“I’m sorry,” the email began and finished. I stared at it. I read it three times. And then I hit send, breathed a sigh of relief and went to bed.
I woke up with my stomach in knots the next day, and it only got worse with time. Since then, I keep rewriting that email in my head. I keep wondering if I said everything correctly, if I slammed a door I meant to close gently or perhaps not close at all. In some ways, it got the desired result; it ended communication. That’s exactly what I felt I needed. But now I’m not so sure.
I spent the spring fighting with myself, fighting with her. Sometimes it was easy and sometimes extremely hard. Sometimes I felt as though my desires were winning, and others it was clear they lost. When I finally broke (and that’s the operative word as I was broken for weeks), I didn’t stop fighting. Instead of fighting for my desires, I began fighting against them. I spent months convincing myself that she was right, that I was wrong, inventing reasons for us not to be together.
When all else failed, I used the adage “fake it til you make it.” I chased other girls, but none seemed to do. I pretended to be happy, but if I let up, the misery came flooding back.
This fall, only a few weeks ago, I had the busiest week of my summer, and all thought of her seemed to fade for the first time in months. The constant bickering in my head, the disappointment in myself, the barrage of negative emotion faded. I felt, for the first time, like I could move on.
The sense of normalcy lasted a whopping three days.
Mid-morning, I received a message from her. For the first time in nearly four miserable months, she had reached out. It was brief and straight-forward. And yet, it split me open again.
My response was equally brief and straight-forward, and I figured that would be the end of it. But we started to talk, only for twenty minutes, all online. And it felt better than expected.
Immediately after I walked away to head back to my life, my mind was filled with questions of why. Why was she reaching out? What did she want? Was this a good idea?
I stumbled through my day, constantly distracted, constantly at odds. When I got home that night, felt the only thing to do was at least comment on my surprise and see what she said. “I’m surprised we’re talking at all,” I said.
Her response came the next day in what felt like a quick dismissal. “fair enough,” it said plainly, no capitalization or punctuation. And I felt like shit.
It was as if we had broken up all over again. I felt the loss of her in my life, the fighting voices a raucous cacophony in my head. The one difference was that instead of happening slowly over a matter of weeks or months, it all poured out in a matter of hours.
I faked my way through my day, pretending it was all alright. And that brings us right back to the beginning, three apologies: one for not biting my tongue, one for all the things I didn’t get to apologize for before, and one for the future.
As I sat there, reading over the email, I thought it was as good as it could get. It cut things off in what I felt was an acceptable manner and made it clear that I needed a dialog if she wanted things to continue in any fashion.
There hasn’t been any contact since then. I’m not surprised, yet I am disappointed. Even though I suspected I wouldn’t hear from her, part of me was hopeful that we could talk and at least get the closure I’d been lacking for so long. Instead, I’m left slowly getting over her once more, wondering if I did the right thing in the right way.
I’m worried I’ll never know, but I guess that’s what I’ve been worried about all along.
I hate the fact that I have to start this that way, but I feel like an asshole again, so the only proper thing to do is to apologize again. I feel like an asshole for being confused, surprised, and, most of all, for expressing it honestly. I’ve never lied to you. In avoiding being blunt and upfront yesterday, I certainly hid the truth and came damn close to offering outright falsehoods to hide how I feel.
I haven’t been happy since we were last together. I spent the entirety of my spring arguing that we had no reason to end things and the entirety of my summer trying to convince myself that I was wrong and we had every reason. Apparently, I’m a stubborn jackass, because I still can’t convince myself there was a good reason to end things.
That being said, there are several things I have been able to convince myself of: 1) I was wrong to let my self-consciousness get to me, to wonder what you wanted and to question your motives. You have every right to not know what you wanted or want. 2) Some contact wouldn’t work. I was/am too attached, regardless of how you felt. You made it clear that it needed to be all or nothing and all wasn’t something you could do. 3) You may not have realized this, since I certainly didn’t, but in the tumultuous madness that is my life, I was holding on to you as the one point of stability. Given the way you felt exiting grad school and searching for what’s next, that wasn’t fair nor right.
In all those regards, I’m sorry.
The truth is that I’m not over you. No matter how hard I try, no matter how far I feel I’ve come, I’m still reminded of you every day, whether that’s at work, at school, at home, or on a date (which is likely why there haven’t been any second dates). And just when I thought I was at a point where things would get easier, you messaged me. I spent two hours walking around, formulating a response, trying to make it respectful, kind, appreciative, and not in any way encouraging of a response.
And yet you responded. Suddenly, we were talking, even for one brief moment, and I was shocked. I was shocked at myself, that the mass of anger and bitterness wasn’t pouring out. I was shocked that it felt so easy. And I was shocked that, when you disappeared for a moment and I had to leave, I felt pangs of loss like I hadn’t in weeks.
I don’t feel comfortable asking what you want anymore. I don’t think it’s right to request clarification on why we’re speaking or what you hope to gain by talking to me. But for me, unless you can say, “I just want a friend,” or, “I miss you and want to explore getting back together,” or even, “I don’t know but I’m willing to talk about it,” I don’t know that I can afford to continue to talk to you. I don’t know that I can emotionally handle having you back in my life and losing you again. And I don’t know that I can even give you an answer were you to say any of those things.
So here’s the tl;dr: You need to offer me at least the possibility of an answer before we speak again. And if you can’t do that, then I hope your move goes well, I hope you’re happy here, and I hope it’s not as awkward as I know it will be if and when our paths cross again.
And for that, and anything and everything else, I’m sorry.