Cold Turkey

December 31, 2008

That was the last time I ate at McDonald’s. I’m sure my final meal was a Happy Meal because that was my favorite menu item. As a sales person on the road, McDonald’s was located everywhere in my territory, had a good portion size (hence the Happy Meal) and was tasty. I would alternate between the ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ toy. I would eat at other places too… Wendy’s, Jack in the Box. But Mickey D’s was the go-to.

After I realized how awful the food was for you… I knew it would be impossible to wean myself from it. I had to go cold turkey. So I did. Dec 31, 2008. I’ve been McDonald’s clean for four years- and I don’t miss it at all. Not even tempted. I was addicted to it. And there’s no reason to go back there.

I feel the same way about guys.

I’ve had eight relationships. Eight people in thirteen years. I would say six of the eight were actual boyfriends; real, committed relationships. This also means I’ve had eight breakups. Breakups aren’t easy. They aren’t fun. They’re easier when you are breaking up with a mature, respectful guy… or they can be. If you can have an adult conversation, give yourselves both some space, there’s a real chance at either being friends or at least friendly… if you want that.

But those guys who couldn’t pull off the mature convo… the ones who resorted to a more, let’s say, dramatic exit… those were tough. And what’s nuts is that the more dramatic they were, the more hurt I was. The more pain I felt in losing them. The more attached I became to them. And that is how I know those relationships were based out of fear, and not love.

I was in a place where I saw myself seriously getting married with one of those two- he was a fixture in my family- he was a daily part of my life. I got my dogs with him. And when we broke up- I couldn’t understand. We spent four years together making decisions and building our life together, and one day it just disappeared. I didn’t know at the time that he had met his future wife. I didn’t know that she was living next door and I had seen her and said hi to her so many times.

Or did I not know? I had a gut feel that something was up with her and I wanted to believe him. And what he said. I couldn’t imagine that he would want to throw away everything that we had built.

It took me about four years to get over that guy. I had dated others, had two other boyfriends during that time, but couldn’t get over it. I would stay in touch with him via email, I would drive by his house (this was all pre-Facebook), and eventually I would find his wedding website. All out of fear. Fear of losing him- when really, the fear was based in the fact that I never really had him from the start.

The only way I truly got over him- the only way I’ve truly gotten over anyone who has broken my heart- is to go cold turkey. Cut. Them. Out. Even the ones where I had a positive breakup. I hide their Facebook so I can’t see updates. I go to different places so I don’t run into them. I do everything I can to create a new life without them in it… because guess what, I lived that life before they were in it.

Then I let time do its thing. Time is the only thing that can complete this process – for me.

When one of my good friends told me that her (now ex) had broken up with her and run back to the girl he had previously cheated on her with… she asked me, “what would you do?” And I told her… cold turkey.

I didn’t know if she had it in her. She didn’t at first- she did the 21st century equivalent of a drive-by and got it all out on text and email or whatever other means… but then, she did it. Deleted his number. Blocked him on Facebook. Destroyed every card and gift (including a Jonathan Adler tray- which, btw, is the most unromantic gift I have ever heard of), rain boots, letters, photos. She had a mini funeral. A purge.

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I couldn’t believe it. Not her. But she did it. And she’s still doing it. It takes a level of strength and courage to forcefully shut off a part of your heart that was so open only a few days before. It’s still going to bleed from time to time. You’re still going to wake up and forget for one second that he’s gone, then it will all rush back. You’re still going to sob in the shower where no one can hear you and the tears fall with the streaming water. And you’ll still ask why. Why me? Why is this happening to me?

I am thirty-five now. I’ve been through a lot of relationship stuff. The good, bad and very very ugly. And I never regretted any of it.  I know what it takes for me to mourn and get through a relationship loss. I know that every time a break up happens, I think, there is no way I can meet anyone better than that guy (for me, anyway)… and then I do. Every single time. I meet someone a little closer to what fits with me, and I them. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting close.

I also know how to have conversations with myself, be honest with myself and my partner, and take an objective look at what’s working and what’s not… actually resulting in the last few breakups coming from my end, and amicably. I don’t let things get too far down the wrong path anymore if they aren’t feeling right to me. I have open, honest, respectful dialogue with people I do engage in a relationship- even if it is short-lived. But that’s just me understanding and knowing me. Maturing. Being aware my boundaries, and getting to know who I am over time.

The best thing I can offer, advice-wise, is to cut it out, and focus on healing yourself. The time will also allow you to redefine your feelings for the person. They may be friendly, they may be distant… but they aren’t what they were, and they need time to get there. That is what you need to move forward.

Some things cannot be weaned, they just need to be axed. And when you look back, you’ll be glad you did.

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