Friday, December 28, 2007

Is Getting Back With an Ex Worth It?

Yeah, I'm in a happy place now, but once upon a time the week between Christmas and New Year's nearly killed me. The reason? A recent break-up with a guy I convinced myself I loved.

I'm writing about it now because I look back and think it's so silly. At the time it didn't seem silly. Since other people struggle at this time of year due to a break-up, I hope my experience will help them.

You may have noticed that yesterday's post addressed the same subject, but some people need a good push to move on (that used to be me). Life is short, and the world is full of wonderful men. You just can't find the love you deserve when you're hung up on a past relationship.

So here's my story:

Many years ago I dated a guy, and he dumped me. What's worse, he didn't even tell me he dumped me; he just stopped calling, and I heard the news from his friend that he was "out with his new girlfriend."

I went home and went to bed. When I woke up, Pete Townsend's "'I'm Gonna Get You Anyway" blared from the radio. I took this as a sign from God that my love with this guy was meant to be (sad, I know) and made a vow to get him back.

You see, the very idea that I'd been dumped -- and dumped in such a manner -- clouded my good judgment. If I were thinking straight, I'd have asked myself, "Do I really want to date a coward who can't break up with a woman face-to-face? I mean, what would happen if I married this jerk and somebody broke into our house?"

But no.

I couldn't see his faults. In fact, I couldn't remember any of them, either. For instance, the guy often had wicked breath, but this fact conveniently escaped my memory. I decided his compulsion to trot home every Friday night to talk back to Hugh Downs on 20/20 indicated a superior intelligence.

I also forgot that he suffered right-out whacko love/hate relationships with both his mother and his sister. I forgot that he'd told me he would never consider a woman for an executive position, and that, when I pressed him, he considered women "inferior."

I spent the better part of a year mooning over this schmuck, remembering the good times, like the night he snappped flowers off the neighbor's bush for me. I reminisced about the time we hopped the subway to see Johnny Thunders at the Mudd Club, where I stood among the leather-and-studs gang wearing a pink blouse with a Peter Pan collar.

In the end, I didn't realize my goal to get back with him, which turned out to be quite a good thing. Eventually, he married and divorced the girl he dumped me for. The last time I saw him, he sat round-shouldered in a neighborhood bar, sneezing uncontrollably. I'd forgotten about his ragweed allergy, too.

The mind is a funny thing.

I wasted too much of my young life pining for this guy, wondering about him, hoping to run into him, planning to run into him. I spent the entire New Year's Day after he dumped me, playing David Bowie's "Wild is the Wind" over and over and over again.

If I had the chance to do it over, I'd do this instead:

-Allow myself time to cry over the guy for a specified number of minutes every day until I got him out of my system.

-Push him out my mind for the rest of the day.

-Write a list of the things that bugged me about him (the evil breath, the Hugh Downs fixation).

-Toss everything he'd ever given me into the trash (crying would be allowed for this part, but I would do it).

-Toss out all other reminders of him (the blouse I wore to the Mudd Club, for instance).

-Toss out things that didn't necessarily remind me of him, but that I no longer wore or used.

In other words, I would move on. I would make a fresh start. I would stop bleating into my friends' ears about him. I would cease crying into my beer at the local tavern.

I would etch these words in my mind:

OUT OF SIGHT IS OUT OF MIND.

I would make a better vow: If I am ever to get back with him, he will have to come back to me. And, because the fool was not even man enough to break up with me face-to-face, he will have to come crawling back.

Then I'd have to ask myself if he was even worth my time.

I can tell you today, on December 28th 2007, he was not worth my time. If you're a regular reader, you know I married a man who makes me happy and does not even watch 20/20 (although he does probably watch too much John Wayne).

It happened for me, and it can happen for you.

Clear your mind, your house, and your life of the one who hurt you.

Turn the page.