I never thought I’d be the one with a crazy ex.
Actually it’s not the ex that was crazy. It was shit that she did and the way I handled it that drove me to start acting crazy. I was the crazy one. How the hell did this happen?
Here’s how I found myself completely 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 by 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. Definitely a red flag.
She was incredible (still is). Crazy smart. Loving. Magnetic. Lover of animals. Caring. Beautiful. She wasn’t mainstream beautiful. Women that I’m attracted to rarely are. She had the kind of beauty that would light up a room. She was magnetic. 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 spent less time with friends. I felt like the most important person in the world.
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 together and took the dogs for walk. We took trips to hot springs.
And the sex. Oh my god the sex. We spent days holed up discovering each others bodies. Some of the best, most connected, and most mind blowing sex I’ve ever had. Why is the sex so good with people we’re just 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. Un grounded. Lost. Mental. These are some of the things I felt within months of us meeting. She had this uncanny way of doing just the things that drove me up the wall.
She was late to almost everything (Red flag?). If she wasn’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 definitely needed cleaning.
She once cancelled 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 had a tendency to gaslight. Gas lighting is when you manipulate someone psychologically into questioning their own sanity. Do it enough and that person starts to think they’re crazy.
I thought I was going crazy. I started to really question my sanity at this point. 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 I lost it with her. Every time she would cancel (often) I would throw shit at the wall. I knew better than to throw my cell phone; I’d often just take the shirt I was wearing and throw that. There’s nothing satisfying about hurling a shirt at a wall and watching it flutter to the ground. Other than feeling pretty smart for not having destroyed your cell phone.
Once, after an argument I was so angry 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, the cancellations, and the tardiness.
Why? Was I just blinded by lust and desire? Did I want to be loved so much that I was willing to accept unacceptable behavior?
This incredibly insecure 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 amazing what I put up with to enjoy feeling wanted.
When things were good, they were good. 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 6 months yet it still took at least a solid 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 every 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.
Shaun Galanos is the host and producer of The Love Drive. He lives and writes in Montreal.