I never thought I'd be the one with a crazy ex.
It's not the ex that was crazy. It was shit she did and the way I handled it that drove me to start acting insane. I was the crazy ex. How the hell did this happen?
Here's how I found myself utterly unhinged in a relationship and what I did to get out of it.
We Met At Burning Man
Red flag number one? Probably but I didn’t care. I was hooked on day 1. To be fair, we didn’t have the kind of first date at Burning Man that you’re probably picturing. We didn’t do drugs, get naked, and run around the desert together.
She was riding her bike looking for a friend. I was driving around working. I offered to help. We exchanged numbers and had our first date in Berkeley some weeks later. Like that makes a difference. We still met at Burning Man, which is an enormous red flag.
She was incredible (and still is). Crazy smart. Loving. Magnetic. She was a lover of animals. Caring. Beautiful. She wasn't mainstream attractive. Women that I’m attracted to rarely are. She had the kind of beauty that would light up a room. Everyone wanted to be close to her. I couldn’t get close enough.
Time together melted away.
You know the feeling. Time didn’t exist when we were together. It just slipped away. Days would blur together. So mesmerized by her that I lost interest in other women and almost everything else. I felt like the most important person in the world when I was with her.
I felt incredibly close to her. She was playful, loving, caring, and open. We adventured together. She showed me around her city; I showed her around mine. We discovered new places and took the dogs for walks. We made trips to hot springs.
And the sex. Oh my god the sex. We spent days holed up discovering each other's bodies. Some of the best, most connected, and most mind-blowing sex I’ve ever had. Why is the sex so good with people you're not compatible with.
Oh did I mention we weren’t compatible?
“Sorry, I’m not going to make it I’m cleaning the piano.”
Crazy. Insane. Ungrounded. Lost. Mental. These are some of the things I felt within months of us meeting. She had this uncanny way of doing just the thing that drove me up the wall.
She was late to almost everything (Red flag?). If she weren't late, she would cancel last minute(RED FLAG?) for insane reasons. One day it was because she was cleaning the piano. THE PIANO. To be fair, it was a glorious piano, and it needed cleaning.
She once canceled a date at the last minute because she ran into a trio of banjo players in the park and decided to join the party. A TRIO OF BANJO PLAYERS! In hindsight, this seems like a decent reason to reschedule. At the time, however, it was just another reason for me to get furious.
I’m not equipped to fight like this
We started arguing frequently. Did I mention she was crazy smart? Don’t fight with a crazy smart person unless you like losing. She wasn’t doing it on purpose, but she tended to gaslight. Gas lighting is when you manipulate someone psychologically into questioning their sanity. Do it enough, and that person starts to think they’re crazy.
I thought I was going crazy. I started to question my sanity. Whenever we argued she would turn everything onto me with so much authority that I started believing it.
It didn’t stop me from losing my shit. I was the crazy ex.
I have never lost it like this before. Every time she would cancel (often) I would throw shit at the wall. I knew better than to throw my cell phone; I’d usually just take the shirt I was wearing and throw that. There’s nothing satisfying about hurling a sweater at a wall and watching it flutter to the ground. Other than feeling pretty smart for not having destroyed your cell phone.
I remember being so angry once that I took the New York Times (Sunday Edition) and started ripping it up. I quickly stopped, regained my composure for a second, removed the NYT Magazine insert and the Style section (home of my favorite column - Modern Love). I then promptly returned to ripping that newspaper to shreds. Fuck you Sports AND Business.
Why couldn’t I just let her go?
I should have left the relationship at the first red flag. I stayed through the gas lighting, the arguments, the tears, and the cancellations.
Why? Did lust and desire blind me? Did I want to be loved so much that I was willing to accept unacceptable behavior?
This incredibly troubled relationship somehow gave me some security. Being wanted by her somehow made me feel safe. I had a partner, so I felt wanted. It’s incredible what I put up with to enjoy feeling wanted.
Things were more bad than good, but I didn’t care. I was gonna ride this thing until the wheels fall off. Then, I was gonna push the wheel-less carcass of a relationship down the road.
My life wasn’t full at the time. I didn’t have a job, so I wasn’t busy. Friends stopped calling because I wasn't coming around as much. I didn’t exercise. The relationship was something I could focus on and work on. It gave me purpose.
In ended over cheap Indian food.
When she finally broke up with me over cheap Indian food(definitely a goddamn red flag) I didn’t think I would ever get over it. And to be honest, it took a long time.
I didn’t think we would stay broken up even though she gave me no indication otherwise. For six months I fantasized that we’d get back together. I’d have spent less time grieving the relationship if I had just accepted that it was over.
We’d only dated for six months, yet it still took at least a year for me to get over it.
Time does heal all wounds. So. Much. Time. And Love. So. Much. Love.
Slowly but surely I started to feel better, to heal. I didn’t get angry when thinking about her anymore. I stopped having anxiety dreams about her. She was slowly losing power over my heart.
I started doing things that make me feel good. Exercise, work, writing, time spent with loved ones, family, travel.
Before I could love anyone else, I had to focus on loving myself. There’s tons of love out there, and I realized that I’m worthy of the best love there is. Since I no longer seek love from external sources, I don’t have to accept unacceptable behaviors from others.
I spend time with people who want to spend time with me. Emotionally unavailable people are no longer aphrodisiacs for me.
You’ll be pleased to know that it’s still possible to have INCREDIBLE SEX with none of the NASTY SIDE EFFECTS of a dysfunctional relationship. It happened to me, and it can happen to you.
She still reaches out now and then to make plans. Despite everything I know about her I still agree. The main difference is that I no longer have expectations. I’m no longer affected by the outcome.
Bless her heart; she doesn't disappoint. She still cancels every time.