Emotional Liberation: Part 1

In an attempt to stop emotional eating, I’ve decided to get to the root of some of my biggest contenders, as well as where I think my emotional eating started. I think I addressed some of these issues in my first post, but honestly, I’m not going to take the time to read that post before I type this one. Mostly because I want to stay focused on what I want to say. This is going to be a long series of posts, hopefully leading me toward letting go, moving on, and moving forward. Who knows, it’s possible it won’t accomplish anything!

So, once upon a time, I had my first really-real boyfriend. We’ll call him L. He really was a great first boyfriend. He was dedicated, sweet, spent most of his free time with me, bought me flowers and gifts for no reason, told me I was beautiful, etc. The only problem is he dumped me with really no explanation other than, “I’ve been thinking about my ex.” I waited and waited for him to come back. I was embarrassed I wasn’t good enough. It was embarrassing every time someone asked where he was, why we broke up. I don’t know why this was the dominate emotion/reaction. I think because it felt like I wasn’t good enough. And that “not good enough” was on display for everyone.

Anyway, the months that followed were filled with depression, praying that he’d come back (for months longer than I admitted, I fantasized about this), and mostly eating. I filled the void in my life with food. Crap I NEVER ate before. Everyday was something new. Chinese food, pizza, sandwiches, burgers, fries, and chocolate. I used to hate chocolate. And suddenly all of this stuff tasted so good, so decadent. I can’t say whether the food itself made me happy. I know it gave me a reason to spend time with someone else because being alone was the worst. I couldn’t shut my mind off. I’d think endlessly about what I could have or should have done differently. Assuming that with one or two little changes, he would have stayed. And I assaulted myself with these thoughts. Blamed myself. Considered myself a failure. And I remember that the pain would temporarily go away when I ate. So eat I did. Plus, when you have a meal with someone, it’s time to talk. Sometimes talk would be of him. Mostly it would be of random topics. And that talking was really what I needed. Too bad I couldn’t have found a porch and some iced tea and done the same. All I wanted was a connection with someone else. Someone who listened to me. Someone who was there. And I desperately wanted a “real,” unconditional connection. My heart was broken, and somehow I was broken too.

As time went on, I threw myself into school and work. The bleak realization that ANY guy could do this to me, including my future husband, was overwhelming. I assumed every guy would treat me the same way. And that I’d never be good enough for the long-term with any guy. Depressing, huh?

So the other day I realized I still harbored anger and embarrassment for this breakup that happened almost 12 years ago. Yes, 12. That’s not a typo. But when I’d think about him, I realized I was still angry at him for leaving without much of a conversation. Well, OK, there was conversation. At the time I felt like he owed me “one more chance” to talk it out. And I respect how strong he was to walk away. For good. And not do the endless breakup/makeup dance that so many couples do. I realize now that would have hurt worse, and made the timeframe to move on take even longer. Not only do I forgive him for this. I apologize for being angry at him for so long for being mature beyond his years. For moving on and not looking back. It was a blow to my ego, but if every doomed relationship could end so smoothly, life would be a happier, more self-esteemed place. So, I commend you, L. And I forgive you for breaking my heart. I know that sounds very selfish. But I needed to forgive and forget. I needed to realize we were young and if we had stayed together and gotten married, like we discussed, I’d probably be really unhappy right now. Because he broke up with me I went on to be a very independent, happy, versed woman. I finished college, got my MBA, got a great job, bought my own house, have had a lot of fun/growing experiences, and although he never came  back for me to realize I don’t want him back, if he did come back now, I think I’d look at him and say, “Huh, we aren’t good for each other, are we?”

The embarrassment I felt was all internal. It was all part of my perfectionist personality. Especially when I was that young. I tried to be perfect. And having someone dump me meant I wasn’t. And through the years, that evolved into feeling like NO GUY would ever stick around. I’ve spent the rest of my life nitpicking guys, finding reasons to push them away. Finding reasons we’d never work. Never letting anyone else in. This is all MY issue. L did nothing to encourage this. In fact, I got one of the best first boyfriends of anyone I know. Because of him, I do have high standards.

So what I need to do is figure out how NOT to be embarrassed. I’ve never looked at any of my friends who got dumped and said, “What a failure.” Or, “It’s his/her fault…” Quite the contrary. I’d really see the loss of the other person, not realizing what a great person he or she had. And I always respected the time/commitment put into the relationship. I think if people looked at L and me, they’d see that we really cared for each other. And made a good run, but weren’t the right fit. And I have to accept that that’s OK. Hell, in a few months, I may have been the one to break up with him! Who knows. Eventually we would have grown apart.

So I forgive myself for ever having thoughts of “not being good enough.” I WAS good enough. Just not right. I was far too young. I wasn’t meant to be a person married in my early 20s. We were pushed together by convenience, and a small attraction. We had fun together, but he never really made me laugh or let me be as free of a spirit as I am. Not because he repressed me, but because that wasn’t HIS personality. If we had gotten married, I never would have gotten out to see the world alone. Never lived alone and got to know myself. And never really been able to embrace me for who I really am. And if I had gotten married that young, I would have felt trapped by now. And I wouldn’t have cared about school or my career.

I’m in a better place because he dumped me. So I’d like to thank him for that. I’d like to thank him for the best (and, OK, only) relationship I’ve ever had. For setting my standards high. For showing me what I deserve and what some guys are willing to give (so those who don’t give as much don’t seem like that’s all there is), for being monogamous, for being sensitive and caring, for listening, for spending time with me, and for dumping me so I could move on to find a better fit, but someone who treats me with the same respect.

So, thank you. I forgive you. And I appreciate all you’ve done for me. I truly hope you’ve found happiness and the girl who is the right fit. I hope you’ve found someone who inspires you, who loves you unconditionally and supports your dreams, and who will stand by your side for the rest of your life. And now that I’ve seen the relationship for what it was, a growing experience, rather than a failure, I hope I can do the same.

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