I knew, I always knew, you were always the more likely of the two us to want to back out, to change her mind. I knew that when I said yes to your offer of a first date. I knew that three weeks ago when you drunk texted me at midnight. I knew that months ago when I admitted to myself that I was already rather infatuated with you. I knew that. And I said yes anyway.
Hope is a dangerous creature. I know that too. Have known that for years. I should have known better than to hope.
My own fault.
I keep replaying everything you said that night. And everything you said in texts and tumblr and emails in the handful of days after. And even in hindsight I feel sucker-punched. No warning. No hint. You seemed so happy on Tuesday night. And even on Friday, though you were anxious, you seemed willing to try.
And then Sunday happened.
So in one day. One bad day you changed your mind. And I know, I know Saturday was bad and the days since have been bad. And no, I cannot picture the exact landscape of that badness, (I wish I did, I wish you would let me in so I can learn that geography) but I can understand the general makeup.
And it doesn’t seem fair. To me or to you. To make that decision in the midst of a bad day. On the tail of what seemed like something worth being hopeful about. Without any warning. Without even an “I need a few days” or weeks. Going straight to “no.” Going straight to “I can’t.” Going straight to “sorry never mind.” No space for me to argue, to make my case, to have a say.
I keep trying to figure out what I want to say to you. Plenty of things come to mind. Most of which would do neither you nor me any good in the saying.
One thing I think (I hope) is worth saying is this: I understand and even, to an extent, appreciate, that you are trying to spare me by backing out before this, whatever it was, had a chance to really turn into a relationship as it were, before either of us had become too invested, too involved. Sound logic in its own way. I hate to break it to you, but, unfortunately, I was already pretty damn invested. And have been for quite awhile. Not your fault. Nothing you could do about that except stop being yourself, which is impossible. So.
If… If in a few weeks or a few months or a year from now, you find that you feel more stable, more safe, more capable, and find that you want to try this again. I need you to promise to tell me.
But if you feel pretty damn certain that that isn’t going to happen, that when you crawl yourself out of the dark hole you find yourself in now, you are pretty damn sure you WON’T be interested in trying again, then I need you tell me that. Because of I have a very bad habit of waiting. Interminably. Doing myself absolutely no good. Hoping for things that are never going to happen. A little warning, this time, would be appreciated.
No warning. No fight. No irreconcilable differences. Just fear. It wasn’t a break up. It was an ambush. A kamikaze attack.
Day Six (Pt 2):
But, of course, its not really about me. All the platitudes about the fact that I shouldn’t have to take care of you, that I deserve someone or something better or whatever… You may be well-intentioned. I’m sure you at least partially believe it. But let’s be honest, this isn’t about me. This is about you.
If you aren’t ready, or capable, or stable enough… if you aren’t in the right head space to be getting involved with someone. Fine. I may not be happy about it, but I understand it. You have a right and even a duty look after your own mental/emotional well-being, and if part of that includes not getting into a relationship with someone, fine. I have to respect that. I have to deal with it.
But don’t dress it up in lines about sparing me, about me deserving better, and so on and so on ad infinitum. I know I’m younger than you, and I am painfully aware of my own inexperience, and I am not the bravest or the smartest person around, but I am an adult, and I am perfectly capable of making my own decisions about what I do or do not deserve, about what I will or will not risk. So don’t make this about me.
You will laugh at me, probably, and I have laughed at myself often enough, but it has taken rather a lot of willpower not to use the word ‘love’ here. I guess infatuated (besotted?) will do. Certainly, I was already farther along than you probably imagine, and had been for some time. I don’t think even I realized HOW far along until that Sunday night. And I felt like I’d been kicked in the ribs. And I keep having to run away to hide in the bathroom and cry. I feel like a wounded animal. I feel nauseous. It makes me angry that I should feel so hurt, so wounded, so miserable over three dates. THREE DATES. But here I am. Because, frankly, for me, it wasn’t just three dates. It was colleagues becoming friends for more than a year, then surprisingly close confidants, culminating in a movie where I paid, a movie where you paid, tea and intimate conversation, you cooking me dinner, me cooking you dinner, all while still technically being “just friends”… Frankly, in a way we had been cautiously dating for a couple months. And I know that technically isn’t true. But emotionally, it feels true. And I feel sucker-punched. I feel abandoned.
And seeing you being miserable on Twitter and Tumblr doesn’t help at all. Because on top of everything else, I am sitting here worrying about you. And I try to avoid reading your posts because I am just TORTURING myself, but I can’t seem to help it. Was it really the right decision? Maybe I don’t have the right to ask, but I can’t help but wonder. Was a decision made in what feels (to me) like blind panic, a decision that seems to be hurting us both, is it the right decision? Isn’t there some middle ground here? Not a ‘no,’ not an ‘I can’t’… A ‘let’s wait and see’… On Tuesday, when you asked, “what next?” and I said “we give this thing a try,” you said ok. But bailing four days later. That isn’t even the beginning of an attempt. Is trying not even a possibility now?
Because… look, I don’t believe in true love or soul mates, but I do believe that some people just click. Fit. And I can’t help but feel that you and I could be amazing. Perhaps with effort, perhaps with struggle, with TRYING, but all the same.
And then again. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just not the right person for you. Maybe it’s really as simple as that. I don’t know.
You made me brave. You made me stop worrying about what they thought. I wanted you to know that you made me brave. That was you. That is one of your qualities. You inspired that in me.
Day Eleven (Pt 2):
I never expected to be the brave one in a (I guess hypothetical) relationship. But here we are. You made me that. You just seemed worth the risk to me, but i guess that feeling wasn’t mutual.
How do you just turn that off? That laughter, that excitement, that somewhat-surprised joy. How did you turn that off? And if you didn’t (I know you probably didn’t. It’s never that easy. I’m being mean. I know I’m being mean, but) then… What?
There’s nothing wrong with needing people. There are always levels, of course. Being too dependent. I have that impulse in me which i have tried my best to resist all my life. But… (And I keep trying to learn this for myself as well because I’m never good at allowing myself to rely on others…) But we are communal creatures and we are creatures who live best when we have people around us that we care about and who care about us, people we can lean on. It’s not just about me trying to take care of you and you thinking I shouldn’t have to, and you feeling like you’re just using me or relying on me too much. It’s about people taking care of each other and also encouraging us to take care of ourselves. It’s about both taking and giving. And I can be very good at both, when I’m allowed. It’s terrifying, and it’s dangerous, and there is so much risk for injury on both sides. And I have been afraid of being hurt all my life. Not like you, I know. I have never been through a divorce or an abusive relationship. But I have watched my mother live through both and absorbed her fear. I have watched several friends live through both, and learned caution. My own brands of hurt were small and young and naive in comparison but they still marked me. I understand fear. I have been afraid of so much all my life. And I will never deny the danger, the risk, but it seems to me that there is little else, and sometimes it is worth it to try anyway. And the only thing that makes it bearable is someone to share the risk and terror with. I know I am making a lot of big grand statements for someone who has never really done this before, and for someone who only got three dates. But I left those dates anxious but also exhilarated because I felt that I was willing to try to take the risk with you. For the first time in years and years I thought I’d found someone who was worth the risk.
Am I being mean? Am I being unfair? Probably? I don’t know. Calling it fear is so… dismissive. I know it’s more complicated than that. Or, part of me knows its more complicated than that. Another part of me just feels like you ran away. Did you? Is it running away? Did you panic and run? Maybe that’s not fair. I don’t know.
Frankly, I’m not sure I really care right now.
I can’t help but wonder if the problem is simply that you don’t think you deserve to be with someone, or be happy. And then I think that must surely be the height of arrogance on my part. I don’t know. I might not be the right person to MAKE you happy, but I can guarantee you one thing: you definitely deserve it. You deserve to be happy, you deserve to be loved.
It would be so much easier if I could hate you. But I’m just sitting here worrying about you and missing you. And wondering how I can miss you so much already when we didn’t ever see each other in person that much anyway. But between tumblr, twitter, Facebook, texting, and in person conversations, we were in contact rather a lot after all, weren’t we. And now I feel too awkward and sad to say anything on twitter, or email you. Which makes it even worse that my brother showed me some really funny YouTube videos and the first thing I said was “can you give me the links? Jen would love these.” Only now I’m not sure I could send them to you.
And that’s another thing. You said you didn’t want to lose me as a friend. And I swore to myself I wasn’t going to let this ruin our friendship. But… But.
I guess I’m wondering if I need to keep all of this to myself if we are ever going to be able to be friends still. Maybe sharing all of this would make that too difficult, too awkward. Of course, I can’t decide if it would be more awkward for you or for me. I don’t know. If I shared any of this, even the smallest bit, with you… would you feel too guilty, would you censor everything you did and said, would you SAY we’re still friends but stop visiting, stop talking, stop actually BEING my friend? And if we CAN remain friends… perhaps it will be easier for ME to put a happy face on it, to behave normally, to be ok or pretend to be ok, if I don’t have to worry about how much you know, or can guess, about how I really feel.
But that’s the thing. I always keep my mouth shut. I always swallow my words and my feelings and internalize everything. I can ramble on endlessly about all kinds of ridiculous things, things I love things I care about things that make me angry tv shows and books and movies and politics and fashion and music forever and ever and ever. But the important stuff, the emotional stuff, the stuff you (at least somewhat) seemed to share with me so easily…. I keep that stuff quiet. I keep it inside. I let it fester in my throat and my lungs and gut. Because… because so often it seemed to become only a burden to those around me, and often it becomes something that is held against me later. Again, I’m a coward. Or I often am, anyway. But how many times have I missed out on something because I didn’t speak up? I don’t know. I’ll never know. I can think of plenty of times when I really did make the right decision, the safe decision, by keeping my mouth shut. But sometimes… sometimes it has to be worth it to say something, right? And I’m so damn tired of keeping my mouth shut, of biting my tongue, of swallowing my words. I have swallowed whole mountains of anger and sorrow and pain and hurt and embarrassment and want and need and desire. I have swallowed mountains whose peaks break apart in my lungs and my throat and tear at the lining of my stomach. I have swallowed mountains and cannot speak. And I am tired of swallowing mountains. So perhaps it would be better (though probably not smarter or safer) to just put it all out there. To just have the words out of my mouth before they break my teeth and have done with it.
But just because it might (and only might) be better for me, doesn’t necessarily make it better for YOU. And yes, despite your (no doubt) protests, I am still worried about you, and how any of this might affect you. I can’t help it. This is what I do. I have spent my life taking care of people. My mother and brother and grandparents and my friends. I have spent my life keeping tight control over myself, my reactions, my behavior, my voice, my feelings, because I have absolutely no control over any of the things other people have decided for me, or put upon me. And yes, I am tired taking care of people who take and take and take and then take away my decisions from me, who take away my voice, and then claim I have been the burden. And yes, I would like now and again for someone to take care of me for once in my life. But at the same time, I am very good at taking care of people, and I have always taken joy from caring for the people who deserve it, and who care for me in return. I have said this already but I do believe in the end that you have to be able to do both – give and take. And some people are very bad at learning to take and accept what is given. I should stop talking. I should stop writing this stupid little notes. I will probably never be brave enough to send them to you. And they are probably not doing me much good. And in the mean time, they just fill up my phone and my iPad and my laptop I don’t know what to do with all these words that should stay swallowed up inside me.
That saturday, the night before you called me and ended this before it had really gotten started, I had a dream about you. We were in your little house, and I had agreed to model my kimono for you. I don’t know if you know this, but I have a kimono, a beautiful formal hand-painted silk kimono. In my dream, I had finally finished collecting all the necessary pieces to wear it correctly, in the traditional fashion. And I emerged from your bathroom wearing it. You were sitting on your little sofa. And you sat there for a moment, and stared, until finally you stood and walked slowly toward me, and said: “how quickly can we get this off you without injuring the fabric?” Until you reached me, and put a hand on the obi and began to slowly unwind it from around me waist and said: “screw quickly, I intend to enjoy this. Like unwrapping a christmas present…” I laughed, and then a cat woke me up.
You’re tumblr is murdering me right now. My tumblr is murdering me right now. The entire existence of the Internet is murdering me right now. Why do I do this to myself. I close the window. I turn off my iPad. And then I come right back later. Again and again and again. I hate everything. Fuck this shit. Nice to see you made the first break. I’ve been avoiding reblogging you for days. Don’t even ask me why. It felt too much like an admission to my online stalker status maybe. I don’t know. Everything hurts.
Maybe I’m romanticizing you? I don’t know. Maybe? I don’t think so. I suppose that’s part of what the whole dating thing is supposed to help you figure out.
Last night I dreamt that you showed up without warning during my move tomorrow. That you showed up as we were loading the Uhaul, swept out of your blue Yaris, swept up to me, said “I’m sorry. I panicked,” and then grasped my face with both hands and kissed me in full view of my mother, my brother, and the two or three people there to help out. I am embarrassed by the very cheesy rom-com-worthy scenario, of course. But… But it made me happy for a second. And then I woke up.
How long? How long til this doesn’t hurt? I need to know.
I hope you’re okay. You said I shouldn’t have to take care of you. But I hope SOMEONE is.