What was I getting out of this relationship? Why was I so drawn to him even though I objectively knew he wouldn’t be a good long-term partner? What had he even given to me? I did a lot for him, but what had he ever actually done to show me he cared?
And the answer was nothing. Not even a thank you text for taking care of his drunken self!
I was getting nothing out of this relationship except for quick shots of temporary validation whenever he seemed to reciprocate my interest, and that is just very sad. And then I realized that I am not the kind of woman who needs that sort of thing anymore. Maybe I did when I was younger, but I’m not that girl anymore, and I don’t need to repeat history in order to subconsciously mend some old wounds. I was done with the lack of self-respect and self-esteem that leads me down the rabbit hole and into situations that I know are far beneath me. Done settling for things that kind of look like the real thing, even though they are just an illusion. I was done dating the potential of what could be and ready to start looking at what was actually in front of me.
Next, I looked at why I kept going back to Kevin even though it was clear that the relationship was a dead end. I thought long and hard about what I was getting from him that kept drawing me back in, and the answer went beyond validation. I realized that with Kevin I felt less alone and maybe a little understood. Like me, he was a little lost and hurt, and that made me feel a little more OK in my own world of lost and hurt. There was a darkness to him that I just related to in a twisted way. And I also did genuinely think we could help each other.
I also considered what I was giving to the relationship (if you could even call it that) and why. Why was I so invested in solving his issues? Why was I so wrapped up in getting inside his head? The reason, I believe, is that getting lost in his drama was an escape from dealing with my own life and my own issues. I felt like I had a mission and a purpose and for whatever reason, that felt kind of nice. Damage cases are drama, and let’s face it, drama can be exciting and kind of fun … at least for a little while.
Once I saw the situation for what it was, it lost all appeal to me. Instead of feeling sorry for myself because I couldn’t get him to commit in the way I wanted, I felt sorry for him for having so many issues, issues that prevented him from committing to a great woman he had right in front of him.
I spent the whole summer after the Hamptons debacle doing a lot of journaling, a lot of thinking, and a lot of getting back to myself. I took a break from dating completely, and Kevin just didn’t matter to me anymore.
And soon after I processed all of this and healed, my high-school sweetheart who I had never quite gotten over resurfaced. On our first date, I could tell by the way he was looking at me that he was in it, that he had graduated from being a damage case (back when he was 17) to husband material, that he was taking me and this seriously, and that I could trust him.
There was no hunt, there was no chase, there were no guessing games. I knew how he felt; I didn’t even have to ask, it was just so obvious. And I knew I was cured of my damage case addiction because the fact that he wanted me didn’t turn me off, instead, it made him even more appealing.
Fast forward a few years, we are now married and have a delicious toddler and a baby on the way! (And in case you’re wondering, Kevin, is still as single and afraid of commitment as ever … no hard feelings though, I still run into him here and there, and we’re friendly, albeit it’s always very awkward. But I can’t help but laugh to myself when I think about all the inner turmoil he caused … although he was also the catalyst that got me emotionally ready to be in a relationship with my husband, so maybe I owe him a thank you!)
Essentially the biggest epiphany of all that got me over the damage case addiction was this:
I want a partner, not a project.
I didn’t want a guy I had to fix. Fixing myself was enough work, why take on someone else’s baggage? I want someone who can take care of their emotional damage, who takes responsibility for it.
The reason I share this story is because I hope you can take the same path I did to a similar kind of happy ending. Remember, damage cases are a waste. Wanting a guy who doesn’t want you is a tragedy. Time is a precious thing to waste, so get to work and undo the faulty wiring that leads you to the guys who can’t appreciate you.
More than anything else, the path that leads to lasting love involves making yourself a vessel to receive love. If you only want guys who can’t want you back then you are blocked, so make the decision, right here and now, to push yourself to break free and clear away all the obstacles preventing you from getting what you truly want.