By Kelly Seal
Let’s face it; we all prefer to be the dumper rather than the dumpee. When a boyfriend broke up with me, I fell into a pit of despair, holing up in bed, refusing to answer my phone, closing myself off from the world. I grieved. When I was the one in the driver’s seat calling for the end of the relationship, my heart had already healed; I was able to move on because I’d already had that emotional separation.
But there were two men in particular who left me completely heart-broken, crying inconsolably, and making emergency appointments with my therapist. They didn’t just break up with me. These were men who’d left me for another woman. I was devastated because I’d not only loved these men, I’d trusted them. Each time, I thought our relationship would last.
Being left for another woman brought on a range of emotions in me from sadness and confusion to anger…even rage. I thought we were happy and in love, but as it turns out, he was looking for love outside of our relationship. For him, I wasn’t enough. It hurt more the second time around because I thought I’d learned my lesson. I thought I knew better than to trust a man capable of cheating on me.
And the worst part? It wasn’t so much the cheating that devastated me, especially the second time around. I could have gotten over that had I known he truly loved me. It was the fact that he had chosen the other woman to be in his life. He’d chosen to leave me.
I felt unlovable. Why wasn’t I enough?
Luckily, my two break-ups happened before Facebook was around, so I wasn’t tempted to look through his photos with the new girlfriend. Instead, I pictured her as I wanted, and without contradictory evidence: she was ugly, boring, mean-spirited and shallow. Maybe she even had a snaggletooth or hammer toes. I focused my energy on hating her, because there was something about her that my man wanted, maybe even needed, that I didn’t have.
As time went on, I healed. I could see the relationship for what it was, and recognized some of the warning signs I’d missed along the way. I even saw how I contributed to its demise. Because the thing is, when a relationship goes south, it’s the fault of both parties, not just one. Even though my boyfriend was the one who cheated on me, we both made mistakes, miscommunicated, and hurt each other. We’re often blind to our own faults and weaknesses, or we refuse to see them because it would mean facing our fears.
It took a long time, but after my broken heart healed, I decided to do things differently. I had to take an honest look at myself, and see what needed to change, and how I needed to communicate my feelings in the future. More importantly, I had to believe that I was indeed enough – for the right man. I was capable of loving and being loved. I wanted to create a healthy relationship for myself. I didn’t want to abandon my ability to trust a man. If I did, I would ensure finding yet another dishonest or emotionally unavailable boyfriend. I wanted better for myself. I deserved better.
Several dates and boyfriends later, I still hadn’t given up hope or my trust. I knew that I would find mutual, lasting love. And it paid off. My relationships did get progressively better. And my failed relationships helped me to see clearly when I met my husband – I knew that he was the real thing.