Four-and-a-half months ago, I found myself in a confusing place. I’d just realized the new guy I was head over heels for was dating someone else. I realized the ways in which I used sex to intimate love and exactly what my role was in re-traumatizing myself, constantly exacerbating my fear of emotional abandonment.
I made the decision not to date. Period. Maybe ever. And it was a very difficult thing for a girl who believes so deeply in love to eliminate the possibility of it at all, and to come to some kind of internal detente with that decision.
But then, I met someone. He was someone I’d known tangentially for more than a decade, though we’d never met in person. An unexpected conversation turned into another, and there is a moment (the event horizon, he said) where each of us realized the situation had turned in another direction.
Unexpectedly, and utterly terrified, I fell in love.
I’d spent years, off and on, begging the universe for some relief from my loneliness. Even when I was in relationship, it was always with badly-damaged men who refused to try to be better. Either I’d tire of their inconsistency, or they’d tire of my trying to get them to see how much better their life (and my life with them) would be, if they would just show up. Show up physically sometimes, but mostly I needed them to show up emotionally. Consistently. Reliably.
There were many, many nights on my own, when I would be in tears, prostrate before a god I barely believe in, praying for peace. Yes, I would prefer to be with a partner, because I believe so completely in the beauty and truth of love. But I eventually resigned myself to wanting at least peace in my solo heart, to accept the rest of my life in singledom. I paraded every hurt, in lurid detail, through my mind and steeled myself to not being vulnerable to them again.
But then, he appeared. Bumblebee. Kind, generous, smart, funny. Damaged but speaking to me through song. We meshed so well. He knew all of my shit, all of my fears, understood my ongoing process of trying to rewire myself from the inside out. No one, with the exception of the girls, had every accepted me so fully and completely. So incredibly lovingly.
Of course there was a catch: he was 180 miles away.
I’d just sworn up and down two weeks prior that I could never do a long-distance relationship. My need for physical proximity and regular contact was too great. But he was worth the chance. Initially, we were making it work pretty well. We would visit each other in our respective cities, and we were happy just to be together.
Eventually the logistics—four kids, visitation schedules, family obligations—started to erode our time together. Unavoidable demands on him were preventing us from having consistent connection, and it seemed to only be worsening. I was more anxious about this relationship than I’d been in years. The anxiety could be abated by reliable contact, but his logistics wouldn’t allow for it.
Faced with living indefinitely in a perpetually-anxious state, knowing the damage my response to the insecurity and anxiety could cause, I made the decision to end the relationship.
Nothing about it feels good. Choosing the rock over the hard place simply gives me a perch from which to see a vast, lonely ocean, a place from which to sing my lamentations. It feels like yet another trick of Fate, dangling the gilded promise of happiness, only to snatch it away again, laughing in her delight.
I don’t expect to do this again. There is no more surface of me to scar or fracture without breaking me open irreparably. My fear of emotional abandonment is consistently reinforced, and I have a direct role in choosing the relationships that undergird my insecurities. I do not trust myself to choose wisely.
It was so nice to be loved for a while again. It was nice to be missed when we were apart. It was wonderful to see my worth reflected in someone else’s eyes, far beyond the value of sex. It was wonderful to able to love someone, actively and deliberately, and to have my efforts appreciated.
But I am back in the confusion. I no longer believe it was an inherent flaw in me that made me unworthy of loving care and attention. I do believe I was a young victim of other people’s failings, and that set the course for how I would see every relationship and exchange and emotion in the years to come. Other people’s actions set in motion consequences that played out in me. I, in turn, made my own decisions with their own consequences, and somehow I seem to be so bogged down that progress forward is tiring and difficult and sometimes illusory.
Today, I don’t believe that I will ever really find what I know exists. It is there to be found, but I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to touch what is perpetually under a veil of tears.
I will stop crying, eventually. I will move through my well-honed List of Shit to Do after a Breakup. I will eventually feel like I can breathe again, and I will be happy again, though I’m not sure that my definition of that will ever be what it once was.
But I hope Bumblebee is able to find the balance he needs. I hope he’s able to establish who he is, within and without other people’s constraints. He is a wonderful man, and I love him very much. I want good things for him.
And I want good things for me.