Breaking up is not the same as letting go. LeRon Barton talks about how he learned the difference.
In my experience, there is a difference between breaking up and moving on. Breaking up is when you end the relationship. There is no more fighting, arguments, lamenting, or sadness. You are done. But moving on, well that was another story. C and I dated for a little over a year. It was a passionate, but tumultuous relationship. Many highs and many lows, and when it ended, I was left feeling as if I were cheated out of something, like, “Wow, everything that I have done for you and this is the thanks I get?” I started to play the “hindsight quarterback” and looked over many points in our relationship. “Did I do this right?” “Is this the reason why we broke up?”
I went over and over many different scenarios and didn’t come away with any answers. So I started to zone out. I became erratic, partying, drinking, and threw myself into my writing, travel plans, and anything that did not involve me thinking of her. I thought that I could block it out and just put it away. Put away the pain that I was going through. There is a word for this: numbing. I was trying to numb myself from feeling, and it didn’t work.
In an attempt to build myself back up, I started hitting the bars and clubs with a vengeance. Heck, when I got back out there, you would have thought I was going for a world record with how many women I tried to get with in an short period of time. I was trying once again to prove that I was desirable and worthy. Trying to be helpful, some of my friends would encourage this while bashing C, saying things like, “Come on bro, she wasn’t all that,” or “Dude, you can do so much better.” But all of that didn’t make me feel better. I remember getting so mad at myself for still having these feelings for her. It’s been four months, I’d think, when is this going to end? To pump myself up, I’d take a page from the legendary Vince Lombardi’s inspirational speeches to the Green Bay Packers and say to myself, “Dude, you’re LeRon L. Barton. She is just a girl, come on, knock it off.” But it didn’t work.
My first date post-relationship was, in one word, horrendous. Everything that could have gone wrong did. I didn’t have anything to say, I wasn’t confident, funny, engaging, or myself. I shouldn’t have been out there that early. I was lost and realized that pain and sorrow had to run its course.
There is an incredible scene from the movie Swingers that perfectly captured where I was at that time. A heartbroken Mike (Jon Favreau) gets a much needed visit from his New York bud Rob (Ron Livingston). Sad and emotionally beat, he asks his friend why won’t she come back? Rob gives him some tough love and says, “You gotta get on with your life. You gotta let go of the past. And Mikey, when you do, the future is beautiful.” Mikey then asks how he got over it and Rob delivers this bit of wisdom: “Sometimes it still hurts. You know how it is man, you wake everyday and it hurts a little bit less and then you wake up and it doesn’t hurt at all.” And that’s what happened. Little by little, day by day, I started to get better. The old LeRon started to come back. I started to return to who I was.
At the end of 2012 I returned to San Diego to be with friends and ring in the new year, but to also close a chapter. SD was not my home anymore; I had moved to the Bay Area and wanted to start fresh. While in town, C was visiting at the same time. Now, 10 months ago I would have went crazy trying to get in contact with her, trying to see her, but I didn’t. January 1st on my way back to SF, I called my father and told him that I wanted to cut off all contact with C. He agreed with that and said, ”That’s good LeRon, you have to move on. Because if you don’t, then you will carry those feelings into other relationships.” And so I did. I politely sent her an email basically saying that we should not talk because it was too hard for me. I had to think about me.
Today my dating life is good. I stopped being a hindsight quarterback and beating myself up over things I did. I realized that healing takes time and that you CANNOT rush it. Like I said, everything runs its course. Too often, us men think that we can just “toss it off” and move on, but it doesn’t work that way. Once I realized that, I didn’t think of myself as being weak. I came to the conclusion that it is normal. As far as C and I, we still do not have contact and I want to keep it that way. I care for her and will always have a love for her, but I don’t need to know what is going on in her life. I know that sounds harsh, but I will say this: sometimes things that are dead should stay that way. Now I am in a relationship with a great woman, someone that gives as much as she gets. And I wouldn’t have met her if I hadn’t moved on from her.