January 30, 2013

Stop Telling Me I'll Fall In Love Again

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What is the issue?
Bradley Gordon
Bradley Gordon

You get your heart broken, and everyone wants to help. Everyone wants to be this knight in shining armor — from your mother to your best friend to a stranger you get into an overlong conversation with at a coffee shop — who rescues you from your own emotions. You are sulking and not yourself, and everyone can see it, so the goal becomes making you realize that it’s not the end of the world (as though the only time you could ever be sad is when you thought that everything was ending). It’s pointless to say, “I’m just sad for a little bit right now because something that was very big and important to me came to an unexpected end, but I’ll be okay soon enough.” That is never an acceptable answer. You have to realize that life is still beautiful, you see, and everyone has to show you why.

And almost without fail, one of the motivational themes you’re going to get in your sympathetic speeches from everyone who just wants to help is going to be “you will fall in love again.” I will? Is that so? I didn’t know that this was the fate which was awaiting me at the end of the tunnel of my own self-pity and depression. I guess now I can hold off that suicide, because some day, someone is going to declare me worthy living again. Thanks, everyone, for your words of wisdom and comfort. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go curl up in the fetal position and wait for my Prince Charming to come rescue me.

In all seriousness, I know they’re just trying to help. I know when my mother tells me that I’m going to fall in love again, and that it will be wonderful and even better than this last — very unpleasant — experience, she just wants to help. She loves me, and hates to see me so down all the time. She hates that someone was able to convince me, if only for a little while, that I wasn’t worth loving and I wasn’t good enough for them. She tells me all the time that he didn’t deserve me, and I wonder what that even means. I know that he had a tendency to be an asshole, but maybe so did I, and we just didn’t work out. It doesn’t seem reasonable to qualify people in terms of being “deserving” of one another. But even if he weren’t good enough for me on some objective scale, that is no guarantee that I’m going one day find love again elsewhere. Maybe I will. Maybe I will tomorrow. Maybe I’m going to go to the store and run into the man of my dreams while I’m too busy texting to look ahead of me, a meet-cute fit for a romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl. But then again, maybe I won’t. And I don’t want waiting for this moment to come to me to be the only way I’m capable of making it through of my heartbreak.

I mean, look at my aunt. She had her heart broken in her early 30s when her husband left her for his 25-year-old assistant he cheated with. While the two of them went off to get married (and still are), she took full custody of the kids from their marriage and never fell in love again. She just never did. She is pretty and smart and funny and everything people tell me I am, but none of her dates and casual boyfriends ever really panned out. It’s still a sore stop for her to talk about her ex husband and his new family.

But she did many other things. She has an amazing career, and lots of great friends, and two houses (one of which she designed entirely on her own). She has a great life, and I don’t pity her. I know some people in our family who do, but they are the kind of people who believe, on some level, that women are not complete or fully happy unless they have a man to confirm it. Maybe I’m reading her wrong, but she seems pretty fulfilled to me. Does she want a husband? Maybe. But she’s not in a constant state of depression without it. And I have several other aunts and uncles who, though married, are by no means happy in their relationships. I don’t think that my single aunt is any more deserving of pity than they are.

The point is just that I don’t want to be told that waiting for a new love to replace the old one is what should comfort me and get me through this time. How about that I’m cool on my own? That I have a lot to give to society and so much left to experience in my life, with or without a romantic partner? What about how great of a friend I am, or how cool my job is, or how fun I am to hang out with? What about all of the cool things that I can experience single because I don’t have to take another person’s desires into consideration when I make my choices? Sure, I’m sad, but I’m not looking to soothe that sadness by replacing it with a new relationship. Women are allowed to be sad, and they’re allowed to be single, and they don’t need to hear that one day a man is going to make it all go away by telling her she is good enough again. She’s good enough as she is. TC mark

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