From Ask Lutz

Help for the Heartbroken

Dear Lisa,

I haven't been able to get over my last girlfriend.

One day when we were together, I just decided: "That's it, I'm done. This is the girl for me."

It didn't end up working out (long story) and now I know I have to move on. But part of me feels like to do so would mean my original decision was less than sincere. I know it's not rational, but there it is.

I'm not in love with her anymore, but I just don't know how to move on. Help me out here. What's the secret to moving on? How do people get remarried after they've been with the love of their lives?

Heartbroken down south


***

Dear Heartbroken,

Some people out there who will tell you that the secret to getting over a difficult break up is time. Time heals all wounds . .blah, blah, blah. These are the same folks who will advise you that there are other fish in the sea. Please! Unless you’re a world traveler, you can kiss 95% of that sea goodbye. And then when you weed out individuals based on age, gender, general interests and whether they play bingo or not, suddenly all you’ve got is a fish tank and depending on where you live, some of those fish are bottom dwellers.

Most people aren’t interested in aphorisms—they want methods—the tried and true ways that we get over things. There’s no sure fire way, but the possibilites are endless: You could drink lots of whisky and listen to Willie Nelson. Or stay in bed, watch old movies and eat cookies. You could take up a new hobby to distract yourself, like illegal gambling. There’s no rush like the potential loss of hard earned cash. Some people like to clean—vacuuming is better than toilet scrubbing in terms of curing depression. My friend, Taylor (not her real name), likes to find someone new and get married. Others like to remove all items that remind of them of their once beloved and some like to write letters or perform strange rituals with candles and voodoo dolls. If you are into the dark arts, remember, you should never leave flames unattended.

But, Heartbroken, I’m not even sure that any of this applies to you. You say you’re not in love with you ex-girlfriend anymore, but you had this moment—what seemed like a moment of clarity when you thought she was the one. And you hate the idea that you were so very clear at that moment and yet so wrong. Am I right? Let me tell you a little story:

When I was a child, I loved condiments in general. Mustard was probably my favorite and I’m talking all kinds of mustard. Ketchup was a distant runner up and, in essence, I thought of most foods as vehicles for condiments. But if you put mayonnaise on my sandwich that would be the last time you made that mistake. Thousand island dressing? Don’t insult me. Traditional tuna fish salad? Wanna step outside? I said it all the time: I hate mayonnaise--always with a kind of Dirty Harry delivery. Hating the sandwich spread was simply part of my personality, my M.O.

And then it happened innocently enough. I was hungry, low on funds and a co-worker offered me half a tuna melt sandwich. I didn’t want to like it, but I did. And slowly mayonnaise eased its way into my life. I kept it a secret from friends for months, maybe years. But then I just had to accept the fact that I had changed. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never do a commercial for Best Foods. But just because my sworn enemy was no longer my enemy doesn't make me a liar. And just because I made one blanket statement that turned out to be false doesn’t make all my statements false. Keep in mind that what you said was true at the moment. Even if it were only for an hour of your life, in that hour she was the girl for you. And how dull and predictable would we be if all of our moments of clarity were right on target? If there is a secret to moving on, it’s accepting that the plans we have in our heads are subject to change. Who knows? I might start hating mayonnaise again.

Best Wishes,

Lisa

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