content warning: suicidal ideation
I love Kevin*. I think he is a miracle, but he is treating me like I don’t matter and our relationship isn’t worth the effort–and I am letting him. I kneel on the floor and re-read our text exchange from yesterday for maybe the thousandth time. I begin to type through my tears. I collapse on the floor and sob into my hands. I get back up and edit. I feel horror and anguish. This is not what I want. It isn’t up to me. He’s made his decision, he just hasn’t been able to bring himself to say it to me.
“You know, Kevin*, if you don’t want to push someone away you can simply not. After about a month of this I should accept that pushing me away is exactly what you’re committed to. I give up, I’ll leave you alone now.”
I think I’m going to throw up. I can’t do it. What if he wants to see me? I take a deep breath. I flinch and press send. He said he loved me. I want to die.
I stumble to the door and put on my Garmin. I stand in front of the window and stare out, vacant. I stand there a long time, holding myself by the arms and crying. I’m a good person, I think. I am brave. I am loving. Why does my life hurt so much? I don’t deserve this. I wonder how long it would take to bleed out if I slit my wrists with a kitchen knife. That would be really shitty for my friend to find. I’m supposed to run 100 minutes today; that’s ridiculous.
I blow my nose a few times and sit on the floor to put my shoes on. I don’t know how I’m going to find the energy to run but I guess it’s better than sitting around an empty apartment grieving. I stagger a few times getting out the door. I feel weak and debilitated and my feet won’t pick up. I walk toward the trees, queuing my Garmin for a 40 minute run. When I feel leaves beneath my feet I begin to shuffle and swing my arms. Moving down a small hill, my knees pick up and then I am running. My face feels wooden and my heart hurts. But I’m running. Tears roll down my cheeks and I hurt, but I’m running. I don’t know what good it will do, but it’s soothing and familiar.
I think how much it hurts to love so much, how everything I love I am vulnerable to losing. I’m tired of it, so I try hating everything instead. Life is terrible. Fuck this place. I hate everything. I remember my abuser telling me bitterly during one of our last arguments that anger was the only thing keeping him going. I’ve just reminded myself of him. I want to throw up.
I head into the woods considering how I am a barometer for other people’s willingness to confront their own issues. I see how the more avoidant a person is, the more likely I am to horrify them. I run straight through the center of a deep puddle and remember how frightened I was the night we had the misunderstanding. How ashamed I felt of my reactivity. How I apologized and told him what I was feeling and how he recoiled. I just needed him to hold me. I’d thought it was safe to need him. I don’t want to be a barometer. I don’t want to hold a mirror to other people’s unhealed wounds. I want to be a person who is loved deeply. I don’t want to be strong and brave; I just want to be held. I break down crying on the trail–not once but several times.
I remember my therapy appointment days after he first turned away, how with my self-esteem more firmly intact my therapist asked if I was comfortable with the way Kevin* was handling this and I grew hot with anger;
“Absolutely not. It is dysfunctional, inappropriate and hurtful to completely shut out a partner for an entire week. I am not overreacting, that’s how you kill the trust in a relationship.”
“So,” she asks, “Is this a red flag?”
I cast my eyes toward the floor and bit my lip. It felt like the ground dropped out from under me. The room began to lose focus, and then came back.
“Yes,” I finally said, my voice soft, grave and raspy, “I guess it is.”
I have over-functioned to prove my worth in nearly every relationship of my life. I think about how much of that I’ve done in the past month, how I’ve been desperately trying to reach a partner who has not been acting like a partner. I acknowledge that giving up on him probably represents growth–but I don’t feel grown. I feel hopeless, destitute and abandoned. I remember him telling me how he could see me healing, but that even if I wasn’t he’d love me as I was. I believed him.
I’m running, but I don’t know how to move forward.
*Not his real name