‘That Could Have Been Me’ – The Unspoken Lamenting of George Clooney’s Ex’s
Sally: He just met her… She’s supposed to be his transitional person, she’s not supposed to be the ONE. All this time, I thought he didn’t want to get married. But, the truth is, he didn’t want to marry me. He didn’t love me.
Harry: If you could take him back now, would you?
Sally: No. But why didn’t he want to marry me? What’s the matter with me?
~From “When Harry Met Sally”
We ALL have him/her. That “one that got away.”
Even if we were the ones that broke it off, when that someone moves on – we suffer.
“That could’ve been me” we whine into our wine.
Saying they wanted to marry you or that they weren’t the marrying kind and then GETTING MARRIED. For some, this person is extremely high-profile – I can’t even imagine how that must feel. Seeing that person captured by the paparazzi, on the cover of every magazine, having the audacity to go off and be happy…with someone else. Ugh.
It’s bad enough when you just hear it from a friend or spot the happy couple at the Farmer’s Market; as you duck behind the organic apples, in order to avoid eye contact, because you still have bed head and you’re wearing your baggy sweats, and they look like they’ve just jumped off the pages of the J Crew catalogue.
A mutual friend posted something a couple of weeks ago about one of my former boyfriends.
He was no George Clooney, but he was a large liver. Large liver’s are those guys/gals that are highly successful in high-profile professions, have money to burn and style to spare.
Seems one of his country homes was published in a prominent shelter magazine, so I stupidly went to take a look.
Do you ever google yourself or people from your past?
I never have, but I did, and I can tell you – BIG mistake.
This guy is living the dream. Beautiful wife, kids, homes all over the world, tons of money.
Part of me thought, ‘Hey, that could’ve been me’ then, as I read further, the rest of me slapped some sense into me, ‘Hey, that would NEVER be you. You still have nothing in common.’
Shit. That part has an epic memory and is always right.
We met on a blind date. Fixed up by a mutual friend.
By the third date, he was professing his love. Every time he told me he loved me I’d smile and say: “well, thanks, but you don’t really know me yet.”
I was at least that self-aware; something he didn’t appreciate.
He was nouveau riche, meaning, he had gone from making fifty grand a year to well over a million – overnight.
It became his idea of fun to spend the entire day on Sunday, trying to spend all of his money. He already had a house, a boat and a couple of cars, so, hey, why not.
We did have tons of fun and laughed our heads off. Did I mention he was funny?
Oh yeah, he was handsome, smart and funny.
He had an amazing job and was the hottest new wunderkind in his profession.
And you could tell – he was wife shopping.
It felt to me like he was taking a walk on the wild side by dating me. He liked the waspy prom queen types; I was way too bohemian at the time; all blonde hair dyed red, vintage clothes, new age, alternative music – me.
The truth was – we were completely incompatible.
He had a boat – I got seasick. I was Yoshi Yamamoto, he was Chanel.
He made fun of my bleeding heart liberalism, my altruistic nature, the spiritual books I devoured and all my flea market finds; not in a mean way, but enough to keep me off-balance.
We didn’t have a thing in common besides the great sex and our senses of humor, and I was seriously considering overlooking that…for the lifestyle.
By the end of the first month together he launched the relationship into anxiety overdrive by asking me to go on a uber luxurious trip to Paris and the South of France with him for three weeks. I only had a week’s paid vacation time left, so he offered to pay my rent.
He’d also paid for my move to the city, to be closer to him. It was all making me extremely uncomfortable. He thought my squirming was cute.
One Sunday he took me shopping in Beverly Hills in that Pretty Womanish way: walking in, sizing up the joint, acting like a big shot, asking for champagne and pointing to the most expensive things in the store; while calling all the shop girls “sweetheart.”
It wasn’t sexy, or charming, like the movie. It was mortifying, and I had my first of many anxiety attacks in the dressing room, gasping for breath, watching through the curtain as the shop girls rolled their eyes at him.
Since he had Saturday and Sunday off, he immediately started to voice his disapproval of me working on Saturdays.
I was a jeweler, Saturday was non-negotiable. Hey, I was a shop girl…sweetheart.
He let me know he didn’t care for my roommate. He also disliked my friends and family, virtually isolating me from my old life. We only spent time with his friends, at his work events, on his boat or at his house.
His large life kicked my sweet little life’s ass .
Then the whispering started.
“He’s going to ask you to marry him in Paris” his friends whispered, giving me a head’s up…and a stomach ache.
Shouldn’t I have been elated? He looked amazing on paper, the anomaly every girl I knew was looking for; a wealthy, smart, thirty-something guy – who wanted to get married!
I sat in the bathroom staring at the bidet (wondering how it worked) that first night in Monaco, shaking like a leaf, experiencing another anxiety attack. I was thousands of miles from home, on his dime. All I had on me was the three hundred dollars in my wallet and a credit card with a fifteen-hundred-dollar limit. He was the only person I knew there, and not even THAT well.
He had Henry Higgins’d me until I barely recognized myself.
I was acting like the biggest fakity-fak- fake, with the fancy clothes and the $500 bikini’s he’d purchased for me, smiling my big, white, toothy smile on the arm of this guy I barely knew, who I wasn’t sure I loved and was supposed to become engaged to.
For me, the fairy tale was unraveling.
The trip went…okay— long story.
Suffice it to say we did not get engaged. I told you, we weren’t compatible.
Yet, when things cooled off and he stopped calling and coming around – I was shocked and hurt. He was able to dismiss me as quickly as he fell for me. I kept asking myself, what had I done wrong? Why didn’t he love me anymore? It’s hard when the spotlight of someone’s affection shifts away from you when you have to return to your sweet little life, garment bags of gowns hanging sadly in the closet. I’m sure George’s former paramours can relate.
I hope they had fun and I hope they learned the lessons I learned:
1) When someone professes their undying love for you just days into a relationship – It isn’t real. I knew it, my anxiety was my indicator.
(My current husband used the appropriate vocabulary; he said he didn’t want to take me home after a date because he was infatuated with me, and that made me swoon.)
2) If your person isolates you, never wanting to spend time with your friends and family – run. He’s leading you away from all the people who take you by the arm and talk sense into you when you’re acting like an ass and a fake and making horrible decisions.
That would end up being a litmus test for future men. I would marinate them in my friends and my life and if they balked…I’d end it.
3) Really get to know someone before you leave the continent on their dime.
It’s all so romantic, but it’s a huge imbalance of power and you’ll feel it in your gut.
Don’t let the champagne override that, your gut is always right.
4) If it’s the lifestyle you miss – provide it for yourself. I realized I LOVED Europe and made it a priority to travel abroad as often as I could. On my own dime.
So, when you’re feeling that little pit in your stomach, thinking: ‘that could’ve been me’, you have to ask yourself: ‘Really? Could you have gone the distance with that person? Did you feel like the best version of yourself when you were with them?’
I believe not. Because I believe we’re always where we’re supposed to be, in every moment.
Deep down, Stacy Keibler knew things would never last. She obviously wanted to get married, which she did less than a year after the breakup with George, and now she has a child.
But when he got engaged I’m sure she thought for a second ‘that could’ve been me.’ We all did.
But, I know, just like me, she’s exactly where she’s meant to be.