Monday, October 27, 2014

You've Got to Keep Moving Forward

I'm heading to India today. The last time I was in India was just under two years ago. My life couldn't be in a more different place. Today I'm happy despite (or maybe because of) being single. I am enjoying my new job, new city, and new friends. I feel content, yet still very driven, which is definitely not how I was feeling two years ago. During my last trip to India, I was killing it at work in what was at that point a new role, but my personal life had completely fallen apart.

So damn dysfunctional we start keeping score

Last night I watched the movie Begin Again, which was about a girl (Keira Knightley) who was trying to put her life back together after a rough break up. That alone maybe would have given me a fleeting thought of my ex, but what really made me start thinking about everything that happened was that Adam Levine of Maroon 5 was the boyfriend in the movie. One of the last times I saw my ex, he asked me if I had heard the new Maroon 5 song. I hadn't. He played it for me and said it reminded him of us. The song was One More Night. While he was correct that the song captured a big part of the dynamic in our relationship, I still feel like I've been kicked in the stomach every time I hear that song. Listen to the song, and you'll understand why.

Begin Again (source: Rotten Tomatoes)

After the movie was over, I played the song on repeat for probably an hour and looked at old photos and texts. Yes, I know. That's a very toxic and unhealthy thing to do, and something I haven't done in a very long time in relation to him. But in a weird way it's helping me process the last little bit of that relationship that still sometimes puts me in a tailspin.

I stopped using my head, let it all go

My ex was a year ahead of me in graduate school. We knew of each other, but we weren't friends. My only real memory of him was thinking he was a flirt.  We didn't keep in touch after school. Three years after the last time we'd interacted, we saw each other at a mutual friend's wedding. We ended up spending the entire wedding together. I assumed it was just a fun time at a wedding since we lived nearly 3000 miles apart, but before he left he told me he wanted to see me again. He was very charming, as he always could be whenever he chose to, so of course I said yes.

I was skeptical about whether I would actually hear from him, but a few days later I got a text from him asking me if I wanted to go to the Hamptons. "Meet me in New York City. Bring a bikini and a sexy dress, and I'll take care of the rest," he wrote. Not exactly your run of the mill first date. We had an amazing time together, laughing and goofing around. There was a very intense connection, and we couldn't keep our hands off each other. This was the beginning of the two and a half year roller coaster ride.

Happy in the Hamptons

For the first year we dated long distance. Our relationship consisted of meeting at hotels around the world to party in exclusive clubs, eat at expensive restaurants, and go on adventures. We met in LA, DC, Boston, Atlanta, Puerto Vallarta. For my birthday we went to Dubai. We were always excited to see each other. I was having the time of my life. I was happy. I was in love.

I tell you no, but my body keeps on telling you yes

This life of jet setting around the world was not sustainable. Eventually I helped him get a job in San Francisco, and we moved in together. Then real life hit us like a ton of bricks. Things were OK for a month, maybe two. Then it all rapidly fell apart.

Turned out that he hated living together. He started to hate everything about San Francisco. His job, our apartment, the weather, the traffic, me. When I want something I work for it. Get good grades - study more. Ace a project - work a 100 hour week. Run a marathon - train your ass off. However, this dedication to putting more effort in, while it works for most things in life, fails miserably in a relationship. Especially a relationship with my ex.

There you go again, making me love you

The more I tried, the more he pulled away. The nights out with "the boys" became more frequent. The lies became more obvious. The disdain he felt toward me became more palpable. Then all of the sudden he would be back. He would want to talk to me and actually listen to what I was saying. He would come home with dinner and a bottle of wine and want to play music and dance around the apartment with me. He would surprise me with a trip to Napa or Monterrey for no reason and we would have an amazing time laughing, dancing, singing. Then he'd be gone again. Soon the fighting and crying were more frequent than the laughter. But when he made me smile, I was on top of the world.


I have a photo of the two of us that looks much like this one. I showed it to a friend the other day. His response - You look happy. And for moments that became more and more fleeting, I was.

I'm feeling stupid, crawling back to you

After we had lived together for a year, when our lease was up for renewal, he told me he was moving out. Even though I had been miserable for months and should have ended it myself, I was devastated. I went to New York for the weekend to go to a ridiculous rooftop pool party because I couldn't bear to be home while he packed up his things.

The day after he moved out, an unfortunate series of events unfolded that brought out the absolute worst in him and turned me into a complete wreck, and also meant that we had to continue interacting despite him having moved out.

For six months, we continued to see each other. I still don't really know why he kept seeing me. The easy answer would be that the physical connection we had always had together never went away. But there was more than that. For me, he was like an addiction. When he just simply hugged me, the chaos going on in my mind stopped and for a brief moment everything was OK again. I didn't care that I would only feel worse once he was gone. I was addicted to that feeling.

I cross my heart and I hope to die

In December of 2012, he moved back to the east coast. I was in India when he moved. The last time I spoke to him, I was in Goa, sitting on a beautiful beach, miserable and missing him. But we had an exchange that finally felt like a tiny bit of closure where he apologized in the smallest way. I know he had never intentionally hurt me, and I used that excuse over and over to justify his behavior while we were together. But the fact was, he knew he was hurting me and just didn't care. I certainly can take plenty of blame. I had become a jealous, crazy, obsessive bitch of a girlfriend.

Sunset in Goa

We exchanged a few texts after I got home. Then I decided not to respond to one. And he never sent another. About a year ago, he sent me an email. It was actually quite nice and complimentary. I couldn't respond. I couldn't take the risk of being sucked back into that world.

Give me one more night

So here we are, and I'm headed back to India. While I've dated a bit in the last two years, I've also been single more than I was in the preceding 16 years as a serial monogamist. I'm very happy that I've spent this time processing and figuring myself out, but I'm also terrified that I'll never be that happy again. I've started to wonder if those kind of highs must go hand in hand with those kind of lows.

While I'm OK with being single for the first time in my life, I do miss having someone to share the little everyday things with and everything else that goes along with a relationship. I have 3 dates lined up for when I get back to Singapore (though anything planned more than a week out in the world of online dating isn't really confirmed). We'll see how they turn out.

For now, hello again, India.

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