It is those moments before falling asleep and those moments spent in wakefulness in the middle of the night when I have my most powerful thoughts. I’m too tired to have my guard up, and it is too quiet in the world to have the distractions of work, friends, home and other obligations. Whether I like it or not, I am alone in my thoughts. Lying there, marinating in those thoughts, feels painful and vulnerable, much like writing these words. Yet, I have to feel it – I have to speak these truths. The only way out is through…
This week I learned that my former love, a man I deeply loved, is engaged. It hurt. I cried tears more forceful and raw than I have in months. I have struggled to move him to the “has been” pile, and push his presence from my heart. Even though I have long known that I do not occupy his. He was a Jekyll and Hyde who went from sweet and funny to critical and even frightening. But I miss the times when he was sweet and funny and caring.
I have long suspected, but never knew for sure, that our relationship wasn’t “real”. It was real for me; a man who occupied my whole heart and with whom I wanted to spend a lifetime. Sadly, I realized over time that it was more a game of manipulation for him, rather than love. Those sweet, funny and caring times were an act. He sought to control and had no issues with trampling over boundaries. He reduced interactions to a zero sum game of winners and losers, in which he was the only acceptable winner.
This week I learned that our stories, the ones upon which he framed our relationship, have been recycled for her. Of course, I only had a tiny glimpse into the new life he has fabricated since leaving me. I say fabricated because that is how it feels to me. I know he created a fantasy in which I was placed on a pedestal, and inevitably I tumbled to the ground when he suddenly saw me as nothing more than my flaws, my imperfections; no longer the Madonna or the angel that he originally believed me to be. It isn’t as though I changed; but his perception of me did…
I’m sure his pattern is the same in his new life; she is perfect – until of course, that moment when she no longer is. The only mystery is when. And when the inevitable tumble from the pedestal occurs, I know the pattern. The critical comments, the questioning, the name calling. The “fact-checking.” I wonder if she knows – I imagine not. I didn’t.
Meanwhile, I struggle to learn to trust again. I don’t know if I will ever take for granted that a man may mean what he says, or say what he means. Every word will be analyzed, dissected, and replayed in my mind at 3 am. I will probably always expect a man to walk away. Because I’m not perfect, or I have boundaries, or will not tolerate being belittled, or because he found a new Madonna to believe his stories. I’ll never really know why – I will only know that he left.
As for my former love, I’m left with his stories. Whether they were truth or fiction – it probably doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I don’t believe them anymore. I’m working towards building a new story that includes trust, and I hope one day that is the only one I live.