I closed the door to my bedroom, I went into my closet, fell onto my knees, and sobbed louder and harder than I had in my whole life. It felt like my heart had shattered and the pieces of it were escaping my body through my vocal chords.
She left me for someone else. Someone twice my age. Turned out she had a propensity for that sort of thing. In hindsight, I got off easy. But at the time, it didn’t matter. I was broken.
She left me for someone else... I was broken.
You see, I am a direct product of growing up in the early '90s and the films that defined my generation. You know the ones: girl meets boy; boy just happens to be a prince; prince sweeps girl off her feet; they fall in love and live happily ever after.
These cinematic masterpieces left a young girl feeling like all she needed in life was a handsome, young, dashing man to ride her off into the sunset... and magically, she would be happy.
Naive as it may seem, not only did I grow up thinking that this would happen, but I believed with all of my heart in a fairytale romance. So, when I fell in love with Cheater, I thought that I would magically be happy and that was all there was to it.
Cut to me gasping for breath on the floor of my closet. In the following weeks, I was a hollow version of myself. I went to class just for attendance, went to work just enough so that I could make ends meet, and showed up to life half-heartedly.
Someone told me that the best way to get over someone, was to get under someone else. So, I went on dates. Many dates. Lots of women that weren’t right for me. On and off of these dates, I was carrying around a sense of emptiness inside, one that grew stronger as the days went on.
That emptiness led me to see a counselor. Turns out that this relationship notion I had constructed in my young, susceptible brain, wasn’t the healthiest. I had actually come to the belief that I only had worth if someone else loved me and that my true happiness was only going to arrive as a package with that person.
During my sessions with Susan, I talked a lot about what a great girlfriend I was to Cheater. I was supportive, understanding, patient, kind, and loving. I couldn’t understand why she would leave me.
I listed all of my great qualities and then fell apart when I realized that I let her see me, really SEE me, and then she left me. That tore apart my soul.
Why was I such a great girlfriend to her and yet, never, ever, had I been a great person to myself? I bought her presents; I took her to lunch; I sent her nice notes; and I sent her flowers. I had never done any of those things for myself and heaven forbid I would ever say something positive about myself.
Why was I such a great girlfriend to her and yet, never, ever, had I been a great person to myself?
That epiphany transformed everything about me. I decided to ditch the boring dates with women I didn’t care about.
I was going to date myself.
It was a little uncomfortable at first, but I made sure that I (we) always had a good time. After all, the only person’s happiness I had to look out for was my own. We went to my favorite restaurants, to the movies, and we went shopping. I even ordered myself a Christmas present and wrapped it up, it was a bracelet that said “to thine own self be true.”
I had never experienced the joy of getting to know myself like I did in those few months. I actually looked forward to the adventures I would take myself on.
For the most part, once we started dating, it was rainbows and sunshine. There was one minorly embarrassing date. My favorite place to go was an independent movie theatre that had full dinner service. Food, film, and booze. It was the dream date destination. During the movie, I ordered one of their large, freshly baked, chocolate chunk cookies.
I devoured it in the dark. When the lights came up I saw a woman that I greatly respected in the community, a theatre director whom I had only met a few times. She came over and warmly said hello. We exchanged pleasantries, and she left.
Before heading home, I went to the restroom. While I was washing my hands, I looked up at the mirror and there was chocolate all over my face. The warm chocolate chunks that were so ooey and gooey in the dark had melted onto my fingers, tops of my hands, all over my shirt, and even a little in my hair.
I was momentarily mortified but my date quickly laughed it off. That’s one of the things I had learned to love about her, she has a great sense of humor.
Dating myself continued on for a few months until someone came along, out of the blue, that was worth cutting back on my solo date time. She was exactly what I wanted in a girlfriend and a relationship: She had her own busy life. She was confident, happy, smart, trustworthy, beautiful. She was amazing.
We continued to date for the next eight years and married a few months ago. She is more than I could have ever wished for. Our relationship has seen its ups and downs, but we both make our autonomy and our relationship, priorities. We have our own individual dreams and a vision for the life we want together.
I fell in love with me.
Spending those months dating myself in between Cheater and my future wife was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I fell in love with me and it was in that relationship that I found my true happiness.