Written by: Caitlin Herdman
Why it’s best to check your ego at the door.
It took me a significant amount of Ben & Jerry’s, and a lot of nights feeling hollowed out to understand that sometimes people simply don’t belong together. And despite our ego’s desire to place the blame, it often has absolutely nothing to do with betrayal, infidelity, or any of the other heart wrenching reasons that plague primetime television.
Sometimes, aside from all reason, sparks were just intended to be sparks.
I have a night of stalking, the Bronco’s winning by 14, and an incredibly skewed idea of ‘second base’ to thank for landing me the last spark. This spark taught me the importance of knowing when to show my cards or fold.
I would have never thought that at 22, I would find someone to occupy the seat to my left at my mother’s dining room table a mere month after our introduction. I also never would have guessed that after another month had passed, he would call it quits, it would hurt like hell, and I would spend my time attempting to chase away the ache with cheap tequila and Shawarma King.
It turns out that not even the King of Middle Eastern food himself could seduce my taste buds long enough to erase the sting of losing what I barely had.
Moving forward, I should note that I’ve always been the one to take a ‘screaming-at-each-other-in-the-rain’ approach to breaking up. For me, the more a breakup resembled an episode of One Tree Hill the better. It wasn’t until I met someone I truly cared about that I realized just how wrapped up our ego gets in the act of breaking up.
In the most Freudian sense of the word, the ego is what experiences and reacts to the outside world. For me, the ego is what has always made me scavenge for blame to place, rather than to just accept what is for what is.
Through my most recent romantic entanglement I’ve found that the minute we take our ego out of the equation, we empower ourselves to be vulnerable, and with that wonderful things can happen.
Our fall out came in the same fashion that most Millennial relationships end; ghosting. Instead of opening up about all the thoughts and feelings surging through our ever impressionable and pizza-pop stuffed beings, we made the unspoken decision to swallow our quandaries and go about life as though we had never laid together in the earliest hours, laughing until our kidneys hurt.
For the first time, I realized just how dissatisfied I was with this type of ending. Though our time together was as short as it was rich, I was able to learn the boy who (unbeknownst to him) taught me these lessons in a way that made him more than just “another guy I dated”. Instead of seeing him as a potential key to happiness I could otherwise not obtain, a self-esteem boost, or as someone to draw the envy of others who occupied our space, I came to know him as a human being.
Every photograph of his niece, line of scar tissue in his hands and unsolicited story from his past that he showed me allowed me to view him as a person. A beautiful, weathered, unapologetic human being who I didn’t want to look back at with a heavy heart.
In the aftermath, when it came time to break the silence and lay down my cards, I did not aim to pick a fight, or beg for a second trial. Instead I put down the script, dimmed the stage lights and accepted our time together for what it was. I was able to put it all on the line and tell him about my hurt without placing it on his shoulders, or searching for a justification, which I had never done before on account of wanting to preserve my ever fragile self-image.
Spoiler alert: It sucked. Big time. But after stifling the tears and coming to terms with two hours of lost wage (Kardashian style weeping is not needed in the workplace), I was able to walk away from the situation knowing that, despite what may be written in Internet chat rooms, we are not all the same and sometimes we’re just not meant to be.
Without self-pity and drama I was able to find peace in the fall out. Without investing my ego, I can think of him and the time we shared rather than hanging on words that went unsaid.
I can’t say that I don’t judge the fact that he believes Wolverine to be the best superhero, or that I won’t openly mock his taste in movies to anyone who will listen, but I can say that by thinking of him as his own person independent from our relationship to one another, I was able to distance myself from my ego and create an opportunity for growth.
The ego is easily bruised and makes it so easy to close down the lines of communication in an attempt to save face. I found that being vulnerable ended up saving me a lot of time being angry and a lot of money otherwise spent in the frozen foods section.
It looks like Ben & Jerry’s might have just lost its biggest supporter.