I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
All I could think was, here we go again. Having the same conversation over and over. I just wanted to finish watching my movie and she wouldn’t let it go.
“What do you want me to tell you that I haven’t already said?” I said in my usual condescending tone, “Do you want me to just start listing off all the things I said the last twenty times you wanted to talk about this?”
“I don’t understand why you’re being such a jerk.” She said, “I just want to know why you treat me like an afterthought.”
One of the few things that I have learned along the way is that whenever someone calls the other person a name – any name, it immediately activates a wall henceforth invalidating everything you have to say. You might be completely in the right but if you call me a name, I shut down. And this is not unique to me. It seems to be more of the rule than the exception.
I am not proud of that night. I wish I could say that was the only time I have ever been a rude and condescending asshole while I argued with someone I loved, but I have my moments of weakness like anyone else. There are innumerable occasions when I said awful and unproductive words. Acted as if I wasn’t in the wrong, even when I knew I was and even called people names. Certainly nothing I am proud about but sometimes I have let the intensity of the situation overwhelm my rationality.
All she wanted to know was why I treated her as an “afterthought.” And she was right to ask. She had a genuine concern about the well-being of her investment and she was simply inquiring as to why I don’t treat her with warmth and enthusiasm more often. But I reacted like most people who feel pressured into talking about a subject that they don’t want to talk about or how to answer. Because the way I saw it was, she was good enough for then and it wasn’t worth the drama and yelling of break-up. She was nice and put up with my bullshit and she was fun to be around. But the idea of having the talk, taking all my stuff home, having her come get her toiletries from my apartment, change our online relationship status, explain to everyone what happened, then have to endure months of avoiding each other, 2am texting, and sleeping alone just didn’t sound all that appealing. And like the majority of relationships in this world, laziness prevailed. At that time, I chose suffer a B minus relationship than go through the F minus nights alone. Is it cowardly? Absolutely. But is it honest? Unfortunately, yes. Not one of my best moments, but sometimes we go into survival mode. And when people ask us, “Well, why didn’t you just break up with them right when you knew they weren’t the one?” I always say, “It’s easy to point fingers when you aren’t the one having to clean up the mess.” Because no one is there when those dark and lonely thoughts creep into your brain while you’re desperately trying to count yourself to sleep. You might have good friends who keep your life filled with post-break up distractions but I can tell you with absolute certainty, we all go through break-ups completely alone. And if you’re like me, that shit is scary. Because I have been there and gone through it and while I might not have died, it sure felt like I was going to for a few good nights.
I have always said, wasting someone’s time is one of the most disrespectful insults you can inflict upon a person. I have wasted many a good woman’s time and some have wasted mine. While there is nothing I can do to get those months and years back, all I can do is learn to communicate better. More openly. To be more fluid, honest, and vulnerable. To call out disappointing behaviors and learn to admit when I am wrong. But most importantly, to learn how to answer any and all questions until the person I care for is satisfied, no matter how uncomfortable.
But the truth is, I didn’t answer those questions because I didn’t care enough. I didn’t have the desire to fight for the relationship and truthfully, the only reason why I walked away was because I was tired of lying to myself – not her. And it’s disappointing writing those words. I am repulsed by my selfishness, but it is truth. So when someone isn’t willing to fight for you, it is generally because they are checked out. Because when you are faced with losing something important, a relationship with a future, you do whatever you can to fix what might be broken. You show your love and care with actions, not words. You don’t talk a relationship back together, you do it with your hands. With your love. With your actions. You make the time. You take the time. You learn to share. You learn patience. And most importantly, you learn to prioritize their happiness. Because the person you love shouldn’t be an afterthought. And if they feel that way, it is your job to fight or leave.
And while that might not be the easiest thing to do, the right thing rarely is.