I’ve told the story so many times that I’ve rehearsed the pauses. I know when to wait for my date to laugh and then cringe. “So, as I was breastfeeding our son, I opened my computer; there was a picture of the two of them in all white. Since she looked like the type of basic chick who takes her social cues from cheap magazines, I knew it must have been taken before Labor Day. My son was born in November.”
It gets easier each time I tell it, but I also hope each time will be the last time. I don’t want to wear this story like a merit badge anymore: proof I’m over it.
The truth is, I’m very much over him, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be over the pain of that experience.
After I tell the story, if my date’s not a psychopath, he tries to match my emotional toll with a story of his own. The time a girlfriend got an abortion without asking. When he met his dad for the first time. Taking care of his sick mother. Or, if he’s lived a particularly privileged life, that time he, too, was cheated on – in high school or college.
Even though I’m sure these stories hurt the teller very much, I selfishly think each time; I have you beat.
My story is a eulogy; it killed a part of me, a dream I’d had since my parents divorced on my 10th birthday.
I can usually snap out of this feeling and continue the date. I take another bite of my now cold food and say, “That must have been hard. I’m sorry you went through that.”
What he does next serves as a litmus test of where things are going. If the conversation tapers off and he’s visibly awkward: nowhere. He can’t handle me. If he skillfully changes the subject and the conversation continues seamlessly: somewhere. This has potential. And, if he somehow manages to get me out of my head and make me laugh: back to his place (just kidding).
So, what happened with my son’s dad? A lot. But it’s okay that you ask because each time I tell that story, I feel one step further away from that moment and that pain. Know though, despite the smile on my face when I tell it, yeah it still hurts a lot.
So buy me another glass of wine already, and let’s talk about something less serious, like death or taxes.