20/20 post-breakup hindsight usually makes me feel embarrassed about many of the decisions I made during my relationships. I fell for some guys even though I knew they were bad for me. And then I'd long for them when they were gone. And sometimes I'd even feel out of control.
For instance, I had a horribly painful breakup in college. We'd had one of those passionate relationships filled with life-altering dramas and figured our love would conquer all. In my 18-year-old mind, I had won the lottery in love. He was a handsome boy who I remember thinking was particularly unlikeable when we first met, but somehow he'd won me over. He sang beautifully. He wooed me. I loved his family. We'd considered ourselves engaged to one another and even opened a bank account to save money for a ring.
During the Summer, we regularly drove the five-hour return trip to see each other. One day I was nearly to his house when I stopped at a payphone (remember those?). He told me not to come anymore.
"Who is she?" I demanded.
So here was one of those moments when you say something and you wonder whose voice was talking or where the words were coming from. Because I'd never suspected before that my boyfriend was a cheater. He was a scoundrel in many, many other ways, but until that moment, I never thought he'd cheat. I figured those words were somehow given to me by providence, so I pursued them.
"WHO IS SHE?" I yelled, not caring if any of the passersby heard me or saw my frantic, tantrum-having state.
He was silent for a moment and I held my breath for his answer.
"Her name is Kristen."
I stood there in paralytic shock, unsure of what had happened. I hung up the phone and drove back home, two hours wailing through blurry tears. I'd eventually learn that my providential insight was right - that dude was apparently a major cheater the whole time we were together.
The next morning I even had my wisdom teeth removed. I remember laying on that doctor's table with dry tears in the corner of my puffy eyes. They put a huge piece of plastic in my mouth, forcing my mouth open before giving me an anesthetic and asked how I was. With a forced, widened jaw I drifted into teeth-removing medically-induced sleep uttering words no one understood, "My fiance just broke up with me."
The next while was lonely and pathetic. Picture me alone in my pink flannel pajamas after getting my wisdom teeth removed, refusing to take the pain pills because I figured I was dying of a broken heart. And then multiply that by a few weeks. Not a pretty sight. When my stitches healed, I got into my car and drove the two hours to his parents' house. It was one of those moments when I had lost a lot of weight from my non-eating and figured I'd get in a cute dress, look hot, and try to win my boyfriend back. The whole drive, I kept rehearsing my address to him. I kept debating whether I was doing the right thing. And I wondered what Kristen looked like.
No one was home.
I sat outside the driveway for a few hours. If he'd arrive, I'd just tell him that I just got there a few minutes ago. "What a coincidence" that we'd be there at the same time. I could tell him I was on my way somewhere south of him and they happened to be on the way. Instead I chose to write a note and paste it on the door:
Just stopped by to say, "Hi."
And then I drove home.
It was basically the worst breakup of my life. Okay, so those are words people throw around, but in reality, that was the trigger that led me to near-suicide in just a few weeks and kind of messed me up for a long time.
I tend to think my painful, passionate breakup isn't so uncommon. Like many relationships, my emotions, my loneliness, or my depression would rule my heart and my actions. And thus, would lead to lots and lots of mistakes.
Recently I ran across this article, called "The Stupid Things You Do When Dating (and How to Fix Them)." The article basically talks about how our hormones and emotions will play tricks on us, making us thinkwe love someone more than we probably really do. Or we push ourselves into relationships that might not be best for us. So, in the spirit of the "end of 2011 countdowns," I give you their top five stupid mistakes that we make based on how our hormones mislead our hearts:
#5. You believe the opposite sex should always understand what you're saying
#4. You choose the partner you're most likely to lose rather than the best one
#3. You try to hide the physical features you consider unattractive
#2. Wearing cologne, perfume, and body sprays inhibit others from finding you attractive
#1. You confuse heightened emotions for physical attraction
I love their "number one." It makes me think of those reality love shows and how people think they're in love in the end but really they're probably just sharing an intense experience that no one else understands and they confuse it for love.
In fact, after I did my 31 Dates in 31 Days and eventually became engaged to Date #31, I'm pretty sure people thought the same of me. They thought, "this chick is just hooking up with this dude because it's a pretty little ending to her story." There was even one time when I was on Oprah Radio and was asked, "What do you say to critics?"
Remember when Tom Cruise jumped on the couch proclaiming his love for Katie Holmes? All of us shook our heads and thought, "CuhRAZY." The next morning Matt Lauer asks, "What do you say to your critics who think, 'This guy is NUTS'?"
I loved having someone else pull that ploy on me.
Although now that I type that out, I do realize that I just compared myself to Tom Cruise on the Crazy Train.
And in further end of the year celebration, here's your New Year's Eve love song of the day, courtesy of Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Now I want to go watch "500 Days of Summer." Such a great movie - unless you're dealing with a recent broken heart and sitting in your pink flannel pajamas...
Happy New Year!