In last week’s paper, I published a letter from a friend of a friend who had been dating someone for five years. Years. She thought he was her bashert and was waiting for the moment it would be made official. But that was not to be. She visited her boyfriend and his family over Pesach, at his insistence in Florida, only to have him break up with her there and basically kick her out of his life.
I do know this woman somewhat; as I said, she’s a friend of a friend. I sent her an email response because that is what she requested, as well as having her letter and my response printed. But I called her because my heart broke for her. Sometimes I think very childlike, and this was one of those times. My thoughts: “How could someone be so mean? Would they want it to be treated this way (V’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha)? He brought her to Florida to break up with her. Couldn’t he have done it at home?” We had an emotionally exhausting conversation. As a social worker, mother, and human being, I have no words for the cruelty I feel she experienced at the hands of another. How can I explain it? I am happy to inform my readers that “Yaffa” is moving on with her life in a positive direction now. But, baruch Hashem, she will make it. Yaffa will get through this and, im yirtzeh Hashem, she will walk down the aisle to where her true bashert is waiting for her.
My response to the email:
Yaffa, oy. My saying I’m sorry for what you experienced will not help. So, I won’t say it. Let me ramble a bit here, and I promise at the end I’ll tie it up in a nice bow. I will respond as I would to any friend.
The first class I enrolled in for college was Sociology 101. I went on to major in Sociology, and I studied for my master’s degree and license in Social Work. But I still can’t explain the basic concept of what sociology is. Every professor began the semester with the same sentence. It became a joke: “Sociology is the study of people.” People, cultures, nations, races, and sexes are so different. Truthfully, it can take many lifetimes to study them and try to figure why all people act/behave a certain way. But the “great sociologists of our times” broke down behavior and patterns of people into categories that made it very easy to study for exams or to write a paper on. But I was never satisfied. How can you break down a culture, race, sex, etc. with its norms and taboos into easy-to-memorize paragraphs? You can’t. What I studied was a generalization of what “most people” in a particular society do. But I can certainly tell you that many in any single one group do not fit into that mold. And David certainly doesn’t fit into any mold I know of re: how to treat someone you love or may have loved at one time. What caused David to pull a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? I don’t know. But if he is capable of ending the relationship as he did, and treating you as he did, isn’t it better that you found out before you made it official? But that still doesn’t take away the pain that you feel.
What he did and how he did it seems cold-blooded. It was very cruel. Yes, David is a jerk. From how you described it, I doubt David decided to end the relationship Erev Pesach. He seemed calm and resolved to the fact that he was doing this. He was comfortable with his decision. His mind had been made up for at least a few days. Why didn’t he call you, make up an excuse why you shouldn’t visit him in Florida and then break up after he returned? He wouldn’t be seeing you for eight days, but no, he allowed you to anticipate the trip, prepare for it (I don’t know who paid for the ticket, but if you did, I’d tell him to Venmo the money back to you.) He knew what he was doing to you even if he wasn’t paying attention to it. He was summoning you on a “trip” in order for him to break up with you. I can’t imagine what a person like that feels in terms of emotions for someone else. He explained that the “relationship ran its course...” so it doesn’t seem like he was retaliating for something you may have done to him. Why he chose the public mall for the actual breakup is beyond my comprehension. A long-time relationship is over. Cut off with a snip/a sentence. Any normal person would have some type of reaction – and if not, then David and that person are bashert. Leaving you in the car with the parting statement of staying away from him and his family – I would have crumbled on the spot. The fact that you were somehow able to hold it together until you were in the safety and privacy of your room is amazing.
You wrote that you are embarrassed because of the time spent with David’s family in Florida now knowing that they all knew that “the countdown was on.” You should not feel like a fool or be embarrassed. They were put in a very awkward situation. As you said, you have come to love these people over the last five years. They loved you, as well. Their hearts were probably torn in two – knowing what was going to happen to you – but David is their son/brother. They were stuck in the middle. I give kudos to David’s parents for having the seichel and forethought to purchase an airline ticket for you, as soon as they knew when the breakup would happen, so you can go home to your family and support team.
This was more than just a breakup. It was like severing a part of your life. You loved these people, were friends with his sister – and now that part of your life has been taken away. (During the phone conversation, I learned that Yaffa has also broken up with David’s sister. It was too painful to remain friends. “Besides, I haven’t heard from her since Florida, so I guess we already aren’t friends. But now I know.”) People you may have turned to in the past for advice or even love were viciously taken away from you and you never had a chance for a proper goodbye. It is normal to feel shocked and to even grieve the loss of the relationship itself and of the relationships that will no longer be in your lives.
The David that you loved seems to have morphed into someone else. You expected the loving, kind man that you fell in love with. I doubt you fell in love with someone who would treat you as he last treated you. What happened to David to make him change on a dime? I can’t say. But you are mourning the life you were just about living. As you said, you were basically married, but didn’t make it official. I’m sure promises were made, otherwise why stay in a dead-end relationship? You had the life you wanted just at your fingertips, and it slipped through your fingers like sand through the hourglass.
When my nieces were younger and told me about someone being “mean” to them at school, I always gave them the same piece of advice, and I now give it to my daughter. My nieces rolled their eyes when they heard it, but they did say it disarmed the other girl because they weren’t expecting my niece to say that – but what they said was 100 percent true, and it ties in (see a bow) with what you wrote in your letter, regarding V’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha. My advice: You better not sing “We want Mashiach now!” because you’re lying. The way you are acting right now is preventing Mashiach from coming. It matters how you treat people if you want Mashiach. So don’t sing that song!” Think what you will of it, but like I said in the beginning, sometimes I think just as an innocent child’s mind would think. Yes, David did a very mean thing, and yes, he probably delayed Mashiach for a couple of seconds there, but as another song says, “I believe most people are good...” Don’t let this turn you completely away from opening your heart to another man somewhere down the road.