I just finished writing a post at Typetrigger about some of the more immediate emotional aftermath from being dumped a few years back. It’s amazing how a simple prompt can toss me right back into that moment when I felt worthless and stupid and pathetic. That ex is definitely my Big Bad, though I think most of that is my fault and not hers.
Or at least that’s how I feel about it today.
I don’t think the people I know now really understand who I was (or who I thought I was or how others thought of me) back then. I mean, it’s been over three years, so of course I’m not the exact same person I was then. There are really only two people who really knew me back then that I still talk to / hang out with from time to time. Everyone else met me right before, in the midst of, or after the split.
I guess the obvious question is who, exactly, I was three or more years ago.
I was really shy. I liked myself and was OK with the fact that I was (and am) a naturally shy person, but my ex made me feel more awkward about it during the eight years we were together. The first time I was going to meet her mom, she mentioned that I should try to talk more and not be so quiet like I usual was. Now, I knew I was a quiet person (and still am in a lot of situations), but I was paranoid about whether that made me seem “odd” (in a bad way). Apparently, it did, at least to my ex.
I had baggage related to the whole quiet thing that wasn’t her fault. Toward the end of my freshman year of high school, I was at a classmate’s house after working on a group project, waiting for one of my parents to pick me up. While we were waiting, she took it upon herself to tell me that she and one of my new friends had thought I was “really weird” when they had a class with me over the summer.
Now, I have the feeling, since this particular person wasn’t mean or anything, that she was trying to say, “Hey, you’re pretty nice. I thought you might make me uncomfortable, but you’re actually OK to be around and stuff.” However, that’s not at all what I heard. It crushed the little amount of self confidence I had built up related to interacting with my peers at school. To say that I worried about seeming too awkward or quiet would be an understatement.
So, when my ex busted out with a plea / warning / admonition about my quietness, I felt like I was back in that girl’s living room, watching her mess around with her color guard flag thingy, telling me what a damned weirdo I seemed to be. I’m sure there were other times my ex mentioned my being “too quiet”, but I seem to have blocked them out, which is pretty great.
I suppose I should have known better than to mention my sadness at realizing that all but two of “our” friends were really her friends, but I didn’t, apparently. She did, however, magnanimously tell me that I should be friends with one of her newer friends, since we’d probably get along. A friend donation, if you will. Her reasoning? Her friend was “kinda boring”.
No, I am not kidding.
So yeah, that happened. I felt like shit. Again. A lot. For a while. It was difficult enough admitting to myself that I hadn’t reached out to make friends of my own and had left it to my ex, but the fact that she was telling me, to my face, that the only person she thought would want to hang out with me was someone who was “boring”, killed me.
And then a funny thing happened: I put myself out there. I figured that I’d been so hurt that the worst that could happen was getting hurt again. What’s funny is that it actually worked. I suddenly had two really supportive networks of friends (my knitting bitches and a great bunch of queers) that I could craft and drink and take pictures and cook and go places and make out with. Hell, I even got a bunch of pretty great romantic/sexual partners out of the deal, which was amazing after feeling utterly undesirable for 6 or 7 years.
Happy ending aside, I can still feel that panic and pain when I think back on it.
And I haven’t eaten in a Potbelly’s since.