Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I'm Going to Stop Pretending That I Didn't Break Your Heart

I wrote this a couple weeks ago. I had it up for maybe 24 hours. And then I just felt too fragile, and took it down.

But tonight, at a goodbye happy hour, I ran into a friend of B's. And I feel OK, which stands in stark contrast to last fall, when I was shattered after talking to her at a party. Time and distance? They work. Relief.

I heard this Eels song the other day. They have other songs that I like better. But it really resonated with me. It just made me ache.

What it took me until last year to realize was that if you break something, even if on the surface it seems that you have been able to fix it - in my case with sincere apologies and regret and heaps of adoration and affection - the cracks still remain. And those cracks, they let doubt and anger and invidious thoughts seep in where they didn't before.

Because the truth is, I did break B's heart. And later, I somehow thought I could apologize enough. I thought we would eventually work out. But it doesn't really work that way, or at least, it didn't with us.

Just over a year ago I wanted to get back together. And he strung me along with I don't know and I don't know and I still love you but I don't know for months on end. Initially, I was hopeful. After a while, though, all I could focus on was how hurt I was. I wanted him to either say he'd give us a try, or say that he wouldn't and to move on. And he wouldn't do either.

I cried almost every day last year. I cried days and weeks and months away. I was so wrapped up in myself, in hating the limbo, in aching. I waited and waited and begged, absolutely begged, for an answer. Pathetic, I know.

I thought I could apologize enough. I really did. I thought the fact that he still loved me meant that we'd get to a point where he'd forgive me. But apologies don't actually erase anything. The past is still there. Not to sound too Lady Macbeth, but what's done cannot be undone.

Last year it was so easy to focus on his rejection of me. In fact, that was all I could focus on. Not the why of it, not his hurt behind it. And even when I realized the depth of his hurt, I couldn't feel anything beyond my own.

I did break his heart. And he was graceful about it. So graceful that at the time I didn't realize how hurt he was. Actually, he loved me like crazy. More than anyone other than my parents has, ever. At the time, I didn't have enough self-esteem to believe that was possible. Or to value it enough. And when I ended it, it turns out he was crushed. But he acted fine. At least to me.

Eventually last year I started feeling like he was being vindictive. He denied it. And I believe he didn't think he was, but oh, he was. And there was ego. And lots of anger. Last year, when he broke my heart in return, he didn't just break it in one motion. Rather, he rubbed and scraped it raw a little at a time over months and months.

And I was not graceful. Not remotely.

Now I have the perspective to say that I should have just let it go. We might even be friends now if I had. He was so incredibly important to me. We figured largely in each other's lives for years. And now we don't speak at all.

But unfortunately, it's not in my nature. I couldn't just let it go. I had to push as far as I could.

And the really, really unhelpful thing? The fact that we live across the street from each other, half a block down. And so even after we stopped talking, there was the inevitability of running into each other, even though he is out of town a lot for work. He lives between me and my gym. Between me and my best friend. Between me and the places I often go out.

I've got some months of distance. Some months of not speaking. Some months of not crying. I can say that I believe that things work out the way they are supposed to, and we clearly were not supposed to be. Mostly I do truly believe this.

Good days, I feel like it's fine; it should be fine. I'm going about my normal life, and if my normal life involves running into him, it's fine. Fine and fine and fine. But even on those good days, before I hit that corner of our street I get that dread in the stomach feeling.

So days that I am feeling vulnerable for any reason, I cross the street. Take the long way around. Go out other places. Just in case.

The days I walk by, though, are like a test. Because one of these days, that "Please don't be home. Please, please, please don't be home." hold my breath dreadful feeling will be gone. One of these days, I will simply stop feeling it. And I will be grateful.


  1. I think after a breakup you have to do the mourning ritual. Of course, it involves moping and listening to depressing music. Here's a good one:


  2. HIN - You are right. And oh, I love that song. I listened to it 54 million times last year. That, and Citizen Cope's Sideways, and that Colin Hays' song that still makes me cry.

  3. I empathize very strongly with this. I think the hardest ones to get past, are those that were 99% right, because it's hard to let go of the notion that maybe that 1% could have happened, someday.

    "Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."

    I hope that helps.

  4. Thanks, Dagny. I think you're right. And eventually it will be totally okay.

  5. Wow. This is touching. And as sad as it can seem at times, as long as you learned something from it (and it sounds like you did), overall it's a positive.


  6. Thanks, LMNt. I think I finally did.

  7. I’ve been married almost eleven years now (holy moly) and it is only recently that I stopped feeling that dread when I was in my old boyfriend’s neighborhood. I stayed with him long after it made any sense, I guess because the beginning was so great, and I always had a foolish hope that we’d get back to that point.

    Unlike your situation, I never thought he and I would be friends, and the best thing I ever did for myself was to finally get away from him and cut off all contact before he totally destroyed me. Eventually, I moved on from Bob Mould (http://www.songmeanings.net/lyric.php?lid=3530822107858621342) to “The Long Goodbye” by Bruce Springsteen (I know I am old and he is no longer hip but still…) sometimes when you’re trying to get past someone it is best to “raise our glass and let the hammer fly.”

    I wish I could think of something to say that would make you feel better, but as you can see, my method can take up to eleven years. Hang in there.

  8. Forgiving - him and yourself - is the easiest way of moving forward.

  9. Shannon - Thank you for sharing that. 11 years is long, and that stomach dread is awful.

    G&D - Thanks. It's slow, but it will happen.

  10. The accountability and self awareness you take and show in this post is inspriring. Not to mention the fact that you have allowed yourself to learn soenthing for it. I aspire to do a whole lot of that this year.

  11. Thank you, INPY. I avoided a whole lot and it's taken me a long, long time. You're way ahead and doing really well.

  12. I'm going to find myself where you are in just a few short months. I could probably check out sooner, but Limbo is a tough place to leave when you still have hope.

  13. FreckledK - If there's still hope, it's very hard to let go. He was still dangling hope, and I finally said I just couldn't feel that bad every day. The only thing I could do, and it was for self-preservation - was to walk away.


Tell me about it.