It’s been seven months since my world was turned upside down and violently shaken by a most unexpected source – someone I considered a close friend at the time. As I sit here now trying to summarize my feelings and emotions at this point the word that most immediately comes to mind is serenity. Calm. Peaceful. Untroubled. Content. That’s where I find myself today.
My memories of Schmoopy are becoming blurred. I think I’m finally so used to being disconnected from him that it feels almost normal to know that the separation is permanent. The feelings of heartbreak turned to regret and then to sadness. I was stuck in that sadness for a long time before crawling out of it and acclimating myself to a life where he just no longer existed. As I think back over the past 7 months it seems like it took longer than I thought it should to feel okay again. I realize that’s a subjective statement as there’s no real timeline one should follow in the aftermath of a heartbreaking, life-changing event. As I reflect on the harrowing process of healing from where I am today, I wanted to force myself to really think about the things I learned. After all, that’s all that remains – what I’ve learned. And boy, have I. So in no particular order, below are just 3 of the countless things I’ve learned over the past 7 months.
I’ve learned that I don’t need Schmoopy. The truth is that I never needed Schmoopy regardless of how much I thought I did at the time. My life and heart were overflowing with real and deep friendships before Schmoopy came into my life, but as I was struggling with sickness and a lack of enthusiasm about where we lived and the regular presence of beloved friends, I unknowingly began to retreat from these friendships. I had allowed the fear of being a burden to my friends to close myself off. I felt like I never had anything exciting or happy to share with them, so I just avoided them. I’d keep in touch with the occasional text, but I tried to keep those closest to me at arm’s length because I didn’t want to bring them down, and I didn’t want them to bear any of the weight of my burdens. This was exacerbated by the knowledge that my problems weren’t major things. I was sad, lonely, anxious, unsettled, tired, and sick. So what? Half of the people I probably pass in the produce section of our local grocery store have far more serious problems. I knew my life was filled with undeserved blessings – a loving, adoring husband, 2 healthy girls, a beautiful home filled with love – so I felt I had no right to complain. Because of these things I felt like I needed to keep my feelings and pain to myself. I was wrong, but that’s a story for another day.
Enter Schmoopy. Somehow I mistook our easy conversations and chemistry for a real friendship. It had been so many months since I had let my guard completely down and shared my innermost thoughts and feelings without the fear of burdening or being judged. In those two important areas, he felt like a safe landing spot. He seemed genuine, caring, concerned, and interested in my life. So I let it out. All of it. I shouldn’t have, but that, too, is something to go into detail about another day.
I learned that the physical presence of a brand new friendship is more important than I thought it was. What I mean is that when it’s just words on a screen or on the phone it’s much easier to shape what we say and mold the way we present ourselves to others. It’s also extremely easy to misinterpret words on a screen or on the phone because you can’t see the expressions or mannerisms the other person is displaying. But this is complicated because conversely, the opposite is also true. When we aren’t face to face with each other it’s much easier to let our inhibitions down and develop friendships that are really deep more quickly than we probably would if we were face to face. The point is, virtual relationships of any kind are at risk for being destroyed due to all of the factors listed above. Proceed with caution. Or do like I have done and vow to never make a new friend again. Kidding (sort of).
I learned that when you’re spending time (whether online or in person) with someone who you find interesting, charming, and attractive, developing feelings is a real possibility. Even if you’re happy and fulfilled in your current relationship. This seems blatantly obvious as I’m typing it, but the intensity and genuine affection I felt for Schmoopy was a completely unexpected side effect of our friendship. Thinking I was immune to that possibility was naive and pretty freaking stupid. Red flag, people. Turn and run.
Seven months later, I’m still grateful for the time we shared . The way he betrayed me and spoke to me in the end was brutal and it ravished my soul, but in the wake of the tidal wave of destruction that crashed down on me, I’ve grown. I’ve learned. And most importantly, I’m still able to see myself as the cool, confident, strong, empowered chick that I always have been. Sometimes life is tough. So am I. I’ll always care, Rob Szczesny. I’m here if you ever need me.
Currently playing in the soundtrack of my mind: 7 by Prince, which happened to be my favorite song for the entirety of my sophomore year of high school. My bestie and I would jump in her gorgeous candy apple red Toyota MR2 (it was a ’91….they were so beautiful back then) or her daddy’s Porsche convertible and go riding around town with that song blasting on repeat. Ahhh….fun memories. It’s been at least a decade since I’ve even heard it, but I still know every word. I’m going to go download it right now.