Several years ago I was dating someone that I was less than happy with. We will call him Wil. I kept giving it a shot because he was “a nice guy,” and he insisted that we were “meant to be.” I knew in my gut that he wasn’t the man of my dreams. He wasn’t “the one.” When you have these thoughts in your head, they tend to leave your mouth and travel to the ears of your friends and loved ones. Everyone gives their feedback and you question your instincts. Maybe he is the best I can do? Maybe I’m not giving him enough of a chance because I’m comparing him to that one that got away? So I stuck it out. I was waiting for a sign, a wake-up call.
That New Year’s Eve we decided to stay in. While we watched the New Year’s special on TV a very popular musician came out on stage and performed one of his big hits. It was the kind of song that even if you don’t listen to “that kind of music” you still know the song from hearing it somewhere. I absolutely love several different kinds of music. This wasn’t a musician I would see live, or a song I would even own, it was a song I liked. If it came on the radio, I’d probably turn it up. If it came on in a club, I’d get up and dance. Wil watched and eventually said, “Who the hell is this guy?” I couldn’t believe that he didn’t know who this person was. The musician wasn’t all that important to me. The song wasn’t important either. My gut told me this was the sign I was looking for. I couldn’t be with someone who had no idea who this musician is. I didn’t know if I could be with someone so detached from our culture, so detached from something I liked, so detached from me. I said to myself right then and there, “I need to make a change. I need to break up with this guy. He is not right for me.” I waited. It’s New Year’s Eve who wants to get broken up with on New Year’s Eve?
The following day, I awakened to shocking news that my closest friend’s mother had unexpectedly passed away in the early hours of the morning. She was a kind and caring woman. She had been like a second mother to me for 20 years. When I answered the phone and began to cry, Wil had no concern about what will happen for the rest of the day. He had plans to wash his car and headed out to do same. I gathered myself together to go spend time with my second family, five minutes away. My sister took my daughter for the day to help ease my worry. Later that night as we all came back home, Wil could not comprehend why I was crying. “Death is a part of life, crying isn’t going to do anything about it.” I broke up with him the next day. Life is too short to be with someone who doesn’t “get” you. The death of my friend’s mother reminded me of this.
Fast forward a few years. I am engaged to someone who I am head over heels in love with. We will call him Ed. He’s got some work to do on himself (who doesn’t, right?). His history is different than mine. He has family and substance issues that I have never experienced first-hand. We’ve had our ups and downs over the two plus years we’ve been together but we’ve made a promise to become and remain a family, but recently I’ve grown to believe that maybe we weren’t so “meant to be.” He doesn’t have ambition, doesn’t parent in the way that I do, never seems to be happy, and he’s become increasingly miserable over the past several weeks and months.
One night I happen to put on a stand-up special by one of my favorite comedians. I was raised watching stand-up comedy. I have many fond memories of watching comedians with my father as a kid. I’m often told that I’m funny, and I attribute that to being raised with comedy. Ed makes a snarky comment about the comedian followed up by, “I don’t really think he’s all that funny, I don’t really like stand-up comedy anyway.” I had a crazy flashback to that New Year’s Eve and the sign that Wil was not “the one.” I don’t need to be with someone who finds a particular comedian funny, it’s not that important to me. However, I DO need to be with someone who likes comedy. I brushed it off at the moment but was a little unsettled by the feeling of déjà vu. Something in my gut told me that it was another sign.
The following morning I awoke to news that a friend was struck by a car and killed in the early hours of the morning. This friend was at an event I attend almost every year. He was hilarious and always light-hearted. He was the kind of person that made you smile just with his presence. I couldn’t shake the feeling of similarity between my sign years ago and my feelings this particular morning. I cried. I cried for the death of my friend. I cried for his family. I cried that I wasn’t there to be with our friends. Ed asked me what was wrong and I told him “a friend of ours died.” He replied, “You mean a friend of yours, I don’t have any friends.” I knew that this miserable negative response was not what I needed right now… or ever. I overthought everything and decided to brush off these gut feelings, these “signs.” We stayed together. We made a commitment after all.
A few weeks later he angrily assaulted me and stole my car. I am okay physically. The wounds are nearly healed. The car has not yet been returned. Thankfully, Ed and I are no longer together and with the help of A Woman’s Place, I’m getting my life back together.
If you are reading this, I’d like to remind you that life is short, precious and unpredictable. Do not waste your time or energy on anyone that isn’t right for you. It may be cliché but, trust your gut. Love your gut.