I pick my best friend’s granddaughter up from school a number of times a week. Her birthday falls after the cut off, so she’a a year behind her peers in getting her driver’s license. And, as we all know, the cool kids NEVER ride the bus. LOL
Since I often serve as a surrogate mom’s taxi cab, I see a lot of things. Today was one of those days. My friend’s daughter called to say that she wasn’t going to be on the running track because she was in the bathroom consoling a friend [we’ll call her Jill] whose boyfriend [we’ll call him Tim] had just broken up with her over the phone from his college dorm. Oh my, drama was about to go down!
Fearing that Jill was too distraught to drive, my friend’s very sweet granddaughter piled her into the back seat of my car and brought her home with us—thereby transferring the drama from the high school bathroom stall to our house. More specifically, to the bedroom next to mine.
My heart sank as Jill sat on the phone … crying … begging … and pleading with Tim not to break up with her. She had him on speaker phone [why?] and he kept trying to reiterate that he already had broken up with her and that it wasn’t negotiable. Well, she was having none of it! My neck and jaw muscles tightened. The hair on stood up on the back of my neck. I got goose bumps when I hear her plead the same idiotic words that I’d once uttered: “I’ll do anything … ANYTHING! … just please don’t leave me.”
Jill wasn’t my relative, and now definitely wasn’t the time to for me to interject. She had her own mother, but unfortunately her mother was still at at work on a new job. Still, I wanted so badly to burst through the door and say. “Stop it! Sweetheart, please don’t compromise your dignity. He’s told you straight up, he doesn’t want to be with you! Love YOURSELF and stop!”
But that’s easy for me to say, as an old lady. And even harder to do when tender first love—and a $650 prom dress!—is at stake. But what better time to learn this valuable lesson than now—in high school—before further attachment and even more serious emotions are involved?
I had an inkling that the breakup was coming. A few of us did. A couple of months earlier the high school had their winter formal event. As would be expected, there was the regular hoopla surrounding it. My friend’s granddaughter is on school council and functions as the de-facto social chair for just about everything that goes on. So it was no surprise that that a gaggle of kids gathered at our house for picture taking before leaving for the dinner.
As the cameras were snapping, I noticed Tim standing off by himself observing the goings on. Jill was oblivious—flitting around the room, chatting with her friends, and posing for selfies with her gal-pal squad. She was in top form, all dolled up and in a stunning dress that very artfully revealed her body to die for. The words often used to described her physical attributes have something to do with bricks and outdoor toilets. One would think that Tim would be glued to her side as was my friend’s granddaughter’s beau was by her side. Yet Tim was standing off by himself, aimlessly looking around the room. He appeared as if he was simply tolerating having to be there. I quickly recognized that look; I’d seen that look so many times on the face of my ex husband at social events.
Afterward, I remarked to my friend’s granddaughter and several others that I found his behavior odd. I mentioned that I feared that he ‘just wasn’t that into her’ as they say. I was assured that this wasn’t the case. One person even warned me not to ‘always be looking for that kind of thing behind every tree’ just because I’d had such a bad experience.
Turns out, I was right. This young man had summoned the intestinal fortitude to end it now. Jill and Tim were such opposites. He was quiet and reserved and she was such a dynamo of energy and emotion all the time.
He’d earned a full scholarship and was studying at a college in a town about an hour away. Pursuing an engineering degree, he had committed to a heavy and intense heavy class load. As one might expect, Jill didn’t yet appreciate that. Her focus was on dating and the fun of that whole high school experience. The constant texts, phone calls, and running up and down the road to see her had cut into his focus and study time—or so he said. It had begun to affect his grades. Based on this, he’d made the decision to regroup and focus on his goals.
He’d broken the news and explained that she deserved someone who could be there every day and give her the time attention she wanted. Unable to truly ‘hear’ what he was saying, she went off the reservation with hysteria.
Wow. The process of growing up. Their relationship was forcing both of them out of their comfort zones. It was hard for him to have to do something that he knew would hurt her, and it was hard for her to have hear that he was bowing out gracefully. Yet, by the process of breaking up, both of them were presented with opposing opportunities to do their own self-work.
From the perspective of someone who got ghosted after years and years of marriage and left to wonder what happened, I applaud Tim for showing that he cared for her by at least having the courage and respect to make himself uncomfortable and have ‘the talk’. He did not lead her on, yet he stayed his own course. He did not run away like a coward.
One thing’s for certain, there are different perspectives in relationships, aren’t there? But in the grand scheme of things, I believe that when there is mutual respect, those bumps in the road can be great learning experiences. That is, if we can face our fears and find the courage to do—or to look at—what we know we must.
But oh the pain of young love …