This Breakup Is Brought to You by Milli Vanilli

This piece was also from my writing class last year. Other appropriate titles were “This Breakup Is Brought to You by Tonya Harding’s Triple Axels Played on Loop,” “This Breakup Is Brought to You by Annie Lennox’s No More I Love You’s, TLC’s Creep, and Sara Mclachlan’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy with a Heavy Dosage of Milli Vanilli,” and 1st runner up: “How Do You Mend a Broken Heart? Milli Vanilli.” Also, I actually did blog about this at the time it was happening, but I mentioned only the data entry I was doing at work because my deadly sin is pride.  

Listening to music is always hard after a breakup, especially if the foundations of that relationship were largely facilitated by music. There was the classic rock we traded on burned CDs back when computers had disc drives. And the late 90’s pop that provided the soundtrack to our late night drives.

It became clear to me just how far we had fallen since he played Smokey Robinson on vinyl for me in his dorm room when post-breakup I started binge-listening to Milli Vanilli. And if you have ever binge-listened to Milli Vanilli—though I’m fairly confident that I am the first person to complete this task since 1990—you know that this truly consists of listening to the same eight songs on repeat for about a week.

But maybe this was the most appropriate bookend to our relationship for me–a naive young adult who signed up for the deal of a lifetime only to find out that it was all a sham.

Underneath all of the charm and empty promises, he was the guy who went with me to hear my favorite band from high school play in Nashville and knew all the words perfectly. But it wasn’t his music. He had learned it like he had learned me.

I have deleted his number from my phone, given away of the gifts his family gave to me, and thrown out our old pictures. But I will keep Jenny Lewis’s guitar pick. The one he caught at the concert and casually slipped into my coat pocket.

Starting Over

I’ve been a pretty-quiet blogger over the past few weeks. When 2016 rolled around, I gladly welcomed the New Year. “Finally, a year of stability!” I thought. After years of long-distance, I was finally going to be in the same place as my boyfriend of five years. A few months ago he asked me to move in with him and we began the long process of job-hunting and figuring out how to fit all of my stuff into his little apartment.

Sure, it was a little scary to take this next step in our relationship, but I rounded out 2015 feeling like I was walking on clouds. “Bye, year of frustration and uncertainty!” I proclaimed as I sorted through things to keep and things to discard before my move.

Then he called me two and a half days before I was supposed to move across the country to be with him. He told me that it no longer felt right for us to move in together. He had told his family we’d be living together and they weren’t accepting of the news. Even worse, he suddenly felt that it would be “morally wrong” for us to live together. And that it was at odds with his “up-bringing.”

Suddenly, my boyfriend and best friend of five-years was some kind of religious conservative who felt compelled to trust a weird “knot in his stomach”over the commitment he’d made to me. What’s more, he’d never invited me to explore or experience his religion. In fact, in all the time we dated, I’d never once seen him go to church or ask me to try a church with him. And I’m certainly not willing to sign-up for some religious exploration under an ultimatum–especially not when I’ve already made so many life changes for him.

He somehow still wanted to date me but I’m not a glutton for punishment, so I told him that he sucked and have primarily referred to him as “Turd Ferguson” for the past couple of weeks.

So much for that “year of stability.” I doubt I’ll ever be able to understand how someone who has been my best friend for over seven years and my boyfriend for over five could so dramatically and abruptly push me away. But if I’ve taken one thing away from this, it’s that I thought I understood people and I actually don’t.

I thought my old company would be all like, “Wow that sucks but we’ve already replaced you. Good luck being destitute in your new city.” But instead they were incredibly compassionate. The CEO offered me a new position at the same pay as my old job and offered to pay moving costs for me to come back.

I wondered how I could possibly share this news with all of my coworkers, who had given me a lovely send off and congratulated me on the reason for my move. As I stewed over how to present this new change of plans in the least humiliating way, amy closest coworkers gradually started texting me to let me know that they were excited to have me return. I feel like they probably knew that I didn’t know how to talk about this, and they wanted to take the burden of first-contact off of me.

Even friends I haven’t talked to consistently in months or years, have let me know that they’re available to talk and that they love me. After five years in a relationship, you have a lot of shared friendships and that can make things tricky. But I feel like our friends have done a really good job of not picking sides while also acknowledging that this is, objectively, a shitty thing to do to someone.

So I guess I lost my best friend and the person I trusted most in the world. But this has also reminded me that I have so many other people in the world who care about me. In fact, I probably have a lot of relationships that I haven’t nurtured because I’ve spent practically all of my time and energy maintaining this long-distance relationship.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about a lot of questions that I can’t possibly have the answers to. Primarily: “How did this happen after all these years?” But I’ve dragged myself out of the house to see my friends for coffee anyway. They’ve helped me interrupt my cyclical, confused thoughts with phone calls just to “check-in.” They tell me not to blame myself or criticize my past decisions. Of course, I’m still kind of doing that anyway but it makes me feel better to hear from someone other than my inner-critic or now-skeptical-romantic.

I’m wondering what I can possibly do with my life now that the relationship at the center of it is gone, but I feel like the only reason I can still believe in relationships in general is that everyone around me has been so unbelievably compassionate. I know I shouldn’t over-generalize and it’s probably a logic fallacy and blah blah blah but my heart is broken and I am so completely blindsided that my little broken brain is doing it’s best to make some sense of this. So here is the over-generalization that’s been letting me sleep at night: If the world is full of cool people like that, then maybe there are other cool dudes out there who will eventually want to live with me and will not abruptly change their at the last possible second.

Plus as one of my friends so aptly put it, “at least you found out two days before you move and not two days after.” I can’t really argue with that.

I’m hoping to still post a little bit over the next few weeks or so, mostly because it makes me so unbelievably cheery to see all of your likes and comments and to read the things you write as well!  After about a year and a half of the VSB, there are some things I’d like to revamp and some new topics I’d like to explore. But I don’t really have the energy to give those things the time they deserve right now. I still plan on binge-watching Fuller House and writing snarky posts about it, if only to trick myself into thinking that I’ve been productive when really I’ve spent the entire weekend glued to a computer screen. However, there’s a good chance I’ll be a quiet-blogger for a little while longer.

P.S.: I’d like to thank my mom for being the most awesome mom/pal/amazingest-person-ever during all of this.

Reason to Believe