I broke up with G today. It was a while coming, over a week if we’re honest. It’s sad like every break-up is sad; I’m sad like every time I dump someone I get sad.
I know people who are dumped, especially recently, don’t want to hear that. They don’t want the person who hurt them to show compassion, empathy, or caring. That’s not wrong of them; immediately after a break-up is the hardest time, and if you maintain a belief that your ex was/is still a decent person they’re even less easy to get over. It’s misleading, too, for a dumper to reach out and attempt to comfort the dump-ee — really, the ethical, respectful, and ultimately, yes, even kind thing to do is turn tail and run out of town. When you linger in an attempt to assuage the hurt feelings of your spurned and more-and-more-so former lover, the most you can really accomplish is making them feel led on.
Still, you know, silly me. I still felt guilty and I still tried. I apologized; I said we didn’t have to be mean about the whole thing; I felt bad-tinged-with-sad despite the fact that I’d been convinced this break-up needed to happen for at least the past week. In the early afternoon I was convinced I was a terrible person who drove away love; in the late afternoon I considered that I should have actually heard G out when he wanted to talk, that I should have given him one last chance.
Do you want to know what my relationship with G was like?
One weekend night, when I was drunk on an empty stomach, he and I were at my house talking. I was in a mood at him for some reason that, to be honest, there’s a fair chance he hadn’t merited. He’d been drinking too, don’t worry about that. Voice thick with alcohol, I told him “We both know that I’m going to go to grad school in a year and find and fall in love with someone there, and that’s going to be it for me, the real deal.”
Three nights or so later, also drunk, he and I were settling into bed for the evening. He was more drunk than I was (if I remember correctly I’d needed to help him walk on the way home) but I was still drunk, and I have a confessed tendency to say a certain phrase when I am drunk that I do not really mean. G was under the covers on my right. I was snuggling up behind him, big spoon, and out of my mouth came, “I love you.” Even as I said it I wondered how and why this was happening. I checked G for a reaction: none. I’d mumbled, to be sure. G was wasted and probably in that twilight border between reasonable consciousness and total knock-out sleep. I’m pretty sure he never heard me say it, at all.
Yeah. That’s the kind of thing it was: within a week I could say both “I love you” and “We both know you’re not It for me.” Those phrases aren’t direct contradictions but I think they’re about as close as you get, in actual applied conversations.
I felt bad today and I still feel bad. Thankfully, my friends have been there for me to talk to, hang out with even, and make me feel less awful, maladjusted, freakishly mean, Seinfeld-level picky, sad, off-base, self-centered, and alone. I’ve checked G’s Facebook more today than I probably have in weeks if not all time — and yeah, this was after I had already unfollowed him. No, I won’t unfriend him. There’s no need. If he wants to, he can do it to me. But it’s time for me to stand up and be strong and do how I like to, how I usually do: be silent, be above petty rumors, gossip, and back-talk, hold my head high, swallow and grit my jaw, and just be better.
Goodbye, G. This poem is for you today. I wish there was any way I could send it to you, and have it help.
On a side note, my sister reminded me today that I once waited to break up with a man until New Year’s Eve because I wanted it to really, really hurt.
I had forgotten. But then remembered — and said, “To be fair, that was like, at least the sixth time we had broken up. He clearly wasn’t getting the message. I was trying to make it stick.”
(Although we had a weird and strange and not-totally-level friendship after that point, the New Year’s Eve break-up did finally stick. It probably helped that I got engaged within a few months after that. No, I never got married. I did get guilted into a wedding ring tattoo before that relationship ended, — but these are stories for other times, not right now.)