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Bandaid March 17, 2006

Posted by brianna in Verbosity.

I was once engaged. Christmas day, 2001. Off and on that relationship went…for almost four years. Give or take. Days of crying at the end. I’m sure everyone knows this story. Everyone has /lived/ this story, in one way or another.

Tonight, I found out he is engaged. To a girl he met while we were still together – in name, at least.

I figured I’d get the punchline out of the way so you don’t end up reading and reading wonder ‘why is she going on and on about some guy? Sheesh’. =)

And, I’m sure if I told anyone in particular this news in person, I’d get the face-fall, the scrunched-brows sympathy, maybe a half-offered hug and a ‘are you ok?’. But…truly, apart from initial shock and then some anger and then a bit of numbness, I’m fine.

It was exactly like yanking off a bandaid that’s been hanging just to one side of the wound, only half attached, hardly noticed these days. A bit of pain, and then….oh, look. Already a scar, even the scab is already gone. And, as angry and sad and depressed and…oh, so many negative things this relationship has given me, I’m surprised at the lack of impact. As level headed as I sound right now, this was the relationship that destroyed my sense of self worth for a time, that made me seriously doubt my value as a person, screwed with my head and left me with deep-rooted fears and several glaring insecurities.

It’s tempting to see this as four years of my life wasted, anticipating, expecting, preparing for something that would never happen. My mind does drift back to all the things I left behind…my checkmark shelf I love, my magnetic knife block he got for us for Christmas, the couch we got as an engagement gift, all these things she will now use. And, for some reason, that hurts more than the actual relationship does. That she will be stepping into my place, into a little hollow I had tried to prepare for myself to fit me, and taking over.

That idea of being replaced and somehow failing where another is thriving is humiliating. It ends up not being so much ‘I want him, I want to be with him, I love him, how dare she’…but ‘Why was I so wrong, why is she better than me, why did I fail so badly, I suck as a person’. The embarrasement lingers longer than the hurt and betrayal and sadness does…admitting to people that yes…there was once someone, and you messed up by just being yourself, and now someone else has slid easily into your place and they are happy, and you – well, you’re not anything. Flawed, used, set aside as an ill fit.

Noone likes being replaced.

And, truth be told, I was horribly unhappy for a long time. I simply refused to acknowledge anything negative. We were like a venn diagram with just enough overlapping to convince me that we could make it work…but not enough for it to ever, really. I was quiet, he is dynamic, I am sleepy and drapy and he is athletic and active, I am messy, he is neat…and on and on. And these are little things, so little…but caused so many arguments my head hurts just thinking about them. And he would be angry and I would collapse crying, which would make him more angry and nothing ever got fixed. I found myself doing things with the intention of distracting him from real problems…if I spin this yarn, he will be impressed and see I’m worthwhile. I will make bread, and he will be happy and glad to have me around. I will ride my bike, and he will see I can be active and have hope.

This is a very sad way to live.

I wish he had told me he had found someone important six months earlier than he did.
I wish I’d had a clean breakup without months of feeling adrift with only a lingering feeling of dread.
I wish I hadn’t knit so many things, made so many things, done so many things, thinking ‘If this is perfect, if I give him this, he will continue to love me’
I wish I didn’t have a wedding dress in my mother’s closet…waiting for something that will never happen.
I wish I hadn’t let so many things go in hopes of making things work.
I wish he hadn’t told me he wished I had a nicer family…that hurt more than he could possibly know. Even more, considering he mentions how lovely her family happens to be.
I wish I hadn’t tried to edit so many parts of myself away in an effort to please him.

I’m glad I feel free now.
I’m glad that I know what I need – unwavering steadfast fidelity, laid back patience, constant talk talk talking, lack of belittling sarcasm. And I have the courage to demand it.
I’m glad that, despite the ragged, painful breakup and turbulent relationship we can still talk, and enjoy the conversation.
I’m glad I didn’t get married only to endure a bitter divorce.
I’m glad I proved to myself that many of my faults in the relationship are not intristic – I am not lazy, I do well at work, I can be responsible, I can be happy.
I’m glad that, by learning what didn’t work for me, what made me sad and unhappy and distressed and hopeless…I’ve also learned what makes me happy, what I can gladly give, and what I cannot tolerate.
I’m glad I didn’t throw a hissy fit upon hearing the news. =)

In the end, he is still a good person, though combined with me I become depressed and lazy and he becomes a little emotionally cruel and thoughtless. I have discovered I am not boring, I am productive, I am creative, and others value me for things I value in myself. And, it’s ok for me to be imperfect – trying to conform totally to someone’s preferences without insisting on your own only sets both parties up for a messy, accusation-filled fall. I’m tired of pretending I don’t like stupid TV shows, that I read only ‘valuable’ books, that I will ever be a morning person or that I don’t like wearing jeans. As bitter a pill as it is to swallow, I’m much more comfortable in my skin these days – and, that in mind, I know I would irritate the crap out of him in my current incarnation. Because I use phrases like ‘oft-read’ in conversation, I admit to loving Bridget Jones, and I do find the Sims fascinating and I do throw my clothes on the floor and wash everything on ‘hot’ and will eat chips and salsa and sour cream as a meal, thank you.

Is it odd to realize that you, being yourself, would never attract someone you once agreed to marry? Maybe.

But, it’s also a relief to settle into yourself, however lonely the circumstances. And as bitter and pissed off as I am and will be about his current engagement (I’m still thinking to myself – so fast, was I really that bad? How neatly things worked out for him – I’m sure he’s glad to be rid of me.), and as embarrased and slightly ashamed I am at being so wrong, so imperfect, that I was discarded for another, better, more interesting person (regardless of how things actually are, this is how it feels, so no corrections please), I am secure and confident that I am and will be happier, in the long term. Regardless of how things work out for him – it’s time to be selfish, and declare this good for ME.

And so, I am trying to drown out my usual, past-relationship litany of ‘why Brianna is terrible’ that creeps back when I find myself feeling sad about the past. I’m trying to erase the part of me that insists ‘if you had only done better you would be married and happy now, why did you forget this so many times, why could you never keep things clean, why weren’t you more interesting?’. (Why does that part of myself sound like an irritated grandmother dissapointed that I blew it with ‘that very nice boy’ in my head?). I’m trying not to worry about what his family thinks of me now, or what he says about me – oh, the torture of knowing that…you have no idea. I found out once, and the knowledge still haunts me. Because it DOES NOT MATTER anymore.

Though I’ve lost what was good, I’ve been set free of the bad, and now it’s my responsibility to continue building myself into a person I am happy with.

And, if someone should find they are happy with that Brianna, too…

I’ll have succeeded.


1. girlonamission - March 19, 2006

I was once seriously dating a guy who broke up with me by telling me he realized he was gay. It felt exactly as you’ve described here. We became best friends and then he dumped me as a friend too. And found another “better” friend. I was replaced. And it felt exactly as you’ve described being replaced here. I didn’t really care, because by that time I had realized he was hurtful to me because he didn’t like himself.

You can describe the things I’ve felt, that many people have felt, so much better than I can. I love reading things I can so easily connect to.

2. Ana - March 26, 2006

I loved you blog. I was once engaged with a guy I dated for 5 years. Then he got married last year… I completely agree with how you described your feeling: it’s not that you want him back, but you are hurt because you feel “replaced”. All the “family things” I dreamed with him…holidays, having babies, BBQ on weekends…now he wil be doing that with this new wife. It could have been me. It should have been me. But like you, I realized that ieven if he and I were married, it would probably not work out. It was better then than later.

I particulary liked your “I wish vs. I am glad” paragraphs. I wish I had the gift to express my feelings in writting as beautifully as you do.

Thank you.

3. Ruud Orlagh - September 19, 2007

and they also said, that we couldn’t last togethe. Ruud Orlagh.

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