The Breakup Files 0.5: What Came First, The Movies Or The Misery?

Cole has been doing this column for a while, working through the feelings of his recent breakup with the films that help him get through it. Looks like it's time for me to throw my hat into the ring too. This isn't necessarily a breakup story yet, but I'm at a relationship crossroads and the situation makes me think of an old favorite. I found out that my girlfriend of 6 years slept with someone else, one blackout drunken night a few months ago. It was with a guy I never trusted and was always paranoid about, while always being reassured there was nothing to worry about (and no one has better sex than the sex she has with him, in my head). As I try to work out how I feel about this and where I should go from here, I'm left wondering. Should I try to understand, trust, and forgive the person that claims to still love me, yet hid this from me, or read the writing on the wall and call it quits? I can't help but dwell on High Fidelity. This is a film that Cole and I have both relied on a little too heavily, and perhaps has shaped our romantic worldview in an unhealthy manner.  


High Fidelity tells the story of Rob Gordon, an elitist music nerd going through his most recent breakup. He digs into his past relationships to figure out what went wrong and why his romantic happiness seems to be doomed. He reconnects with his most memorable exes to get some closure and eventually win back the woman that started this mission of self-reflection. This film informed my views on love and relationships from the tender and impressionable age of 13 (before I had actually had a relationship). I've devoted perhaps too much of my life to finding a love like I'd always seen in the movies, but I've always realized how doomed that proposition is, as people can never truly be trusted and no one will ever really know anyone (I've also found solace in The Rules of Attraction). The person you've spent and devoted years of your life to can be an entirely different person when you're not around. They could go on like normal, despite a deal-breaking action and a mutual feeling that something isn't right. The face of love can just as easily be the face of cold indifference. 


Like Rob Gordon, I've spent a while going over my love life, trying to decipher why past loves have failed and where it all went wrong. I've seen my dire need for female companionship and love, stemming from the death of my mother at a young age and my romanticized view of love from the movies. I've seen my own sabotage and fault in never letting anyone too close and always having one foot out the door, for fear of heartbreak and rejection. But the question goes, what came first? The movies or the misery? Was I miserable and unfulfilled because I watched movies that gave me an unattainable, idealistic view of love? Or was I just a scared asshole that watched movies depicting this type of love because I know I'd never let this sort of love survive or believe it exists? It's a mix of wanting too much and expecting too little, fooling myself into chasing this type of love, while never believing that it's attainable.  


I realized in watching High Fidelity as I got older, how much of an asshole Rob Gordon really is. I used to see him as a hero or idol, empathizing and agreeing with his plight. But perhaps too late, I've realized how immature and in the wrong Rob is in the film. He wouldn't grow up and commit to Laura, always staying the same selfish guy that expects too much, while not giving the same in return. His past relationships weren't something to be revered or missed. They were a series of self-inflicted failures and projections of his own needs and shortcomings on to others, idealizing even the ones that made him miserable into, “The one that got away”. Have I done the same to my current relationship and the past ones? Had I wanted devotion and loyalty while not giving the same in return? Was I always ready to jump ship at the first sign of trouble, despite staying distant and possibly pushing my significant others into the arms of someone else? Is this all my fault? Obviously infidelity is a serious matter that only the person involved with it can truly understand, but fuck, I'm mourning here. 


Music plays a key role in High Fidelity, starting with “You're Gonna Miss Me” and ending with, “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)”. Really? Is she going to miss me? An anti-social grump that's jealous, possessive, and desperate for comfort? While she certainly made a terrible choice that I have every right to be angry about, how much of it is my fault for being detached and having unrealistic expectations? Where do I go from here? Do I throw away the past 6 years and everything we built together into a life because someone that I love doesn't meet my perfect criteria? Do I go back to being alone because I've been betrayed, and might feel better when I'm by myself? Do I believe when I fall in love with you, it will be forever? I don't quite know. But I do know that no one's perfect, least of all me. As my pillar of trust and wisdom, Cole, tells me, “We are intrepid, and we carry on”. Perhaps I should make a mixtape for her, full of stuff she'd like. Maybe I just need to see how that's done. Or maybe I'm just doomed to be left, doomed to be rejected. Either way, as The Beta Band says, “Say it out loud, it will be okay, I will be alright.” This sad mantra has been my lifeblood over the past few months, but even The 3 E.P.s can't shake these feelings of hurt and worry.  


I first wrote this piece about two months ago, after I first found out about these events. Over the past two months, I've been in a constant struggle between acceptance and raging fury. I've been unable to move past it, both because of my own fears and insecurities, and because of all the lies and inconsistencies in her story. My only solace has been a futile attempt to figure out the truth in my own head, mixed with a never ending river of booze and lashing out. I'm slowly moving towards a balanced equilibrium, but I'm starting to reach towards a new beginning, with a loneliness and fear that's destroying me. Do I break out on my own, perhaps the smartest and best choice for myself, to discover my own life? Or do I stick it out and try to make it work, filled with anxiety and uncertainty, and in the dark about the truth? I don't know if the movies or the misery came first, but I know the movies have always been there for me, and will continue to be, no matter how this trainwreck resolves. She's right, I am a fuckin' asshole...but maybe I can be more. 


March 15th, 2016