I’ve heard about people who were madly, insanely in love with one another, and then as time passed, they grew apart and discovered that what once connected them, now separated them. Together, they came to this conclusion, and with love and the best wishes for future happiness, they parted ways, attended each other’s weddings, and never had a foul word to say about one another.
These are the people, who when you ask them about their ex-boyfriends or girlfriends, they smile and happily swear they are still very close to each and every single one of them and have no hurt feelings about the way things ended or how they collapsed.
May come as no surprise, but I’m not one of these people. Not in the very least.
My breakups have been messy. Complicated. Painful. Drawn out and involving discussions and several hours getting down to the heart of everything. At times, I’ve been the one left with a million unanswered questions and a mind that just can’t understand why; and then I’ve also been the heart breaker who can’t comply with the pleas to stay in a relationship. In my experience, though not extremely vast, when I fall for someone and my emotions get involved, leaving or being left by that person isn’t an easy task. Though I am at least friendly with a few of my exes and remain in contact with almost all of them, the initial sting…and several months after, were far from cordial.
Strangely enough, if I think about patterns in my past relationships, they have also all come full circle. And more often times than not, I’ve attempted to rekindle a flame or been asked for a second chance.
Most recently, right around Christmas, Mr. Idea came back into the picture. He was putting up his Christmas tree and stumbled across an ornament I gave him when we dated and the memories of that very special time in our partnership came flooding back. He sent me an email, mailed me card, and called me saying how much he missed me, how much he believes in us, and how if given the opportunity, he could be the man that I needed. The man that stood by my side and supported me, could meet my every desire, and fulfill my romantic dreams. He would change, he would do what was required to put the pieces back together and he apologized profusely about all the pain, all the harsh words exchanged, and the tears he made me cry.
Had this happened, say six months ago, I have no doubt in my mind, I would have cried on the phone, invited butterflies back into my tummy, and despite the screaming pleas from my friends and family to run far, far away from him – I would have given him a second chance.
But since Mr. Idea and I broke up – a lot of things have changed for me. I started this journey and this blog, I met someone else, my career progressed, I found my footing in my newfound home of Manhattan, and I stopped letting the fear of being alone rule my life. With other exes in the past, when they would ultimately realize the mistake they made when breaking up with me, I’d always give them the benefit of a doubt and welcome them back in my heart. Somehow, I was afraid if I didn’t give them another opportunity to prove we were meant together, I could make this horrible, ridiculous mistake that could screw up the course of my love life and leave me 45 and single, with three cats, living in the Bronx. Or if I woke up one day a little lonelier than the one before, and knew that the man I left waiting in the dust was still getting coughing over my exhaust, I would reach out to him, regardless if I saw a future or not, just to fill a void in my heart and in my bed.
I don’t think it is always the reason why, but sometimes, people ask for or agree to second chances in relationships because they are simply afraid that nothing better is out there. That this love – or the love they once felt with this person – will never be matched, never compare to what could be waiting in the future. I distinctively remember Mr. Faithful, when we sorta toyed with the idea of getting back together my sophomore year of college, drained and tired of all of our discussions laying on my dorm room bed, saying, “Linds, maybe we just need to accept that this is love. And this is as good as it gets. If we don’t want to be alone, we should just settle for what it is that we have, regardless of how hard it is.”
And his words, those words, were the ones I heard screaming loud and clear in my head when Mr. Idea stated his case for why we deserved another shot. If I’m going to get married one day, if I’m going to fall in love, if I’m going to commit to someone with everything I have and support them in their good times and in their bad – it isn’t going to be someone who it feels like I’m settling for. It is going to be someone who sweeps me off my feet – no matter how much hell I can be in heels.
I won’t say I don’t believe in second chances because sometimes giving a look at what was, can help you realize what you had (or how much you didn’t want what you had) – and also, by having a conversation with a previous lover who you aren’t sure you’re over, can give you that closure everyone needs. When Mr. Unavailable’s ex-lady was so cold about his grand gesture, I felt bad for him (though I enjoyed the chocolates and flowers, her loss!) because to release the what-if monsters, all you need are a few words to why a second chance isn’t in the cards. Even more so, that second chance we pray for, we wish for, we lose sleep over, and we dream about isn’t always “take two” with our ex-lover, but could be the starting scene with someone else, our second chance in disguise. Or maybe a second shot at a powerful relationship with ourselves.
Nevertheless, when it comes to breaking up and realizing that walking away from a relationship or a could-be relationship is better than sticking around – it’s important to realize that sometimes, endings happen for a reason. Through this journey, I was able to finally put away any wishful thinking or deluded illusions about the one man from my past who I was not completely over. And so, ironically enough, when he came to bait me back into the ocean of disaster we created, I very honestly and openly told him that my heart wasn’t in it. Nor would it be.
And instead of believing that he could change or that all the things that were never what I wanted would start to fit my fancy, I decided that I’d rather be alone than be stuck in a relationship that already failed once. I’d rather be in my single shoes than to return to a man who hurt me, who I merely fell in love with the idea of, and who even if I squint my eyes and rack my imagination, I can’t see standing up at the alter, gleaming at me as I cascade down the aisle.
That by not settling out of fear and giving him a second chance, I instead gave myself the opportunity to be free to meet someone who will never need to ask for one in the first place.