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October 19, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


We can't talk about reprogramming without an homage to our favorite former cookie-baker (and Predicament of the Week record-holder) Brad.

And here are a couple more poster children to-be:

Dear Breakup Girl,

I don't know what to do. My girlfriend of a year and a half has just abruptly left me. I had not been able to contact her in about 4 days due to conflicts with my work and school. Finally I get a hold of her, and she just drops a bomb on me. "I want to see other people" and "I need to find myself;" furthermore, she is already dating someone else without even contacting me to initiate a breakup. This just came from nowhere! I broke down at work, my life was shattered. I begged her for explanations, and none were offered. I don't know why she has done this.

We met when she was a junior and I was a senior in high school. I helped pull her out of a deep depression created two years prior by a previous boyfriend who date raped her. She had dated no one since, and she reclaimed her virginity for those two years. Yet she was always downcast, antisocial, and she wrote the darkest poetry, which she shared with me. One day in our Physics class, I sensed her pain and all I did was extend my hand. I've never understood why, but she responded by placing hers in mind. We later spent many nights talking and crying. I felt her every emotion, I could truly empathize. We entered a relationship, and soon we fell in love. I have always feared that as I've watched her heal, grow, recover, and mature, that she would one day be strong enough to move on. I feared that I was just some kind of tool to get her out of depression and to a point in her life that she no longer needed my help and companionship. This past Sunday has seemed to confirm my most haunting thought.

But everything seemed so perfect with her. We shared so much and bonded in so many ways. The only thing that ever strained our love was distance. I went away to a college about 2 hours away (which isn't so far that things should just end). We survived a whole year of commuting and staying committed, and staying in love. She graduated and enrolled in a college near her home so she could keep her job and live at home. With me still going to school 2 hours away, it seemed understood that we would continue the long distance relationship.

But something has happened, and I haven't a clue what that something might be. This is so confusing. She says that we have to move on, and I don't know where she has gotten this notion. She has hurt me, and either refuses to realize this or admit its severity. She has offered me no second chance and basically no explanation. I'm ignored even when I throw back her own words of devotion and long-lasting commitment, stuff like: "We are together no matter how far apart our bodies may be. I am with you heart and soul. With your support I can do anything. You are my strength and my hope. You cannot be taken away by any means by any distance. My happiest thought is that you and I will soon be together; one with ourselves and complete. Thank you for the gift of love. You have opened my eyes to feelings I never knew existed. You have shaped my view and my dreams. Thank you Jason for being yourself, and for finding me worthy. I bow my head in gratitude to you for you are!my angel. My golden angel. A knight of honor and virtue, the sun pales in comparison to how bright a star you are in what was such a dark world to me. Always will we be one, always will we be free." This is the kind of stuff we wrote to each other, this is what we shared. What has possessed her to throw all of this away? Or have I just been deceived for so long? Now she says "that was the past, those are just memories." She has refused to let me come see her and talk with her. I'm so worried that she will be hurt again by a male, as in her past, and I can't even protect her. She has taken this stance for some reason to avoid me at all costs. What is she trying to learn or prove?

Everyone I talk to says that this is just a fling. Some assert that women have to undergo a necessary fling just to be able to comprehend true love--to realize that the person who has dedicated his life to her really means everything to her. Others say she just needs to step back and sort her life. I could gladly give her time and space. But why would she go and do this stuff without consulting me, why would she already be with someone else? What has she seen in this person to leave me over? Everyone seems to think this is temporary, even though she stresses that it is very permanent. But if she ever realizes her mistake and her loss, and comes back to me, I don't even know how I can reaccept her. I have been injured beyond comprehension. I find her actions inexcusable and unforgivable.

All I know is that I have never stopped loving her, and I have never stopped showing my love for her. She seemed to be the only thing stable in my life, the only thing constant, the only thing that made me happy. Now she is gone. She is forcing me to create a new life, and I have reluctantly begun to do so. I don't know where to begin. I know I will heal through time, and I will become a much stronger person. I don't know that I will ever love again, but I know I will be wise enough to never be hurt like this again. I suppose things will work out, but I need any sort of guidance in the meantime. I need some sort of pseudo-explanation for her actions, and I need some sort of advice on starting anew and getting over her. Please help.


Dear Jason,

Owowowowowowow I am so sorry! You are smarting but hard -- I can't imagine that you wouldn't be. You feared something like this would happen, deep down, yet at the same time, you don't understand why it did. PLUS it looks and feels like you got dumped for someone else. Harshisimo.

With the available data, I can give you only a very basic explanation -- sort of at the Physics for Poets level -- for the action/reaction that has taken place. For her, your relationship -- as some things inevitably, naturally, tragically do -- had run its course.What else can I tell you?

Except this: the remotely reassuring (much more poetic) part. According to the Ran Its Course theory, no, Jason, you were not "deceived." The poetry she wrote, yes, it accurately captured how she felt at the time (but alas, it was just that: a poem, not a promise). You had something real; now, for whatever evil anti-Velveteen Rabbit reason, it got not real for her. But yes yes yes it was real.

Now. Here's why you're in the Reprogramming section. I sent you here when I saw the sentence "I know I will be wise enough to never be hurt like this again." Sure, we all have self-defense mechanisms. And that is a normal, gauzy, wound-nursing proclamation to make when you're in pain. But you go around actually protecting yourself from hurt from now on, and you will also wind up protecting yourself from ... love. Speaking of protecting, the same will be true if you continue to go around seeing your only potential role in relationships as ... protector. Whether it's this gal who slouches back after a get-a-clue fling, or whether it's your next Emily D., you've got to redesign the whole experiment from now on. Okay?

Then again, you are sort of a drama boy at heart. And -- as I'm sure you've figured out by now -- all this stuff lies outside the realm of rational, predictable laws, does it not? There is no one The Explanation for What Happened. So let me put it this way instead: write your own free verse about this one, and the next. Don't limit yourself to one form, one meter. Allow for pain and madness and stuff that doesn't rhyme. There will be another muse.

Breakup Girl



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