Heavy baggage from January 12, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I went out with a girl (and I mean the term girl as opposed to woman) for nineteen months. She was immature, financially and personally irresponsible, and intellectually challenged. I am the kind of person who has a very close inner circle of five or six friends and rarely lets other people in. I let her in to my inner circle, and treated her as more than an equal in that circle.
I recently found out that she cheated on me. I gave her a second chance, and she did it again. She had lied to me on more than one occasion in the relationship, but I kept forgiving. I threw her out.
My problem is that I rarely, if ever, trust people completely (I have “issues” with my dad leaving us when we were young, etc). I trusted her and she betrayed me.
My question is how do I deal with the baggage of the past and learn to trust new people in my life again?
Thanks! Great website!
Dear El Gato,
Write this on the blackboard 100 times: “MY GIRLFRIENDS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH MY PAST. THEY WEREN’T EVEN THERE.”
I understand that you, being human, have “issues” related to this thing with your family. But remind yourself that if you think about it on a purely logical basis (which is very easy for Breakup Girl to do when it’s not her problem), Cheating Girl is completely unrelated to Splitting Dad. Two different people, two different situations; they both just happened to happen to you. The next person will be a new person who will do whatever she does regardless of what C.G. and S.D. did. You — because this is what humans do — are the one drawing and perpetuating the connection. I know you know this intellectually, but sometimes people need reminding so that they can remind themselves.
Still, there is one other possibility in which C.G., S.D. — and you — have quite a bit to do with one another. Warning: Breakup Girl is about to go Oprah on you. It might be that when Dad split, you decided, “Yikes! I can’t trust people! People betray me!” This notion then becomes the theme song that you whistle throughout life…and as you choose girlfriends. Maybe, just maybe, you chose someone whom you knew, deep down, wasn’t exactly a Girl Scout when it came to trustworthiness. Of course you would, because anyone else would clash with your theme song! See?
So, just like Friends, what you need is a new theme song. How about “Things have happened in my past that seem to follow a pattern … but they don’t have to have any bearing on the next thing that happens! It’s all up to me! La la la!”
I know it doesn’t rhyme, but at least Breakup Girl didn’t make you write it on the blackboard.