(Also posted at IndieInk, April 2010.)
Soon after we started, I told him that I was wounded – that I was damaged – that I was broken. He laughed it off, telling me that I was ridiculous – that I was fine and it was all in my head. But I knew better. I knew that I was not approaching decisions the same way that I had always approached them in the past, that my objectivity was compromised, that all logic had departed. I knew that when no one was looking, when no one was around, I still cried myself to sleep, and that, in those moments, I felt like I was barely keeping it together, like a shattered ceramic figurine, pieced back together and held in place with Scotch tape and Elmer’s glue. I knew that my heart was not listening to my head, and my body was ignoring both of them. Mostly though, I knew that I needed things that I had never needed from anyone before, and that they were the same things that he knew that he wouldn’t be able to give to me, maybe to anyone.
I suppose that somewhere along the way, I made up my mind that, if you care about each other enough, then the hardest part of the relationship is making the decision to stay. And to be quite frank, I’m still not sure that I disagree with that sentiment. But in this case, I approached the relationship like a challenge: I knew everything about the whole situation was wrong, and I made the conscious decision to stay. No – more than that – I made the conscious decision to disappear in him.
In fleeting moments of clarity, I knew that we were just using each other, hiding our pain in each other. And yet, I stayed. I stayed, even though I was almost certain that I didn’t love him. I stayed because he was more broken than I. I stayed because in my confused state, it felt like we could fix each other if we just tried hard enough. Or that I could fix myself if I could just be enough to make him happy.
The funny thing is that I probably would have stayed longer if he’d have let me. And to give credit where credit is due, he finally saw through my charade enough to push me away that one final time. But even now, I get a twinge of feeling that if I could only have done more, given more, been more, that maybe, just maybe, we could have worked – that I could have figured out the way to make it work. And that perhaps I could have found some small personal happiness in striving to make him happy. It’s in those moments that I am most keenly aware of just how broken I still am.