i am waiting for the one moment that changes everything.
That really fucked up moment where someone blatantly hits on your significant other on Facebook in a post you’re tagged in.
LADIES, DO NOT DO THAT.
It’s not okay to hit on someone who is with another person, regardless of if they’re only dating or they’re married. It’s trashy and reflects poorly on you. Have some respect for yourself and your gender.
I remember making a serving tray for your father and step-mother for Christmas. We had been dating for two and a half years at this point, but it was the first time I was sharing in your family’s celebration.
When making this gift, I glued a tiny wooden snowflake to the bottom right corner of the tray and painted ‘05 on it. I thought it would be the first of many holiday celebrations together and commemorating this first year felt extremely important to me for some inexplicable reason. I imagined making a small gift each year that had a snowflake. They would be markers of time, progress, growth.
Sometimes, things that are meant to be continuous are instead both a first and a last.
We never had another Christmas, but that snowflake was still very much a marker of time. It was the beginning of the end. We only lasted another six excruciating months in that small apartment in San Luis Obispo, but in reality, we stayed together two years and eight months too long.
I’m thankful for that little snowflake because it reminds me that not all endings are bad, and more often than not, much better things are waiting ahead.
I remember falling for him immediately. It was overwhelming and quick. There was no pause, hesitation or second guessing. It wasn’t slow or simple. It was everything all at once. It was what I thought love looked like. It was like being in a tank and the water was gushing in while all I felt was happiness.
Over the next three years the happiness faded away. It was replaced with jealousy, anger, resentment and hurt. And that tank started to drown me.
I had given up so much of myself. I based a major life decision on him; something I promised myself I would never do. I lost confidence in myself and believed I was worth what I was being given. The definition of myself no longer included anything related to me. I was defined by him and how much or how little he decided to love me every day.
So now, when I find myself in a relationship full of compassion, grace, understanding and patience, I stop myself. I am making things be slow and simple. I keep conversations light and grand declarations are banned. It’s not fair to do that, I know, but I don’t know how else to protect myself. I don’t know that the waters won’t turn on me if I let myself fall and be submerged in what could be love. I could begin drowning once again. And if I start drowning, I start putting myself last. I make careless decisions and do everything to save something that isn’t meant to be saved. There is no happiness in that.
Deep down I believe this is different. I believe he’d never do the things the former did.
But what if he does?
And what if I drown?
because without your support, I wouldn’t be here.
I wouldn’t have stayed when things got hard.
I wouldn’t have believed that I could find a life.
Thank you for the way you know me,
for being my best friend for what feels like forever,
and for raising the bar so high that I don’t know where to begin.
Thank you for knowing to let go before things got ugly.
On some level, you must have known that forcing me to fly
would force you to fly too, to do the things you know you need.
And maybe you even share the belief that our paths
will join us together again, and for always.
I hate you,
for not wanting it badly enough
for not believing that we could do this together,
for not following through.
I hate that you didn’t have the balls to take a chance,
to explore this place that’s filled with your dreams.
I hate how you don’t even seem to be doing
the things that made you stay.
I hate that the way you tell me how you feel almost always hurts,
and that most of the time you just don’t tell me at all.
I hate that you are the only guy I can imaging loving,
and you make letting go seem so easy,
like it doesen’t hurt at all,
like you don’t ever cry.
I left the way I did,
because of what it said to you:
that I would always expect you to follow.
I’m sorry I didn’t ever see it like that.
I thought paving the way would create
an adventure that would change our lives.
I’m sorry I didn’t wait until you were ready,
that I didn’t think I could, so the decision didn’t feel like yours.
I’m sorry that it seemed like your opinion wasn’t important,
when nothing could be further from the truth.
I’m sorry that I doubted our future, and made you doubt it too.
I didn’t know myself well enough to tell you
all the things that needed to change, and why.
We both thought we’d have more time, and then I left.
I’ll always be sorry for that.
[this is years old and has always been one of my favorites.]
For the first time I told you the desires of my heart. I don’t tell them to anyone because I worry it’ll be a jinx.
But last night I finally shared them. Only leaving out one key part.
But of course you asked if I was forgetting anything, and I of course told you what I had left out.
Here I am making all the declarations I never knew I’d want to.
What was the point of it? The point of you and me and those summers?
I know during the days and nights I kept thinking how all of it really mattered. I felt like I was on the inside of a rare story. It seemed so one of a kind.
But now, when I try to go over the significance of it, I fail to see any. It was a girl and a boy who whispered, “I love you,” and “Always,” and “I miss you,” but only one of them meant it. When you figure out that you were the only one living in it, while everyone else was acting in it, a disconnect happens.
So here I am. This is the other side of “We’re okay,” and “Maybe,” and “I’m sorry.” This is the hollowness that comes when you realize it didn’t have a point other than being a dress rehearsal for someone else’s life.
My most serious ex and I have been broken up for almost 6 years. He’s had the same girlfriend (mind you, a former friend and coworker of ours) for 5 of them. In the three years we dated, which included a year of living together, he couldn’t be faithful for more than a few months. We’d break up for a little while and inevitably get back together. They haven’t. It’s just crazy to think about. Part of me says he’s probably cheated on her, because he did it to me and all the others before me (which I found out much later). But a bigger part of me thinks he’s most likely been faithful and probably pretty great to her. When he wasn’t screwing his ex or messing with my head he did some really nice/sweet/thoughtful things.
I wish I could go back to the time period when he first cheated. Or at least the first time I found out. We had only been dating for four months when his best friend Wes called to tell me. “I saw Shawn and Katherine at the Ridgeview football game last night. They were sitting together and sharing a blanket. They left together holding hands.” To add insult to injury, two weeks later I found out they had spent the night in a hotel together. I was beside myself. I couldn’t believe it. He had been so great. There had been no warning, but it was true. And all I wanted to do was talk to him and have him want to be with me, and only me. I say I wished I could go back because if I could, I would slap that old me and tell her, “This is the biggest mistake you could ever make. Do not take him back. If you do, you will spend two and a half more years loving someone who will say he loves you, but really doesn’t. He will, and does cheat again. A few of the times it will be with Katherine. There will also be a girl from SLO. Finally, it will be Christina, and you will catch them in the act. It will all end in the front yard of the beach house. You will be looking at the two of them wondering how your life got here, and he will finally say what you already knew, ‘You are my biggest regret. I never loved you.’”
Hindsight really is 20/20.
I don’t know why I thought about this just now. I rarely think about him and what happened. I’m so indifferent to the situation. It’s weird how memories can sneak up on you.
“What are we doing wrong? We saw Jennifer’s Body in theaters for crying out loud! I’m pretty sure there are plenty of guys who’d love that.”
I love you.
I spend so much time thinking, “If I can just hang in there, he’ll realize I’m the one.” I ignore the signs being sent to me because they are just tests I need to pass. I accept the excuses, dismiss the lies and believe it will be different. I know these are trials we’ll laugh about when telling our children how we came to be their parents. I want us and I will continue to wait because it will be worth it.
I loved you.
It could have been enough. It could have been a lifetime. I finally realized these aren’t tests I’m not passing. Instead, they are all the reasons why I needed to let go. I had to keep learning this hard lesson and having my heart broken because it was the only way I would come to understand that we are never going to build a life together. The disappointments, lies and lack of respect were there to teach me that I am capable of the deepest depths of forgiveness, but grace does not make me a doormat.
I love you.
I loved you.