“Learning to Be Strong” Fiction. Based on a True Strenuous Breakup.

by Chelsea Wolfe

 

“I’m thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.” – Alex Elle

“You need moving-on-sex.”
I stared at my two best friends as they sat in the passenger seat of my car. One was sitting on the others lap. This was a serious conversation they said. So they both needed to face me at the same time. 
“You’re still hung up on Cody because you haven’t had sex with anyone else in four years. He’s moved on because he’s slept with other girls,” Ann continued on as if I wasn’t staring at her like she was a lunatic.
“While you were still together,” Sue added. 
“Once you’re with someone else you won’t keep thinking about forgiving him and getting back together.” 
I rolled my eyes. I was not hung up on him.
Okay. I definitely was. 
We had so much history together, a little girl, and we still lived together. Was it because I didn’t want to break up our family? Or was I that afraid of change? Or maybe it was that if we were over it would mean that I wasted four years of my life? Maybe it was a combination of it all, but I do know that you don’t just stop loving someone just because they hurt and betrayed you. Even if it was multiple times. 
There was so much about him that I knew or thought I had known. Was everything just a lie? Did I even know him at all?
“There’s lots of hookup apps. Tinder’s my favorite,” Ann said taking my phone from me. 
“I don’t know,” I mumbled. “I’m not really into casual sex. It doesn’t do anything for me if the person means nothing to me. I would feel like a slut.” 
Ann waved me off. “You can worry about the person later. You just need to get out there and show both yourself and him that you’re moving on. Sometimes being a slut is a good thing.” 
“Why do I love you again? You’re a bad influence but I’ll entertain you,” I said with a shrug.
“It’s because I’m a bad influence. I keep it real with you guys. There’s not bullshit with me. You’ll do more than entertain me though and you’ll thank me later,” Ann said as she handed me back my phone. The app was open and had a cute photo of me, just needed my info filled out. 
There was no stopping Ann once she had her mind set on something, and it wouldn’t hurt to just look around, find a cute guy to hookup with. It seemed more like me getting revenge than anything though. 
Cody thought there was still a chance for us. Hell, I thought there was still a chance for us. But Ann was right, I couldn’t trust him anymore and I shouldn’t put myself through that a third time. I was better than that. 
“Here it goes I guess.” I clicked on the button to start looking at photos. 
“Oh, he’s cute!” Sue said as the three of us hovered over the phone. Right swipe.
“He’s definitely not,” Ann said scrunching up her face at the next photo. Left swipe.
This went on for ten minutes until a notification popped up with a match. 
Squeals came from both Ann and Sue right into my ear. “Message him!” they screamed together. 
I rolled my eyes. He was cute I couldn’t deny that. I sent a message. 
“Okay.” Ann said sitting up. “You’ve got a hookup app, you’ve started using it, and you’ve got your first match. Our work here is done. Time for you to go be a hoe.” 
“And just in time too,” Sue said squirming. “I’m starting to go numb.”
“Are you calling me fat?” Ann gasped. 
“If it gets you off me faster then yes.”
I wasn’t aware of it then, but what they did was set me on the path to end up where I needed to be in, to put me in the right place at the right time. But before that, I had to learn to be strong not just for myself but my daughter too. Four years may not seem like a lot to some people, but to me it was long enough to have built a life and schedule around. In what felt like a single moment at the time, it all came crashing down and I was left to figure things out on my own. 
I’ll start with guy number one. I didn’t end up hooking up with him. I chickened out. Why would I want to go meet a random guy I had never met at his apartment in the middle of the city? With his roommates there. It sketched me out. But I flirted, a lot. And that was one step closer to moving on from Cody. 
Guy number two got lucky. Because Cody and I still lived together, he was constantly on me about getting back together. He made it difficult for me to breathe. I couldn’t even escape to the privacy of my home because he was there. 
It was easy for him to whisper reassurances in my ear. Easy to get into my head when we were living together even if we weren’t officially together anymore. I think that’s why it made it easier for me to say yes to guy number two. That and we weren’t going to his house because he lived with his grandmother. 
I couldn’t escape Cody fast enough. I met guy number two at a grocery store. It was closed and we took his car and drove around. I think he could tell I was new to this. The whole meeting up for a one-night stand thing. It wasn’t me really, but it was something I needed to get out my system. 
We just drove around talking for a while and finally the sexual tension built up. There was a dead-end backroad that had no houses or driveways. We hooked up on top of his car. The adrenaline of knowing we could get caught helped because the sex wasn’t all that great. 
It was weird though and after when we were driving back to my car I got quiet. I was lost I my own thoughts. I didn’t even know this guys name and yet he had helped me a bit. Having sex with someone other than Cody was a turning point for me. I felt like I could do this. That I could move on after all. I didn’t need to be with Cody, he wasn’t the only guy in the world. 
“You’re not going to cry are you?” guy number two had asked me. 
I laughed. Quite the opposite actually. I told him as much. I broke out of my thoughts and talked to him until we got to my car. It was the only time I would ever see him. I never bothered finding out his name. It didn’t matter. We had used each other in the ways we needed to and then moved on. 
Ann was proud, I was growing so fast she joked. Sue was horrified. How could I not bother to learn his name? They were like my personal personified versions of an angel and devil on my shoulders. They pushed me in the right ways, to be reckless and have fun but not in a stupid way to where I would get hurt. I needed to let go for awhile and be me again without a guy being attached to me like Cody was. Ann and Sue had seen every detail of our relationship and they truly believed I deserved to let go for a little while. I did, even if I couldn’t see it at first. 
It was a few days later that I met guy number three. He helped me the most. He was on a business trip and was lonely. He wasn’t from around here and wanted company. It worked out because while he was at work during the day, I went to school and then work and at night I would meet him at his motel room. 
I visited him for an entire week until his work was done. We talked so much that he knew my situation and let me stay the night with him. I almost felt like a prostitute. He bought me drinks, we ordered dinner every night, and he paid for the weed and I supplied the dealer. We’d match movies, have sex, talk some more and then go to bed. 
It was nice while it lasted. It was even better because he held an outside and unbiased view on my situation with Cody. 
“You deserve better. Don’t go back to that piece of shit.”
“We have a lot of history.” 
He shrugged, “So? Everyone has a past. Doesn’t mean you have to have a future together. You really want to be with someone who has no loyalty? Who takes you for granted? You seem a lot stronger than that.”
He got me thinking a lot about what I wanted in life. Not just in a relationship but my life goals. I wanted to be a writer; to get published. It’s what I was going to school for. 
I wanted to get married to someone who loved me for me and would fight with me. It was the childish part of me that wanted this and still believed in happily ever after. It was also the part of me that I lost because of Cody. 
When my week with guy number three ended I had to go back to reality. Cody was still at our house waiting. I had had a lot of time to think and I knew what I wanted and Cody could no longer be a part of it. If he was, I would always doubt not just us but myself with the constant what-if questions. 
I told him we were over for good. It hurt me just as much as him but I needed to do it. I had to put myself first now and he wasn’t good for me. We fought and it was an emotional process and he stormed out in anger. 
I packed his things and when he got back he knew it was over. It didn’t stop him from trying after he had moved out, but it made it easier for me to tell him no when I didn’t have to see him every night. 
Maybe being slutty for a few weeks was an okay thing. Meeting new people helped me get a better handle on my personal issues. Ann and Sue laughed when I told them I was done messing around though. It wasn’t for me and we all knew it. I had a lot of mental baggage to process through. Cody and I had been together for four years. I thought we were going to be high school sweethearts. Growing up put a stop to that childish fantasy. We had a little girl together so we would always be in each other’s lives for her sake and that was hard enough. It was something we were going to have to work through somehow. 
I could do that though. I could be the person who has to deal with him for the sake of my daughter. She would keep me going. That was part of being a mother. I needed to focus on myself so I could be a strong woman that she could look up to. 
I didn’t need her father or any other guy stopping me from what I wanted. She would see that when she was older. That she could do and have whatever she wanted if she worked for it. She’d understand her parents didn’t have to be together to be there for her. That we were stronger apart because staying together just because we had her would’ve made not just us but her miserable as well. 
My daughter couldn’t love me if I didn’t love myself and she can’t be strong if she doesn’t have a strong woman to look up to. That’s what I wanted to be. And if it took acting slutty to figure that out, I would do it again.

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