“I don’t want to marry you,” he said to me, shaking and emotional over dinner on Friday, December 3rd, 2021. He had been kinda weird and distant all week, but I didn’t know why. I calmly muttered back, “Do you even want to be with me?” Like, are we talking breakup, heartbreak, nightmare? Or just an unconventional life path, moving forward as beloved partners? I felt like I already knew the answer, but of course I needed clarity. He responded that he wasn’t sure. And over the next week and a half, day by day, conversation by conversation, reality set in, as I tried to fight it and push it back hard. And on Monday, December 13th, I officially lost my dream life.
Headed home from work that day I could feel it. I began weeping on the train, because of all the sadness of the last 10 days. And all of my hopelessness that had become more justifiable with each passing day. I had a whole speech planned about taking a week apart to just feel our feelings and reflect. But as I walked up the stairs to our apartment and opened the door, I felt such utter heaviness. I knew I couldn’t go another day without knowing my heart’s fate. Will she be broken or remain intact? And I also knew that he already knew. He had been on the fence all week, weighing the pros and cons of my lovability. And assuring me that he wouldn’t be having these conversations with me if he didn’t want to be with me. But on that day, I just felt it.
He came downstairs and sat with me on the couch. He seemed in good enough spirits. Although how could he be given that I had been a wreck for days? I had chest pains and breast pains, all from emotional heartache. And he seemed so fine. I asked him how he was feeling and he said, “Okay” in kind of a chipper tone. And then I calmly and sadly asked him if there was a part of him that had already decided whether or not he wanted to stay in this relationship. He got really quiet and serious, and the rest is a bit of a blur. He began saying things that he had already said, for days now, and I just kind of blanked out. And then I heard him gently murmur, “I think we should break up.”
As he spoke, I just stared at and played with the wet tissue on my leg. To avoid eye contact, I kept folding it and unfolding it. Then refolding it and patting it, until it was time for me to speak. I looked at his face once I think, and quickly looked away. He seemed not sad.
Moments after I heard the words, I got right into logistics and started saying things like, “Can you go to your parents tonight?” And, “Can you please pay your share of the rent and bills until our lease is up in April, because I didn’t sign up for this shit?” And he quietly agreed to all of it. As he went to call his parents, I started gathering things in my sightline, and putting them into bags. Things I knew I would not be able to look at without dying. The stuffed animal my sister gave him for Christmas one year, that he loved and kept in the living room. Christmas tree ornaments he had bought for our tree, this year and last. His stocking. The coffee grinder he used every morning to grind fresh beans, French Roast, dark blend, while he also lovingly made me a cup of tea.
After he spoke to his parents, he started gathering some of his things. Through sobs I was bagging the trigger-items, but he shed no tears at all. He was distraught of course, and there was lots of huffing and puffing (something he does to calm himself down) as he stuffed his bags with clothes. He struggled with the guilt, while I struggled with the pain. And at some point he said he was very sorry. I said, “Whatever.”
He took several trips to load up his car, and on the last trip, I asked to say good-bye. I walked over to him and hugged him, as I confessed through a high-pitched, teary squeak, “I’ll miss you a lot.” He didn’t say anything.
As we stood across from each other in the kitchen, he said, “Good-bye, Lib.” And this time, I didn’t say anything. Then he left and closed the door behind him. Click.
I always loved when he called me “Lib,” but not this time. This time I could feel all the love had left him. Maybe not all of it, but enough of it for him to leave. He did adore me at one point. What man would not adore a beautiful, fun, interesting woman who adored him? Not many. But I just wasn’t his person. Although, I really thought he was mine. He had made all of my heart dreams come true. Well, not all of them. I never dreamed of this. I feared it, always. And I suppose a part of me always knew. I lost my dream life that night, and that is love sometimes.
WHY I DO AND DON’T BLAME HIM
It’s hard to blame him for much, honestly. Because I do believe he did try. And I do believe he did not fully realize he didn’t want me, until he fully realized it. And then bam, we crashed together, but apart, and hard. Within the span of ten days, I lost my dream life, that we had both been building, and nurturing, and growing, for three and a half years.
He always wanted a super nerdy, intellectual, cynical, adorable Atheist, who just got him. He still wants that. And that just isn’t me. I have lots of redeeming qualities that kept him around. But I wasn’t his dream gal. However, he kinda made it seem like I was in a lot of ways.
Whenever we would fight, or when I would question his commitment to this relationship, he always assured me. He always said, “I want to build a life with you.” In April of 2021, I had even asked him if he could give me a ring (the engagement kind) within the coming year. And he nodded and said, “Okay.” I asked him if I would never have brought it up, would he have felt the same. And he said yes and that he was on track for that as well, in his own mind.
He’s also not the kind of person to say something he doesn’t mean. He was never casual about these kinds of things, and always expressed his feelings, whether or not I liked what he had to say.
Still, it’s kind of like, if I had to ask, then maybe that’s my answer. I was always pulling, and he was always resisting. There are always signs. Always. But when we’re in love, we don’t, and won’t, and can’t always see.
I have no regrets though, because I got to experience real love for three and a half years. I felt it every day, and felt it deeply. And I was happy. For real happy. And he was really happy too, I think. I’m not an idiot and I didn’t imagine his love for me. But it just wasn’t enough in the end.
I LOST MY DREAM LIFE AND IT’S HUMBLING ME
When I would hear stories like this about other women, I always felt so petrified and confused. I just couldn’t believe that a man would do that to a woman without warning. And I could also never believe that she couldn’t see it coming. I used to tell myself, “That’ll never happen to me. Because I’ll never put up with a jerk, and I’ll be smart enough to see the signs.” But seriously, all is fair in love and war, and none of us get out alive, if we open ourselves up to its mystery. I’m a strong and smart woman, and it happened to me. And I have no excuse except that I loved him, and that’s the way love works sometimes. That’s the way life works sometimes. And I think I was alway so afraid to just accept that fact.
I’m so grateful to have experienced love like this, and happiness like this. And I know I will again. So, I don’t wish it to be any other way. But I just pray for the strength to get through the pain. Because it’s truly, almost literally, unbearable.
MOVING ON WITHOUT HIM
Here’s the thing. I love being in a relationship. And I don’t love or even like being alone. And that doesn’t make me weak, or needy, or sad, and it doesn’t mean I can’t be on my own. I just don’t prefer it, and I struggle much more with happiness when I’m single. I love daily affection, and sharing responsibilities, and being on the couch with someone at night, night after night. And I love coming home to someone, and going to family gatherings together. I love commitment and I love deep love. I’m not afraid of it, and I still want it with someone very badly.
So, this part fucking sucks. Because I thought I would never have to go back to being on my own again. And I was thankful every day for having my relationship with him, and never took it for granted. But now, it’s just misery.
Everything makes me think of him. If I even think of the name of the town he USED to live in, I crumble and weep uncontrollably. Seeing his empty parking spot in front of our apartment makes me want to die. I get sad when I’m going to the bathroom, using toilet paper, because he always used to buy the toilet paper for us. It’s everything and everywhere, and I can’t escape this sadness. I just have to live through it, until there are no more tears left to cry for him (or me).
IMMA BE OKAY
Wow, does it become obvious who loves you when you go through something like this! I feel SO utterly blessed to have a constant barrage of check-ins, phone calls, kind words, and empathetic support. Everyone from my co-workers, to my friends, to my family members have been circling me with their love. And they all know me so well. They know how happy I was and it made them all so happy for me. And they know I love love more than anything. So they know what this is like for me. And I can feel all of their beautiful hearts aching for me, cheering for me as I pull through this. And I will pull through this. I’m not there yet, and that’s okay. But I know I will be, and soon.
PS I wrote this article several days after the breakup, and am experiencing a new emotion every hour! There’s so much more to come, but I just wanted to let you know that my emotions are moving so fast right now, I can hardly keep up. And the feelings I express in this article might be completely different from the feelings I’m feeling at the time of publishing. I will level off at some point, but it will take some time.
I seriously wouldn’t wish this on ANYONE! But can anyone relate? Have you been here before? And what was your experience with getting through it? Did you find love again? How did you take care of your body and health during this time? Thank you for your love and support! xo
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Featured photo by Natalie Breeze on Unsplash
Dark stairs photo by Carolina Pimenta on Unsplash
Bird on a wire photo by Adrian Kirkegaard on Unsplash
Swan photo by DAVIDCOHEN on Unsplash
Mountains photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash