I Got Dumped On Christmas Eve & This Is What It Taught Me About Love

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"You can’t stay locked in there all night, you know. It’s Christmas!" my friend Sarah yelled from behind the doorway. "C'mon, we drove hours to be here, and everyone’s waiting for you to play flip cup downstairs. I know it’s hard, Sav, but please try and forget about him!" I understood her intentions; she was trying her best to be a good friend and lift my spirits. But after having been dumped on Christmas Eve under the twinkling lights, my heart torn to shreds, I wanted nothing more than to bury my face in my knees and hibernate in my tiny bathtub until March.

Tonight wasn’t supposed to go like this. Then again, who expects to get dumped on a holiday?

I sure didn’t. In fact, I didn’t expect to be dumped at all by my now ex-boyfriend John, especially considering how we had spent that very morning together. He had stayed over the previous night and offered to help me decorate for the Christmas party I had planned. It was my first time hosting my own holiday soiree, and I had every Pinterest-y detail planned down to the last red-and-green Solo cup. We spent several hours hanging up lights, making love, and mixing brownie batter. It felt like everything I had dreamed of was finally coming true: I’d be spending Christmas with a man who loved me as much as I loved him.

John was my first boyfriend post-college. We had been together for the past five months. He was selfless, thoughtful, and sweet — unlike any other guy I'd ever dated. I was ready to debut him as something serious to everyone at the party.

But hours after our kitchen canoodling, it was as if The Ghost of Christmas Past snatched him for the evening, because he was nowhere to be found. John was an hour late. I chalked it up to holiday traffic, and fixed myself a cocktail to pass the time. My out-of-town friends started to arrive, and we celebrated our reunion with celebratory shots of Fireball. Classy, I know. But I needed a distraction to pass the time.

Where could he possibly be? And more importantly, I wondered, why isn’t he checking my texts??

I stepped out to my front porch and decided to look for any sign of his truck outside. I didn’t bother taking a jacket because I figured it couldn’t be more than 15 minutes before he finally arrived. But then another chilly hour passed, and then another, and John still wasn't responding to any of my texts or phone calls. I was still out there on the porch.

I felt guilty for abandoning my friends at my own party while I waited for him outside. Embarrassed, because he wasn’t there on time to meet said friends when he said he would. And above all, I worried that something might seriously be wrong.

Soon, a lineup of worst case scenarios played out in my head: What if he got into a car accident and skid off the road because of the fog? What if something happened with his family? Of course, the alcohol didn’t help these thoughts, and I struggled to fight back tears.

My hand shivered as I glanced down at my phone. The word "sent" seemed to glare at me from screen. I clenched my fists and cross my arms, trying to keep my body warm in the frigid December air. Still no response.

He was like a real-life Grinch with a heart two sizes too small.

Suddenly, my friend Sarah burst through the door, wearing a confused expression. "Dude… One of the guys downstairs just got off the phone with John! He’s around the corner."

Wait. What?

All of my worry suddenly melted like the puddles of frost around me.

As he walked up my porch steps, I refused to allow him a moment to explain himself.

"You better have a great excuse because I can’t believe you would show up this late!" I said. "I have been texting and calling you for the past four f*cking hours, worried sick! Do you even care about how my feelings? Everyone’s been waiting for you!"

What followed was the greatest disparity between expectation and reality that I've ever experienced. I thought perhaps, since he was OK, that maybe he was late because he planned some epic surprise for me. I guess in a way he did surprise me, because out of nowhere, he dumped me.

"Look, the only reason I came here at all was to tell you I can’t do this anymore," he said. "It just feels like things are getting too serious and I don’t feel the same way about you anymore. I want to give back the watch you gave me for a present, because I don’t feel right keeping it. I’m sorry."

Sorry?! I thought. That's all he can say after standing me up at my own party and then breaking up with me on Christmas Eve?

I didn’t think it was possible for him to be so heartless. But what’s worse is that I totally didn’t see it coming. He knew; he knew all along he was going to do this. He knew it every time we had sex that week. He knew it earlier that morning when he wrapped his arms around me while I frosted tree-shaped cookies. He knew it when he kissed my cheek under the mistletoe at Home Depot and told me how "endearing" I was for being super into the holidays. He was like a real-life Grinch with a heart two sizes too small, and no care for ruining what’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.

I had even heard of the infamous Turkey Dump, but this was a whole new level of nightmare.

What would I to say to the people inside? Many of them were mutual friends I knew through John. Should I tell them that he is the most deceitful, heartless piece of shit on the planet? Or should my face speak for itself? I wanted, more than anything, to tear down the lights and holly from my walls so I could cancel the party and wallow alone.

As much as I wanted to make a scene, and scream at him more, I didn’t. Instead, I told him that he was the meanest person I had ever met, and that I never wanted to see him again. I then ran toward the nearest bathroom, climbed in the bathtub with my clothes on, and sobbed hysterically. I had been dumped before, yes, but this time it was different. I had even heard of the infamous Turkey Dump, but this was a whole new level of nightmare. How could I go back out there and just pretend everything was fine and dandy? How could I ever celebrate Christmas again, knowing I’d forever associate it with how he hurt me? I felt totally helpless.

And were it not for the grace and persistence of good friends, I may have spent all night curled up in that bathtub. Because here’s the thing: No matter how sh*tty everything seemed, I still had something to be grateful for — I wasn’t alone.

I knew I’d never forget the painful memory of that Christmas Eve. But the minute my friends surrounded me in that bathroom, armed with makeup brushes, ready to erase the damage caused by my own tears, I realized that didn’t have to be the only memory from that night.

The love we need the most during the holidays isn’t the one that can be found under the mistletoe, but the kind you feel when a friend hugs you tight and lets you cry into their sweater.

So through a combination of hugs, supportive words, and one-too-many shots of Fireball, I decided to made a grand re-entrance to my own party. What followed was a blur, but my phone was sure to retain videos of games of flip cup and performances of Michael Bublé karaoke through the early hours of December 25th. And though he was absent from every recording, one thing was clear: John was the one who was missing out that Christmas, not me.

It took several weeks of sobering up after the holidays passed, but eventually, I started to genuinely feel OK again. And then it hit me: I actually felt relieved that John ended things when he did. Because like myself that evening, he also had choices. He could have very easily kept the charade of our relationship going through the holidays, just for comfort and sex, and I wouldn’t have known any different. He could have come with me to my family’s house on Christmas Day and told me he loved me when he didn’t just to avoid drama and make me happy. It all would have been a lie.

Love is about so much more than having someone to kiss on New Year’s Eve, or take cute photos with, or brag about to your family members who are too curious about your dating life. Sometimes, the love we need the most during the holidays isn’t the one that can be found under the mistletoe, but the kind you feel when a friend hugs you tight and lets you cry into their sweater.

Without giving John too much credit (because let's be real, he's still an assh*le), I eventually forgave him for not delaying the end of our relationship. That breakup taught me that if I can host a party, get dumped, fix my makeup while drunk and hysterical, only to return and dominate several games of flip cup in the same night? Well then, damn, I'm something special, and realizing that was the greatest gift of all. Now I can confidently say it's better to have a holiday memory of a broken heart than a love that — like Santa Claus himself — is only make-believe.

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