He might have meant well, but his devotion made me sad. What woman wouldn’t want a man who never fails to say good morning, good afternoon, good night, you are loved, you are beautiful, you are perfect, let me take you everywhere you’ve ever wanted to go? All of that, and–AND–I could also love anyone and everyone else I wanted? In his unflagging outpourings of support he never wavered. He would change his whole life to spend it with me, if only I would have him. The tiny slivers of information that I shared after my clear statement of disinterest, not even sentences, must have blossomed in his mind as some kind of hope.
I have seen him once since that end, almost a year ago. I had avoided him successfully for months, and then one day, I slipped. He saw me, and I couldn’t duck away again. He cried on me, wetting my shoulder with snot and tears, telling me that he would always love me the most. All I could do was mumble into his shirt, “I’m sorry. You will be okay. You will forget.” The letters increased, and the text messages full of that engulfing acceptance and love did, too. There had been a quiet time, with nothing. Nothing was easier. Reading the love hurt me, guilty that I couldn’t feel it back.
This kind of heartbreak swirls all around me some days. I am the ruiner of families. I am the breaker of promises. I didn’t try hard enough, didn’t work hard enough, and anything that makes me sad is all my fault, I am told. Sometimes, I accidentally whisper it into my own ear, until I remember that don’t really believe it.
Changing my life saved my life. Leaving my family twisted us all into wreckage, all but the baby. She had suffered the most before I left; she watched and learned and mimicked my ways. Stay quiet when voices rise, duck into a corner when stomping and door slamming commence. The baby, my baby, I snatched from a front-row seat in Emotional Abuse 101, and the kind and loving other man whom I rejected in favor of nothing, wanted to put a roof over our heads for the rest of his days, be a steady man for me and my baby. Still, no. No no no no.
And tonight, I sent a brief final email. His kindnesses keep a wound just a little raw. His devotion picks at my peace, and gives me no closure. He “loves forever”, no matter what. I thought I did, and I was wrong. I loved the unwavering acceptance, which I had never experienced, but had given so many times. I loved the feeling of safety and sureness he gave, which I had tried to give to my loves. I wanted to experience that kind of love in return. Sadly, he offered, and I now refuse.
I do love a man today. He loves me back. We don’t spend much time together, but when we do, I can’t imagine loving another man so much. When we are apart, I think that I may have imagined him, until I see his name on my phone with words of adoration attached. This man, I love forever. This man isn’t willing to envelop me into his life with his lovely daughters in a glorious swoosh. We all barely know one another, careful not to push our beautiful jumble of daughters together too quickly. I like them both very much; he is a very good father and a good man. The baby will meet his daughters eventually.
For the first time, at almost forty, I am truly in love. He is not perfect, but perfect for me. I understand him. I admire him. I respect him. Because I respect him, I listen quietly as he tells me that he can’t imagine me in his life every day. He has been alone for a long time, but if I am the greatest love of his life, why doesn’t he want to welcome me into his daily life? Many hearts are involved, certainly. I understand that. He cherishes his girls like I cherish mine. I wouldn’t push her into a new life without her consent. I see that he would never do that to his lovely daughters, either. But where is the willingness to make the situation possible? Who has to till that soil, to make a new, strong thing grow? I won’t push this time, or ever again. My presence must be a thing deeply desired, not a casual convenience. He says that he is “here for me.” I know he is, to the extent that he can be anywhere.
This is why the unwavering devotion of the man I don’t love keeps me raw; contrasts glare at me, unfairly, unwanted. I want him to go away, so I don’t have these daily reminders of a man willing to wrap me and mine in his heart without conditions. I don’t want him. I can’t be his friend, knowing that he can’t not love me.
Stop rebreaking me when I feel fragile enough to shatter, some days, I told him. What if I can’t remember how the pieces fit back together again?