A month has passed since Mr. P and I officially parted ways. While he doesn’t quite remember the choice between coming home with me and working things out or going to Brooklyn and ending our relationship, I do — and I’ll probably never be able to return to that corner because it reaps of bitterness currently.
That was the Saturday night following my birthday and on Monday, the day I ended the daily-post regimen of this blog, I met him at a sushi restaurant after work. I dressed particularly attractive for the occasion — determined that if I felt good about myself, I’d be strong enough to stand my ground. We took our seat and he instantly grabbed for my arm and started apologizing for the weekend. Where he was 30 minutes late to my birthday dinner, and an inexcusable three hours late for his own friend’s party, leaving me alone with his family without anyway to get a hold of him. It wasn’t about his tardiness or his decision to not go to my apartment that night and try harder, really. It was just the tip of the iceberg, the final act where I realized the man I had been falling for may just be a figment of my imagination, not the actual man behind a clever mask.
I could barely look at him and I remember focusing so intently on a poster displaying different types of a sashimi, I could probably recite it if I tried. He wanted to take some space and some time, but stay together because he loved me. Tears welling up in my eyes, and Seal’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” ironically playing in the background, I set the key to his apartment on the table, along with a notebook I had kept our entire courtship, even dating back to when he was Mr. Unavailable. I told him that I’d either give it to him when we married or when we broke up. The latter just seemed to be our fate. As far I know, he hasn’t even opened it once since that day.
I meant business then and I knew I had to do the right thing, even if it felt wrong and it was extremely difficult. We had been fighting relentlessly, feverishly for six weeks and I couldn’t take another night where my eyes stung from tears, or worse, we were both so silent because there just wasn’t anything left to say. The only way to salvage any type of anything — and to build my own self-worth back up — was to end the relationship. In some sort of odd way, I felt like I was breaking up with a part of New York because he’s been part of my life here for nearly as long as I’ve lived here. He wasn’t just my lover or my first Manhattan boyfriend, but my best friend. And having that constant consistency is an awkward thing to wean yourself off of — especially since there wasn’t a big fight that transpired or some huge awful thing that either of us did that was entirely unjust. It just wasn’t working and we both knew it. I didn’t want to have to be the one to walk away, but I knew I’d be angry if he got to it first. It’s a petty thing to admit — but aren’t we all a little shallow when our hearts are breaking?
Even so, I didn’t fully remove those rose-colored glasses. Maybe it’s because I know him so well or because the way I got to know him was through a grand gesture for another girl (who happens to now be more of my good friend than she was ever his ex-girlfriend) — but I expected a parade. I thought I would be showered with gifts and kind, reassuring words. I was convinced there would be an email waiting in my inbox that declared his passion and his commitment to me, regardless if he felt passionless himself. I didn’t want to believe that he’d just let me go, just like that, and that would be…that.
But when you part from someone because they aren’t meeting your emotional needs, aren’t falling for you at the same rate you’re falling for them, and can’t give you what you want right now — why would you expect them to step up to the plate once you bruise their ego, hurt their feelings, and walk away? It’s a terrible double-standard but one I was led to believe was the standard for him: a woman is pushed to her limits and he can’t allow her to disconnect because he realizes how much he cares.
But there haven’t been flowers or love letters. No box of chocolates or lilies at my door. No sweet sentiment that makes me wonder if there is still possibility blooming between us. No wonderful anything, no declaration of love, no paramount change to change my mind. Instead, there have been a handful of emails, a dozen calls, some text messaging, and lunch delivered to my office. Oh and a pumpkin. I’m not sure why I expected more — but in some sort of odd way, I’ve started to tell myself that in this case, in the case of our relationship, less is really more.
If someone sees that they are only hurting you by being in your life, that they’re disappointing you, that they can’t give you that love that you want and that you deserve, if they can’t do the gesture to win you back because winning you back would only result in more trouble for both of you — isn’t the greatest gesture of all…no gesture…at all? If you can’t love all the way, why settle for meeting in the middle? If you’re not ready for va-va-voom, there’s not reason to keep all that room open in your heart.
Maybe he realizes that and so instead of dragging out the conversation, making a play that he can’t follow-through with, even if he wanted to, he’s releasing me to find someone who can go the distance. To find someone who won’t need to make a gesture because they’ll see what they have when they have me. Someone who can meet my needs and even surpass them.
There is pain in the silence and a lot of frustration, but if you’re brave enough to not blame yourself for the lack of a chase, you’ll see there’s actually more peace without the persistence. Having a grand gesture can be grand, but not unless it’s the one you need. And sometimes the one you need is simply…nothing.