[Ed. Note: I started writing this 4 days ago.]
Seven weeks ago today my little life changed.
The man I loved — the man I was thinking of having a future with — pointed out some of our fatal weaknesses and decided to end it. Just like that, it was over.
There had been no fighting, no screaming, nothing. Just a general malaise, a quiet and ongoing discomfort between us. I had felt it and worked daily to adjust; I told myself things like, “He loves you, don’t worry about it.” For months he refused to admit anything was wrong.
That morning I woke up safe and went to bed in a complete free fall.
Since then I’ve put one foot in front of the other, concentrated on the moments themselves, but also embraced the fact that this feeling of abject loss and rejection will pass. Eventually.
Today, exactly seven weeks later, and a thousand miles away, I can admit to feeling ok. Insisting on some space from him was the smartest thing I could’ve done.
For one, it’s given me the room I’ve needed to get some perspective. I see the failings of our relationship so much clearer and with it my dissatisfaction and sadness within it. Hearing my best friends say things like, “What?! He never stayed the weekend with you?!?!” have helped me immensely.
Not because the implication is that he’s a bad man, but that what I accepted as normal is actually far from it. A man who loves me and wants to be with me — no matter how fucking introverted/odd/whatever he may be — will want to do things that are deeply important to me. Like spend the weekend with me.
I know that — I knew that! — but the time apart has helped drive it home: he was never, ever really in it.
Second, since my two little back-to-back trips away, I’ve realized I’m still vulnerable to injury and must proceed with caution.
I wrote him a 6-page letter the weekend before I left which he would have found that Wednesday night. Even while writing it I was reminded of Rachel’s doomed letter to Ross wherein he falls asleep reading it and in his embarrassment at not having finished it blindly agrees with her that basically “Yes, he was wrong.” Naturally, it doesn’t go over well.
I didn’t write anything like that, but I did write a letter. A personal, vulnerable, honest letter in an attempt to tie up loose ends [and help him take care of the cat]. Six days after I wrote it, while home on a brief layover, I left him a second note, this one all cat business. When I didn’t hear from him by the following morning when I thought he’d be feeding the cat I texted to follow up.
It was then revealed that not only had he not seen the second one due to a flexible cat-feeding schedule, but he hadn’t read the first one despite having taken it from my kitchen island.
“I haven’t read it yet,” he texted thinking that the note I was inquiring about that morning was the 6-page one and not the more recent cat one.
Standing on the SFO curbside pick-up with the phone in my hand, bags staggered about and Peyton patiently and exhaustively leaning on me I couldn’t believe it. I’d suffered through 5 days of what I could only call personal mini fits wondering what he’d thought about my words. Had I said the wrong thing? What was he thinking? And the dude hadn’t even bothered to read it.
Moments later my phone lit up with his face, a picture I’d taken years ago at one of our favorite restaurants. He looked clean-cut and painfully handsome.
“Uh… hello?” I said. It was weird having him burst through my self-imposed No-Neighbor-Bubble.
“Hi! I figured it’d be easier to just call you rather than text back and forth. So, when are you coming home?”
“Well, like my note said this morning, I came home for about 6 hours last night, but I’m standing in San Francisco right now. I won’t be home till next Monday afternoon.”
“Ok, so I just have to feed the cat for another week?”
“Yes. Are you feeding him twice a day?” There had been evidence to the contrary, but nothing concrete.
“Yes; I’ve been coming home at lunch.” That rung strange with me, too, but whatever. “What time did you come home last night? I guess I just missed you.”
“We got home around midnight and left at 6 this morning.” It suddenly occurred to me that he was driving to his therapy session, hence the need for the phone call and not texting. I felt a wave of humiliation that he hadn’t read my letter yet.
“Yeah, I was there about 20 minutes before you.” My gut clenched at the thought of having nearly run into him in our current state.
We hung up and I deeply regretted answering the phone. I was upset and not a little crushed by the entire interaction.
Since then I’ve spent the week wrangling my sister’s small children from dawn till bedtime and accidentally falling asleep when the children do. I’ve been thinking constantly about TN in a disembodied way. The lack of contact from him isn’t unlike what I’d have gotten had we still been dating, though of course that’s just speculation. I’m sure he’d have called off an on, but there wouldn’t have been any early morning texts to check in or tell me he missed me, so no loss there.
What I do know is that the tall eHarmony fella — whom I’ve never met — has shown more interest in me and my life in a consistent, easily identifiable way than TN ever did. No code-reading here: he wants to keep contact because he’s curious about me and that’s kinda what you do, right? It’s weird and comforting all at once. I’m not remotely sure what is in store for me and him (our first actual date isn’t until the last weekend of the month), but it has been an eye-opening experience and led me to the Wow, I Put Up With a Lot of Bullshit Phase of this breakup.
No entire weekends spent together.
No 24-hours together!
No lazy days fucking and eating and loving and watching movies.
Little to no interest in my family.
Virtually no trips together.
No messages of any kind just to say, “I love you,” or “I’m thinking of you.”
No planning for the future beyond vague allusions to being 61 and 70 years old bodies together.
No “I miss you, Hy, can we spend some time together?”
No immersion into my life beyond the fringe.
No excitement about me, my baby, or us.
I realize now the gap that created in me and it reinforces the breakup. It’s not that I was ok with all of those things 7 weeks ago — I certainly wasn’t — but I believed that they would all resolve themselves, that we’d fix them. He may have ended things now, but had things stayed the way they were it would have been me walking away instead.
I fell in love with him despite him telling me in no uncertain terms that he saw no future with me. He never wavered from that. He might have fallen in love with me, but it didn’t solve the basic problem that he felt I was the wrong woman for him, which by default made him the wrong man for me. And now here we are.
I have boiled it down to the basics and only shared what I feel is necessary to close this particular arc in my life. He’s not a villain or a bad guy and I have little doubt that he loved me to his fullest capacity. Every second he gave me was a little testament to how much he loved me because deep down he knew it wasn’t going to last. Nothing like a big spoonful of bittersweet.
To be honest, I don’t know what I want on April 7th when my self-imposed request for space is officially over. I have been unbearably light these past 2 weeks without him. I feel safe; he can’t hurt me from here. He can not want me all he wants so long as he stays over there.
My last words to him the night I told him I needed space were for him to call me in a month. I have no doubt that I am the only one keeping my eye on that little day and I don’t think I’ll want to burst the bubble by then. I wonder what will happen.