Looking Forward

The Irish Hunger Memorial, Battery Park...the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend

The Irish Hunger Memorial, Battery Park…the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend

It’s been seven months since my last post about a breakup I was going through, and a very dark time in my life. I’ve been kind of hiding out since then and having all sorts of bad associations with my blog. Bad associations with my own blog! The blog I worked so hard to get going. The blog that was born of my getting laid off from work, which became a productive little way for me to spend my time, and get back to my writing and myself.

But really that’s not the whole story. I stayed away out of shame, because after writing my grand Breakup Manifesto—filled with heartache and despair and Gloria Gaynor-isms (I Will Survive!)—I wound up getting back together with my boyfriend. Yes, the one who withdrew and acted shady but didn’t have the decency to admit to me that something was “off.” The one I badmouthed and felt mistreated by. The one I twisted myself into a pretzel for to get back with…well guess what? It worked! I managed to milk another four months out of it. 

Why, you ask? Because I loved him and I missed him and I found that much like heroin [I imagine] I couldn’t get through my days without feeling wrecked without him. That, and because sometimes perfectly sensible, intelligent, adult people who make sound decisions in their everyday lives [mostly] find that when it comes to affairs of the heart all bets are off.

But there’s more…I found out the real reason for his shitty behavior in the first place: as suspected, there was someone else involved. Ahh, now it all made sense. She was independent, and easy-going, and she liked the same books! She did not have any expectations of him, and was not looking for anything more than his company, witty banter, and a bike-riding partner!

Turns out she was also batshit crazy. Like, certifiable.

Needless to say it didn’t last long. And how perfect it all was—I was suddenly looking way more attractive after his adventures with Sybil—and I wanted him back! Yes, despite all that, I still wanted him back. I know you’re probably thinking: Is she for real? I know this because I am the first to think it when I hear about what some women are willing to endure in relationships. It’s difficult even for me to see it laid out in black and white—seems ludicrous even. Yes, it’s easy to judge from afar but a much different story when you are that woman and your heart and emotions are concerned.

So we did it. We got back together and things were good—even great for a while. And then one day again, I started to get that same feeling of being “pushed out” that I had months earlier. I went from seeing him pretty much everyday, to barely a peep from him in weeks. The reason? He was busy.

Wait, what?

[Ding, ding, ding! Round TWO!!] We take our corners and come out swingin’ like we know how.

Me: defensive. I protest and yell and blame, “How could you do this to me—again?!”

He: defiant. He acts like everything is fine and is incredulous I could possibly think something is wrong, “I mean, can’t people be busy??”

I hate feeling insane—not like batshit-crazy-insane—just you know, normal insane. And yes, I know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Guilty! But more than that I hate being made to feel like I’m insane by someone bent on denial and incapable of taking responsibility for anything. It is mind-blowingly frustrating not to mention insulting.

But this time I will not have it. I take a deep breath and tell him that when you love someone you don’t make an excuse, you make an effort (I think I read this somewhere on a bumper sticker). Then I say I’m no longer willing to accept his crumbs and that I need much more than what he’s tossing at me. And even though these words are projecting clearly and assertively from my mouth, my heart is objecting. I am not ready to end it. It has been four years of my life—and let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger. Still, I am all too familiar with the excuses I’m being fed and my dignity refuses to go along with it.


He in turn protests this declaration like a caged animal would protest being set free from his captors. I am disappointed and heartbroken. I have no choice but to forge ahead. I spend the next few months in a frenzy of new endeavors. I get busy with things that are supposed to fulfill me and give me purpose. I attend talks. I network and meet new people. I write. I take pictures. I try very hard to do the right things and focus on me, yet the moment I slow down I realize I am not at peace. I am angry, frustrated, confused, heartbroken, and mentally exhausted. I don’t know why I can’t Just. Let. Go.

Weeks later I begin getting inane texts from him about his work and other banalities I couldn’t give a flying fig about. Not, HEY I KNOW I HAVEN’T TALKED TO YOU IN A WHILE, HOW HAVE YOU BEEN? HOW’S YOUR LIFE? ARE YOU STILL BREATHING/ WALKING THE EARTH?

I answer monosyllabically, and begin to think he’s socially impaired.

But before long I’m feeling nostalgic and I realize what a shame it is that we are no longer in each other’s lives. All of this time we had together and now we don’t even speak. I miss having him to talk to. I tell him so and he suggests we meet for dinner at the end of the week. I’m feeling more optimistic lately and I’m thinking this will be a good thing. I’m hoping it will finally bring some closure and help me to move on.


It’s the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. I get ready. I apply my makeup—a little black eyeliner, but no red lipstick—I don’t want to seem like I’m trying too hard. I put on my rarely used perfume. I give myself a manicure. It’s humid and we’re expecting rain so I style my hair carefully and spray it with hairspray. I chose a pair of skinny jeans, and a black top—he always liked me in black. Should I wear heels? I never wore heels around him before because we are nearly the same height and I always thought being taller felt awkward: No heels.

I arrive at the restaurant first. I sit at the bar and order a drink. Five minutes later, I see him at the door. It’s dark but I can make him out and my heart skips a beat. He spots me and as he approaches I notice he’s dressed as if he’s long overdo to tending his dirty laundry and has made do with whatever was lurking at the back of his closet. He gives me a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek. He needs a haircut.

We chat and catch up on the time we’ve spent apart. I’ve made some decisions about what I want to do with my life and I share them with him. He seems both impressed and happy for me. We order dinner and we have a few laughs. I get another drink. It’s good to be with him again.

Halfway through my skirt steak tacos he says, “You know, I met someone.”

I stop chewing and look up at him. He’s beaming.

[Not, “I’m seeing someone (casually),” but “I met someone (definitively).”]

He met her at a class—a class he began taking right before he became “busy” and I stopped hearing from him. He was busy all right.

I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach. “No, I didn’t know that,” I say, lamely.

My face feels hot. My ears are burning. Any small progress, confidence, peace I thought I had is gone…hero to zero in under three seconds—in the time it takes to say “projectile vomit half-eaten tacos.” I realize he’s sitting there like a child who has been holding in a secret he can barely contain—like it was his whole reason for coming here tonight. Phew, all is right with the world now and she should be absolutely thrilled with this news!

I ask for the check. I need to get out of here immediately.

As we begin to leave, the sky opens up outside [and swallows me] and begins pouring like I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s thundering and lightening and people are running for cover. It doesn’t look like it’s about to let up anytime soon. We take a seat by the window and wait.

Would I like to order another drink?

[Would you like to see the contents of my stomach in your lap??]

“I’m good,” I say.

I stare out the window watching the rain and wishing I could teleport myself home. Reality has set in like a hot slap to the face. I’m not sure what to do or say. There are things I left unresolved when we broke up—things I couldn’t bring myself to do. I pull out my keychain and ask him to remove his keys from it—he’s ruined enough things for me, I don’t want him ruining my manicure too. He sighs as if it’s me who’s making things difficult. He takes his keys then hands me back the keychain: It feels so light. I start to cry. I can’t help it. I feel like a fool. He tries to console me but I don’t want his consolation; I can barely look at him.

I also need to pick up my things from his house.

[We wouldn’t want your new girlfriend coming across any of it.]

He tells me he can drop them off to me on Sunday. This makes me cry harder.

The rain barely lets up and I can see he’s itching to leave: he’s tired. I don’t blame him, really—I’m a mess.

I’m not leaving with you.

We are going in the same direction and he insists I come but there is nothing less appealing to me than getting on a public subway in this state, and then having to make our awkward goodbyes in front of an audience. I’d rather sit in this miserable, dark corner until I get it together thank-you-very-much. He doesn’t take much coaxing. Instead we have our awkward goodbyes right there. “So, Sunday then…I’ll see you Sunday…” he says.

He keeps offering up “Sunday” in the way a parent offers a child a piece of candy to get them to stop from having a meltdown. Too late!

Then I watch him walk out the door and disappear into the rain. I am alone and wrecked and it feels like the perfect time to fall apart—I mean really fall apart, none of this amateur shit. But even though it’s dark there are still people around and I would rather pick myself up and walk out [somewhat] gracefully and of my own accord as opposed to being led out by the authorities.

I can’t sleep that night. My mind is not interested in rest. I feel hurt, victimized, betrayed, foolish, pathetic, confused, and angry

Hey! P.S. and by the way! Fuck you and your clueless new girlfriend! You know nothing of what you’ve gotten yourself into, my dear! A tiger doesn’t change his stripes and all the love and affection and kindness and good intentions in the world may very well end you up just like me—cast aside like yesterday’s New York Post! But hey, good luck with that!

Okay, so I’m angry. I am not, however, delusional and I know that I am partly to blame for getting myself involved with him again. I had not learned my lesson the first time but I sure as heck know now what ignoring my intuition gets me. Sigh. This is getting very old and tiresome.

The next morning I feel a deep depression coming on and I know I need to do something. I text Debra—my homeopath/therapist/savior—I am having a crisis, can she spare 10 minutes? I’m hoping she is not in the Mojave Desert somewhere and unreachable—it is Memorial Day weekend after all. She calls right away and I am so grateful for her. I begin sobbing because of her goodness and because I’m feeling so broken. I recount what happened. She listens and is kind and compassionate—as compassionate as one can be listening to someone blubbering on about their boyfriend trouble. She is wise beyond words and helps walk me through it.

She says the end is never easy and she understands my pain. I need to be kind to myself and trust that great things I can’t even begin to imagine are on the horizon. She says I should think of it as if I have to head out on a long journey. It is time to depart and I must leave him behind. I should wish him well and look forward, look forward, look forward. In the meantime I need to take deep breaths, wash my face with cold water, take a shower, eat a good meal, then get out of the house. Can I take a trip to the ocean? Mmm, it’s gloomy out and we’re expecting rain but I’ll think of something…

I go through the motions and do the things she suggests. Then with a heavy heart, I grab my camera and head downtown to Battery Park. I arrive and the sky is dark and ominous to match my mood. I can smell the salt water and before long it starts to rain and the usually crowded promenade empties of people. I like being alone in the rain with my camera. It allows me to quiet my mind and just be with my thoughts.

I think about how I learn something about myself with every [failed] relationship. This time it’s that I have severe separation anxiety, which causes me to abandon myself and not make the best decisions. But then again, don’t we all suffer from this? Poor decision-making when it comes to love because once we’re vulnerable with someone we feel they should be indebted to us? I don’t go around revealing my soul to just anyone so you owe me, dammit! But when it doesn’t happen and we are rejected it leaves us crushed and less certain about our faith in humanity. It chips away at our trust, which ultimately sucks for the next guy who comes along.

It is Sunday. I wake up. I check my phone. I eat breakfast. I shower. Sunday morning comes and goes. I go about my day, my phone at my side. Sunday afternoon lingers. The sun goes down. Afternoon turns to evening turns to late evening, and then I am in bed. It is time go to sleep. No one is calling. No one is coming. It is time to let go.

Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower, Saturday evening on my way home from Battery Park

I don’t want my things from his house anymore…I can’t look at them, smell them, be reminded of all the memories they carry. I think of what Debra said and I realize that what has been making me so miserable is that I keep thinking about all the things we did and all the time we spent together and what happened and how can he not miss me and I’m a good person and how dare he…

I have been too busy looking back to look forward.

I’ve thought about this often in the days since and when a thought of him starts to creep in I stop, take a breath, and think: look forward, look forward, look forward. It’s helped. I also know the best way to look forward and move on is to get out there and meet someone new. I’ve been doing online dating on and off so I decide to start there.

I come across someone handsome-ish, but not entirely my type. I read on and he seems to have a promising profile: intelligent, funny, sincere, spiritual, and bonus—he’s tall! A possibility, I think. Later on I decide I should reach out to him—after all, you never know. I look for him and realize I didn’t save his profile and I don’t know his profile name. After some searching I find it.

He calls himself: LooknFWD.


16 responses

  1. Wow, wow Wow. I am stunned. So beautful. So real. Grace, you are truly amazing. You have a gift. I think you could write a book … or two…. I love you Grace and I know alot if not all people who are human of course can relate. Love you,Cor

  2. We have all made unwise decisions like these. IN hindsight, we know they are unwise. At the time, they seem perfectly matched to our needs. I had a 6 year struggle trying to get over my son’s father. He is a dirtbag and at any given moment I knew this but would take him back in any capacity he offered. Somehow I finally wised up and realized I deserve so much more. Maybe it was all the naked pictures and sexts I got after he married someone else. Maybe I finally felt like I had the upper hand and all the control because he was begging for my attention for a change. Maybe it helped me see how pitiful he actually was. I don’t know but I do know it was an incredibly painful road. Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience. I hope it liberates you!

    • Amy thanks so much for the comment and for sharing your own experience. These things are never easy, but it’s nice to know I am not alone in this journey. I am glad to hear that you found your courage and your strength. I will get there too, one day at a time. Thanks again for sharing.

  3. Wow. Gracie. I am going through something similar but also very different I identified with much of your post as my 4.5 year relationship has been ending (for about a year now). Your writing is amazing and your courage to put your feelings and heart here with us is phenomenal! Yes, the separation/abandonment thing can leave us with odd men who really don’t have our best interests in mind, yet fulfilling their needs to overcome their trauma. For example, many men will look for women that know will accept their bullshit because our trauma fits with their trauma. But sometimes their trauma involves push/pull, intoxicating love mixed with abandonment (wether it is complete physical and emotional abandonment or even neglect while you are still in a relationship with the user.) This is called mixed messages. I want to learn how to pick up on it early in the rapport so I don’t accidentally with my trauma end up with a narcissist personality disorder, sociopath, or borderline personality disorder, again. I used to enjoy online dating, Gracie, but there are a larger number of these types of men online because finding women on there are easier. I’m going to be focused on healing this separation/attachment “thing” before I become involved again so I can see it if ever faced with it again. The thing about these guys, they know which women will put up with it and which will not. Miss new girlfriend just got a mixed message guy. Wow. Poor girl. I don’t feel that bad for her right now though.

    Call me any time . Maybe you should come visit me in Utah 🙂

    • Sharon, so nice to hear from you and thanks for reading and for sharing your story too. I’m sorry you’re going through this as well…I would follow your posts on FB and I was rooting for you! I hope that we both learn what it is we need for ourselves so that the next relationship is healthy and loving. And thank you for the invite–I might just take you up on it someday 🙂 xo

  4. Glad to kno im not alone in this… goid luck to you on your new endeavor for I choosecto b alone…I am totally afraid of getting my heart totally broken again…

    • Thank you for your comment Rebecca and for reading. So many people have written me with lovely comments of support–many of whom have been through the same but are now happily married with children. This is not the end of our stories, my friend–keep the faith!! xo

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