“I just don’t think I can be with you.” The words cut him deeply. He was experiencing a strange, panicky, heartbreak déjà vu.
“What do you mean? You were so sure three weeks ago, remember you approached ME!”
“I love you too much, I’m afraid I would hurt you, and I can’t let myself do that again.”
How ironic, he thought, since that is the exact thing that was going on at that very moment. He wasn’t just hurt, it was betrayal, a sour kind of sickness that he felt sitting heavy in his stomach. He was partially to blame, all of his friends had warned him. They all told him what a cancer she had been just a year prior, yet he was willing to give her a second chance. He believed heavily in second chances, still does actually.
She’s changed, she got her issues under control. That’s what he thought, hell, that’s what she told him! The meds had been helping, she hadn’t had any breakdowns or blow-ups in over 6 months. She was working two jobs, both part-time, but she enjoyed them and was living just fine. For three weeks everything was great, what had changed?
Now here he was, crying, staring her in the face trying to figure out just what was going on. She wouldn’t give him a straight answer. The straight yes-or-no answer that would enable him to focus on either the relationship or moving on. Instead he was stuck in a weird limbo, love purgatory. He knew he loved her, but was it reciprocated? He had no idea now. The inner struggle, leave or stay, was going on in his head. He was listening to her talk, “My anxiety feeds off of yours and. . .” Meanwhile the thoughts would flash and disappear, I should leave, just walk out the door and that be the end of it. “I’ve told you this all weekend, and now you’re freaking out and it’s giving me cold feet.” I should just stay, sleep on the couch and we can figure it out tomorrow. Give her the night to sleep through it. “Fine, we’ll talk in the morning,” as he walked into the living room, “I’ll sleep on the couch.”
As he sat on the couch, he looked up and saw his weekend bag lying just outside the bedroom door. He hardly remembered putting it there in the heat of the argument. The thought of just up and leaving crossed his mind again and he stood up. I should really just do it. It didn’t seem like it was working, no matter how badly he yearned for the love to flourish. Maybe it would be better for both of us if I just left and we moved on. Another thought pierced his consciousness. Think about what you’re giving up though. He wasn’t sure what to do. On one hand he loved this girl, this woman, more than anything. When they were getting along it was the stuff dreams were made of; she still gave him butterflies. But when they weren’t it was heart-wrenching, terrifying, and filled with feelings of self-doubt and fear that she would leave him alone again. She’s saying the same shit she said the last time. It was true, it did sound eerily similar to when they had dated last.
He was torn, and the inner fighting was driving him insane. He couldn’t make a decision, he looked at the closed door, and looked at the bag, the door, the bag. Back and forth, a visual representation of the battle going on inside his mind. He stood up, and sat down, unable to truly commit to one or the other. He walked over to the bag and stood there for a minute.
He made his decision.
He stayed. He stayed and when she went to work he cleaned the whole damn apartment. He did some schoolwork and watched Netflix while he waited for her to get back. When she did, she thanked him for the help and he went home, thinking that things were going to get better. Thinking it was just a rough patch. She texted him later, “I know I told you you wouldn’t have to deal with the craziness. But here I am. I think it’s best if I take some space, we take some time. You can figure out why you’re so anxious, and I can figure out where I’m at.”
This kid was so goddamn understanding it’s actually sad. “Okay, all the time you need. Just so you know, I love you.”
He went out with friends the next weekend. Saturday he woke up, hungover, and saw pictures of her ice skating with some other dude in Pittsburgh. He was heartbroken, shattered, but relieved all the same. A chance to move on, and something to help propel that. She texted him later that night when she saw girls in his snapchat story. “Are you just getting drunk, or getting shit straight?” He called her, and called her out on the accusatory tone of the text. How dare she? That was some bullshit to him. They agreed to talk it out the next day. They did, and again he hoped things were getting better, but still was going to give her space.
They spoke less and less as the weeks passed. Any lingering flicker of hope that the relationship could flourish and burn brightly again was put out like a candle at bedtime.
The final stake through his proverbial heart came in the form of an instagram post. It was a picture of her dream car she’d just drove to Maryland to buy. On the highway. “Photo cred: @herexboyfriend”. The guy she’d been so drunk she begged him to call for her, because that guy would know how he could take care of her.
Well, I guess that’s it.
This decision was made for him.
Leaving it is.