Whatever you do in picking a husband, make sure that he is kind.
My grandmother told me that, a couple of months before she died. She unhappily outlived my grandfather by five years. He was the kindest person I have ever known.
In one instance of what turned out to be an abundant and cruel dose of irony, I told you this. How did it come up? You told me that you’d been thinking about the importance of kindness in the people you surround yourself with. “I think that you are kind,” you told me. So I told you what my grandmother had said. I thought, how beautiful that was, that you should bring up the very wisdom that I held so dearly.
And I can’t help but think about that conversation, in the light of where we are to each other now. How unkindly you acted in letting me go. How cold and unlike yourself, how absent and unfamiliar you seemed. How judgmental. The same steady eyes that once stared into mine for 27 straight minutes were leveled and indifferent. The same hands that pulled me close at just the right moments were now folded out of reach. The hair I’d run my fingers through in tender moments, was cut in an unfamiliar and exaggerated style. I liked it better before. Now you look like a cliché.
The same body that couldn’t be close enough to mine now sat at an awkward emphasized opposite of me. We were no longer on the same team, I was no longer the partner you wanted. My pain an inconvenience, my arguments and questions fell on ears that would not listen. But for my own sake I had to try…
We walked up the stairs and stopped outside your bedroom. The door once welcoming, was closed in my face as you went to retrieve the latest thing I’d left behind. A phone charger, it had missing for a month.
The kitchen table where you’d last sat me down and watched as I ate something you’d made me, and said that it made you happy to feed me. It was here where we sat now to “talk,” despite your roommates walking in and out, going about their kitchen and bathroom business. And me, like an idiot, allowing you to treat me this way. It was cruel, and harsh, and mean.
And finally, unable to bear the awkwardness of me stating a case as your roommate checked through the cupboards, you folded. “Would you like to talk in my room?” I only nodded.
In your room, you apologized for the mess, as if it fucking mattered. Then you went out of your way to clear your desk chair, something you’d never done before. So I wouldn’t sit on your bed? So I wouldn’t attack you with my boobs and you’d never escape? I can’t say. But you were afraid of something, and not saying so much.
I bared my heart to you. I appealed to you in every way I could think. And you had a reason for everything. And you shot me down.
I said the most beautiful things I could think of about how relationships should be, and how I only wanted one where we both felt supported and comforted and valued. That I’d realized that how much more important it is to have a relationship of quality, rather than quantity. And that if we made it past the next seven months, if we wanted to continue through your grueling paramedic training, we would be okay, because it was only a year long, and I would be there for you, and it wouldn’t defeat us, only make us stronger, because we knew that we cared about each other – all more than you deserved or could expect from me three months in. But that was okay, because we had seven months before we even had to think about that, and who knows where life would go in that time?
You’re eyes got really sad and deep, and you were finally quiet, for a while. You said, “that sounds nice, I’ve never had anyone say something like that to me (fuck ya you haven’t because you’re not fucking worth it), but it’s just not the way it will go.” And then I don’t remember what you said, but it was a flat-out rejection of what I offered you, what I’d said, and I just burst into tears. You’d cut me.
You said that we were both stubborn, and we probably would make it. But you didn’t want to go through that, and you didn’t want to put me through that. It would be too much to bear. And what if we broke up? What if things escalated and we moved in together and broke up, you would be devastated, in the middle of your training. And you can’t fail. I just don’t understand. You’re sorry I can’t see it from your point of view. Wow I am just such a disappointment.
“Seven months is a long time.” I said. “Ya, a long time to get attached.” “I don’t see why we have to break up in seven months..” “I’ve thought this through in every scenario, and it just isn’t going to work.”
“Why have relationships at all?” I asked. “Good question,” you said. “So why even start with me?” That made you mad. “Don’t even go there. I have enjoyed every minute we’ve spent together.” I backed off, for my own sake – I was afraid of what you would say if I pushed you. That which I’d always feared, that it had never been real. “So you’d rather just kill this good thing now, and wait around for the next relationship?” You didn’t answer me.
Now I was feeling manipulated. You asked me if I regretted our time together. I wanted to say yes so badly (I’d woken up to that very thought that morning – “I wish he’d never kissed me”), but that would have been mean. And I’m not like you. Because now I realize, the way you acted up to this point could only have been fantasy, if this was the way you were leaving me. Everything you had to stand on was noncommittal commitment. And now it was time to decide if it was real, and you had to answer for your actions, and you did not like it. You acted a cliché.
Speaking of manipulation, that 27 minutes we looked in each others’ eyes? Started as 5 minutes, at your suggestion. The day after I’d come across an article saying that research suggested that staring into someone’s eyes for 5 minutes makes you fall in love with them. Huh.
Instead of answering you I said “ you don’t regret these three months, but you’d regret the next seven?” … “Good question,” you said.
You told me you cared about me, that you didn’t want to put me or you through the pain. Your words were a cliché. You won’t admit you’re just fucking scared, or that you no longer care, or that I could have been anybody and this was a phase. Or, in my theory, all three. How could this be the same person who comforted me in my early bouts of distrust and doubt. Who was so understanding and supportive? What a fucking load of shit that was. It had to have been.
And so I do regret what we had together. I regret opening up to you and allowing myself to trust you. Because I see now that it wasn’t real. I was your girlfriend, but you were never my boyfriend. It was a relationship, but it was theoretical. You fell too fast and left to easily for real feelings to have been involved. And now I get to say I-told-you-so … to myself? It’s still shitty.
When a guy asks you to be his girlfriend three hours into the first time you spend time together, you have to be crazy not to wonder. But he was so insistent that it was real, that he was sincere, and I wanted to believe it. He was fun, and he made me happy. How could he not? His whole attention was on me, and he listened. I was taken aback and thought he was crazy, and then he started listing all the ‘amazing’ things about me, all that he’d learned in the last three hours. I said, “Is that enough?” and he said yes. He said he had only had unhealthy relationships based on fantasy, and he was finally ready for a healthy loving relationship. I said we could start as friends and see how it went. I see now that I was daring him to convince me. Forget about what comes after, was apparently also in that message. All of a sudden the things that love could conquer no longer applied – our relationship magically developed infinite roadblocks.
And now you’re done, and you check your watch. Fuck your hints and fuck you. I’ll be sad for as much time as I fucking want. You wasted plenty of mine. Fuck you. And now you would dare to ask me what my goals and dreams are? So you’d like me to explain myself to you? Then use my answer as further evidence of our incompatibility? Forget cliché, you are just plain mean.
Now I know why you couldn’t think of a working scenario for our future: because in none of your projected scenarios were you happily committed to me. I woke up crying this morning. So sad. And so aware of reality – that love is the only thing that is real in life, nothing can conquer it. None of your excuses are real. They don’t exist in reality. Love is reality, because you make it reality. And you realize that it’s important. A voice in my dreams woke me today, it said “if you wanted to be with me, you would be. That’s all there is.”
Fuck your “healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in.” You left me on edge, and you stretched out the pain. I began noticing, a month before any of this, that you’d sometimes describe me or the relationship as if we were no longer together, summing up the things I’d done for you (aka the ways I’d changed your miserable fucking life by being awesome) like you were writing a biography.
You attacked my history, questioned my sanity, and suggested I was damaged below my value. None of those things were kind. You were scared, but I was not the enemy. And I can’t help but just feel sorry for you. Because as unkind and critical as you were towards me, you have to live with yourself. You said it’s not my fault, that I couldn’t have done anything different, that I deserve better, that I shouldn’t wait for you. You’re right about all that, but for none of the reasons you think.
I will not chase you down to make you accept my love. I will not be the hero of your life. I will not be treated unkindly and beg for more. I am not like you.
I’ve never really let anyone go before, but I think I have to trust my grandmother’s words. I cannot waste my time trying to figure you out, or wondering if I could, no matter how much I wish you’d let me. I am strong, and I can make it through pain. And I’d rather go through the pain of accepting what we never had, than waste it letting you be unkind to me. That does not have to be my fight.