This Sunday, my friends all had a random series of separate obligations that left me home alone for the afternoon. For what felt like the entire day, I sat in an empty house, let Kelly Clarkson sing through my soul, and cried. I cried until my face was puffy and my insides hurt. I cried until my voice was hoarse. I cried until I became lightheaded. And if I felt like I could catch my breath and stop crying, I found a new song, played it as loud as I could, and cried again. Then at 7:30pm, I cleaned my face, went to dinner, and acted like nothing was wrong.
“What’d you do today?” my friends asked when I arrived to dinner a little late.
“Just ran some errands. Lost track of time.” And that was that.
I’d had plans for three weeks to go pumpkin picking with my boyfriend, a term I use loosely. I knew by his behavior for the several days leading up to Sunday that we wouldn’t end up following through. In fact, I was surprised he’d even agreed to it to begin with. But when I mentioned the idea, he seemed excited to do something that he knew was going to make me happy, no matter how generic it was.
I didn’t hear from him the entire weekend, despite an embarrassing number of outgoing texts and phone calls. At 3pm on Sunday, he texted “Hello” as if nothing was wrong. Surprised by my disappointment, he told me that he didn’t take me to the pumpkin patch, because he “had something better to do.”
A few weeks prior, he couldn’t make time to meet my parents (who only come visit about once every nine months) over the course of five days, because he had plans to drink with his friends. Several months before that, he couldn’t make it to a concert with me, tickets I’d gotten for us from a friend who worked at the venue, because he had to “work” last minute on a Saturday night. And just earlier that week, he couldn’t see me receive an award, because…well? I don’t think he even gave me a reason for that one.
Simply put, I have a bad boyfriend. He’s selfish, he’s unreliable, he’s inconsiderate, and he never, ever makes me a priority. Every time he breaks my heart, I find a new friend, a new acquaintance, a new Uber driver to talk to about it, until eventually, they tire of the same old shit, tell me I’m smarter than that, and conclude it’s time for me to move on. At that point, I take it as my cue to find someone new to confide in and never mention him to my other friends again.
To be honest, I don’t blame them. I’m tired of hearing the same story myself. I’m tired of telling my roommates “I’m done for real this time,” then hanging my head in shame when he comes walking down the stairs for coffee two mornings later. I’m tired of being disappointed. And I’m tired of expecting to be disappointed. I’m tired of getting into fights over the same thing, and being told I’m overreacting. I’m tired of waiting for things to change, when they likely never will.
The simple solution would be to walk away. I truly have no one to blame any more but myself. And I am smarter than this. I’m not confused. I don’t think this is a normal relationship. I don’t think I’m being treated the way I want to be treated, and if a friend were in a similar situation, I’d tell her to get the fuck out. I don’t think he’s the only guy out there for me. I know that when you keep allowing this kind of behavior, this kind of behavior will continue to persist. And I know that the only way to truly move on is to stop answering his calls, stop forgiving him, and stop actively participating in a relationship he’s only casually participating in.
But the problem isn’t that I don’t know what to do. It’s that I don’t know how. Doing what’s best for me means walking away from someone I love, even if loving him doesn’t make any sense. It means cutting off communication with someone who feels like a part of me, even if I don’t feel like I’m a part of him. It means letting go, moving on, and watching him do the same. And frankly…I don’t want to move on. I don’t want to enter a world where we’re apart. If I could wish upon a star and be happy, happiness would never mean that we weren’t together. Happiness would mean he’d just start being…better.
It sounds stupid even as I read it back to myself. Why would anyone want that? Why do I want that? Believe me, I don’t understand it either. All I know is that everyone wants me to be so smart, and so strong, but walking away from love, even if that love is toxic is really, really fucking hard. Everyone says it’s better to be alone than in a bad relationship. But I’ve been alone before. And honestly? Having someone, even if it’s only part time, is better than having no one at all.
It’s a vicious cycle, and I don’t know how to break it, because despite it all, I still have hope. Hope, they say is such a powerful, wonderful thing. It gives you a reason to hold on. But hope is destroying me. Hope is what’s turning a smart girl into a fool. I can feel people pity me. I can feel people judge me. And I don’t even blame them. I’ve had a hundred moments that should have been “it” — that should have been the final straw — but I can’t convince myself that the shitty version of him is the real him. There’s some amazing guy in there who shows himself to me, even though it’s sparingly, and he makes me happier than anyone else ever has. All I have to do is try a little harder, wait a little longer, be a little more, and I can make him that guy forever.
Hope makes you feel that things will work out, even when you know it isn’t true. And I don’t know how to make what I know match what I feel. What’s it going to take for me to shatter my hope? What’s it going to take for me to stop seeing potential and start seeing reality? When am I going to put myself first and see him as nothing more than broken promises and unfulfilled dreams? If not now, when?
Maybe I’ll give him just one last try..
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