Moving On from an On-Again/Off-Again Relationship

It’s been nearly six months and my mind is finally becoming my own again.  For five and a half months you couldn’t really say I was ‘getting over him’ what I was doing could only be described as ‘not calling him.’  And look, I’m not saying I deserve a medal or anything, but I’m not sure anyone has ever multitasked the way I have for the past half year.  I slept and didn’t call him, brushed my teeth and didn’t call him, ate, conversed, and shopped while not calling him, hell, I even got up every morning and went to my job, worked for eight hours, came home, made dinner, took a bath for five and a half months without calling him.

Truly, I thought this might be my life, now.  Maybe my life was purely just a game of how many things I could do while not calling him.  I thought maybe I don’t actually get over people, maybe my lot in life is committing to people so infrequently that when I do, it’s for life.  That would explain why I’m still sorta in love with that dude from high school and that dude from the bar and that dude from Halifax.  Maybe I just get further and further away from the time we were together but never really sever the cord that is my connection to him or them.  Maybe I will never be fully out of any of these relationships.  Maybe I have to accept that.  I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea to get involved with someone else just to take my mind off of him, but I had no idea how to just live a life that revolved around not doing something.

But I did it.

For five and half – nearly six – months.

And now… my mind is finally becoming my own again.  I ate dinner, drank a beer, talked to my brother on the phone all the while not thinking about him.  I single-tasked for the first time in months!  I guess I didn’t believe that getting over someone was a real thing because I don’t think I’ve ever done it before.  I’ve moved, stayed busy, replaced, but probably never really just let go.  I think this must be the reason I hold so tightly to my heart, because I know I’m not someone who can just move on when the time is right, so instead, I lock that fucker down.

For over three years we did a dance of off and on again and again.  When we ended last December (and I’m speaking for him here, with absolutely no idea as to whether or not I’m right since, as previously stated, there’s been no contact for how many?  Oh yes, five and half months.),  Whether willingly or not, angrily or not, I think we both accepted that we really couldn’t make this work.  Real life had come for us and we had not been able to withstand her.  

Off and on relationships are so damaging because of how addicted to the roller coaster you become, you associate extreme highs and extreme lows with passion when it’s probably more likely just incompatibility.  Ain’t that a pain in the ass?  That something as romantic as love lasting can come down to something as unsexy as compatibility?

I gave a talk recently where I spoke of my past two relationships as being perfect despite what an outside observer (like my mom or best friend) may have believed.  They were perfect in that they were exactly what I was capable of having at the time I had them (as is every relationship we have in adulthood, I suppose).  But I went on to say that appreciating them for what they were doesn’t mean that I have to choose that for my future.  What I want now, but was unable to encompass then, is stability, commitment, intimacy and accountability.  

My desire to call my former guy over the past few months wasn’t uniform, meaning that my motivations were not static.  Sometimes it was out of habit, sure.  Sometimes it was out of loneliness, definitely, and sometimes it was out of a very earnest desire to speak to the person who had been my person for so long.  He was, afterall, my best friend and I no longer had him.  That’s a hard piece for a heart/brain/life to reconcile.  Having a very legitimate want that is motivated only by love for something that you very legitimately have to choose to let go of is a pretty big mind-fuck when you’re sitting in the midst of it.  That struggle will only be ruled on correctly when logic – and not emotion – gets the final say.  And sometimes logic can only be employed when all else has failed, when all hope is gone.  Pretty sad state of affairs to be making any decision from, hey?

We tried again and again, from every possible angle.  We tried  from up above and down below; we tried by sneaking up on it and jumping out at it.  I swear to you, if you can imagine it, we tried it.  And the more and more we came back together to try again, the less and less stable we became.  The more times one of you leaves the room, the weaker your faith becomes that either of you are capable of staying in the room.  Your expectations diminish, your trust erodes, your relationship becomes less and less fulfilling because its foundation is chipped away at each time a door closes and you’re standing on the other side of it.

I loved that man.  I still love that man.  I believe he loved me and maybe still does love me in his own way.  I am open to the idea that you can end with a partner, realize your mistake, come back together and make it work.  I am less open to the idea that you can do that more than once and find stability and the intimacy you are seeking with that person.  What I think is more likely is that you ended for a reason worth remembering the first time.  I did not remember this and I will try to know this in future relationships.  But even saying that, for those three years, he and we were worth it.  I don’t want it for my future and I don’t want a similar pattern with someone else again, but for those three years, we were perfect because it was perfectly in line with the stability and intimacy I was capable of having with another person.

I truly doubted that it was possible to really ‘get over’ someone.  But like I said, my head is becoming my own again after (nearly) six long months.  There is a light, folks, and feeling the feelings while you’re in them may be the most beautiful way to honour what you had together, even if the experience is tinged with a rumbling of fear that this may be your life now—not calling someone.  But for the first time, I can say from experience that eventually what happens is the long months of ‘not calling’ turn into living, and that when that happens, your mind becomes your own again.

Published by Pam Stewart

I am a writer living in Victoria, BC, Canada. I got my start in spoken word and am now a frequent contributor to Elephant Journal. My writing is the result of a deep dive into the world of self-help. I don't profess to know how others should do it, but am interested in having the conversation. I think there is real value in revealing our blindspots, our vulnerabilities and our fears; which is what I am trying to do through my essays on mindfulness, self-exploration, and living honestly. I have found God through writing, which is to say, I have found myself through writing. My book, I Really Thought It Would Be Easier Than This, is available now.

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