Leave Him in 2018
“Happy new year, baby!”
It’s a text that I know will be met with silence. My finger hovers over the send button while I weigh the pros and cons of being vulnerable versus reading the signs and withholding my affection.
It’s been almost two days since I last heard from you. You’ve always slipped so comfortably between lavishing me with affection and withholding it entirely. It’s a switch you flip with ease. As I waver on whether or not to press send, I ultimately choose the discomfort of vulnerability. I want to usher in this new year with this man who has given me very little reason to trust him. I want to be vulnerable even in this space where my heart would be better off behind a wall. I’ve always loved making excuses for the men in my life who are only giving me half of what I need. Half of what I deserve. I choose to send the text.
Two days later I’ve still heard nothing. My anxiety is through the roof. My vacation has become a blur of worst case scenarios and a feeling of being trapped across the country while my world burns at home. I’m berating myself for choosing vulnerability. I know that he’s gone back to her but I’m still holding out a string of hope that maybe all the times he assured me not to worry about that, he was telling the truth. But maybe all of those assurances were more for his own benefit than for mine. A mantra that he couldn’t live up to. “I will not go back to her.” A lie we have to believe so we can attempt to move forward, but one we know is not the truth.
I finally break down and follow up.
His response comes slowly and with none of the warmth that I was hoping to receive. All of my anxieties have been confirmed with the simple, polite text. He said so much while saying so very little. “Happy new year! Sorry I didn’t respond!!!!”
Too many exclamation points. Too much silence to ignore. Too many excuses in the texts that follow. I know that you’re gone.
I’m across the country for another two days and my hands are tied. There’s nothing to be done but wait to come home to a conversation that I already know the end to. A conversation we’ve had before. One I can recite word for word before we even have it.
I know you’ve already justified your indiscretion to yourself. You’re in love with her. I was just a re-bound. You and I were not actually dating so you technically didn’t do anything wrong. It certainly wasn’t cheating. You just don’t want to hurt me and you think if we keep dating (TECHNICALLY NOT DATING) then I’ll wind up a broken shell of a Malori. How will I ever rebound from the pain? We could honestly skip it, but sometimes it’s satisfying to watch you lie straight to my face. We played this game before and I’m familiar with the ending. I can already picture her car parked outside of our building so when I finally come home and see it there, I’m not even surprised. And when, two days later, we finally have “the conversation”, it plays out exactly as I knew it would.
The only surprise this time comes from me. You see, I’ve learned how to love myself in the past two years and when you start to “let me down gently”, it doesn’t hurt. I don’t cry and I can’t even get it up to feel angry with you. Rather, I feel free. I feel grateful that you’ve chosen to send me back into the world to find a love that fills me up. A love that isn’t complicated with ex’s, technicalities, and excuses.
And when we sleep together again less than one week later, it confirms to me everything I needed to know. I should have left you in 2018.