I’m in Phoenix, Arizona, it’s morning and I’m just having my breakfast. I sit down next to a guy in glasses. He’s cute and blond, and we’re both traveling around California for two weeks.
I introduce myself, and he says his name is Ben, and that he’s a graphic designer.
Wow, I say, so am I.
And so it begins.
Fast forward, 2 years.
It’s 2012, and my heart just got ripped out of my chest as he looks at me out of my computer screen, from the same spot where he and I used to laugh as we Skyped each other, amazed at our long-distance relationship.
It’s not you, he says. I just can’t do this anymore.
And the world falls around me. I sob and try to smile at him. We tearfully say goodbye.
I ask myself… what’s wrong with me? Why wasn’t I enough?
I look at my hands and wonder if it’s all a dream.
Fast forward, 1 year.
I’m with Tom, and he doesn’t compare. I call Ben to say hi, and he cheerfully replies, happy that I’m still his friend.
I sob on Tom’s sofa as he’s asleep in the next room.
6 months onwards.
I break up with Tom and meet Henry. Henry manipulates me and my best friend and breaks my heart again. I lose both him and my best friend. It’s too much.
I call Ben. He gets on the phone right away, and he’s really there for me, helping me through it all, even from so far away.
I am comforted at that time, and I keep reaching out to him. And then I find out that he has a girlfriend. I lose it.
“You told me you weren’t ready. Why? Why did you replace me?”
He told me that he didn’t, and that I got it all wrong.
I calm down, and breathe. My chest hurts too much.
6 months on.
I’m in New Zealand. I’ve just skydived 18,000 feet. I’ve just bungee-jumped. I thought I did everything I could do to scare myself shitless. I thought I was strong.
I was wrong.
I go to Australia and stay with Ben in Melbourne. I cry on my makeshift bed as he puts his arm around me for comfort, because he’s with someone else again.
More years pass. It’s 5th May, 2016.
I know about Jay, the man who was the love of his life. I know about Rachel, who was lovely and outgoing and just as blonde but really insecure deep down. I know about Akemi, whom he had never-ending arguments with.
I know about all his relationships because despite all odds, Ben and I were still able to remain great friends.
Ben Facebook messages me at 2am. He’s nervous.
“Cherlyn.. do you ever think about things now, with you and me?”
I know that this was coming. Both Ben and I were recently single again, and we were chatting more than usual.
He calls and tells me that his relationship with me was the best he’s had, and that he regrets breaking up with me, now that he knows what he knows.
He tells me that I’m wife material.
It’s the answer I have always wanted to hear from him.
And this is where I suppose you’re waiting for me to give you a happy fairytale ending with Ben and I.
But sometimes in life, the things you realize you wanted the most in the past are things that don’t really matter so much to you anymore.
So I take a deep breath. And write:
“I’ve loved you a long time, Ben. But you and I both know that love isn’t always enough. Do I think that getting back together is the right thing to do? I don't know.”
Yes, I had always wanted to hear Ben say that I was the best. That he regretted what he did.
But you know what?
When he finally said it, I realized that it didn’t matter anymore.
Because when he said it, I already knew, deep in my heart, that I was always enough, that I was never replaced, and that there was nothing wrong with me.
See, when it comes down to it, the reason why a person breaks up with you isn’t always personal and has much more to do with them than it has to do with you.
Sometimes it isn’t you, nor anything you tell yourself.
And life, you’ll find, will give you all the lessons and tools to realize that the person you once loved so much was never compatible with you to begin with.
Your job, right here and right now, is to learn from this, really learn from this, and grow.
So fast forward, 2.5 months.
I’m with Dave now, and he’s calm, happy and amazing.
Life pans out exactly the way it’s supposed to.
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