It’s astounding, and sad really, how many broken people roam the earth. Everyone has a story or knows someone who does.
*He left her after making a trillion empty promises that he had no intention of keeping and then one day, at the drop of a hat, married someone else. No explanations.
*She left him after months of getting to know each other, and then at a serious juncture in their relationship, got hitched to the perfect stranger.
*They were good friends, but he/she was more emotionally invested in the relationship than the other…or maybe he/she was just too chicken shit to try to make it work…
*They were great together, but he’s philandering ways got the better of him…
*He doesn’t make enough money, so her family says…
*She’s not white or skinny enough…
*Sorry wrong gaam, only thorough-bred in-breeders accepted…
You name it, I’ve heard it all. Everyone (well at least 99% of people) has experienced the heart-wrenching, soul-gutting, wrist-slitting, mind-fucking anguish of Rejection, in some way or form.
I’ve come across hundreds of stories, literally, over many years. I have my own story that has a life span of less than a year, with the NOT-so-happily-ever-after fairytale ending occurring barely 3 months ago. I’m not in the tree business, so I don’t pine for things that were never meant to be mine. However, every now and then when I feel that twinge of regret or remorse, a minor inclination to want to languish or throw a pity party, I resist the urge to stick a fork into my left eye and proceed to pull myself out from the depths of the alluring despair by doing something physical, like running or stabbing pillows.
So what is it about Love/Infatuation that makes us so stupid? We forget all reason…we become blind. We justify, substantiate and validate opinions about realities that don’t exist. Cognitive Dissonance for the relationship impaired. “I saw the way she looked at me, we were meant to be”…Dude, news flash, she was looking at the Bentley parked behind you. “I just know he likes me too, why else would he talk to me so frequently”…erm, maybe because he’s been trying to get your friends number?
We are casualties of our perceptions. We make assumptions based on ambiguous and arbitrary pieces of information that mean nothing. And if that is not enough, we believe those assumptions to be true, therein creating our own lies.
But what if he/she really was into you. And you really did have an undeniable connection? And you didn’t make up that shit to satiate your romantically starved ego? What if he/she was just and asshole, then what?
Well then time to pack up and go home. No point in staying at the circus when there’s no one performing because then you’re the fool. I see people everywhere who are lonely, yearning, pining, brooding, damaged…broken.
Lives of quiet desperation…an existential drought.
There are the Wallow’ers. The ones who refuse to move on. It’s easy to blame yourself. To sit and wonder where on earth did you go wrong. To believe that he/she didn’t want to be with you because you weren’t good enough…that you didn’t fulfill a certain pre-determined set of criteria…that you just didn’t make the cut. There’s a masochistic degree of comfort in a negative emotion because it requires little or no effort and provocation. It comes naturally and seeps into your soul, like Darth Vader.
“What if” Syndrome. What if we did things differently? What if her parents hadn’t gotten into the way? What if…
Every potential partner will always be compared to The One. They will find every reason to cling to hope that has long been lost, desperately looking for signs, thinking that the person will change his/her mind and come running back to them with arms wide open like some corny Meg Ryan movie. The darkness is more comforting than the light, because the light would mean that they, God forbid, would actually have to come back to reality and make an effort to live and not merely exist.
Then there are the self-proclaimed Assholes. You know, the fool masquerading in the cold contemptuous façade that hides a wounded animal. They acquire labels and when someone calls them on it, they become defensive and aggressive. The detracting and condescending “fuck off, don’t come too close to me because I’m an asshole and I will hurt you because the last time I let someone in I was screwed over royally and I’d be damned if I let it happen again” defense. They punish themselves for allowing people to hurt and reject them. Their self-deprecation denies them of any form of real happiness, often compensating their emotional voids with vacuous physical activities. It’s easier to hate yourself for allowing the other person to hurt you the way they did, because homicide is illegal and a mortal sin. And it’s more likely that many people don’t automatically stop liking the person who is a cause of their pain.
There are the born-again whores and players who are the promiscuous version of the assholes. They believe that their promiscuity numbs the pain and is the road to enlightenment. They have a vendetta. One person hurt them, and the whole world needs to pay, one screw at a time. They create emotional havoc wherever they go by making false promises and leaving a trail of blood, lies and tears…no one is spared. They are shallow and arrogant because walking around screaming “Screw the World” is actually easier and better than feeling something. They over-compensate for the devastation that they once experienced and seek to go all out get their revenge, even though their vengeance is often fruitless and hollow.
We all cope with rejection differently in various stages, like grief. Our reactions may not be that simple and sometimes it’s an amalgamation of the different stages in the grieving process.
I am a spectator in his life, watching helplessly as he struggles to get through. I’m sure that some days are better than others and at least he smiles and laughs when I see him now and then. But the mischievous and playful glint in his eye is long gone. Eight years ago his life came to an abrupt halt. It’s been eight years since her parents said “No”. Eight years of external and internal battles, the war has left him mutilated. His entire approach to life is different now. He exists. Every woman that will ever come into his life will always be compared to her. They will never meet his expectations and if he does decide to get married one day, his poor wife will have to suffer because of it. She on the other hand doesn’t seem to care much, she’s happily married to someone else and life goes on.
I get frustrated. He‘s a great guy, he has so much to live for. He has wasted enough time, but it’s not too late. He can change, everything CAN change. But he has to WANT it to change…and as long as he doesn’t want to, there’s nothing anyone can do. It’s a lost cause. I feel deeply for him although I don’t want to save him. I just want to urge him to save himself, before he wakes up one day and his whole life has passed him by.
I’ve realised that to a large degree, you can control how you feel. You can control how you act and react to situations. You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you choose to sink or swim. You can decide to move on, and be the better for it. You can decide that one person is not going to influence who you are intrinsically. That one person is not going to change who you are. You can decide that the problem was not with you, but with the less-than-significant other. You can make up your mind to move on without being bitter, resentful or vengeful and trust that when the real One comes into your life, you’ll be able to recognise him/her without being clouded by tears and bad experiences or bogged down by unnecessary baggage. You can believe that you are better off without him/her and that The Almighty SWT knows what He’s doing.
Approaching three months is already too long for me. The grieving is done. I respect myself too much to give that moron another minute of my precious time. I respect myself too much to want to wallow in pathetic despair while he doesn’t give me a second thought. I respect myself too much to allow myself to be changed by the circumstances surrounding his Ass-holiness. I liked him, but I LOVE myself more.