In an effort to stop eating half-a-pizza on my own, placing cooling cream on my eyes every single morning and sending out hasty, long-winded emails to my friends complaining about how much it sucks– my friend M demanded I hit the town, in style. So, we met at Bowlmor – a “luxury” bowling alley (if there can be such a thing) to redeem a free game we won because we successfully played corn hole. (Note to New Yorkers – corn hole is quite common in the South, especially if you tailgate).
It was raining on Friday and we came in a little frizzy and damp, determined to make that pitcher of Blue Moon and single game last long enough to get our overpriced Spinach and Artichoke dip’s worth. While I bowled quite a good game (three strikes!), my mind was anywhere but there in that semi-fancy establishment. I smiled and laughed, talked about my week and we both tried to steer clear of the topic of Mr. P. It’s more than a sore subject.
After we couldn’t squeeze anymore time out of the game, we headed to bar close by, snuggling under one black umbrella, trying to walk slowly in tight, cotton black mini-skirts and pumps. M was in a cheerful mood, trying to keep me occupied and distracted so I wouldn’t let myself get down. We stood near the back of the bar, sipping on our drinks and watching the crowd buzz. It was an alive night – everyone was out and about, staying inside to hide from the weather and meet with friends or flirt with strangers. As they always do, a group of guys found their way to us and started chatting. Though I wasn’t in the mood, I responded a bit, faking a few smiles and made small talk to keep the conversation going. But in less than a few minutes, the guy asked me quite sincerely: Are you okay? Your eyes look so sad.
Wow, I thought. I can’t hide it at all.
He’s right and so are all of my friends – I look sad. I am sad. I wasn’t at first, though. I savored being incredibly angry and feeling rightfully justified. I was proud of myself for getting up the courage (finally) to walk away from something that was toxic and not bringing me the enrichment I know I deserve. I had my hopes set high for Mr. P and when I realized he wasn’t going to meet them, he emotionally wasn’t ready for what I wanted – I left. It wasn’t that I really wanted to leave, it was just that I had to, or we would grow to resent one another and any chance for a friendship down the road would be a distant possibility. The relationship wasn’t working because there was only one person who actually was…well, working.
And maybe because of this blog or just because I’m learning with each man, I loved myself enough to let go, so I could at least have the opportunity to meet someone who is right for me. I also loved Mr. P enough to give him the space and time he needs to learn to love himself – which is far more important, in the long run, than him learning to love me.
I know all of these things rationally. I saw the destruction and I felt myself fall apart each time we were around each other because I couldn’t stand another day where the only thing I could think was: Why can’t he just feel how I want him to feel? Why can’t he see what he has? Why does he take me for granted? I couldn’t hide that frustration and I couldn’t stop my heart from breaking, so of course I made a decision and remarkably, even after returning his key and returning his things, I stuck to it. The Lindsay I was a year ago would have caved, but this one is determined to have more than a lack-luster, unwilling-to-emotionally-commit, show-up-an-hour-late to my birthday party kind of man. Even if I do, still, after everything, foolishly love him dearly.
And that’s maybe why it’s so hard. There was no huge, big blowout fight where I stormed away in my high heels and he came racing after me. There was no grand exit or big reveal that made me turn on a dime and hit the road. As far as I know he was loyal and apart from the final month of our relationship, he was always someone I could communicate with. We started as friends and we grew to be best friends – maybe the turning into lovers part was a bad idea, but it happened and here we are now. Or there we were.
It’s easier when everything comes crashing down and you can depend on pure animosity to keep you warm at night. When there are no lingering feelings or when someone does something so remarkably selfish that you can’t stomach the idea of being with them again – maybe the wound isn’t as deep. But when it simply won’t work because the other person doesn’t have themselves together enough to love you truly, that’s when it all just feels bittersweet. That’s when, even though you know it’s the right thing to do for everyone involved, your heart still aches for it to be different.
After Mr. P left with everything I ever borrowed of his, plus some gifts for his nieces that I now will not be able to give in person, I cried on the phone to M: Why does it have to hurt so bad? I know I made the best decision I could and I don’t want to be with him, not when he’s like this, so why does it have to hurt? I’m strong and I’m okay being single, why can’t I be stronger than this? Why do I have to hurt?
Carefully, as if not to unleash the sobbing machine that I can be when my heart is so fragile, she reminded me that it only hurts because it meant something. If it meant nothing, I would feel nothing. And to get to the happiness – I have to feel the hurt. And yes, the hurt will suck, I’ll have those sad, sad eyes for a while, but the sparkle will return. So will my confidence that always seems to lose its way after a breakup. But I have to feel it, I have to let the hurt come and let it leave so that I can feel something different. Something better than what I’ve felt before.
After I got off the phone with her and was left alone to myself, I thought about how accurate she is. Not just about this messy clean-up period following the end of my first New York relationship (which was as complicated as any girl would ever wish it wouldn’t be) – but about love in general. Just like you have to feel the hurt to get over it, you have to let yourself feel love to ever have it. And sometimes that love will stand the test of time, sometimes it’ll just last a few years or months, sometimes it’ll show you a new side of yourself, sometimes it’ll crash you continuously, sometimes it’ll give you six-months worth of blogs, sometimes it’ll leave as easily as it came.
But I’d rather feel love and lose it then to protect myself from any hurt at all. Because if I can get through the love and the hurt that follows it, I know I’m strong enough to do it all over again. Love is painful, even when it’s the love. If it wasn’t, it’d never be worth it.