She responded with the following: "The problem is that he was never really committed to your relationship."
I simultaneously wanted to slap her and burst into tears. Fortunately, I did neither. But I realized in that moment something much deeper than the hurt of a love lost was going on. What was it about what she had just said that made me react so strongly? What nerve had she touched that in an instant made me feel as if I'd come unraveled?
What she'd said was more or less a factual statement about our relationship. I'd been prepared to stick it out, and SCL walked out when things got hard. He never even tried to work on our problems--and that was his problem. So, why did it feel like a reflection on me that he gave up?
I felt like I wasn't worth fighting for. I wasn't worth the effort of trying. I was dispensable. Traded in for something better. Tossed aside. Forgotten.
As a child, I watched my father walk in and out of my life three different times, the last time for good. I thought that if I could just do or say the right thing, he would realize what a shitty father he'd been and would apologize. I would labor over long letters to him, telling him everything I felt and how he'd wronged me. Never once did he apologize. Never once did he admit that he'd given up. And I was left disappointed.
Kids shouldn't have to earn the love of their parents. They certainly shouldn't have to earn an apology. I never should have felt like I had to convince my father to be a supportive presence in my life. Finally, I just gave up on him. He'd already given up on me years before.
My ex is just the lens through which I have been examining a pain that goes much deeper. It isn't about him; he isn't the root of it. He's still in the forefront of my mind, but in time that will fade, I hope. But the deeper pain won't unless I start admitting it's there.