Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reflections I

My time in Spain is coming to a close. I have a whopping 10 days left here. Not that I'm counting.

It has, in the end, been a life-changing experience. I think I'm still too close to it to see how much of that was actually a result of Spain, itself, and how much was simply a result of being somewhere else. It's a bittersweet sentiment, because I will miss some of the people I've met here, and more often than not, my closest friends this semester will not be returning to the same campus I will be next semester. It's precisely this pattern in my life that makes me so eager to graduate and settle down in my own place... The idea that I don't have to entirely uproot my life every four months is amazingly appealing. I don't know that I'll set down permanent roots, but I do know where I want to go when I graduate and I have a pretty good idea how to get there.

One of my best friends here (The Texan is the other, this is a girl who is a year younger, but we've very much bonded)... her boyfriend of over a year just broke up with her. Over the internet, and without warning. They had just spent a fabulous weekend together in London, and she didn't see it coming at all, but he's holding firm that he needs his space and time to be alone.

I haven't left her side since she found out. Literally. As soon as she told me, I gave her a hug, and held her as her body shook with sobs. When she made herself reply to his emails, I was there helping her type through the tears. And last night, after I finished with class at 10pm, I went over to her house and spent the night with her, because she didn't want to sleep alone. When she's angry at him, I remind her what an asshole he is for breaking her heart. When she's pining and thinking it's her fault, I tell her of course it's not and to try to focus on the good things that came from the relationship. She keeps apologizing and thanking me for being there and asking why I'm doing all this for her. For one, she's my friend.

Secondly, I know exactly where she's coming from.

The similarities between her and her boyfriend's breakup and mine with Ex are strikingly similar. A semester spent apart. Moving closer together (although not the same city) next semester. Occasional visits have gone smoothly. She didn't suspect anything being wrong. He's being incredibly blase (at least in appearance) about everything this is doing to her. And while Ex told me he didn't love me anymore, her boyfriend said he still loved her, but both her ex and Ex used the exact same phrase: "I'm not going to rule out the future, but I also can't promise you anything."

And watching her hurt so badly, and go through all of the same shit I did two and a half years ago, breaks my heart. For her sake, and mine. I do understand where she's coming from, and maybe that's why the neediness doesn't bother me. I would have killed to have time around friends who DIDN'T know ex when I was processing the breakup. My friends were wonderful, but were all also his friends, which made it more than a little awkward. So I'm sitting by her side, and doing whatever she needs. Trying to convince her to eat, even if it's only a little food. Because I remember what it was like. I do.

And that's an interesting thing to have thrown back into your conscious. I haven't thought about Ex much lately. He's no longer on my buddy list, but I was reminded today that he's still on my Facebook when his name popped up on the chat, and I saw his new girlfriend (well, she's not new, it's the same girl he left me for two years ago) wrote on a mutual friend's profile. But I took a deep breath. And that was it. It wasn't followed by the sting I'd become so accustomed to when thinking about him. I didn't have to stop myself from going to look at his profile, or his latest photos. I haven't been making my holiday plans with an ever-awareness about where and who he might be seeing.

Because it doesn't bother me anymore. I don't care. And that isn't the defiant, angry, I don't care, but instead the passive, it simply doesn't affect me, kind of I don't care.

So, sure, it took me two and a half years. But I'm there. I am officially over it. There's no more animosity, and while there may still be some scar tissue, it's not so ugly and apparent anymore, but rather just one more thing that makes me who I am.

And I'm proud to be able to say that.


Roland Hulme said...

How funny. I was having a similar epiphany. My ex girlfriend and I have about 12 mutual friends, although we're not 'facebook friends' ourselves.

Last night, I was thinking about it and I realised the reason I still thought about her occasionally (and I'm happily married and had no desire to get back with her) is because I'd created this idea of who she was that actually was totally removed from the reality.

I'm ashamed to say, it's been 7 years since we broke up (I know, and I still think about her sometimes.) And in that time, I've moved to America, got a career writing, married, had a kid, been on TV, got published, learned a different language, worked in three world capitals...

And her? She's with a guy she knew from school, she works in the same job she had when we broke up, she lives ten miles away from the house she was born in... She hasn't done anything. Maybe the reason she used to make ME feel like I was a failure and I'd never achieve anything (which I like to think I've proved her wrong about) was because she was scared if she DIDN'T tell me that, I might go ahead and - gasp - do all the things I'd promised I would.

Hey, there's nothing wrong with staying in your home town and never seeing the bigger picture - but I realised last night that I had no interest in being friends with somebody like that. We had nothing in common. And I feel wonderfully liberated by the realisation.

Hopefully your friend will soon realise that her boyfriend's probably the one making the mistake breaking up with her - and by the time he realises it, it'll be too late.

Amalthea said...

You're such an amazing person Sasha. I cannot tell you how much I needed what you're giving her, but I know you know... because you once needed it too. Instead I got a friend who took advantage of my state, who pushed me further into the abyss rather than helping the grieving and acceptance process along. Thank you for saving her from the same fate, and in some ways it sounds like it's helped you realize that you did manage to save yourself from your own past too.

Anonymous said...

So, i was going to leave a message about how I still think about my (first) ex of fifteen! years ago...
But thanks Roland, You helped me realize it's really irrelevant.
i also have moved on, had a career, am with a life partner, had a kid....and I have no idea what said ex has done since age 17...and really,I probably shouldn't care. It's not that important.
I have these fantasies about "true love", highschool sweethearts, etc, but you are right, I don't really have any interest in being romantically attached to someone who never left town, you know what I mean.
I feel wonderfully liberated, too.