When it ended, I thought there was nothing more to say. I was wrong.
At the time, I thought I understood exactly what both of us were going through. I knew you felt blindsided and betrayed, but were trying to see it from my side. You were much gentler in your sorrow than I’d ever known you to be in eight years of dating. As for me, I just felt free, like I was being released from this cage of silence I had built inside of our relationship. I could see the edge of the relationship, and where that edge ended, a new type of happiness beckoned. After feeling trapped for so long, I used everything I had to break out. I threw myself against my bonds like a wild thing. Maybe I surprised you with showing passion for something after years of walking around, dead-eyed. Maybe I should have been easing my way out, or I could have given you more warning. I didn’t know how; I still don’t.
You were confused. You asked me why. I tried to tell you everything, but I didn’t know how to put it in words. I knew that you weren’t right for me, but that you were a good man, a good person, with so much to offer someone else. I knew that our differences were fundamental. Your disinterest in spiritual connection and partnership, your bemusement with my creative struggles, your inability to help me with the things I asked for, and rigid insistence on helping with the things I didn’t need. The way I didn’t fit in with your best friends. The way you didn’t fit in with mine. The conservativism and forced gender roles that we talked our way around but never quite got right. No real physical affection, coupled with a constant harping on my lack of libido. Hating each other’s music. Silence on car trips. Silence everywhere. I felt trapped in this thing that wasn’t me, and I knew that I’d been digging my own grave, so it wasn’t all your fault, but I had to get away. I tried to say that. I’m not sure that you heard it. I’m not sure I even said it right.
On the last day, as we moved out the last of our stuff, you asked to be left alone, to have no contact until you were ready. You said that might be never. And I’ve respected that as much as I can. You’re still showing up in my newsfeed from time to time (ah, the joys of social media), but in most ways, it’s been easy to let you live your life. Who needs to hash over old shit, best forgotten?
But the fact remains that you were my friend. You might have seen me as a lover, and I still remember good times in the beginning. But by the end I’d come to see you as family. And that’s a hard loss to take for an only child. After all, you took care of me like an older brother. You fed me and clothed me and worried over me like a mother. You were bossy like a father I didn’t want, and in the end I felt smothered and weak. It’s taken me a year to get some of my old self back. It will take much longer, I’m afraid, to be really strong again. You just wanted to keep me safe and make me feel loved. I understand how that goes – I’m a giver, too – but you made me feel useless. I couldn’t do anything right. Every action felt subject to scrutiny. In the end I resented you for that.
You asked if there was someone else, and I said no. There’s been some gossip, so I want to set things straight. I told a half-truth in a misplaced effort to protect you. There was someone that I was interested in, but that interest didn’t affect my feelings for you, or my need to get out of the relationship. That interest was also not acted upon while we were dating. I was very careful to not do anything that would hurt you any more than I was already bound to. But life is messy, and the truth is that I should have cut ties or made some huge changes in the way we talked to each other years before we called it quits. By the time the end rolled around, we’d been in the midst of a communication breakdown for at least three or four years. I’d been desperately unhappy since the apartment on Clark Street. It’s easy for me to say you should have seen it, but that’s unfair. I should have tried harder to make you see it.
I’m happy now. I don’t know if what I have is going to last, but it sure feels like it. It feels really strong, like I’m finally getting it right. He gets me in ways that I don’t even get myself, and we have all the right things in common. But I try to manage expectations. I’m not ready for a heartbreak, and if an eight-year relationship can throw you a curveball, what use is it placing all of my hopes in something so new? I’ve learned that the best I can do is be honest, and talk, talk, talk. I’m even learning how to argue. It’s not going so well, given my need to throw things and scream and cry, but I’m trying really hard to get it right. It’s a life skill that I should have probably figured out by now, but back then I thought that holding my tongue was the key to calm waters. What did I know?
We will see each other again at some point. It’s inevitable, now that you’re back in Chicago and hanging with all of our old friends. And you won’t have read this, because you never read anything I wrote. But at least I’ve said it, and I can hold my head high knowing that I’ve never wished you ill. I’m happy now, or at least on my way there. And now that there’s a year between us, I can see me clearly enough to see more of what the problem was. We’re too alike in too many ways, you and I. We never argued, because we were too busy being strong and calm. But even if we had, we wouldn’t have been able to find a middle ground. Neither of us ever wanted a middle. We wanted what Scorpios always want – to consume, and be consumed by, our lovers. Your pragmatism would never allow my need for magick, and I simply don’t believe in the same reality that you insisted on living in. Because fuck it, that’s why. Concentrating on how unfair the world is, and how it will never get better, is simply not worth the heartache.
I hope you got into therapy, and started sleeping again. I hope that you start playing softball this summer – I only saw you really smiling and happy that one time years ago, when you were trying to teach me to play catch. I hope you find a beautiful, successful girl with a great body, a high libido, a nice family, lots of great recipes that she’s happy to cook you, and a true wish to be a mom. I hope you write that book you were talking about, and then get a really good editor, because your writing is far too redundant and technical. I hope you get a job that doesn’t make you come home angry every day. I hope you learn to admit that sleeping for an hour every afternoon definitely counts as a “nap” and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I hope you stop getting awful $10 haircuts, and buying clothes that are too big for you. Most of all, I hope that one day we can be friends again, so we can finally be honest with each other. Also, so that I can have decent nachos. It’s been far too long.
2 Comments Add yours
This is a courageous post. I’m glad mutual friends did not have to pick sides . . .
Oh me too, Jaffa! If that had have happened, I would have been heartbroken. I love you all so much, and a relationship’s end (change) shouldn’t have to affect everyone around it. There’s this Joni Mitchell quote I keep saying lately that is so appropriate here: “Love is a story told to a friend; it’s secondhand.” We all think we know what’s happening inside of our friends’ relationships, but there’s no way to see everything. Often, we can’t even see what’s happening in our own love lives (as I’ve proven to myself here). It’s important to just support our friends in their decisions, and I think that keeping everything else as normal as possible will hopefully let this friendship be repaired. Maybe. Or maybe not. It’s not my decision. 🙂