While I lived in Washington DC I wanted to break up with my girlfriend Allison. We had been dating for four years but the relationship had grown stale. I felt trapped and resentful and as a result everything she did annoyed me. This, however, was not her fault.
I felt this way because I was afflicted with three shame-based delusions. First, I think at my core I felt that there must be something wrong with someone who loved me because I am always wrong. Second, I thought the grass would be greener on the other side or to put it in shame-based terms, the grass on my side was less green (and deservedly so). Third, I thought that if only I could get all my ducks in a row, move to the right place or in some other way change my circumstances things would be better and I would not feel shame. The truth is, the shame traveled with me until I properly addressed it. Properly addressing shame requires fully feeling the shame, which is something a shame-based person will go to great lengths to avoid. This was not that point in my life.
I was too afraid to breakup with her for three reasons. First, we lived together and I was not sure how to coordinate all the complications that would entail. Second, I did not want to go through the process hurting her feelings. Third, I feared not being able to find anyone better. This last reason conflicts with the delusion that the grass would be greener. But another essential feature of a shame-based mind is conflict and not being able to come to a decision. As such half of me wanted to breakup with her and the other half was afraid to. Basically, I was spineless. But I was spineless because I was shame-based and I was shame based because of everything that had happened to me up until this point in my life.
Allison and I had talked about marriage but I never really took it seriously. To me, that was just something a boyfriend and girlfriend talked about after dating for a while. Women tend to take this type of conversation more seriously, I would discover.
When I left Washington with all my stuff packed in my white 1992 Ford Escort I had a new energy. I was embarking on a new chapter of my life just like when I moved from Connecticut to Washington. It was a new chapter I hoped would solve all the problems of my previous chapters (again). It did not matter anymore that I was unemployed. I was now a law student and back on the track of life again. Allison remained in Washington and once safely in New Orleans I could break up with her from a distance. Not that I had this all planned in my mind but I suppose subconsciously I did.
A few weeks after arriving in New Orleans, getting settled, making new acquaintances and pretending everything was normal between us, I called Allison and broke up with her. She was surprised. She said, “But I thought we would get married.” I remember how I vacillated when I broke up with my high school girlfriend (breaking up with her and reuniting over and over) and was determined not to do that this time. I stuck to my guns. When she said that she thought I was being weak I countered that I would be weak if I continued to stay with her. When she said that the only reason we were broken up was that she was up in Washington and I was down in New Orleans and that she was willing to take a job in New Orleans, I said okay but things were going to be different between the two of us. When she said that I should have done this a few years ago I said so now I’m not allowed to break up with you? I stuck to my guns and broke up with her.
A week later she called me and told me she was pregnant. I was pretty doubtful of this. I told her I was not ready to be a father and implied that she should get an abortion. At the time she worked for the White House and left on a trip to China a week or so later. When she got back she told me she got into a car accident while in China which ended the pregnancy. This seemed suspicious to me as well.
Over Thanksgiving my parents were in Washington so I went up and stayed at Allison’s apartment. It was strange but we ended up sleeping together. She came over to my sister and brother in law’s place in Dupont Circle for Thanksgiving dinner. She told me later she felt embarrassed and my mother and sister told her that I was leading her on.
After I returned to New Orleans I met a girl, dated her for a while and proposed to her. We invited Allison to the wedding but she declined.