If Any Guy in His Mid-Twenties is Qualified, It’s MeAugust 28th, 2009
by Doug Mulliken
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -
2:45 AM — In my mind, it’s hard to write about heartbreak at age 26. It’s one of those intricacies about the writing profession - a musician writing a song about heartbreak at age 26 is rarely questioned, yet a writer writing a piece about heartbreak at 26 is deemed, at least by me, to have not experienced enough. How can you write about heartbreak at 26? You’re still a kid. A 26-year old can’t possibly have enough worldliness to know how truly bad it can get, how painful it really is. That’s the view I tend to take - writers, unlike mathematicians, improve with age, and the more you live through the more you are capable of writing about. I suppose it’s a hang-up from being constantly told to “write what you know.” As a fairly normal suburban white kid, that didn’t make for very interesting writing, but nobody ever told me anything else.
But the thing is, in the last 12 months, I think I’ve actually gone through a number of experiences that would allow me to write about it fairly accurately. Or, at least, accurately from the mentality of a 26-year old. And since the latest episode occurred earlier tonight, I thought I might as well take advantage of the hours I’m not going to be able to sleep and write something about it. I don’t see a psychiatrist. I quit my anti-depressants. I have beer-drinking-buddies, not friends. So TNB is my only outlet. Sorry.
My heart has been broken on three different occasions in the last year. The first was in October, when I split with my (now ex-) girlfriend. We had been together for seven years. We had lived together in college and after a year of long distance while I lived in Spain we lived together for another two years in Los Angeles. In college we were basically each other’s only friends. I found myself at an East Coast school without any clue how to comport myself or interact with people who weren’t volleyball players from San Diego. She was in the middle of family problems. We needed each other and we connected instantly.
But we met when I was 18 and she was 19. By 25/26, things had changed drastically. The relationship had grown stale. Hard-tack stale. It was not healthy for either of us, and my moving to Virginia was the subconscious excuse I was looking for. So we broke up. And it broke my heart.
This girl was the first, and perhaps only, great love of my life. I spent over 1/4th of my life with her. We experienced everything together - death, divorce, separation, despair - everything. The only other person I could ever possibly experience as much with would be my wife. (If there ends up being one.)
Breaking up with her broke my heart. There was a time I was convinced we were supposed to be together, and coming to the reality that we were not supposed to be together was horrible. Technically it may have counted as a self-inflicted wound, but my heart was broken nevertheless.
A little while later, I started seeing someone else. I was single for the first time since before the Twin Towers fell, and that reality hit me hard. The new girl was different, she was there, and so I went for it.
I fell hard for her.
I suppose I was so used to being in a relationship that I didn’t know what to do without that security blanket, and so the first girl who would fuck me became the only girl who would fuck me, the only girl I could get, the only girl I wanted.
We traveled together. I met her parents, her brother. I cooked for her, she cooked for me. We played house. She would make me CD mixes. I would introduce her to new music. It was nice.
But it wasn’t. She would avoid me. She didn’t want people to know we were dating. Her ex-boyfriends would come visit and she wouldn’t tell me until after they had left. After we’d been dating for two months she went hiking with a mutual friend and made out with him. She admitted it to me later, the same day I told her I thought I might be falling in love with her.
She promised me she didn’t fuck him, and I forgave her.
We dated for a while longer. In March, she told me she had never really viewed me as anything more than a friend and was not very attracted to me physically. She said she hoped we could still remain friends.
My heart had already been broken. It was broken when I said “I think I’m falling in love with you” and she said “I made out with D–.”
But what happened in March hurt.
And it made me realize - I think I may fall in love too easily. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I was in a relationship for so long at such a young age or what, but I’m fairly introverted on a regular basis. I talk, but it’s mostly bullshit, and I rarely reveal anything about who I am. I give off the persona that people expect of me - a physically imposing, Ivy League-educated white male.
That’s not who I really am, but for some reason I play into the expectations. I guess I despise that part of my personality so much that I am desperate to show somebody, anybody, the real me. And it’s a difficult thing to do, so when I do it, when I open up to someone, it becomes a very emotional thing.
Maybe I’m so desperate to make a connection that I subconsciously “fall in love” with anyone who is willing to entertain me. And because I know how important a step it is, I think I may expect others to be willing to take that step with me - I’ve bared my soul, and you need to do the same. And, of course, I end up pushing them away.
Heartbreak number 3 happened tonight. The heartbreak from tonight was not heartbreak like the previous two. It was heartbreak on top of heartbreak.
It’s important to point out here that I am not in love with the girl who broke my heart tonight.
Therefore, since I am not in love with the girl who broke my heart tonight, maybe it doesn’t count. But, then again, maybe it counts more.
The aftermath of the previous relationship had left me an emotional disaster. My confidence was at an all-time low. I was finally starting to get back to some semblance of humanity when this new girl entered my life.
This was recent. We spent some time together. We had fun. She made me feel like I was an actual person. I was attracted to her and she was attracted to me. Believe it or not, the previous relationship had made me think this was a novelty.
The new girl represented possibility. The possibility that I was going to be alright. The possibility that I had just found myself in a bad situation previously. The possibility that it wasn’t my fault.
And tonight it all ended. Painfully. And now all of the doubts and fears and worries that I felt before I was with this girl are back, and they’re more magnified. Maybe I do push people away. Maybe I’m not attractive to people. Maybe I set myself up for these types of situations. Maybe it is my fault. It must be my fault.
So there you go. Confessional and self-pitying. But I’ve got nowhere else to go.
– 3:51 AM.