this story by random people who would say, aren't you the girl that dated so and so and didn't you throw that drink and get kicked out?
Epic? Or epic fail? Still not sure, but I am certainly sure of the sheer pleasure that moment brought me.
It didn't free me of the difficulty of the breakup. God no. I sometimes wonder if even time itself can ever get rid of the memories, the devastating feeling and realization that the person you love with your heart and soul does not want to be with you. It's a simple concept really. A book and a movie were written to clearly describe to the seemingly daft that he's just not that into you. I remember once, crying to my girlfriend who matter of factly told me that I was sitting home crying and he was out not thinking about me and enjoying his life. I just could not get it through my thick skull. He didn't love me anymore. I couldn't make him love me. I tried everything. Nothing was working. He had made his choice and I had to deal with it. Every song reminded me of him. I would see the video for Cristina Aguilera's "What a girl wants" and think that it looked like the two of them. I would hear Toni Braxton's "He wasn't man enough for me" and sing my heart out, on repeat and repeat and again on repeat, imagining the day I could sing the song to her.
I got in wicked shape. I was always imagining the day he would see me looking so amazing that he wouldn't be able to resist me. I heard there was a swimwear fashion show on a boat and that he would be there. I was asked to be a model. I think I starved myself for weeks. I got in the best shape of my life. I was armed and ready. And he wasn't on the boat.
Years passed. He went on to marry her. I drove by the banquet hall on the day they were married. I'm not sure what I was hoping to see. I googled his name and found photos of the two of them looking beautiful and happy. Like the Sex and the City episode, there was a moment in time where I had to realize "They're happy / we're over."
Listening to Adele recount how her song "Someone like you" was written about her ex truly moved me. She said they were so happy. They laughed together brilliantly. They broke up. He's happy now. And to her, it's bittersweet because he changed her life forever. The ironic part was that thousands of her fans were singing the song back to her, and there she stood on stage, in Royal Albert Hall, selling her 10 millionth copy of the song, and the only person who could probably make her feel better was in the arms of another woman.
We've all been there. This is why we all nod our heads and murmer with understanding when a girlfriend tells us of heartache. This is why music and movies make us cry and moves our soul.
Because we all understand. I'm a better person for my heartbreak. I'm a better person for my humility and humiliation. I'm a better person for my past. My only regret was that I had some sort of outlet to channel my pain. I truly feel I could have written, I could have photographed, I could have created some sort of beautiful masterpiece out of that pain. Like a tortured soul. I dealt with it as best I knew how. I dealt with it because I had to. We all survive. Heartache doesn't really kill us. We don't die from it. But it does strip a part of us and we are forever changed. The people in our future pay the price. We're a little wiser, a lot stronger and better equipped to deal with it should it strike again.
But isn't it sad that nothing ever compares to that first love? It's so innocent. It's so true. It's so real. My mom once said that my father destroyed her soul when he cheated on her.
I don't think of my ex often. Or my past in general. But once in awhile, it all sneaks in, whether in reverie, thought or dream. I doubt he even knows the impact his actions had on my life. I doubt he often if not ever thinks of me. It was so long, long ago. I know I certainly am remorseful for the ones I have hurt. Sometimes we don't know better. We follow our hearts.
Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead.