Last summer was a great debate – should I or shouldn’t I go back to Mr. Idea?
We both flirted with the option, I even made an impromptu trip to visit him in his new a zip code, where he had new friends, a new apartment and a new job. We spent hours on the phone that usually resulted in some sort of bickering – I wasn’t doing enough of this, he wasn’t jumping to that conclusion. We would talk about the good times like they were decades ago, when in reality we had barely known each other a year. In the duration of our relationship, the honeymoon period was brief and lack-luster, but I think we both held onto the idea of what could be. Hence his name in this blog.
I knew then – or at least I’d like to believe I did – that it would never work out. Maybe we hadn’t known each other that long but in that time, a lot happened in my life: my dad recovered from a six-year health struggle, I graduated from college, I moved back home, I moved to the city, I found my first job, I paid rent for my first New York apartment, I became an adult. And with all of those big, life-altering, character-creating, patience-demanding changes – I started to learn more about what I wanted.
I discovered that I needed to be with someone who was supportive of my career – Mr. Idea didn’t really care for my writing (to each his own), nor would he ever approve of this blog (I can’t tell you how many times he’s called me to tell me not to write about him. I always listen, can’t you tell?). I figured out that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with someone who enjoyed having sex and initiated it (to be blunt, I’ve never met a man –sans Mr. Idea – who didn’t want to jump my bones). I realized I wanted someone who wanted the same things I wanted, who lived in the same place, who shared my same set of values (He was always a little too self-centered, far too stubborn and completely indulgent in fantasies of himself that simply weren’t true). I came to believe that while a man who made me laugh gave him an amazing advantage, a man who I could trust enough to never worry or doubt their devotion was far more important (I’ll give it to the guy, he’s funny – but I care more about that kindness that comes from your soul).
On and off paper and no matter which way I tilted the picture, Mr. Idea was far from my ideal mate. I didn’t have that deep, intense longing to be with him or to rekindle something that died within the first three months it was lit. Even so – I wanted him to want me. I wanted to have that comfort, that safety net just in case my feelings changed. Just in case I could mold him into the Mr. Right I sincerely knew, in my heart-of-hearts, he wasn’t.
But there’s that thin line between love and hate. That line that produces thoughts we’d rather not entertain (or admit we have) – I want him to think I’m the one who got away. If I’m sad and it is hard for me to walk away, I want him to be sad and have trouble letting me go. If I hurt, he should hurt. And if he doesn’t hurt, I’ll wait until it will hurt him to jet set off into my new, bright, fancy life.
Ouch – writing out those words makes them sound far crueler than they ring in my head. But truth is painful sometimes, and most of the time, it’s a lot to stomach. I’m not proud of feeling that way or being so venomous, yet I know I’m not the only wounded lover or hopeful woman who had her hope lost when the rose-colored glasses she wore, shattered.
After exhausting conversations with him, where I would ultimately have to get off the phone so I wouldn’t say something I regret (like those crummy sentences italicized above) – I’d close my eyes, tuck my knees into my chest and I’d dream up the perfect scenario:
Mr. Idea would be visiting New York – or maybe he would have just accepted a job that finally brought him here, after months of arguments on why he wouldn’t look in the tri-state for opportunities. He’d be strolling in Central Park and see me sitting alone, wearing something ultra-flattering and alluring, and he’d have to rub his eyes, just in case I was a mirage. I wouldn’t be of course – but I’d be more beautiful than he remembered. After all, it would have been years since he’d seen or spoken to me. Casually with an air of hesitation, he’d approach me and we’d exchange niceties, both saying a lot without saying anything at all. The Autumn air would then circulate the city and my hair would fall in my face. He’d reach to push it away, giving me those puppy-dog eyes of remorse I craved – but then I’d move my head quickly and smile at a man walking up behind me with two ice cream cones. It would be early September, right before my birthday, and this man would be treating me to sweets as I celebrated another year. He’d kiss my cheek, I’d reach for the cone with my left hand, giving Mr. Idea a glistening view of my lovely engagement ring, and say, “Sweetie, you remember Mr. Idea I told you about? It looks like he’s found his way to New York!” And then Mr. Idea would be filled with regret, so disappointed that he let me get away, that he was so awful to me that I couldn’t stand to be his lady anymore. He’d be…sorry. He would be oh, so sorry.
A year later, a year maturer, and no part of me wants to rub anything in Mr. Idea’s face (pun intended). I actually want him to be happy, to be successful, to find the love that’s right for him. To find peace in those things that bothered him, to release whatever troubles haunt him. I don’t care if I’m the one who got away or just someone he briefly cared about for a short period of time, and though we participated in heated fights that were very hurtful, I wish nothing but the best for him.
Visions of revenge and witnessing your ex envious of your happiness may be enjoyable past times when you’re getting yourself through a breakup, but when you wake up on the other side – where acceptance and compassion live -you won’t be wishing that he’d wish for you, you’ll be sorry for having wished him any awfulness, at all.