More often than not, women tend to lose themselves in relationships, believing they have found "The One" the discovery that signifies the end of loneliness. The assurance of happily every after. If this relationship is lost, all seems lost. But what happens when you meet "The One" and he turns out to be just someone? What do you do when the love of your life becomes the heartbreak of your life?
JoAnna Harris understands. After a broken engagement, she was forced to confront the inevitable void after the break-up and truly answer the question Who am I without this relationship? While wading through intense heartbreak, JoAnna says, "I discovered that the end of my relationship was not the end of me. That in Christ, I am complete and whole."
Using her own story of heartbreak and healing, JoAnna will make you laugh and encourage you in your own journey to healing and discovery.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.63(d)|
About the Author
JoAnna Harris lives just south of Nashville, Tennessee with one husband, Ryan, and one dog, Minnie. She's the marketing chick for a rock label and enjoys long sleeve t-shirts, Diet Coke and the TV show 24. While not writing books, JoAnna writes about life on her blog, The Glamorous Life.
Read an Excerpt
I will now attempt to recount, as best I can, what happened next.
For two months Ross and I talked on the phone incessantly and sent flirty emails and love letters and cards. We talked about everything-the big issues and favorite movies and life dreams and Coke-or-Pepsi. We talked about children and what we would name them and weddings and what kind ours would be. After two months I met his family and he met mine. And every step of the way I loved him more.
I found him to be kind and giving and responsible and fun. He loved Jesus and wanted to love Him more. And he loved me. Things between us were easy and natural. We had amazing chemistry together. To me, all that added up to mean forever. Some thought it was impossible to be sure since we had only known each other for a few months. (Five, to be exact). But we knew. Through and through. I explained to the doubters that love isn't an equation with exact parameters. It's just love. I didn't chose to love Ross. Didn't calculate if this was the right time of my life or if he was my mathematical match. I just loved him. He just loved me. We had both found our heart's happiness.
Ross and I decided that I would move to Boston at Christmas, two months before the wedding. He could stay at his parents' during that time and I could live in his (our future) apartment and we could see each other every day. Bliss! It seemed like the logical decision, easy enough. Except that I would have to quit my job, leave my family, leave my church, leave all of my friends, leave the South where I had always always lived, and move to the North, where I knew nothing about the way things worked. But, it was for love. For forever. It was worth it to me. Ross was the single most important person in my life and I would make any sacrifice necessary for him.
Some of my friends voiced (rather loudly) that they felt I was making all the sacrifices and he wasn't making any. Even when I would try to explain those accusations away, I felt there might be some truth to what they were saying. But over and over I argued that love was worth the risk. Wasn't abandoning all for love what life was about? Weren't there scores of songs about love being the ultimate? The one goal in life? Who cares about sacrifice when you've got love?!
And I did love him. Everything about him. His laugh and his heart and his faith and his drive and his hands and his family. His outlook and his sensitivity and his sense of responsibility and his intellect and his face and his patience and his character. Even more. There wasn't a moment when I doubted my love for him. There were times I got nervous about logistics and my own personal demons of self-doubt and my insatiable desire to control my life. But all in all I was sure. Ready. Delighted, even. This was my moment. My time!
The plan was for Ross to fly in on December 23rd and spend Christmas with my family and then we would drive to Boston. I had previously sent up most of my belongings by way of a friend and a truck. The rest I cram into my Honda, say good-bye to my friends-and my life-and go to the airport to get Ross. To start my new life. To push the big green button that says, This is it-no turning back! But leaving my life is harder than I was prepared for. I feel euphoric and depressed all at once. But I try to concentrate on what is ahead. Love and marriage. Ross.
I park the car at the airport and go in to meet him, feeling happier than I think I've ever felt before. Or maybe a different kind of happy. New Happy. I see him through the crowd and run to greet him-and his embrace seems forced. I stand back to look at him and hush away any thoughts of forced embraces. We go down to baggage claim and the forced-ness becomes worse. I sense him move, ever so slightly, away from me as I move closer. It isn't a move anyone else would notice, but I feel as if he is screaming and running away. I ask him if he is okay, and he says he thinks he may have eaten some bad pizza at his layover in Cincinnati. Good, I think. Nothing serious . . . just some pizza. All is well. By the time we load the luggage and fight through traffic to reach the interstate, I feel uneasy. I turn and ask Ross if he is happy to see me. He says, Yeah. For some reason, I don't believe him.
Christmas is a welcome whirlwind that leaves little time to think about the weird vibe between us. The forced embrace. The new look on his face. It's all relatives and dinners and presents and Christmas. Then, at 6 AM on the day after Christmas we begin the drive 1,296 miles north. It begins to set in for me that something is amiss. Off kilter. I drive first and Ross sleeps some which gives me lots of time to think. Most of that time is spent trying to rationalize myself out of a panic. Trying to convince myself that I have an overly active imagination and I am probably making something out of nothing. That it isn't remotely possible that something is wrong between us. We are perfect together. He adores me. We are getting married. I look at the diamond in my engagement ring as it shines in the sunlight. This is reality. Shiny happiness. Whatever crazy thoughts I am deriving from a few strange comments are simply products of a long trip and working too much. (He had been working nonstop so that we could spend more time together when I got to Boston.) Ross was fine. Tired and overworked, but fine. And I am fine. We are fine.
In about the eighth hour of driving we are both silent and I am thinking about my life and how with each second it changes dramatically as we drive north. About how I'm on the verge of marrying this person next to me. About how we should just clear up whatever it is that's looming over both our heads. Even though I feel sure it's nothing, it's probably best to address it calmly and find the solution and move on. I look over at him and smile. I joke lightheartedly that he can't breakup with me now because I just left my job and my house and my friends and my family-and I would have nowhere to go. But he doesn't laugh at my little joke. I suddenly feel as if oxygen masks have dropped from the ceiling and we are spiraling towards our fiery deaths. Until this moment we have never had one argument or disagreement. This situation, however, is neither an argument nor a disagreement. It's something much worse.
Twenty-two hours from the time we leave my parents' house we arrive in Boston deliriously tired. I walk into his apartment and immediately lie down on the couch and fall into a profoundly deep sleep. An anesthetic kind of dream sleep that seems to go by in a blink. Hours later I wake up and find a note from Ross saying that he's gone into work and will be back later, right as he walks in the door. I feel displaced and confused, still in a fog from sleep. We drove for twenty-two hours straight and he decided to go to work? He suggests that we go to the grocery store so I can have some food in the house, and off we go. We suddenly realize how ravenous we are, so we stop at Subway, and while we're eating I ask him what kinds of things I should buy to make for dinner that week. (Because I don't have a job and my one daily task will be to make dinner for Ross.) He just glares at me. (He had never glared before, ever.) I go on to say that I can make dinner every night and we can spend some time together. Ross shifts uncomfortably in his seat and looks everywhere but at me. He says he doesn't know if he'll be able to make dinner every night. He says that he will have to work late sometimes and will want to get a pizza with the guys.
Umm . . . pizza? With the guys? Pizza with the guys you work with all day? Pizza with the people you constantly see instead of having dinner with the woman you are about to marry and until today has lived 1,296 miles away? (Flashback: Once when I was in second grade I was swinging on the playground at recess and fell out of my swing. The swing went back up into the air and came down crashing against the back of my skull. This felt a lot like that.) I was all for pizza and all for the guys, but why did he not want to see me? I had no job. No friends. Nothing to do all day but wait for him to get off work and come over. The only reason I had made the move was so we could spend time together. To be with each other every day. To have dinner together on a Tuesday night. He should be dying to spend time with me. He should cancel everything unnecessary because the love of his life is finally in town. Instead he's aloof and disinterested. Aggravated that I asked. There seems to be an underlying annoyance that I would presume to alter his schedule in any way at all. Like somehow I should understand that my role is to be available when he wants me and to be silent at all other times. It shocks me that he could be so non-perfect at this moment. So selfish. So opposite of who I believed him to be.
I don't say a word the entire time we are at the grocery, silently putting things in the shopping cart and moving up and down the aisles in a daze. He halfheartedly asks once or twice what's wrong, but I pretend he isn't there. I can't focus. Don't want to think about this new person I am stuck with. Can't think about being alone in Boston with nowhere to go and nothing to do. No one to talk to. To me, it isn't just a stupid comment he made, it is his true self coming out. How he really feels. Who he is. I want to demand a refund. Shout that my purchase has a defect I hadn't noticed until now. But all purchases seem final, and I feel trapped.
Things steadily get worse over the next few days. I could go into detail but who wants to relive every second of that again? I don't. The summary is that he continues to ignore me and act burdened by my presence. Continues to act like a completely different person. Continues to hurt me with slights and silences, generally overlooking me. I sit alone in the apartment all day wondering how I got here and how this happened. Wondering what I did to drive him away. Trying to come up with something, anything, to make sense of it all. Trying to remember how and when it started. But there is nothing. Somewhere along the way, he flipped a switch and that was that. I try to make the best of it. I put things away and clean the apartment. I never make us dinner because he won't eat. We celebrate Christmas with his family, and his friends take me to church, since he is working. Every moment I feel confused. Terrified. Like I am stuck here with no way out and I might have to live my life like this. Smothered. Solemn. Next to a person who won't touch me or talk to me or really look at me. What have I done wrong?
Ross's friends plan a party for New Year's Eve, and I decide to bring some snacks. It is my one focus-my one activity to think about. Ross comes over after work and goes upstairs to take a nap, so I sit on the couch and wait for the clock to tell me it's time to start preparing for the party. Eventually he comes downstairs and sits next to me on the couch. More specifically, he sits at one end and I sit at the other and there's a long period of silence. Silence where there used to be so much to say. I ask him if he had a good nap, and he says he couldn't sleep. I ask him what's wrong, and he's silent. He doesn't move, doesn't look at me, doesn't seem to breathe. I ask him again, and he says he thinks he's depressed. I ask him why he might be depressed, and he says, "I think it's because you're here."
The oven timer dings. Time's up.
I ask him if he wants to postpone the wedding, confident that he'll say No. Knowing that he'll rush over to me and hold me and apologize for ever making me feel like he wouldn't want to marry me. Believing that with each moment that passes between us he will come to realize how much he needs me and loves me. Knowing that the mere thought of losing me will send him into a tailspin. Instead he just says Yes. Yes to postponing. He doesn't pause or think about it or cry. He just says Yes, as if it had been decided some time ago. He says he wants me to stay in Boston and continue to "date" him, but all I can hear is the Grim Reaper of Relationships pounding on the door. Suddenly time stops and I feel as if I've drifted to the top of the room and am now observing everything from above. Like a dream. The words between us, which are few, sound muffled as if we are underwater. And I am sinking to the bottom.
I take off my engagement ring, which feels like removing a vital organ with no hope of a replacement. Like unplugging life support. He bursts into tears, and I'm not sure why. He's been silent as a stone until this moment. Maybe it's because taking off the ring symbolizes a severing. The severing of us. It's more than a ring-it's a life together. A promise to commit. They shouldn't call it an engagement ring because that sounds too romantic and carefree. They should call it a commitment ring. Binding. I wonder, if people that were sent to mental institutions were being "engaged" instead of "committed," would they happily oblige? Would it seem more pleasant? Would they call their friends and relatives and register for hospital gowns and craft supplies? I thought it would be different. I thought being in love and being engaged and being on the verge of the wedding would be different. But it wasn't. It was just like every other day only I had new jewelry and a fancy party to plan. I thought being in love would solve some of the mystery in life. I thought it would make me feel pretty. But now I just feel hollow.
That night when he leaves he hugs me. It feels like hugging a stranger or an acquaintance that sorta creeps you out. Like dancing with the weird guy at the wedding because it's the wedding-party dance and he's your wedding-party counterpart. His arms are wrapped tightly around you and you can't escape without making a scene so you do your best to throw your head back hoping to appear as if you're laughing but really you're trying to flee gracefully. I want to hug him and feel good. To feel like I once did. To feel safe and loved and together. Instead it feels wooden. Artificial. And I know that it's over.
His parents call and take me to lunch the next day. Casually, as if it's only Wednesday and not the first day of being broken up. No one mentions the obvious until I shout it out at the restaurant right as the waiter comes to wish us a Happy New Year. Happy New Year indeed. His parents, whom I love, beg me to stay in Boston. Beg me to wait it out. Beg me to do anything but leave. I tell them that Ross doesn't want me to be there anymore. That he believes me to be the source of his depression. That he won't talk to me and won't look at me and won't try. They cry and I cry and nothing is resolved. Everything is broken.
The next day I drive four hours south to stay with my friend Laura. I couldn't face the emptiness in Boston. I've always been extremely independent and enjoyed being by myself. But this is different. This is . . . something worse than loneliness. Something much worse. While I'm driving I see our entire relationship flash before my eyes. Hearing his voice for the first time that summer afternoon while I was sitting on the patio of my favorite restaurant. Seeing him at the airport when I went to pick him up. He wore a black ribbed Gap shirt, Levi's, and an anxious look that I now recognize as fear. I remember his face when he asked me to marry him. I remember his face when he said never mind. I remember his laugh and his heart and his way with words. All of these images flash in my mind without warning or reasoning. I feel as if my subconscious is trying to figure out what happened. Looking for the warning signs I missed along the way.
But there is no answer to the riddle. No reason for his dismissal of me. He just decided he didn't want to marry me. And that was that. The beginning of the end of us. Or maybe just the end. It was the definitely the end of my life-long way of thinking. The end of believing that true love can begin in an instant. That romance comes complete with background music and a happy ending. It was definitely the beginning of discovering what I was made of. Discovering who it is that God created me to be.
Table of Contents
1. Red Socks: How I Met My Match
2. The Story
3. Rocky Mountain High
4. Nine Times a Bridesmaid
5. Lost and Found
6. Grave Clothes
7. The New Me
8. Friends Who Carried Me
9. Revenge: Gym Style
10. Survival of the Prettiest
11. The List
12. Don't Underestimate the Power of Matches (You Might Get Burned)
Also . . .
Advice You Don't Want To Hear After a Major Breakup
Mean Things Your Body May Do After Breaking Up
Top Ten Things Done by My Girlfriends Immediately After Their Own Breakups
Confessions of an Ex-Girlfriend
Top Ten Reasons I'm Better Off Without Him
About the Author