And Then, She Prospers

Aug 24, 2015 by

“And then, he leaves.”

Chiara Bautista


          “You’re like Sex and the City!” I exclaimed, never knowing someone who was left at the altar in real life.

          “At one point, it was a huge part of my identity, but not anymore,” my year-of-yes friend said as we stood outside of our pole studio one night in mid-July, deep in conversation, ignoring the cold rain whipping at our sides in the dark. “Now, I talk a lot about my daughter. I don’t talk about the failed marriage, because it’s not a part of my identity anymore,” she shrugged.

          “I love the way you just phrased that: ‘not a part of my identity anymore.’ I’ve been thinking about identity a lot lately, since getting over that guy I needed to get over,” I said in reference to my post I Was His that she had recently read. “I’ve been thinking about how I made him such a big part of me without him even being in my life.”

          “Do you still feel like you want to tell the story?” she asked me.

          “No,” I answered honestly. “I used to. I used to need to tell the story. I used to need to talk about it.”

          She understood. “It was like I’d just meet people and be like, ‘Hey, want to know something funny about me? I’m like a movie! I got left at the altar!’” she mocked her past self.

          I laughed. I used to be the same way. I’d tell people the story right after telling them my name. I told people the story because I needed closure. I couldn’t get it from him and I hadn’t yet realized I could get it from myself. In discussing the details, I hoped I’d gain some understanding of why he repeatedly came and went. Worse, I hoped I’d gain some insight as to when he’d come back.

          I began to draw the line early this year. Hence why my year-of-yes friend and most other friends I’ve made since January don’t know the story. (I say most, because there were times while still getting used to not talking about him that I slipped.) All they could know is what is available to read on The Happiness Experiment, which is essentially: there was a guy I had unreciprocated feelings for, who I am now over but who will remain significant.

          I stopped telling the story because I no longer wanted to, and I hoped I’d eventually no longer feel the need to. Talking about him made me feel like he was a part of my life when he wasn’t. It also perpetuated my feelings, which were already way out of proportion given that he and I summed to nothing. I stopped telling the story because I didn’t want to define myself by it.

          We choose our identities. He was not going to be mine. I am a writer and an adventurist and a sucker for spontaneity. I am a say-yes person and a talk-to-strangers person and a do-what-I-would-do-if-I-weren’t-afraid person. I am an initiator and an experimenter and a plethora of other beautiful things before I am some girl that got rejected. I wanted to lead with all of that. I wanted to be happy first and hurt last. I would own the hurt. I would own the hurt because it was real and honest and undoubtedly contributive to who I am. Like other components of my identity, it too was beautiful. It made me bolder and more confident than I already was. But I was done flashing it like it was all of me. I was done telling the story I shared with some guy when the real story was all mine.

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