Monday, July 25, 2011

What I Learned from... Getting Dumped

I did not want to write this. In fact, I would be fine never admitting that any of this happened. I would be fine pretending like this part of my life didn't exist.

But the truth is, it did happen. And not wanting to admit it is a pride issue. When you have something that needs to be said, you can't let pride get in the way. So that's why I'm sucking it up and writing this. And because I think I'll be better off having gotten it out, than I will be keeping it in.

Stories like this all begin the same way, a boy meets a girl, a girl meets a boy. How, when, where are all details, technicalities. The point is they met, connected, maybe fell for each other. I met such a boy (maybe man) fresh out of college, full of hope, with a brand new degree and diploma to back it up.

The first job I landed fit exactly with my major. And while anyone would be happy finding such a perfect fit, I was distracted. All I wanted was to be with this person that made me feel seen, thought of, wanted. I don't know if it was the $500 plane tickets to visit him, the way he worded his feelings for me perfectly, or the fact that he was different from any guy I ever dated. I don't know, because honestly, I don't really remember why I was so sure we were meant to be. I just remember feeling it.

I was banking on us so strongly, that when presented with an ultimatum: jump or go back, I jumped. I was so sure of us, I was willing to leave everything I had (job, family, friends, security) for an unknown I felt fearless to face.

Essentially what it came down to was that I had to move, or we would probably break up, according to him. He wouldn't move for me, so I had to do it, Denver was better than Clinton, after all. At first I was a little hesitant, who wouldn't be? But something in me was so sure, so set, I did it. I moved 881 miles with everything I could fit in my car and no job prospects waiting for me, just an apartment and someone I said I loved.

I'd like to say that at least in the beginning it was euphoria. And maybe a few times it was. But more than once, I asked myself what I was doing. What was I thinking moving so far and leaving everything I had behind? I just kept coming back to that certainty, which before long, would fail me.

I thought I had been through some hard things in my life before I moved to Denver. And I had. But nothing like this. Sure, I had been through the average break-up, but there is something different when you stake your future on someone enough to alter your life for them. When you sacrifice the things you care about, severing ties one by one, for someone else, that changes things. It's no longer a simple matter of boy meets girl. It's suddenly huge and terrifying, like shoving off in a row boat to set sail in a relationship you hope will stay afloat.

This one didn't.

It started slowly, but it took only two months of living there for him to leave me. It was a long, brutal leaving process. Not the clean kind where it takes one day, one conversation. This one lasted over two miserable weeks, where I watched everything unravel, knowing I could do nothing. It was just like sand slipping through my fingers.

I don't know what was worse in those two weeks, my dreams or my reality. I used to have the most vivid dreams where he said he still wanted to be with me, then I'd wake up and realize nothing had changed. Reality was torturous as I tried to put on a happy face and pretend like everything was okay for the benefit of everyone else. And while so much from that time has faded now, I still remember how horrific it felt, like falling into a black abyss or ripping out my insides. It felt like torture.

And then it happened. He broke up with me. So simple sounding, and yet so much more than that. Because that Friday, when he said good-bye for the last time, I was left with no one. A stranger in a city I barely knew, with no family and only two friends. My only reason for being there walked out with a simple, "Good-bye, Elise," and never looked back. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a desert wasteland and I had no idea where to go from there.

* * * * *

It's a good thing that when we think we're setting out on our own, God goes with us. Even after taking matters into my own hands, he was still there, not letting me wallow in feelings of failure alone. That fact is probably the only thing that really got me through.

In the weeks after the break-up, I started reading Job. I told myself that someone who went through misery, albeit thousands of years ago, must've known what I was feeling. And something stood out to me in that book, so I wrote it on a card and stuck it on my mirror. After Job's wife told him to curse God and die, Job replied, "Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?"

I asked myself that. Would I only accept the good and never the bad? Honestly, in that moment I couldn't totally understand it, but I began to as the days went by and the card sat as a silent reminder. And now when I look back, that's the first thing I learned: I couldn't just accept good; I had to accept the bad as well. Because the bad, while terrible in the moment, may not be so bad farther down the road.

In the months and year following the break-up, I slowly learned some important things that I didn't know I was learning.

First, I learned how to be self-sufficient. When you don't have anyone coddling you or taking care of you, you learn how to take care of yourself. I learned how to manage my life without help, and in so doing, I became stronger and more independent. I had my own apartment, worked up the ladder in my own job, paid my own bills and learned my way around a brand-new city. I learned how to be successful, in spite of my circumstances.

Second, I learned some things about myself, and because of that, I grew. I am not the same person I was in 2009 when he called it quits. In fact, I barely remember the person I was at that time. Those things I saw in myself that I didn't like, I learned how to change. I learned how to become my own person, and I learned who that person was. Now, I know myself more than I ever did then.

Third, I learned--surprisingly enough--how wrong he and I were for each other. Even though I felt like I failed in my efforts, I really didn't. I succeeded because the whole point of a relationship is to find out if it works. If it doesn't, you've succeeded in your goal just as much as you would if it had worked. Therefore, I learned that I was not a failure. I did what I set out to do, even if I didn't recognize that at the time.

Finally, I learned that you can't run away from God's plans for you, be it intentionally or unintentionally. Like Jonah, no matter where you try to go, God will get you back where he wants you. My story may not be as obvious as getting swallowed by a giant fish, but to me it was pretty close.

I left Clinton with the intention of never returning. My plan was to make Denver my home for a long, long time. And even after the break-up, I stayed because I've never been a quitter. When I put my hand to something, I see it through to completion. And that's what I did, because when God says something is complete, it's done. On the last Thursday in December 2010, God said that chapter of my life was done and shut the door on Denver. My giant fish was an airplane taking me back to where I started from, the place I never thought I'd live in again.

But now, here I am. I'm back in Clinton and while I don't know God's plan from here, I know I'm where I'm supposed to be. I feel so content and so happy, just knowing that this is where he wants me. I learned that no matter where I go, or what I do, his plans will always be accomplished. And that, despite the pain and trials and sadness, gives me hope.

1 comment:

Jess said...

I love you so much. And I could have written so much of what you just wrote. You know this. I actually had tears up to my eyes as I read your wrongs feeling the pain behind the things you said. But I'm so proud of you and of the woman that I've seen you blossom into the past two years and I'm thankful. Because if we hadnt of moved for these two men who broke our hearts.....we wouldn't have become the friends we are today and I am so so thankful for you in my life. I MISS YOU!

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