“You know you’re better off without her,” Christine whispered in my ear as I sat there and watched her on the dance floor.
She was right. I was better off without her and I suppose she was better off without me. At the end of our relationship, we were slowly poisoning each other with mistrust, sarcasm, and unreal expectations.
Christine was a loyal friend of iron will. She shot straight from the hip and never hid her feelings. That’s why I liked her. I chose to take her to my spring formal in 1998 because I knew she was a “safe” choice. She wouldn’t leave at the end of the evening with some other guy or spend the entire night flirting with someone else in front of me. She would simply stay by my side and smile alot and we could make each other laugh. However, there was no romantic connection between us, so I was as single as ever that night. Nevertheless, her comment blazed with truth.
When I parted ways with my girlfriend in 1997, I had assumed that our paths would never cross again, but I wasn’t afforded that luxury. Only a couple months afterwards, she started a relationship with a good friend of mine. Now, I could’ve gotten pretty angry with my friend for violating the Guy Code, but ultimately I could not. As far as I was concerned, she was long gone, so it didn’t matter to me who she went out with next. Also, I knew firsthand how charming she could be, so I knew how easy it was to fall for her, so I couldn’t blame him. I was presented with a tough choice. I could let this embitter me and hold a grudge against them or I could let it go. I could free myself from the bondage of feeding, caring, and nursing bitterness which takes a lot of energy I’ll have you know, and wish them well instead.
Earlier that Christmas at the end of 1997, I spent part of the holidays in Chattanooga and Nashville visiting friends and hiding out alone in places in those cities. I realized then that it was the first Christmas in five years that I was not in any kind of relationship with a girl. There would be no romantic gift-giving, nor any other romantic time spent during Christmas time. I would’ve thought this would’ve brought me down, but instead it was liberating. I discovered a joy in finding fulfillment in God alone and not in some other person. Sometime around that Christmas season, I finally began to embrace being single instead of cursing it.
Sometime after the dance, I remember talking to good friend and she asked me “When do you think you are truly over someone?” I paused and then answered that I didn’t know if you ever “get over” someone. I think it’s something that you eventually just come to terms with and accept that God wanted it that way and that it is for the best. Eventually, you are able to see things better from a more objective point of view and you know it is better for both of you that it happened this way. One thing I knew for sure, the stakes had raised with dating for me and it was time to be a lot more selective. If I could help it, the next girl I dated would be the last one.
But that night, I had no choice but to see her and him together. That night the world as I knew it was burning down. I wasn’t the only one who was dealing with the transition of ending relationships. Many of the dating relationships that formed when friends of mine started dating in the excitement of meeting new people upon coming to college were now running out of gas. (Even Adriene got in an altercation with her boyfriend that night, though to this day she can’t remember what it was about.) Many of us were dealing with disapointment and the unexpected parting of ways. We were “children, playing with guns. Children, playing with hearts.”