I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
I get it. I have been there plenty of times to see it coming and to know when I’m deep in it. The deep sinking feeling. What feels like a physical rock in your gut coupled with the terror of not only being alone but feeling like you lost one of the greatest people you have ever met. Someone who knew how to bring you to highs you never felt. It’s tough to walk away from someone like that – but it’s tougher to have to watch them walk away from you while you’re screaming and begging for them to stay.
And I know the frantic desperation that haunts your thoughts making every aspect of daily life almost impossible. How the thought of food is repulsive and how you can’t even imagine going into work or being remotely productive.
It wasn’t even the break up that left me ruined. It was a phone call a couple weeks later. Breakups come easy for me. I overthink them so much that when I actually go through them, I somehow manage to hold my composure because I simply follow the script. If only because I have rehearsed the moment over and over again. The words and the phrases. The comebacks and the feigned surprise. Like a well-rehearsed monologue, I hold it together. But it really doesn’t seem to hit until a few weeks later. Like when you bash your toe on the leg of the coffee table and you know it’s going to hurt and you’re just waiting for the pain to eventually set in.
I called and the conversation didn’t flow like it always had. It was painful and distant. Like I couldn’t hold her attention. She was acting way too aloof, or maybe even worse – it wasn’t acting. All I know is that her distance was tearing me in half and all of my composure went out the window. All the training I prepared. All the rationale, gone. It was scary because I knew what was happening. I listened to the cold and annoyed voice and thought to myself, I know what this means – she isn’t in love with me anymore but I truly believed I could convince her otherwise. I was so self-aware that I was losing my shit I kept saying to myself, “Remember your training.” But I didn’t. I cried and I let her hear it. How hurt I was. I was giving up my power and allowing her to revel in the wailing and begging cries of her destruction. The soundtrack to a breaking heart.
I did my best to convince her that I was what was best for her. For us. That no one would love each other the way we could. That if she just took a minute to listen to me she would hear just how genuine and sincere I was. But she wasn’t listening. And I desperately tried to get her to listen because I knew I was making sense. I had all the answers to her problems. Together we were right. Perfect in our imperfections. Identifying with each other’s damage. Because only she could understand the dark corners of my brain. And if she would just listen she would understand that I was making sense. That we made sense. And that she was tearing away the only thing I had ever been certain about in my life. But she wasn’t listening. She was talking and laughing to her friends. Eventually, I blurted out, “I will do whatever you want. Let me prove it to you.” There was a moment of silence, then a slight hushed chuckle and she said, “I don’t want you to do anything. I’m really busy, I have to go.” And she hung up on me. I pulled to the shoulder of the expressway and lost it. I screamed into my steering wheel and punched the passenger seat. I broke.
But that was the last time.
That was over ten years ago. And I’m glad it happened. I am happy to have lived through that pain because I paid attention. I realized that the moment a person loses respect for you is the moment they fall out of love with you. And that when you give up who you are as a person, when you sacrifice your character, and compromise your ethics, people notice. And it reeks of desperation. And no one respects desperations. And if they don’t respect you, they certainly can’t be in love with you.
“I’ll do whatever you want.”
It is so real and hard. So pure in despair and sorrow. So unattractive and unappealing yet one of the most honest moments of my life. But also my lowest. I was willing to publicly demonstrate that I would give up everything I believed for just one more chance to prove to her that our love was real. But she didn’t want it because that’s not how healthy love works. A relationship will never work when one person is putting in all the effort and carrying the weight of the other because we lose ourselves and we lose the magic that made them love us in the first place. And in that desperate yet honest phrase, we lose some of the love we save for ourselves. Those words tell us that the love that is taken from us is more important than the love we need. And I don’t know if anyone ever told you but those should be as close to equal as possible.
While I was low, I worked my way back up. Stronger and more sure of myself with an empowering self-love that is true and durable. I needed to live through that moment so I could prove to myself that I COULD live through that moment.
And that’s all we need. Simply to know that we can survive. And understanding your pain threshold capability really is empowering because you have proven that you can and if you can then you did and if you did then you could certainly do again. And survive.