A friend of mine asked, “Do you miss him?”
I had to stop and think about my answer before I responded. My initial thought was ‘No,’ but for some reason I couldn’t say the word confidently. Why was I hesitating? I know with every fiber of my being that there’s not a word he could say, an action he could do or a promise he could make that would get me to take him back- so what did my hesitation mean? I thought back over our year and a half together, the laughs and the vacations and the deployment… and what really stuck out in my mind was how in the end, I felt it was all for nothing. Every dinner cooked, every dish cleaned, every surprise planned, every care package put together- everything I did all day long was in hopes that it would make his days easier, his worries less, his daily load lighter. I put him before me 100%, and where did that get me? It got me crying in our roommate’s lap as he carried the last of his things out of the apartment that had become our home.
My next thought was that although I’d been burned, there’s not a damn thing that I could or would have done differently. I can look at that relationship in its whole and say with every bit of certainty possible that I did everything I could- from day one. He knew he was loved, he knew he was taken care of; he knew just how much I believed in him and how special I thought he was. He knew that there was nothing I wouldn’t have done for him. It’s simply who I am when I’m in a relationship. I am a kick-ass girlfriend, and I love doing those things for the person I love. There were times when I didn’t feel as if he was holding up his end of the relationship emotionally, but I quickly quieted those concerns in my head; ‘It’s not that big of a deal, I don’t need more, I’m asking too much, just keep giving- just keep giving.’ He would tell me he loved me, reminded me that I could ask him for help if I needed it, and always did household chores without needing to be prompted to do so. But his needs came before mine because I refused to speak up and ask for what I wanted or needed in fear of being ‘needy’ or ‘whiny’ or ‘high maintenance’. We slept with a fan on despite my constant freezing to the bone- because he ran warm. We went to the gym when he wanted to go to the gym because he dreamt of being a bodybuilder. Even my historically poor relationship with food couldn’t be repaired because I would rather eat what he thought I should be eating than listen to his comments about the choices I would make. It was an intensely imbalanced relationship that I fought to keep that way simply because his happiness and comfort was more important to me than mine. Despite pouring everything I had into it, he left; finally ending the relationship after a week of nightly deliberations on our balcony, no longer able to fight his urge to run off and be the 22 year old boy he didn’t feel like he was getting to be. No matter how many times I tried to tell him I was in no rush to be married, and no matter how often he told me it didn’t matter- the five year age difference between the two of us terrified him. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he was just moments away from being guilted into buying a diamond and diapers.
I’ve learned lessons over the past two years, maybe the difference between compromise and sacrifice being the most valuable. There was nothing wrong with my wanting to make his life easier or my wanting to do things for him out of love and concern for him. Where I went wrong was wholly ignoring the fact that I was just as worthy of these things as he was. I’ve learned that not only is it okay for me to ask for what I feel like I want, need, and deserve from a partner- but that it is necessary in order to keep the balance and stability that a relationship requires. Moving forward with this knowledge is a slow process, much unlike the whirlwind that was falling in love with him.
It’s been six months without him, and for the most part- I’m happy. I don’t like my job, and some nights feel lonely- but the return I’ve gotten from the split has been so much greater than the negative. In losing him, I got back this part of me that I hadn’t even realized had gone missing. I continue to surprise myself as the time goes on, as I learn that the person I was with him isn’t the person I’m meant to be. I’m meant to be bold and fearless, and far less accepting of the average treatment I’d become accustomed to. When we met two years ago, I had just lost 60lbs and had no business going into a relationship when I hadn’t even figured out who my new self was- my self-discovery was put on the back burner as I assumed the identity of a girlfriend. My inner-self hadn’t caught up to my new body yet, and I went into that relationship still weighed down with all of the insecurities I hadn’t yet learned to shrug off. My time with him was a validation of sorts, and I kept it close to me for as long as I could out of what I can only think to describe as desperation.
In breaking my heart, he set me free to finish the journey I’d set out on three years ago. I don’t miss him. I missed me- I was gone for far too long