Monday, August 17, 2009

Why I'll never be a why-not girl

Yet another in a long line of reasons why I should never, ever be allowed on Facebook- his sister's status update: excited for her brother and his girlfriend, about to embark on a year-long trip around the world. Curses. And to think I was afraid that they would get married. I hadn't thought there could be anything worse, but then, here it was.

It should have been me. I should be going with him around the world. He wanted me to, we had talked about it. I had at least a year of school left at the time, and had long since depleted my already meager savings account. I would have to finish school and work like a demon for at least two years- and this being Boston, and my earnings potential being much less than fully realized, probably more- in order to save up enough money to even hope to undertake a thing like that. Financially he was ready and set to go, though I knew never to expect him to help me out in that way, particularly since he could hardly be counted on to pay for dinner without seeing a tic go down on his internal ledger. I told him I wanted to, would love to, but I just didn't see how I would be able in the near future. He said I was being too negative. He said if I just wanted it enough, all I had to do was decide to do it, and things would fall into place. I told him he was unrealistic, but the truth was the idea of it was so wonderful and also so impossible that I couldn't even allow myself to hope for such a thing. He said he still wanted to go, even if I couldn't go with him. I asked him would he really leave me for a year? or six months? or even three months? I couldn't begin to imagine what I would do without him for that long. I was so used to seeing him almost every day, to sleeping next to him almost every night that any absence was practically unbearable. I had grown to rely on him so much, for love, for moral support, for social interaction. I asked what he expected me to do with myself. I said maybe I would want to see other people. He said, you wouldn't wait for me? You wouldn't wait for me for three months? I said, wait for what? What are we heading towards here? I like things the way they are now, he said. You want me to wait for you, I repeated, but what am I waiting for? Are we going to get married? I don't know if I want to get married anytime soon, he replied carefully. What? I said, my stomach sinking. What? I think actually I might not ever want to get married, he said. We were in a crowded bar, and suddenly my eyes filled with tears. Ever the enemy of public displays he steered me towards a dark corner. I think I sputtered but reallys in shock, searching his eyes for the truth. Really? Are you sure? Though he had always been a self-declared commitment-phobe, privately he had talked in the dark about growing old with me. Hypothetical babies were discussed, happily, willingly, and with no arm-twisting involved. Once he proposed to me in a burst of lovey-dovey brought on by a bout of the stumble-down drunks. I told him that he couldn't ask me that then, that he had to ask me again when he was sober. And every day I waited in quiet expectation, but he never did ask again. And now here we were. Or rather, here we weren't. I sobbed and we did tequila shots. So are we breaking up, then? he asked. I don't want to break up. I don't either, I said. But it's not's not fair that you keep me here when you're just going to go off and leave, when you're keeping me from meeting someone who maybe will want to marry me. He seemed to realize this was true. But it is going to be summer soon, we decided. We don't want to break up right before the summer. Summers are the best time to be in a relationship. Vacations and long weekends and water sports and all. We agreed that we were not breaking up, not right now. But before two weeks had gone by, we were over. He broke my heart a million different ways and in the end I just said, enough. And though I know it was the right thing to do, I never stopped wishing it could have been different. I never stopped thinking what if.

What if I had said, screw it, I'm traveling the world for a year with the man I love, and money or not the universe will find a way? The rational part of me knows that the correct answer to this is we would have killed each other before two weeks were out. I am an anxious traveler, prone to bouts of crankiness when hunger and sleepiness and discomfort strike, while he is absolutely intolerant of anyone unable to attain his zen-like level of calm. And now he's living out my what ifs with a why-not girl, and without knowing her I know her already: she is everything I am not. A good traveler, willing to climb rocks and jump off cliffs and pee in holes in the ground with grace and aplomb. (Because, why not?) Never cranky, naggy or mean. Does yoga, has friends and is invited places. Has a good job and enough money in the bank to take a year off and travel the world. Has him.

He was halfway right when he said that things always work out.


  1. Oh hell! You deserve so much better than someone so self-obsessed, but I also know that will never take away the pain. Don't believe for a moment that he is with someone who never asks 'why?' He is with someone who never questions him at all so that he always feels the power. You are an intelligent and funny person - I hope you know that! There'll be a magic moment, a spot of serendipity out there somewhere for you. And you'll know. I hope that didn't sound like an Agony Aunt talking. I just wish you the best!

  2. Alison is right - some things are just not meant to be and if you had been on this trip with him, would you not be trying to be someone you're not? And it's not a trip around the world that means these 2 are going to grow old and grey together...imagine if they break up somewhere in India..that would be an awkward situation. You're allowed to feel everything you're feeling right now, because we've all been there. But, please, don't question your self worth through this guy, or any guy for that matter. Everything happens for a reason, and this just wasn't meant to be.

    Good luck with the move to NY!!

  3. I hate his girlfriend and everyone like her.

    But... I don't like him either. He didn't treat you well. You deserve to be treated like a princess. Hold out for that, Rachel, and don't dwell on the asshats who treated you like less. Trust me.

  4. Please don't get all caught up in the "what ifs"! You are better than that, and if he didn't see that, he's the loser. Everything happens for a reason, and your reason perhaps hasn't come along yet, but it will. Courage, ma fille!

  5. the thing that stood out for me in this post was:
    "though I knew never to expect him to help me out in that way, particularly since he could hardly be counted on to pay for dinner without seeing a tic go down on his internal ledger"

    that you point this out shows that deep down you KNOW that nothing good would have come out of staying with this guy.

  6. I concur with everyone here. This guy was not...worthy of you!

  7. I've been reading your blog but haven't commented till now. I just want to tell you that you're awesome! This guy can't bring himself to relate to other people's situations (whether financial, feeling cranky while traveling, etc.), which means he'll always have relationship problems. Hope you feel better soon!


  8. i agree with all the above comments, and want to throw it out there, because i do this too: whenever i am freaked out about a new situation/ move/ whatever my mind flashes to all the choices that i made in the past. its scary. you did what was right. you've become stronger, funnier, more balanced than i have ever known you to be. i'm so proud of you and can't wait for when you see that, yes, he was part of your path, but he was so totally not good enough to be your destination.

  9. I love your blog, though I've never commented on it. But on reading this post, my heart goes out to you.

    I was in a really, really, almost-frighteningly similar situation with my then boyfriend (now husband, as fate would have it) about 5 years ago. He was leaving on a trip around the world, and he was leaving me behind. And he had left me behind in many ways.

    From your post, it sounds like you made a very wise and mature decision, and I can tell you from my own personal experience, this might turn out to be very transformative for both of you. In my case, my boyfriend left and spent his whole trip wishing we were still together. But he used that time apart to do some soul-searching, figure out what commitment really means, whether he was ready for it, and prepared himself to be committed if I would take him back. I meanwhile, spent the time focusing on my career, my independence, and my own identity. Our story had a happy ending, and of course only time will tell what will happen for you. But, I guess, in a long-winded way, what I'd really like to say is have faith that this happened for a reason and some good will come of it in the end. It may not be anything like you expect, but it might be better than you could have hoped.

    Best wishes for you.

  10. My boyfriend is not about to travel around the world, but I can relate to this. And it's scary.

    After being away for a week on vacation (to Boston!), my boyfriend was all lovey dovey and serious and said he was depressed without me and we talked about engagement and moving in together and made plans to do so in a year and a half.

    Well my living situation recently changed and I brought up the idea of moving in together NOW (no pressure, just floating the idea out there), and he pretty much freaked out. Said he never meant to make plans to live together. Said he was just hoping he'd want to after a year and a half.

    I was shocked. Asked about the engagement talk. He tried to take it all back.

    I thought we were breaking up. He said he didn't want to, and it was just sort of left there. About a week ago. He's trying to act like things are "normal." I just don't know if I can.