As of today I can state that I am single for the first time in 4 years. It’s been a rocky road to even realizing that it was time to end my relationship. By my definition, this is the only time in my life I have ever been in love, and I hung onto my hope for this relationship as long as I could. After slumping into depression, anxiety, panic, and fits of anger, I have learned two things about myself. The first is that I will always try to find the good in people, many times to a fault. I gave my girlfriend so many chances to right her wrongs in the past week, it was ridiculous. I can still see some of her good qualities and was willing to forgive and forget, given some hope for the future. The next thing I learned about myself is that I am very loyal and loving to those I hold close. It’s very hard for me to break these bonds and in retrospect I am incredibly happy to discover how much love I have to give. After all these tears I have shed over the last week, I can still say I have much love to give; just not to this certain someone anymore.
She lived about an hour and a half away from me when I started college 3 years ago. Every other Saturday I woke up at 7 in the morning. I had previously scheduled a taxi to pick me up from my dorm and I traveled to the bus station. From there I waited alongside crack dealers, thugs, and (some) normal people while waiting for my bus. The bus station was located in central Pennsylvania and the bus indirectly made its way over to Baltimore before I transferred over to a route connecting to the greater DC area. Sometimes the bus from Pennsylvania would reach Baltimore too late and I would miss the transfer. Then I would have to beg a cab driver to give me a decent deal for a drive down. If everything went according to plan, I would finally reach the last bus station by 1:30 pm. From there her father would pick me up and it was a 40 minute drive to her house. So my final arrival time was around 2:15 pm. Despite the lengthy amount of time wasted in transit, my anxiety about the transfer being unreliable, and the shady people at the Pennsylvania bus station, I was more than willing to do it all for her.
The trip back was far more dangerous. I had a cab called from her house to take me to Union Station in D.C. From there I took a bus that made a stop at the Pennsylvania bus station, but was really headed to Buffalo,NY. I boarded the bus around 10 pm and never slept a wink. The stop at my Pennsylvania bus station was so brief and the consequences of falling asleep were so high, that the anxiety kept me awake. Once I arrived at 1:30 am, my journey was not over. I had a cab scheduled to take me to the outskirts of town, back to where my college is located in a more rural area. The Pennsylvania city where the bus station is located, is quite shady at night as you can imagine. Having later studied crime statistics in that area as part of my economic research for school, I can safely say I foolishly put my life on the line. However, at the time I still did it because I truly felt a certain way.
Luckily for me this arrangement only lasted a year, and soon I was able to rent a car from my college. Even then I dedicated my Saturdays (sometimes along with Friday night) to spending time to see her every other week. I had homework, exams, tests, a need for space, but I managed due to a sense of duty and responsibility. It was well worth it. We had conversations so open and free. I learned so much about myself, and how to care for another person. I learned how to be unselfish and put someone else first. I was blatantly honest with someone for the first time in my life. We danced, cried, laughed, and grew together. I don’t regret a minute of that because the sense of companionship and compassion I felt were undeniable. But of course there were problems.
Despite my loyal nature, I learned that other people don’t operate in the same rigid way I do. Throughout the entirety of our relationship she always had the habit of frequenting chat rooms to converse with other men. Over the years this habit started out as gentle conversation, then grew more intimate, and finally she started camming with strangers. At first I was incredibly unhappy since I’m not the kind of person who shares, if you know what I mean. Then out of my dedication to her (if you asked me a month ago I would have said there was a strong chance maybe one day I would marry her) I rationalized that I should focus on helping her fix her flaws rather than manipulate a single action. I patiently tolerated all of these things for quite some time, calming her went she felt ashamed and helping her break her bad habits. Her progress ebbed and flowed, but her habits eventually worsened. I always told myself that if anything physical ever happened, that would be it. Well…two weeks ago something did happen.
Apparently she had been talking to a guy on Tinder. She met up with him in his dorm room (I’ll leave what happened to your imagination) and then returned to hers later in the night. We had finally reached a point where honesty was our only policy. She immediately told me what had happened, and it was in the most bizarre way. She called me crying so hysterically she could barely breathe. Her depression gripped her almost to the point of suicide in that instant, and I swept aside my pain to make sure she was safe (I wrote specifically about this incident in this post). I calmed her down. I told her such a small mistake did not make her a failure, and despite all that has transpired even now I stand by those words.
However, I don’t share. This was my limit. Confusion, anxiety, and agony became my friends as soon as she had somewhat recovered. It was sparked by the fact that she had no intention of stopping her contact with other men. She didn’t intend on anything sexual, she had learned her lesson, but she intended on dating people on the side. I turned to myself and wondered, I saved you from your own insanity and this is what I get in return? I was furious. I screamed to myself, to her, and barely left my room. At times I would tell myself that everything was going to be okay and it’s fine if she sees other guys on the side. At moments I felt that she still loved me, and there was hope for this relationship. She was only distancing herself to help me, and any other excuse I could find. Then after every brief discussion with her, I would realize how much more this relationship meant to me than to her, simply by the sound of her voice. I heard, “I’m here as a friend, and you can leave whenever you want”. She still wanted to meet with me this weekend, and I was almost about to say yes. However, I slowly dragged it out of her. Today I finally made an ultimatum, and when I saw signs of acceptance rather than change, I knew it was over. I knew I was an emotional backbone for her, but there was nothing else left for me in her eyes.
I have learned so much from this relationship, despite it’s ending. I’m not afraid to love again, I’m not going to pledge to sit in my room forever. Until a month ago I could justify why I was in this relationship, it was so rewarding. Today was the first day I could unravel the confusion and tell myself..it’s over. Without desperately rationalizing how to be with her, or quickly picking up my phone to confide my doubts with the person who wronged me. I just wanted to make the point that I won’t cry today. I know that I made the choices that are right for me and that gives me strength. It was so liberating to realize the end had come once I got past the fear. I discovered my boundaries and I tested my loyalty. Sometimes the fear of losing what is comfortable to us is overwhelming. I conquered that fear. I’m just afraid this is her darkest hour, and she could care less for my help. That’s my inherent loyalty speaking again, but I must move on.
Goodbye relationship, goodbye best friend, goodbye lover.
It was so much fun while it lasted and I would do it again.
Small Disclaimer: She may sound like some sort of witch, because I portrayed all the negative aspects, but it’s a pointless exercise in listing the good and the bad. The good definitely outweighed the bad until last month…We always told each other that our relationship may not last, even in the happiest of times. I guess I wasn’t prepared enough for such a breakup, but it came and went. There is so much more to life than just this one bad moment. I have four happy years in return.
If you can take away one thing from this post: enjoy what you had while you had it and have the strength to reject what is currently miserable. Don’t do yourself the injustice of tarnishing the memory of something good in a moment of desperation and rage. That’s the only way I can assume some semblance of normality right now.