Rebound 2: Have I F@#$ed The Pain Away?

If I let the toxic mess of my break-up define me, I am never going to be happy again.
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If I let the toxic mess of my break-up define me, I am never going to be happy again.

I’m trying to work on my anger. Not letting it go exactly, but channeling it somewhat productively. My therapist says it’s OK to be pissed off, but not to use it as an excuse to be destructive. Or self-destructive.

I really feel like I have wasted 10 years of my life. All of my friends (on the traditional track, I guess) are getting pregnant, buying homes, and married or partnered up. Some of them are even moving to the suburbs with their new kids. I don’t want that. I don’t know if I want that. I don’t know what I want, but I feel like I’m getting left behind.

I’m not sad anymore, I’m mad. I don’t understand cheating. If you don’t want to be there, leave. Don’t lie for a year, make the person you say you love wonder why you’re distant, don’t make them feel like they’re the one ruining things, and don’t sleep with other people.

I take a bus out to the suburbs for a second birthday party for a friends’ daughter. The bus passes a bunch of my old haunts with my ex on the way. From the worst times, the “fight all the time-times,” the “let’s eat dinner and go to a movie because we don’t want to fight anymore” times. And our favorite restaurant where we celebrated almost a decade worth of Valentine’s Days, promotions, occasional Tuesdays and birthdays.

I went in there after we split once, and our favorite waitress asked me about ex. I just shook my head and she got teary-eyed. That was one of the worst moments, feeling responsible for making her upset.The party is nice. Lots of parent friends drinking craft beers and grilling. It’s mellow, which is what I need right now. I am the only single person there, and it’s becoming obvious I have less and less in common with these friends. The women are mostly talking about their children, day-care, nannies, pumping their tits. The men seem bored and are putzing around with the toys. I don’t feel like I belong, but it has me thinking about what’s next. Do I even want this life?On the bus home, Jason the bartender texts. “What’s up? Come by the bar, I’ll be off at 9 if you want to hang out.”

I like Jason; he’s a really nice guy. And I could use a real drink; the craft beers at the kiddie party didn’t really cut it.I get to the bar a little before his shift ends and we have a couple of shots and a beer. Jason is totally not my physical type. Not that he is ugly, he’s just different. We head over to another bar and grill and sit at the counter. Jason knows the crew there and they send over some calamari and a steak sandwich. We’re having a really good time, and I’m not wasted (which, at this point, is a change). We like a lot of the same weird twee indie bands, and it turns out we know a bunch of the same people from college.After we settle up, he wants to walk me home. I’m buzzed and agree, but joke that he is totally not coming up, nor is he getting any. He grabs both of my arms and spins me around under a streetlight. “I don’t want you to think of me like that.”He pulls me close and says “I’ve had a thing for you for a long time, and I’m so happy to be here with you tonight.” I have no idea what to say and he leans in and kisses me. I kiss him back and he puts his arms around me. It feels good, it feels safe.

I push him away and run down the street as fast as I can.


I keep running until I get home and lock the door. He didn’t follow me, thankfully. I’m breathing heavily.

I panicked. I could not deal with all of his feelings. His expectations. Maybe he didn’t have any, but it felt like it and I am so not ready to deal with anyone actually being into me. I feel like throwing up. I check my phone and I have a bunch of texts from Jason asking if I’m okay and to let him know I got home.

I text back “Yes, sorry.”

“Seriously, are you okay?”I go to bed and try to figure out how to deal with this. Slutting it up in the city hasn’t really gotten me anywhere, but no one was getting hurt. One thing I’ve realized, and this is very important -- a certain type of person (for me it has been men) circles like a shark when they sense blood in the water -- a broken person who is vulnerable emotionally. I am broken and vulnerable, but Jason is not a shark. If I let the toxic mess of my break-up define me, I am never going to be happy again.I text back, “Hey, last night was fun, but I am so not ready to get involved with anyone right now. You are a good guy.”I feel good. I am not ready for a relationship. I’m not ever sure if I’m done with my rebound whore tear, but I think I need to start doing things that make me happy.