Monday, September 18, 2006

Strength

It is amazing to me where strength is hiding. When our life starts to fall apart, strength comes from the most unexpected sources. And, when we are so weak that we think we have nothing we can give to a friend in need, that's when strength appears from inside us.

I remember walking into work the day after Jerk and I officially broke up. I had called in sick the day before and cried myself into a headache and nausea. I felt like if I stayed in the apartment we shared, as long as I stayed in that apartment, the world around me wouldn't change. I wouldn't need to be scared or strong or brave. I could pretend that there wasn't another girl in his life. I could pretend that I saw myself marrying him. I could stay there, inside myself, inside my apartment, inside my fear, and never have to leave.

My mother told me to get angry. She told me to move fast and get him out of my life for good. Alyssa patiently listened to me cry on the phone all the way in San Francisco for hours. At the end she said to me, "You don't want to hear this now, but you will appreciate it later. You are not sad about loosing Jerk. Sam, you are scared about the loss of your relationship. You will remember who you were before Jerk. You will grow strong again. You will be fine. Okay? Everything is going to be fine again soon. I promise." I didn't think I had it in me to be strong. I couldn't get strong until I got angry. I knew I couldn't get angry when I was so sad.

When I walked into work newly single, I burst into tears. Here I was at the same job I'd been at in my relationship, but from now on, it wouldn't be like it was before. I went to see the Associate Publisher of Marketing, my boss then. I needed to explain what happened and tell her I might need to leave for an hour a week to talk to a Psychologist per my mother.

"Jerk and I broke up. He's seeing someone else." That was all I could manage, before I started crying again. She looked at me through rough eyes without hugging me or offering me a tissue. She looked at me as my mother or father would do, with a strength I know I won't have for many more years. "You live together, right?" "Yes." "You need to kick him out. Kick him out and make him pay that rent." "I can't. I don't know how to." "Yes you do. You need to get angry and kick him out, Sam. He's seeing someone else. It is not your problem to deal with how he feels anymore. Stop feeling sad. Get angry."

I walked to the bathroom to touch up my eye makeup. On the way, I saw one of the Sales Assistants who had recently broken up with her boyfriend. She'd been a mess for a while, even within the week before my relationship ended. I looked at her and said "Jerk and I broke up. He's seeing someone else." She gave me the most amazing hug. "You were bored with him. It's okay. It will get easier. Let's go down for a cigarette now." "I can't," I said. "No, you can. Come." Downstairs she told me the advice her mom had given her about a cheating boyfriend, "Stop thinking with your pride and start thinking with your heart. You can't truly love someone who doesn't love you." It's advice I've given people forever since then. She was so strong that day. So strong as she walked me through the whole thing. The realization I didn't like New York. The drama of my first relationship after Jerk. She was there.

I couldn't get strong though. Not right after I grew angry. We still slept in the same bed peacefully for a week after we broke up. I'd roll over in the morning and throw my arms around his body. If I stay like this, I thought, I won't need to get angry. Everything will stay the same. The person who gets out of the bed for the couch will inevitably end up there for the rest of the awkward situation. We squatted the bed for a while. I stopped cuddling with him once I started to get angry. I started resenting his breathing in bed. I would stay up all night waiting for him to get home from his late nights out. Cursing his disrespect of me. I would come late to work so that I could smell his shirts from the night before to see if "her" smell was on them. If he left his work bag at home while he was out, I would rifle through it looking for movies they'd seen or activities they'd done together. I don't know what I was trying to prove. I don't know what good it did me. My body wasn't communicating properly with my mind. I checked his email account and discovered that he was already saying I love you to the new girl. He was forwarding her my emails about the apartment, because, it turned out, she was a lawyer. She'd write things back like "Well, I'm totally impartial here and I think you're totally right." He'd email her back, "You looked so cute last night before bed. Muuuwah." It was honestly the lowest I've ever stooped. I was paralyzed by fear, but my body was working on auto drive to find evidence to make me angry. Get angry, Sam. Somedays, I'd get so sad inside myself I'd think about breaking a glass and cutting my wrists. I'd look in the mirror at the bags under my eyes, and I'd find myself cursing him for making me look and act this way.

And then one day it finally happened. I finally got so mad I don't even recall the whole way I said it. "Get out. You have to get out of this apartment now. You have someone who would care if you stayed here with me. I don't. You make more than me and have a sister in the city you can stay with. You need to get out."

When I said that, I knew I was finally almost strong. Three weeks after he'd basically moved out, my friend Amanda went through a horrible break-up of her own and ended up needing a place to stay for a while. I gave her the sofa bed in my apartment with a huge divider. I was able to take all my hurt and forget about it for a while. I tucked it away and ate Ben and Jerry's with her tears. Jerk emailed a scathing email that he thought she should pay rent, and how it wasn't fair he was paying for her.

"She has just been kicked out of her apartment, and she's got no where to stay right now. She has no job either. If you don't think she should stay here right now, then you are a really pathetic human being."

"Fine."

And that is how I grew strong.

Once I started looking around though, so many people grew strong with me. Angelina had ended a terrible relationship that had sent her out of my life and into a serious black hole. Every single day for the two weeks after my break-up, she called to check on me. "Your much more interesting without Jerk," she declared one day. Alison had her boyfriend tell me what he really thought of Jerk all along. Erica sent me a beaded necklace with a card that said "You will recover from this and become the wonderful person you've always been."

I grew stronger with each day and each month. I can't even imagine if I'd been married or had kids or had a death in the family instead. I can look at it all now and give that advice to my friend(s).

Be patient. Mourn. Be sad for a while. You'll get to angry. Along the way, I'll get stronger helping you. And then one day, you'll get to strong. You'll definitely find strength.

1 Comments:

  • At September 18, 2006, Blogger Angelina said…

    wow, that was amazing reading that. It seems so freakin' long ago! I guess it was....I'm so happy you're back in my life, and you know? it's true - you are much more interesting without him. He was sapping your strength, your life.
    Fuck Sam the Eagle, and Fuck the Jerk.

    Viva Us!

     

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