Two evenings ago, I went to the grocery store, as I so often do during the course of Mom Duty. I stopped to put gas in my car (which I hate to do more than anything in the world). Just as I switched off my ignition, my phone dinged with a message from an ex and another one drove by. Simultaneously.
Over the last year, I've been out with a couple dozen men. Most did not get a second chance. I currently have a listed of 18 blocked numbers in my phone. (FYI, on an iPhone, texts from blocked numbers are lost in the ether with no response to the sender. Phone calls will go straight to voicemail. Anything recorded stays hidden unless you unblock the number, at which point they show up in a special voicemail directory.)
I didn't shoot them all down immediately. I'm still casual friends with a couple of the guys I met. (At least four of you are Facebook friends.)
But there were a select few who drew my heart into theirs. We moved past the point of casual chat to an actual relationship.
I've talked at length about my super ability to attract Fragile Cats. I swear some days it's like my front door is wide open, and they just saunter across my threshold and demand to be fed and pet, twisting their long tails around my legs and tripping me up before I even realize they're there. Ultimately they are skittish and unavailable, whether emotionally or logistically, though they'll almost always declare that's not the case. One even swore he wasn't a cat at all—that he was, in fact, a coyote.
When I realize they're skittish and about to run, I always offer them time and space. Always. They never take the chance. Inevitably, they freak out and bail and let me down in some ludicrously soul-wrenching way. I toss them out in my anger but always relent a few days later, letting them stew in the sun on my front porch. Where I leave them a saucer of cream. And the key to my back door.
(There are a lot of always in that paragraph. Note the pattern here.)
I am impossibly accommodating with these men. I am equally forgiving and supplicating, because I completely understand how they work; I get why they're so easily spooked, and somehow I continue to hope that they will see something special enough in me to be worth their effort to at least try to correct their behavior. For themselves and for me. I care about them—hell, I even loved two of them—so of course I would do everything possible to make it work, to give them reason to meet me halfway. Or at least a quarter of the way. (I'm a long-legged resourceful girl; I can close the gap myself.)
I'm unable to just cut someone like that out of my life at the slightest provocation. It feels inherently wrong to me, to disregard someone you care about so much. Because of my history and expectations, I have an unusually (annoyingly) high tolerance for douchebaggery. I'm incapable of writing them off right away, though God knows the Castration Committee wishes I would learn how.
But when they fuck it up again, that's when I'm done. Usually. Or I try to be. (Again, my issues with boundaries.)
What pisses me off, though, is the text or email or phone call a few months later, telling me how much they miss me, how they think about me and wish things had gone differently.
You miss me? Fuck you!
Every single one of them had the chance at something extraordinary. They knew it at the time and while they were letting it go. They would profess their care for me while throwing up their hands, apologizing for hurting me while they slapped me across the face. (Figuratively, not literally. The Castration Committee would harm me if I let that shit happen. Again.)
I'm not a toy to be discarded and brought back out months later, when you realize you'd forgotten how much fun it was to play with me. I am a really spectacular woman who cared deeply for you, and you dismissed me with a multitude of reasons and excuses. You told me to my face that I mattered while you crossed your fingers behind your back.
And with all of them but one I am able to comfortably and happily live in a healthily detached state. It is still a struggle, every goddamn day, to keep that one in perspective, to actively remind myself of the bad that came with him and how it almost sucked the good out of me.
That's the one who appears when I least expect it but when I am least surprised. That's the one who lives the closest, who I sometimes pass on the road... the one who reads my blog regularly because he misses my voice and this is the closest he can bring himself to hearing me. The one who got away but it is never far away at all—even at 3 a.m. when we're both lying in bed missing the other. The one who altered everything, for whom I altered everything, but who can't get his big, beautiful head out of his ass long enough to admit that he fucked it up and shouldn't have given up so goddamn quickly.
He will read this. He'll know it's directed at him. He will likely continue to lurk, waiting for the time he sees that I've moved on with someone else and am in a safe enough space that he can be my friend again.
But he's also the one I can never be friends with, even though I miss him like mad. He's the one I loved so deeply and so passionately that the wounds of losing him are still sensitive and raw. They'll heal eventually, but I'll be left with more scars that leave numb, faded spots on my surface.
Maybe those are the mars I'll finally tattoo with chains, turning something ugly into something beautiful.
The rest of them can go to Hell. He's the only one I'd follow into those depths to bring out or join, whatever it took to keep him safe.
Some of the others will read this, too. They'll start to think it's about them and then feel the pang! when they realize they're mistaken. Again.
But to every single one of you, you had your chance. You can miss me all you want. It doesn't change a thing.
Unless you're that one.