Is there any pain more acute, more intense and devastating, than that of being dumped by your first true love?
I think not.
Call me a drama queen, but the overwhelming desire to be run over by a semi-trailer (with background music supplied by Morrisey) and just DIE to end the pain after my first boyfriend told me he didn’t love me, is something I remember vividly to this day. The panic of not being able to get out of your head, the endless labyrinth of shadows which calls up all the most terrifying aspects of your aloneness in the world and gives a platform to the cruellest voices that tell you how ugly and useless and unlovable and inadequate you are – aaaaaagggghhh!!! And no matter how much you talk about it or try to think positively and lift yourself up and out of that hole, it all feels so lame. Just another crippled attempt to be normal. Balanced. Together.
All this came crashing back this weekend as I sat watching “American Teen” – a documentary on real kids in their last year of high school in some Indiana backwater town where everyone was programmed to Christian channel 101. It was terrifying! They danced in lines! The teachers and social workers and parents were all grey, ugly, mentally retarded robots who had no clue whatsoever and just basically gave ultimatums to traumatized 17 year olds along the lines of “get better or get out”.
I related to one girl in particular, the artsy, alternative girl called Hannah, whose mother was shut away due to manic depression, and whose father wasn’t around, and so who lived with her sweet but pretty vacant grandmother. Hannah’s one saving grace was her deep connection to and love for her friend/boyfriend. The shots of them together are so beautiful, the playfulness and tenderness and humour that you only get with someone who totally understands you. Then, after they have sex for the first time, he goes all weird and tells her he has no feelings for her and DUMPS her!
It’s so awful!
I watched in agony as she tries to get help from her robot dad, just wants him to stay with her so she isn’t alone in her inner labyrinth of all things dark and deathly. He has no clue. Leaves her. She stops going to school, is trapped in her bedroom and her head. God knows how she gets through, but eventually she goes back to school all zombie-like and starts again… only to face another similar situation with another boy!
How do we survive these things? Hannah had her art. I had good friends and crazy ways. Each of us has to find our own way through the pain, and ultimately it makes us wiser and stronger and deeper in character. We learn that no matter how much we love somebody else, it is imperative that first of all, we love ourselves. Deeply and truly love ourselves.
It’s interesting that we often feel like we have absolutely no choice at those times, that all our free will has been annihilated along with our heart – but its not always the case.
I heard the best story ever the other night from a friend who was dumped by her first true love on the eve of her 18th birthday ( gives a whole new dimension to ‘arsehole’ doesn’t it!). Somehow, she managed to harness all of the pain and pick up the phone, dial the travel agent and book a flight to Paris – for the next day! So on her birthday Bianca was soaring through the clouds on her way to the city of her dreams, where she spent the next three months languishing in the attention of French men, being given tickets to front row seats at the Opera, and staying in the exquisitely beautiful apartment of a well-to-do friend. If there’s one way to distract oneself from the devastating pain of the break-up, it’s got to be in the kaleidoscopic beauty of the rose window in Notre Dame, oui?
True story. That’s what I call fast-tracking. It’s like having the Three of Swords and the Tower come up and responding by grabbing the hilt of the middle sword and pulling it right out (think “Excalibur”) thus claiming its power to be yours – and as you fall from the Tower, doing a triple flip in the air, landing on your feet, and releasing a wild victory cry, the ultimate battle maiden!
I wish I had done that when I got dumped that first time. God, that’s just so cool. I didn’t. Most of us don’t. The important thing is just finding or knowing someone who gets it, to help you through the worst part. And to remember that “All things pass”, and the pain won’t last forever, even though it feels that way at the time. Best of all, it does give you strength and insight into yourself and human nature which you cannot learn second-hand. Going through pain gives you empathy and deep understanding – as long as you don’t get stuck in it for too long. Like Hannah, you’ve got to come through the other side kicking. She got herself out of that dead-end hole and ended up in art school in New York, no small miracle of belief in herself and some better life. A warrior for Love, no less!