I pronounce myself cured of my codependence, now the object of my fixation has been removed. My insurance has run out, anyway. I feel free, but regretful as before. I don’t want another one-sided relationship. At this point, I’d rather be alone.

It’s six months later, the affair with Jon at the restaurant has long ago run its course, Brandon has fallen in love with someone new and this time I can tell it’s serious, because we don’t get together anymore. It’s just as well, because my weight is climbing back up as I make my transition to working an office job. I don’t feel so sexy anymore.

Far from the lively social setting of a fast-paced upscale restaurant, not to mention the opportunities for meeting new people (men),  I face eight hours each day at a boring government desk in a drab industrial gray office, processing regulatory paperwork. I feel heavy and unattractive and so very lonely.

Alan lives just two blocks away from me. We both happen to reside in one of the few lower rent districts of Palm Beach Gardens. I can’t help but think about him every time I pass in and out of the neighborhood. I become preoccupied with thoughts of us again, driving past the restaurant where he works as part of my route each day, just to see if his car is there.

I start going for walks in the evening that take me past his apartment. I notice a different car parked beside his. I start taking my walks in the mornings. The car is there every day.

It’s Mother’s Day and I’m sitting on the edge of my bed, wrapped in a towel, crying. I’ve just taken my shower after my morning walk. I saw her getting into her car. She is petite with long, straight brown hair. And so skinny.

The pain shifts into rage at the seeming ease with which his life goes on. Why her? Did he suddenly become a “good” boyfriend for someone else?

I send him a late night email, telling him what a hard time I am having getting over him. He feels that his reply may help me, confessing that he’s never been happier, now that he has found this girl he is in love with. He is sorry I am hurting. He wishes me well.

Within a year or so I move to another apartment across town and he moves away somewhere I do not know. I do not date for the next three years, focusing on work and school and family life, just like I told Dr. Susan I would.

Because I no longer trust my instincts in meeting the right type of man, internet dating seems to be the best way for me to explore my romantic possibilities. The decisions I make online, insulated by the new technology, are more cerebral, less emotional.

After dating Steve for almost a year, I accept his marriage proposal. Two weeks later I  receive an email from Alan. He’s just checking in. He and his perfect girl have split and he wants to know what I’m up to.  I tell him that he won’t believe it, but I’m getting married again. He doesn’t respond.

Six years pass and I run into him at a strip mall laundromat in my patrol zone. I’ve shifted around the field of government work to settle into my niche as a code enforcement officer. I feel pretty confident in my tactical pants, sized in the single digits, having finally lost most of the weight I gained after our breakup. I look healthy. And from behind the armor of a stable marriage, I feel at ease approaching him in my steel- toe work boots.

“Hey! I thought that was you!”

He rises up from the molded plastic chair and gives me a hug.

To be continued…