School of hard knocks

Joey Garcia

I met the guy I thought I would marry during freshman year. Our love was amazing until he freaked out. He said he needed to figure out who he is. We broke up and I saw him on Instagram with a girl. I lost it. I could hardly breathe or get out of bed. I nearly failed all of my classes. I finally got myself together and started sophomore year feeling good. Then my ex-boyfriend messaged me saying he wanted to talk. We got back together. None of my friends were cool about it because of everything I went through before. I told them he was different. But he freaked out again about being exclusive and dumped me. I dropped out of college and moved home. What went wrong?

Between concepts of right and wrong, there is a middle ground called reality. Let’s bind our feet to that holy ground. Here’s how: Destroy your beliefs about romance and the happily-ever-after story. The idea that your boyfriend was your future husband burdened your dating relationship. Every challenge, disagreement or annoyance was saturated with fear about how that difficulty might cause the loss of your anticipated marriage.

Couples need to work out their problems without fear of losing a future together. In other words, trust is essential. We must maintain self-trust, while also trusting in our partner’s ability to act selflessly in our best interests. Love lives in that paradox.

It appears that you invested too much of yourself in your boyfriend and your dreams of marriage, and not enough in caring for yourself. That’s infatuation, not love. You might also have been obsessed with getting married. Why? Some people believe that marriage is a symbol of acceptance, a sign of being desirable and needed, even blessed by God. Others see marriage more simply: it’s a lifestyle choice. And there are people who consider marriage an institution that has outlived its usefulness. If you need the vision of marriage to prove something about yourself, you are not entering marriage to be with the one you love. You are expecting marriage to initiate changes in you. Here’s a reality check: Marriage is not magic. You must do the work of interior transformation yourself. Having a partner in this process makes it easier for some, and much harder for others.

One last thing: Try not to judge your ex-boyfriend’s pattern of diving in, then leaping out of an exclusive relationship with you. Focusing on him directs your life energy into the past. That’s painful. Instead, determine why you didn’t let go of him. Push yourself to understand why you released your college education and took to your bed. But please don’t judge your heartbreak. Grief is natural when a relationship ends. Your work now is to connect to your internal world (thoughts, feelings, intuition, instinct) and external world (other people, environment, nature) in equal measure. Reality heals all wounds.

When I was younger I wouldn’t show emotion at all, no matter how I felt. After a while, I started cutting. Six years of therapy and now, I can be real. But when is the right time to talk about my past? I had one bad first date where we talked about everything in our past. Afterward she sent a text saying our issues were a “dangerous mix” and she wouldn’t see me. Advice?

Tell a date about your history when you realize it launched you into becoming the fabulous woman you are now. Tell your story after you are strong enough to handle someone’s rejection of you based on your past. But never tell your story if you are trying to solicit sympathy or avoid personal responsibility.

Meditation of the week
“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby,” wrote Langston Hughes. Do you know how to be truly loved?

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