“Hmm?”, I replied. “Where are you going?” I feigned obliviousness. It’s a defense mechanism built out of hope that I was quite adept at using.
“No. I mean I’m leaving”, she said.
When you walk into the surf at the beach, and stand in the water, just ankle deep, you feel the immense power swirling at your feet. You’re just not in deep enough that it can really affect you, not yet. But it’s pulling you out to sea, out to where its power is stronger. I felt that power now, except this wasn’t the tide, it was fear. Swirling just at ankle level, and rising quickly. My heart skipped a beat.
“Yes”, she interrupted. “I’ve taken the offer. I leave at the end of the month.”
I sighed, bracing myself for the discussion we had had so many times already. Tapping into the seemingly endless pools of patience I always managed to find at times like these.
“I thought we decided you’d wait until I could find a way…”, I started.
“No. I don’t want to wait anymore. I’m doing this for me. I’ll be back, but I need to go.”
Inside my mind, inside my heart, I heard a low rumbling. With every passing moment, the rumbling grew louder, more shrill. I recognized it; it was the sound of desperation. The sound I heard when I gazed into the dark abyss of loneliness that I knew so well. It was coming for me again. The sound surrounded me, as the fear lapped at my knees, slowly engulfing me. I faced that sound, faced the growing fear and what lay behind it, and firmed my resolve.
“Then,” I said, “you should go.”
The look of relief on her face spoke volumes, while I felt at once both pride and pain. Pain, from the agony of knowing that it was over, that I would never see her again. My skepticism would not allow that she spoke the truth that she’d be back; we both knew it was a lie, one for my benefit, and all the more stinging because I knew it. Pride, in knowing that I could let her go to follow her path, that I could stand fast and remain true to my beliefs in the face of such pain. I knew the loneliness that lay before me, and could still let her go.
But oh, how I hated the thought of being alone. What a fool I am, I thought. What a total fucking fool. A fool for love, and a coward in the face of loneliness, unable to walk away from love even when it’s all wrong. But now the struggle was over, the fight lost. Or was it?
It would be an end to the lies and confusion. No more wondering who she’s sleeping with behind my back. No more thinly veiled recriminations, or being told that nothing I tried was ever *quite* up to par. No more struggling to be understood. No more questioning myself when I knew full well the answer.
Yes, as always, this would be for the best. She was not the one.
I pulled out my suitcase and began to pack.
This was not the end.
This is a story. An amalgamation of those moments when the relationship, my relationships, end. I’ve learned many things from my past relationships:
- There is always someone crazier than you out there. You can’t fix them, no matter how much you love them. Don’t make excuses for them either.
- Maintain your own identity. Don’t lose your individuality. You, and your relationship, will be healthier for it. And always tell the truth about how you feel.
- Sometimes, the problem *is* you. Fix it. Be self aware. But sometimes it takes screwing up something truly wonderful to figure that out. Sucks, I know.
- Don’t settle for someone you’re not interested in just to keep away the loneliness. Don’t sacrifice your standards; you’ll just both get hurt.
- Yes, you still prefer women. And yes, you are awesome, and don’t let anyone tell you different.
- Attraction is very, very important. So is communication, understanding, and compromise. And letting the one you love follow their own path. And not forgetting to follow your own.
Through it all, I have never given up on love. I am frankly amazed at the fact that I keep bouncing back, willing to try again; for all the times I’ve been hurt, I ought to be jaded beyond repair. But I’m not. I marvel at my heart’s resilience, and look forward to the next lesson.