A Public Affair

This Friday SCL and I had our first interaction in a public setting since the break-up. I was performing in a community production, and he came to see me. I saw him before the show and really wasn't phased by him being there, even when I was on stage. But when the show was over, that was when everything shifted.

He was there, waiting for me--to give me a hug, to congratulate me on a job well done. And it felt so normal for him to be there. In some ways I felt more supported and loved than I did when we were together. All of the feelings of comfort, familiarity, and support felt so good to me. I looked around and thought, what do the people in this room think of us? What does this look like? I knew the answer: it looked like we were a couple, a partnership, a team. And for the first time in many days, I wanted that again. In that moment I didn't care about all the ways he'd hurt me, how much pain he'd caused me, that he didn't communicate or affirm me. I wanted his familiarity back. I wanted his presence back. I wanted the life I'd grown accustomed to back.

We walked back to the Metro, rode back to our stop side-by-side, and walked back to our apartment hand-in-hand. "This is hard," I said. "I feel like we're together right now. This feels so normal." There was something quite different about being outside of the apartment together that made it feel like we were just as we were before all of this happened, when I still thought all was well, when I believed it was just a matter of time before he came around and decided he truly wanted me.

I cried and cried. Then I worried that if I continued crying SCL would think I couldn't handle this, that we couldn't see each other at all anymore. That we couldn't navigate a new way of handling this pain and transformation in our relationship. He held me as I cried. And as he held me, I felt completely alone. Yes, we were together physically, even touched each other, but I knew that he wasn't going to give me his heart. And I felt so horribly alone. I thought about how if he hadn't come to my performance, I wouldn't have had anyone there who knew me to say, "You were great up there." What loss to consider and to mourn.

He was the reason I was crying, and yet he was comforting me. But who else would? I can't comfort myself, can I? I can't hold myself, stroke my own head, pull me against my own chest, wrap myself up in my own embrace. And that place in his arms--that has been my place for so long. On Friday I still wanted it to be mine.

Eventually I put myself together and went to bed. Mostly I was worried that he'd think he needed to pull away, and I didn't want him to make yet another decision about what was really best for me, for us. I still want to try this new way of breaking up. Sometimes it's just really hard to be this strong.

7 comments:

  1. Wow that would be so hard. Have you thought at all about maybe not seeing him for at least a little bit? Or do you not think that would help?

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  2. At this point, cutting off contact would be about pain avoidance for me. I'm really resistant to the idea of rupture and am trying to find a new way to move through this. We do confine communication to when he's physically in our apartment, usually one night a week, unless it's a financial or logistical concern.

    We won't see each other for about two weeks as I'm going out of town for 5 days and he won't be back in our apartment until April 15th. I'm thankful for the built-in time apart and am curious to see how my feelings change during this time.

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  3. Ugh. Oh my gosh. At one point in my life I easily could have written all this.

    Just please be very careful. Hopefully you're stronger than I am. With my last ex (who I am now very good friends with, by the way) we tried to stay friends and ended up hooking up far too many times. For him it was just the fact that we knew each other and it was easy. For me, I kept thinking if I just gave in he'd want me back. And it sucked.

    A few years after our breakup (in which we hooked up many times) I finally decided not to see him for 6 months, to cleanse him from my system. In that time I got together with my husband and ended up seeing what a real, happy relationship was.

    Like I mentioned, my ex and I are friends now. And I love having him in my life. But it was a hard road to get to the friendship stage. Just be careful and don't get yourself hurt hon.

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  4. Krysten, thanks for your concern. Seriously. It helps! Just FYI (and perhaps TMI), SCL and I have not hooked up or even kissed since we broke up. There seems to be some kind of force like an invisible fence keeping the boundaries in place.

    I wanted to write this post to show that there will be times when seeing each other are challenging, but I can get through them. And today I feel great!

    Writing this blog helps so much, and it's good to know there are lots of people concerned about me in the world.

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  5. Wish I could hug you...sending ice cream and bear hugs your way.

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  6. question...let's play make believe and say SCL calls you after your trip and says this time apart made him realize how much you mean to him and that he wants to try and make things work....you take him back?

    I'm just honestly curious bc as much as I tell myself that things happened for the best and my ex obviously didnt love me enough to fight for me and I start to remember other things that could have been better...i'm not so sure if he called me and wanted me back that I could just turn him away...and i hate that.

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  7. LW, thanks friend. You're sweet. :-)

    Anna, in my mind, I really feel like I would say no. Too much damage has been done. But you're right; what I would do hypothetically and what I would do if it actually happened are probably quite different. I really hope I'm not put in the situation, and my guess is I won't be.

    You and I both need some more time to heal.

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