Previously in Part One of How I Found Love…
After being obsessed with finding my soulmate at the ripe age of 11, I found everything but. I was always the single one, I only seemed to attract emotionally unavailable men, and the one guy who did love me, I broke his heart.
If you missed the full Part One of my love story, read it HERE.
Links mentioned in the episode:
Here is Part Two…aka, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…
I had just graduated college, I was getting ready to move to Jerusalem for grad school, and I had just broken up with my college sweetheart. Life exciting and scary at the same time.
I’ve had the travel bug ever since I had 15, so I couldn’t wait to live abroad. Yet, I was nervous about making a big move, the language barriers, the cultural barriers, and of course, who would be my friends?!
I felt mostly confident in my decision to break up with my boyfriend, but of course I had the lingering doubts:
“Did I just make a HUGE mistake?”
“Maybe that was love and I just don’t know what love feels like?”
“Our story was so sweet and romantic, how could he have NOT been the one for me??”
“Did I just break up with my SOULMATE?”
I had grappled with these questions in the weeks leading into the breakup, and after the fact. But as soon as I got on that plane, my doubts and fears went away. And in that moment, I knew I had made the right decision.
I was so excited about what was about to come, I was no longer concerned with what I had left behind. A few weeks into being in Jerusalem, this guy that had also gone to UNC reached out to me because he was living in Ramallah (not that far from Jerusalem).
I didn’t really know him that well, but he invited me and a friend to come to Ramallah to check it out, so I took him up on it.
That night we were at a bar, and I could tell he was flirting with me. The only thought that was going through my mind was, “He’s into ME?!” You see, he was a pretty popular guy on campus, and in the opinion of many women, very, very attractive.
I couldn’t believe he was into me. At that point, it didn’t even matter how I felt about him, because HOLY SHIT HE WAS INTO ME!
He was doing the initiating 100%, and honestly, I hadn’t ever had that before with someone that I was also attracted to. I didn’t know where it was going to lead, but I knew I down for whatever because the confidence and ego boost were great.
After that evening, we started spending most weekends togethers, and a couple weeknights too. We quickly became “official,” and things were really fun.
We lived the awesome expat life together: traveling on the weekends, going out and taking advantage of cheap beers, and the instant friend group you get with other expats. It was really a fun life.
The problem though, was that we had massively different expectations of the relationship, and it reared its ugly head about six months after we started dating.
I never brought it up, mostly because, I didn’t know you were supposed to talk about things like that. I thought it was assumed. You see, we started dating in October/November, and he was planning to move back to the US the next June.
I definitely wasn’t moving back then because I had a year left of grad school.
Anyways, I thought we were in a “real” relationship in the sense that when June came, we’d see where we were in our relationship and make a decision together about whether or not we wanted to continue.
From what he told me, he never saw it that way. He had always seen our relationship as temporary since he was going back to the US. I was devastated. And I was confused.
Had he not grown any emotional connection with me?
I thought six months was more than enough time to develop a real connection with someone, enough at least to entertain a conversation about where his leaving left us.
By April of that year, our relationship was so hard, because it just became a countdown to our inevitable breakup. I don’t think either of us were wrong, but a simple conversation up front about our expectations could’ve saved at least me a lot of heartache.
He left (I’ll spare you the ugly cry details), and luckily, I had an adventure planned for myself that summer: I was going to live with a family in Damascus, Syria to practice my Arabic!
The solo travel allowed me to heal myself and get some space from the relationship. It worked, except when I got back to Jerusalem that fall, I got myself into the SAME situation! He worked where I was a graduate intern, and I was SO into him.
He had similar interests and values I did. Unlike the last guy, he was Jewish, (so he had to be the one…right?). And there was so much chemistry.
I was c.r.a.z.y. about this guy.
At first, I thought being with him was a long shot. He worked where I was a graduate student intern, and he was so perfect.
Did I really deserve it?! Could I be with him? Could it really be that perfect? But in my lust-filled heart, I really thought he was the one. After mad crushing on him for about a month, we hung out on our own one night, and that’s when we started dating.
He was also really into me. Whether or not he thought I was the one, I’m not sure. But I know he told some of his childhood friends about me.
So things were good. Really good…For about two months.
Then, I could feel him beginning to slip away. It was so subtle at first my friends thought I was crazy.
But I knew. There were less smiley faces in his texts. Not as many exclamation points. He was still initiating contact or time together, but a bit less.
Those good morning texts? Dwindling by the day. And when we talked, I could sense he was a bit less present with me.
I could tell something was off, so I became obsessed with making sure he liked me, and that we were still on the same page.
I obsessed with how I could run into him “by chance,” or finagle a situation where we’d be “randomly” hanging out on a Friday or Saturday night if we didn’t already have plans. But the more I tried, the further away he got, and the more desperate I felt.
I was still so into him, but deep down, I knew that he was definitely slipping away.
I kept holding onto that hope of, “Oh, he really liked me at the beginning, I just need to get us back to that, then we’ll be good.”
But really, I was in denial.
And this denial became the norm for our relationship, and we dated for another 4 months, even after I knew we were done.
But before he eventually broke up with me, for months, my emotion du jour was 100% based on whether I felt like he was getting closer to me or further from me.
I was on such an emotional roller coaster that the highs felt like I was on drugs, and the lows were so low I either couldn’t or didn’t do the work I needed to do in grad school.
In fact, I had so much difficulty managing my emotions, it was the first time I ever started going to therapy.
My therapist changed everything for me, and she was really the catalyst that reignited my love of personal growth. (I read ALLLL the Chicken Soup for the Soul books when I was growing up.)
She wasn’t super savvy in dating (She was a very religious, Orthodox Jew, after all), but she helped me understand so much about myself and my childhood that no wonder I’d found myself two times in a row in relationships with guys that were not available to me.
I think what made these two relationships so much harder was at this point, a lot of my friends were getting married, or at least were in serious relationships.
I felt like I was getting left behind. And I couldn’t figure it out. In college, most of the guys I “dated” just wanted to hook up.
Then I broke up with the one guy who loved me, and then I got into two seemingly great relationships at the beginning, only to realize that neither of them had plans of taking me seriously as a life partner.
I was also so angry at myself.
I believed I had wasted almost two precious years of my 20s that could’ve been focused on finding my husband. But instead, I had been obsessed with these two guys who didn’t want me.
I was also angry myself because I felt like I missed out on a lot of living abroad because I was chasing these two guys around. Instead of going on a weekend trip to Jordan with friends from school, I opted to stay in Jerusalem to hang out with with one of those guys.
I felt completely lost and alone. I just needed someone to talk to.
I remember the first time I met with my therapist. We actually met at a coffee shop, because finding some addresses in Jerusalem’s winding roads can be a nightmare. (This is long before smart phones and Google maps reached abroad!)
So I was sitting outside the cafe at a table waiting for her to arrive, and this middle-aged woman, presumably my new therapist, walked up to me and asked, “Are you Veronica?” Before she could even sit, I just started crying.
The sobbing, ugly cry kind of cry. The years of pain, frustration, hurt, anger, everything was in those tears. But there was also some relief in those tears.
Finally, I had hoped, someone who’d understand me. Someone who could help me. It was a powerful, and profoundly healing moment for me.
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect, I’d never been to therapy before. But she had a presence about her that I needed at that moment, and something in me knew that things were going to get better.
And they did.
A LOT better.
But more on that in next week’s installment in how I found love!