Month one after T.E. pushed me away was all about “just go ahead and wallow and be sad and depressed and eat Pop Tarts for every meal (although that’s a joke because when I’m depressed I eat… well, nothing. I eat nothing. But if I’d wanted Pop Tarts I’d have had them breakfast, lunch and dinner…) and sleep whenever you want to or even can and… just whatever you want. That’s what you should do.” A good plan, but just. So. Exhausting.
So month two I gave myself permission to stop crying. Stop being sad. Stop thinking about T.E. all the time. Before that I think I worried that if I didn’t feel all the sorrow and despair and other dramatic, English lit-sounding emotions all of the time then it would mean that my love for T.E. wasn’t so real after all. But you can only pass yourself through the emotional meat grinder so many times before there’s nothing left to grind and I was emotionally liquid by the start of month two. So I just decided to stop, and for that to be ok. I specifically kept my mind away from any thoughts of him, and finished purging him from my world. I’d mailed his stuff to him in the UK, as well as saying good-byes or thank-yous to those folks to whom my only connection had been him. But in month two I finished taking all of MY things that I would never get rid of, but which dragged him to my head and heart whenever I saw them, and boxed them up and put them safely in the garage. In month two the world was almost safe enough for me to just stop being the grieving widow for a while. I dallied a little with some new men, mostly just to reassure myself that there was the option of “new men” somewhere in my future but mostly I just took the month off from being sad. It felt good.
As month two was drawing to a close something very unexpected happened: T.E. sent me an email.
Now remember that the end of things with he and I… (wait, I said remember, but now I don’t recall if I really told you guys this before. I probably didn’t. OK, remember this if it sounds familiar, and if it doesn’t then Voila! New Information! Enjoy!) T.E. did some things I really didn’t expect. He avoided me, going to actual lengths in order to not have to talk to me. He rejected me quite coldly and it felt like an amazing betrayal, especially since he had been only months before someone I felt like I would always, always, always be able to trust with my heart. And it is those feelings of betrayal and rejection and overwhelming pain that I’ve been trying to find a home for in my head and heart. But I’m not there yet – not by a long shot.
So when I checked my email one day and found his name staring back at me I panicked. I’d honestly convinced myself that he and I might never connect again because I knew I wouldn’t reach out to him and I couldn’t imagine he would reach out to me after his rejection. I was surprised and also scared – what the hell could he want? What did he want from me? How could he already be ready to talk – was it that easy for him to “get over” things? Or maybe he was writing to tell me that he didn’t want to be friends after all. Unfortunately the only way to know was to open the damned message.
That took me, I hate to say it, about a day to do.
The email turned out to be short and sweet: he missed me and was ready to have contact again when I was.
So there I was with the ball totally in my very own court, and I didn’t want the damned thing. I felt better knowing that it was in his court and he had thrown it away. In that scenario all I had to do was perfect the art of living without him. But now I had a decision to make: was I ready to reconnect with him?
Well that answer was easy: no. If it took me a day to even open the first email (oh, and two days to reply, by the way) I was clearly still working through stuff. So I finally replied with my own short, sweet reply just explaining that I wasn’t ready, and that I’d reach out when I was.
As soon as it was sent I felt somehow relieved and tried, TRIED to find that safe, peaceful, almost-happy place I called Month Two. Because really why couldn’t denial and distraction and “vacation from sad” be two month long? Hell, I could make it as long as I wanted to, right? So yeah, that was my goal: not thinking about him, not feeling sad and keeping up my rather impressive level of distraction.
Unfortunately T.E. wasn’t ready for me to go back to distraction. He sent an additional email which, I think, was mostly to make sure I understood what it was he was asking for. It felt like he was surprised that my answer was no, and that if he asked it a different way I’d come back with a yes. He sprinkled a couple of temptations into the longer email such as “There are things I want to say” – how do you not get curious about such a statement? Oh yes, I really want to know what it is he might have to say, but I honestly worry about those things as much as crave to hear them. I wonder if he might also have reached the conclusion that we shouldn’t be friends, or that he’s also reviewed our relationship with some detachment and has his own regrets about what we were.
But what I knew so clearly was that no matter what it was he wanted, I wasn’t ready to hear it. Good news or bad, it was all scary to me. I understood that some, but the sheer panic I really didn’t get. What was it that I was so incredibly afraid of?
Finally I put it together: right now I’m trying to rebuild a life that was, until a few month ago, incredibly focused on him and us. I have these hours I’m trying to fill, and these urges to create or to care for or to give that I need to refocus. And at my age it’s not easy to change so many things in your life. I’m trying to add to my social circles, get back into my hobbies, build back up my flattened self esteem and it’s taking its time to get there. And I realized that in my heart of hearts I knew that if I let T.E. back into my world while I’m still so brittle and unsatisfied with things it would be far too easy to let things fall back to where they were, but even worse: focus my time and care and generosity on him when I couldn’t have anything I wanted in return. I need to feel like I’m back on my own two feet and can go on without him anywhere in my life before I can let him back in.
I was finally able to send him the second “no,” and I’m proud that I did it without anger or cynicism or lashing out at him – there were some drafts of the reply that weren’t nearly so clean. He’s agreed to leave me alone until I reach out to him. I worry that the things he wanted to say me will be gone by the time I am ready to hear them, or that he’ll be over missing me entirely by then. But I know that is actually better for me than letting myself crawl back into the hole that was our relationship at that very bitter end.
…now if only I could find that distraction I was enjoying so much…