For the most part, I have become used to going it alone. Growing up, I was always alone. After my parents divorced, my mom spent a lot of time in the bars and with her boyfriend(s) trying to, I assume, repudiate her feelings of despair. I didn’t have many friends and the parents of the friends that I did have were vastly aware of my mother’s absence in our home. Because of this, many of my friends were not allowed to come to my home.
Later on, into high school, friends became fewer and fewer. Having my social network disrupted so many times by moving, caused a great deal of insecurity and lack of trust within me. In high school, I had one real friend that I trusted with nearly every bit of information about me. The rest of my classmates were acquaintances, if that. It probably didn’t help that, by 10th grade, I had moved again. Only this time, I was being forced to live with my dad. I was not allowed to go places or stay the night or have friends over. I can’t say that this helped me make friends. All this to say, I went through high school feeling very alone.
In the last few months of high school, I became reacquainted with the Boy Left Behind (we had dated once before when he was 16 and I 13…my dad did not care for that much). I clung to him for the next several years. I unknowingly and insalubriously clung to him as my only support. I unintentionally expected him to be my boyfriend, my best friend and confident, my father, my caregiver, my replacement for lost self-esteem, my happiness, and my reason for living. Wow! What a load to bear. He was my world because, otherwise, I had nothing. And God knows I didn’t want to go back to having nothing.
The Boy Left Behind and I had an on again, off again relationship for the next thirteen years following high school. Looking back, it was most dysfunctional. I brought my dysfunction and he brought his. At the time, I did not know that my relationship was not healthy. I had no concept of what a healthy relationship was. As I began to learn, however, our relationship began to deteriorate rapidly. Then, in June of last year, I made my final departure from the relationship. I moved away and I ceased all contact.
Since June, I have been on an emotional rollercoaster. Not because I am heartbroken over ending the relationship. Not because I have lingering feelings of doubt or regret. My emotions are tied to the fact that we have ended things before only to later bump into each other and begin again. The cycle has repeated itself so many times that I feared it would happen again. Though my mind tells me that I am a different person this time, that I am a stronger person emotionally, that my head understands what my heart cannot and, this time, my head rules. Even though I am a stronger, more emotionally mature person, I still feared the possibility of weakness and desperation.
Over my Christmas/Holiday break in December, I had a severe breakdown. I cried for days after accidentally discovering a picture of him and his new girlfriend (who bears an uncanny resemblance to me) on Facebook. I had to do a double take because I swore it was me sitting on his lap. But it wasn’t. Why knowing with absolutely certainty that he was moving on was so hard for me, I’m not sure. It isn’t like it was unexpected. He was never one to be alone. If anything, I expected him to be bouncing around between several women. But there it was in front of me on my computer screen and I was home alone with no one to reach out to and share my panic, fear, anger, jealousy, and irrational thoughts with.
I later noticed, after suffering through this turmoil alone, that I had really matured emotionally. As embarrassing as it is to admit, in the past, I would have started plotting ways to weasel my way back into his life. I didn’t want him wanting or loving someone else. I wanted to be his one and only love for all of eternity. This time, however, I didn’t want that. I knew in my head that my life was better where it was at. I knew that I was with someone who was, is and has been there for me in so many more ways than the Boy Left Behind ever could be. I knew that I did not want to get tangled up in that crazy, dysfunctional web that continues to surround him and his life ever again. And maybe it was in this process that I prepared myself for what was to come next.
In the thirteen plus years that I dated the Boy Left Behind, I always felt a strong desire to get married and have a family. And HE was always the person that I wanted to marry and have a family with. Coming from a family of divorce and rough and rocky parental relationships, however, I didn’t want to get married and have babies just to do it. I wanted to be sure that we would both work towards making the marriage one that was loving, supportive, and would last through thick and thin. I wanted to be certain, above anything else, that we would both be parents who made the effort to put our children first and to be there for and support them. In those thirteen years, I was never convinced that he would be that kind of husband or father. Because of this, I was ever-so-careful in my family planning methodology.
When my phone rang last Monday, it was my best girl friend and I presumed she was calling just to see how my trip to Mexico went. We chatted about all of that and how things were going with her and then she says to me, “There is something I want to tell you. I don’t want you to be caught off guard by someone else.” She knew of my breakdown during Christmas and she, too, has been through this with the same family so we have always had each other’s back in this regard. I instantly knew what she was going to say. Boy Left Behind and his girlfriend are going to have a baby…
I can only assume that the ordeal I had gone through over Christmas is what prepared me for this moment. I wasn’t shocked. I had actually predicted it. Without going into extreme detail into the dynamics of how BLB works, I can say that I saw it coming a mile away. I have been dealing with it quite well, surprisingly. The knowledge of the fact that the man that I wanted to share my life and family with is having a family with someone else has not left my brain yet (though, I wish it would) and I spend more time worrying about whether or not it will suddenly hit me and I’ll have another emotional lapse. I was extremely anxious over the weekend when My Friend was at work. I had nowhere to go, nothing to do and no friends to hang out with. I fear being alone. Alone with my thoughts and my feelings. I fear the takeover of irrational thinking. But this is, yet, another things I must go it alone.
Going it alone is just a part of life. It’s something, I presume, we all must do from time to time. Though many folks go through the same ordeal, it’s hard as a person on the outside to recall the feelings from the past to offer understanding to the person in the present. I am sure, too, that my friends are tired of hearing about it. Years of my self-inflicted suffering that they listened to most likely wanting to shake some sense into me and say, “Just do it already. Get over it.” I find it difficult myself to be compassionate towards others who are in predicaments that, with slightly different choices, they wouldn’t be in. I also cannot depend on my friends to be my sole emotional support. It is something that I have learned through counseling that, though others can be there for me, I cannot expect them to bear the full burden of my weight and theirs too. They all have families, lives and their own burdens to bear. Friends can offer me support, but I cannot expect them to bear the burden. Something I did long ago.
I am still going it alone. I am still struggling with the idea that the irrational side of my mind will catch up with me. But one thing I know for certain, now, is that I no longer have to worry about desperation taking over and me attempting to get him back nor would I ever give in to his attempts. Not now. Not after this. That knowledge is a bit of a relief to me. I have feared for ten months an accidental run in with him. How would react? How would I feel? I often slink into the Town Left Behind trying to go unnoticed because everyone there knows the two of us, together and apart. Now, I feel free. Free from those chains. Free to live my life without caution or concern.
I do not want to sound ungrateful to my friends and family who have helped me through the toughest times in my life. I am ever-so-grateful for everyone in my life who has listened to me, offered support, advice, hugs, phone calls, and straight-up rescues. So many people have been there for me in so many ways. I could never repay them for saving my sanity and sticking by me for so long. I know now, though, that sometimes I just have to go it alone.