“Who broke you?”
Someone I hadn’t spoken to in many years recently asked me this question. I was talking about where my life had taken me in the last decade and how I had basically built a wall around myself that Trump would be insanely jealous of. Sure, I have logical reasons. Online dating now involves too many catfishers, Hello Kitty neck tattoos and men with ADD waiting for the next sexy squirrel (dibs on that Halloween costume!) to run into the room.
I thought about this for several weeks and the answer I kept coming back to is “I don’t know.” There were so many experiences in my life with men who left me feeling “less than” enough. I’ve written about many here. Psycho J who wanted me to be “au naturel.” (Don’t click) The Hot Serb who jiggled my muffin top. (Really don’t click.) The Kiwi who tied me up spread eagle and left me feeling incredibly vulnerable and self-conscious. (You’ll really be sorry if you click). The string of 3 men who had episodes of erectile dysfunction who made me think I lost my touch. The rape incident that wasn’t stopped because a friend thought so little of me to think I could consent after 7 or more drinks and vomiting multiple times. The guy who left me hiding in his closet while he went out with his girlfriend and crushed me, yet again. Who among that list shattered my belief in myself to the point of breaking my spirit and self-belief? I thought there were so many I couldn’t possibly pin it on one.
And then I started emailing with an ex-boyfriend. The one I dated (and who ghosted me before ghosting was a recognized thing) right before I started dating my ex-husband. I’m not saying that played a role in me getting engaged within 3 months of dating. The ex-husband played hockey, and liked cleaning.
It is through these email exchanges that I finally figured it out. He reminded me that I was once fearless, carefree (CHELSEA!), and confident, and damn it I was sexy even if I was wearing flannel and Birkenstocks. It was Vermont, there is a dress code.
It really was my ex-husband who broke me. I was absolutely kickass before then, and probably going to move to Montreal and do something political or environmentally. I could have worked for SexyPrimeMinister Trudeau!!! Which pisses me off to no end because I don’t think that fucker (my ex, not Trudeau) was strong enough to have that kind of impact on me. I was convinced it had to be some emotionally stunting event that changed me. Could it be so simple as that one lapse in judgment in my life where I chose to make the “smart decision on paper” and settle for a secure (albeit asexual) life with someone I never had an iota of doubt would hurt me? That decision to get married is what did me in, not so much the divorce. Was it a pre-existing condition, where my lack of belief in my worth and my feelings and desires led me to settle for less, and I paid a huge price for it? Here is the catch-22. If I blame myself for settling and that leading to all my problems, then I will never move past it because I will constantly tell myself that I can’t be trusted to make the right choices for my heart. If I just blame my ex, I give him the power that he was devious enough and evil enough to undermine my sense of worth for 10 years without me realizing it. And if I believe that, then how can I trust myself to pick a solid life partner? It’s a no-win situation. It’s like choosing between waterboarding and walking over hot coals. Yanni or Kenny G. Ted Cruz or the Zodiac Killer.
Instead I just gave up for a decade, and really should have bought stock in boxed wine back then. More bad decisions. (Like buying boxed Italian wine. PSA. Don’t do it.)
I had a dream the other night that I was at a house party with some old friends and Ryan Gosling was there. Apparently we went to high school together and he had a huge crush on me. (For the record, I did not go to high school with Ryan Gosling or anyone resembling him. I’d remember that, despite the millions of brain cells I’ve killed off.) In my dream, I couldn’t really remember him, and I felt horrible that I couldn’t place him. Despite me apparently being a callous bitch in my REM state, we ended up making out, and I stopped it because I got scared. He was Freaking Ryan Gosling and would have no reason to be interested in me. He kept trying to convince me he was the exact same person no matter what he looked like. I couldn’t convince myself that someone who looked like that would be interested in me, no matter who he was on the inside. So I wrestled with this idea with my friends in my dream, and then I woke up. Without a resolution.
But it seems pretty clear to me what the message from this dream was meant to be. It’s time to go back to the Unbroken Me. Stop believing I don’t deserve someone because of appearance or age or wealth or that there is a Mrs. Hugh Jackman. Just go with it, and stop throwing up obstacles. Also, I think the underlying message is that outward appearances don’t always match what someone holds on the inside. That I might have overlooked someone perfect because he didn’t look like Ryan Gosling. I’ve always been more of a Ryan Reynolds girl, so maybe that is the point. Or something else.