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It always started this way, with a three word text message and the awaited response. It would come from either of us, out of the blue and then we would wait to see if the other had moved on to someone new. I would anxiously hope not to be rejected. I dreaded the day his four-word response would change.
Two months had passed and I still thought about his kisses-would wake up from a dream so real I could have sworn he was there next to me. And there I was, sneaking out of the house where I was hosting a small party, to text him. I looked around to make sure no one else followed me out, sent the text that read, “I miss you,” and waited.
I knew what was doing was wrong. Logically I knew that this man would never give me what I needed from him. He didn’t treat me the way I wanted to be treated but the tendrils of my love for him was still wrapped tightly around my heart. I couldn’t let go completely. I had tried to replace him with new beaus but their complex circumstances left me exhausted and with little desire to make the simplest efforts to maintain connections. My phone vibrated a response, “I miss you, too.” I smiled, his response validated why I felt the way I did about him.
I knew the roller coaster was back at its starting position. So I sashayed my way back up the driveway, prepared to pull the bar across my chest and strap myself into the roller coaster, again. I braced myself for the steep drops and relaxed during the slow ascent. I was addicted to the excitement of not knowing what he was going to bring to the table this time.
I was Anastasia Steele to his Christian Grey. It was drama and at the end of the day I would throw my hands up in the air and feel the bottom drop out of my stomach. But I was so used to it, it was normal.
Why did I keep going back?
It was simply him. His compassion and the very essence of him. An accomplished, exciting man with no children and the sexy swaggered confidence of someone who is aware of exactly what he wants. My feelings for him were strong. He could carry on an excellent conversation, got along with most people and was the type of man to carry an old lady to her car if he saw that she couldn’t walk. All those things about him made him an irresistible concoction with “What Ja wants” on the label.
Insecurity, communication and the inability to just step up and be the man I needed. He always wanted to prove that he couldn’t be that person when he had all the tools and abilities right there in front of him. But instead, he refused to call consistently, would spark off arguments just because the color of the sky was blue. He was slow to reply to text messages but quick to come over–late and he apologized more often than not for disappointing me but he didn’t even mind that part, I did.
I shouldn’t want this man because his actions showed me he didn’t really want me
He was everything I shouldn’t want in a man because he disregarded my feelings and what I truly needed. He would never be what I needed because he simply didn’t care to be. So why was I in the car sending him that text? Why was I hoping that once again he was ready to strap down in the roller coaster next to me, offer his hand and let me squeeze tightly until we stopped flying through the air? Because he was who my heart wanted. And despite all worries that one day we would both be on either side of the platform walking in opposite directions as the roller coaster got underway–today wasn’t that day.
Fast Forward to Now
I wrote that a few months ago but today I sent the same text. I had the same anticipatory reaction of that last time, a couple of months ago but this time it was for me. I wanted to see if my breath would catch when I saw his response. If my heart would quicken or if I was truly over him.
When we tried this a couple of months ago, the inevitable happened. The conversations slowed, the communication stalled and we drifted back in opposite directions.
But today was different. I had to prove something to myself. “I miss you,” spilled from my fingers and as I received the return response, I didn’t feel for him what I’d always felt. That deep desire to want him to want me was tempered by the fact that I let go the last time. I unravelled the tendrils of love from my heart, wrapped its preciousness back in protective bubble wrap, refused to get in the roller coaster seat and I watched dispassionately as his reply blinked onto the screen. He was sitting there alone on the roller coaster, his hand searching for my own. But I wasn’t even there.
Losing to Win
The little girl in me watched the little boy pull out of the station and go down the tracks. In those few months we were apart, I raised the little girl inside of me working with her until she matured into a grown woman. I put away childish things like emotional roller coasters, relationships that are imbalanced, text messages when there could be conversations, sleep-overs with more overs (bend over, turn over) than sleep.
He and I are no longer riding the roller coaster together because in that space between 3-4 word text messages, broken promises, lunch dates that never happened and I was coming down there to see you apologies, I made a choice. A choice to stop confusing little girl fantasies and desires with a grown woman’s requirements.
I walked away with the full confidence of a woman who has a man waiting. He appreciates my thoughtfulness, the time I set aside to spend with him and the dedication I put into the relationship. It’s not a facsimile of the real thing, it is that real thing and when we’re on roller coaster rides together, I make sure we sit in the back row, so nothing can climb in behind us, like regret or the tiny fissures of heartbreak. I took one last look back at the boy on the coaster, his hand empty and waiting and I am sad for him. I wonder if he will ever be brave enough to step away from the roller coaster, experience real love and give it in return.
Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do to turn everything around and finally move on? Have you moved on or are you still on that emotional rollercoaster…