The Ex-Chronicles: Is it Ever Over?

I thought I could be friends with my ex. But apparently I’m just really good at lying to myself where he is concerned. I realized last night that I can’t do it.

It was stupid really. He doesn’t use Facebook much, but on Christmas Eve, a girl posted a photo of them together and tagged him. Then, she did it again the next day, so I’m assuming she stayed the night.

It shouldn’t bother me. He lives over 1500 miles away, and it’s been over between us for a while. Longer than either of us admitted really. But it does bother me.  Continue reading

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20 Something: G’bye is a four-letter word

I hate saying goodbye to people. I’m that person who always says “See you later” or “Ciao” or something that feels less permanent. I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of people in my life, and I know it’s all downhill from here.

Only a few of these goodbyes have been long and drawn out. Given the option, I don’t know if I prefer that or the sudden, gut-wrenching goodbyes that spring out of nowhere. On the one hand, sudden goodbyes are devastating and the resulting whiplash leaves your neck aching for weeks or even months or years. On the other hand, if you see it coming from a long way off, it eventually lulls you into a sense of security that the goodbye isn’t really going to happen at all, and then it becomes one of those whiplash types.

That happened when my brother died. We knew months in advance that he couldn’t fight the cancer for much longer, but when his body finally gave out, it was still shocking as touching a light switch after sliding your sock-covered feet on the carpet. There’s no real preparation for that. It’s been 6 years now (very nearly to the day), and it still surprises me that he’s gone. I don’t feel the bone-crushing sorrow of the initial loss anymore, but it still hurts. Particularly when faced with pink tutus and/or John Deere tractors.

Short Butt, aka my lil bro

Short Butt, aka my lil bro

Less permanent but still effectively never-going-to-see-you-again-probably goodbyes are bad, too. I had one of those yesterday morning. I have said goodbye to this guy so many times that I shouldn’t even feel it anymore. But this time he’s actually going somewhere. This time, he’s not just living five minutes or an hour away. He’s moving across the country to Washington state.

I’m so jealous that he can just do that. Honestly, I think my jealousy of his liberty and lack of financial obligations is actually driving my sorrow at his going more than his actual leaving. Like I said, I’ve had a lot of practice saying goodbye to him over the past year. For an instant recap, check out the Ex-Chronicles section of this blog.

Anyway, I’m really trying to push past this selfish feeling of envy. I want to be happy for him, and I want things to work out for him. But there’s this evil little part of me that is absolutely emerald right now, and it keeps saying his doesn’t deserve this chance to get away, and he’s going to waste it. I feel awful just writing that, but I’m trying to work through this emotion, so there it is.

I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to be jealous that he has an opportunity I don’t. Worse, I don’t want to feel like I did have this opportunity 5 years ago when I went to Stony Brook, and I ended up losing it. I don’t want him to be like me. I’m trying to make the best of living back in my home state. I’m trying to remember that I love my apartment, and I love that although I’m not entirely financially stable, I’m pretty damn close, which is a miracle considering where I was just a couple of years ago when I started dating him.

Actually we go back a lot further than two years. Hey hey high school. He looks super young; I look pretty much the same.

Actually we go back a lot further than two years. Hey hey high school. He looks super young; I look pretty much the same.

We had a great last night hanging out, and we had a lot of good times. A lot of shit times too, but whatever. He told me to come visit; I said I would try. And I’m sure I will try–if for no other reason than to finally see the west coast. But the goodbye still sucked because even if I do make it out there eventually, it will be a very long time from now, which means I, at least, will be a very different person. And there’s a good chance that he will be, too.

I know this because I’ve done this before. I left Stony Brook and had to say goodbye to everyone there, and by the time I made it back to visit a couple of the closest friends three years later, so many things had changed for all of us. We still connected, and we could still chat, but we weren’t the same people who shared a dorm bathroom.

Ah yes, the days of waiting on the LIRR to arrive

Ah yes, the days of waiting on the LIRR to arrive

Anyway, I’m trying to be a bit less maudlin and keep my chin up. After all, it’s nice to have an excuse to go to another state, even if I can’t actually afford it for a while.

Years later, we switched places, but it's the same hat!

Years later, we switched places, but it’s the same hat!

20 Something: Starting Over with an Ex

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything because 1) I’ve been very busy at work with the whole Christmas thing, and 2) there is only one thing that has really been on my mind lately (other than work). On Christmas Day (night), I got back together with my ex. A stupid thing to do, some would say. How could I after everything that happened, which I documented fairly extensively here?

How indeed?

Well, it all happened so fast. After the night at the lake, apparently feelings began to stir once again for him. And they never really left for me anyway. There are still some uncertainties, of course. For instance, is this whole starting over thing really going to work out?

We’re trying to be aware of the problems from before so as not to repeat them. We won’t see each other everyday, though we still talk via text whenever we can. We have to maintain our separate lives. We certainly won’t be moving in together, and besides, this relationship has a specific time limit anyway. I am still moving after graduation. He is adamant about not holding me back. We have different paths to follow. Really we’re just getting back together now because, for me at least, while I can be with him, while our paths are traveling together, it is too hard to be so close and not be able to talk to him, to touch him, to occasionally fall asleep beside him again, particularly when he feels the same.

Maybe it is a stupid decision. Maybe I shouldn’t be giving him another opportunity to hurt me. But since I only have six more months in this state, I’d rather spend as much of that time with him as I can.

What’s really sad is that I now regret deleting all those pictures of us. Never throw those things out; just hide them away. Then again, maybe it’s better. I don’t want what we had before. I want something different. Someday, I want to meet the person I will spend the rest of my life with. But that dream isn’t really convenient right now due to the aforementioned moving plans. In the meantime, I might as well be with someone I love, and it’s okay that it’s not forever. Now works just fine.

Random photo: Because I don’t want to go back, I’m ignoring the few photos of us from our early relationship in favor of a representational photo of his favorite animal (giraffe) and my video game buddy (penguin).

Genevieve and Pepito. In the old days.

Genevieve and Pepito. In the old days.

20 Something: Stop, Don’t Stop, Maybe Stop?

Working a ten hour shift and getting off at 7am is not fun. Getting pancakes after that shift is fun. Doing so with your ex is confusing. That was my morning yesterday.

Exhausted and starving from being at work overnight (something I’ve never done before), I wanted IHOP with a burning passion. For some reason, while texting this guy the night before, I had invited him to join me. Of course, I didn’t think he would actually do it. But apparently he really does want to try being friends again, so he came.

I sat in the booth across from him, sipping cream with a little coffee and trying to figure out who the hell I was having breakfast with. He looked like the ungroomed version of my former live-in love, and he even sounded like him. But I alternated between not knowing what to say and not caring to speak. There were times when I wondered how I ever dated him, times when I seriously disliked him, but most of the time, I just didn’t know him.

We lingered over a second cup of coffee, but very soon, I needed to get to my bed. Exhaustion was setting in rapidly, and I expected to become delusional at any moment. I sped to my car after paying for my breakfast. It was an awkward exit.

Somehow, after a few hours of sleep and some soul-searching, I ended up with him again at the lake just outside of the city. I wanted to see the stars. He wanted to open up to me. He wanted to… Quite frankly I didn’t know what he wanted. I’m still not sure. Whatever our separate motives, we stood on an empty boat dock (well, it was empty after we accidentally scared away the couple having a romantic evening out there) and looked at the stars. We talked. I don’t even know what about now. I taught him how to two-step. I waltzed in a circle around him. We did the line dance to Copperhead Road. The stars disappeared behind the clouds, and it got cold. We went to my place and watched both of The Lost Boys movies back to back.

I wish I had some poignant thought to close this with. I wish I had some clarity into things. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know why I’m doing these things. I don’t know why he has texted me everyday for the past week. At some point I thought “Well, we can’t go back, but maybe we can start over?” But I don’t believe that’s what he wants. There is a dark little voice whispering to me now that he’s just lonely and I’m convenient. I can’t decide if I should squash that little voice or take its half-understood advice.

Maybe being in your early 20s is all about being confused really. In two weeks, I will be 23, and every time I think I’ve figured out something about life, five more things pop up to taunt me with their inexplicable nature. In a way, it’s kind of fun, though. I told him earlier that Everything is worth celebrating. So let’s celebrate. Here’s to being young, alive, educated, employed, not homeless, and generally happy. I’ll drink to that any night.

Random photo: Whatever weirdness I let my ex put me through, at least I’ve got an awesome roomie who knew exactly what to get me for Christmas.

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The Ex-Chronicles: Meet Me at the Park?

I am standing in the bathroom staring at my reflection for the fifth time this evening. Once again, I am trying to decide if the lipstick is too much. I never wore lipstick when we were together, but since the breakup, I have come to love it. My lips have always been one of my favorite features, and now I’m actually bothering to show them off. I know that the lipstick is not for him, but will he know it?

I’m not sure. His ego is so big that I could go to this stupid meeting in sweatpants and bedhead and he’d think I did it for him. I wear lipstick pretty much every day now. But he doesn’t know that. We haven’t spoken even once since I officially moved out. I deleted his phone number. I didn’t block it, though. It didn’t seem important to do that. I knew he wasn’t going to reach out to me anyway. At least, I thought he wasn’t going to.

I decide (also for the fifth time) to keep the lipstick. It gives me confidence. I do not know what to expect. Hell, I don’t even know why he wants to talk to me so badly. His messages were so vague. Something about “the air isn’t clear and I would like to be able to breathe again,” which was oddly poetic for him. Oh, and my personal favorite: “I don’t know what I’m looking for in this meeting, but doing nothing about it obviously gets me nowhere. So I guess I’m hoping to get somewhere with this.”

What? I didn’t even respond to that one directly.

He hasn’t changed at all, either. He’s still indecisive as an indoor cat facing an open door. I told him to pick a place to meet. He wants to talk, so he should decide where. I refuse to go anywhere near the place he shares with that two-faced hussy, and I don’t want him near my new place. It’s free of all things related to him (with the exception of the awesome record player he gave me last Christmas; my one indulgence), and I want to keep it that way. And, he didn’t want to meet in a public place in case things got “emotional,” though he failed to elaborate how. I wonder if he’s going to start crying again. God, I hope not.

Anyway, he didn’t pick a place. He said it didn’t matter where but that he “had to talk” to me. I ended up telling him that at 9:30p.m. I would be sitting on the jungle gym in the small park at my new complex. Why should I have to drive somewhere to see him? Also, this way, I can get tipsy beforehand. I’ve been working on my liquor cabinet, and it is becoming a thing of both beauty and variety.

I am back in front of the mirror, contemplating my lips, my black-lined eyes, and my newly auburn hair, which is straight today, something else I never did with him. What the hell does he want from me? If it were anyone else, I would say he wanted me back. But he’s too stubborn, and the aforementioned ego is too prominent, for that to be the case. If I thought there was a possibility of him begging me to take him back, I certainly wouldn’t be going. I like to think that I am over him, but sometimes… Sometimes, I’m not so sure. I’m moving on, certainly. But, how do you know when you’re truly over someone?

Actually, I only agreed to this because I’m curious. Well, that and I want him to see what he’s missing. I want him to know that I am prettier and happier than I ever was with him. I want him to see the confidence I’ve regained and how my personality has returned to the shining thing it was when we first got together. I want him to miss me. But I don’t want him to want me back.

Is that weird?

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The Ex-Chronicles: Moving Day (Mine)

I don’t think that I have been this excited to move somewhere since moving into the dorms in New York for the first time when I was 18. The apartment is beautiful. Especially compared to the mediocre place we are leaving. There is so much space. I have my own bathroom. There are no memories here except the ones I will make in the months to come. It is a bare space waiting for me to fill it with the ness that is me.

Of course, I think of him. He comes home from work as we begin loading the first of the moving items. We ignore him. My roommate will take the things my ex left at our place when we are finished. I do not have to talk to him again. I do not want to. I block his number. Of course it isn’t really as simple as ceasing to feel sad or heartbroken. But a weight is lifting. It is rising off my shoulders and neck so that I can stand straighter.

I sleep better that night in my new bed, in my new apartment, than I have since he held me in his arms every night. Better perhaps. I am finally free.

I can’t wait to start decorating!

The Ex-Chronicles: Part Five, Moving Day (His)

He moved out today. Completely. There are a few clothes still hanging in the closet, and he forgot his dartboard that we never used.

Every time I think it’s over. Every time I think I am beginning to heal. He manages to prove me wrong. His things were already absent when I got home from work. He helped me unroll my new mattress, fresh from the box. The frame won’t be in until next week. I bought some sheets on clearance at work. They’re hot pink.

The room actually doesn’t look that much different. Most of the stuff in it is mine anyway. And yet, I feel empty. I stand across the room from him, and every fiber within me aches to hold him close. To feel his heartbeat against my ear, his beard grazing the top of my head. I want to scream at him; beg him not to go; demand to know why he doesn’t love me anymore. My throat closes on the words. So many words of longing, sorrow, loss. Love. Why do I still love him? How can I after all this? Is this what they mean by unconditional?

“Do you mind if I keep my key so I can still come over to take care of the dog?” He asks. The key. It is as if this simple phrase unlocks the dam of words jammed in my throat.

“Yes. You have to take her with you,” I say.

“I don’t know if Noel will be ok with that,” he says slowly.

“Well, she’ll have to be. The dog can’t stay here.” I am suddenly insistent. If the dog stays, this move will mean nothing. He will still be here in a sense. I know I will be moving out soon, but if he is truly going, everything must be gone. I love that dog to pieces, but she isn’t mine. She has always been his. He has to take everything or I will fall apart.

“Ok, fine.” I can see that he doesn’t understand. I can’t explain it to him. Not without telling him how much this is killing me. The thought brings tears, and I try to blink them away. I can’t cry in front of him. Not now. Not again. And now, my cheeks are wet.

“Are you ok?” He asks.

“Of course I’m not ok,” I sniffle. “This sucks. Some small part of me has been wishing and hoping that you would realize what a terrible mistake you’re making. That you would come home. Not back to our relationship. We can’t do that. But that you wouldn’t leave me so completely alone. And now, I can’t pretend anymore. All I want is to tell you not to go, but I know you won’t listen. You don’t even care. This doesn’t bother you at all!”

Now I am really crying. I can’t look at him.

“After everything you have done to me, I still love you,” I say. It is like the words are forcing their way through my trembling lips. I don’t want to tell him any of this, but I can’t stop. “I miss you. I still have so much: my friends, my job, school. I have a lot going for me. But there’s this giant hole where you used to be, and for you, it’s barely a blip. Why is it so hard to say that you miss me, too?”

“I do miss it,” he says. Not that he misses me. He misses it. “I miss the times we had together and the life we shared. But I’m moving on. I can’t sit around and mope. It isn’t healthy for me right now.”

“Your whole life isn’t healthy right now,” I whisper.

“Ok, Jess,” he says and he opens the door to leave.

“Wait, Brad, please wait.” He pauses. I can’t let him leave on a note like that. I can’t have the last time he walks out of our bedroom be with angry thoughts.

“Please don’t be mad at me,” I say. “I’m not used to wanting something I can’t have.”

“I’m not mad at you,” he says, closing the door again. “I haven’t been mad at you at any time during this whole thing. You haven’t done anything wrong. I want us to be friends again someday.”

“I would like that, too,” I say. Then, my weakness really shows itself. “Can I have a hug?”

He crosses the few feet to me. This whole time, the room has felt like a chasm stretched between us. An uncrossable barrier. But as I collapse into his arms, his thumb rubbing small circles on my lower back, a tightness loosens in my chest. For that brief moment, it’s like I can finally breathe again.

With my face still pressed against his chest, I say, “After I move, I can’t see you again. Not until I don’t love you anymore.”

“Fair enough,” he murmurs. I am the first to draw away.

I stand there in the middle of my bedroom, hugging myself as I listen to him going in and out, moving the dog’s things across the walkway. Each slam of the door is a reminder that soon, very soon, it will be the last time he will come in here. The sounds finally stop. I am alone. I sink down onto my new memory foam mattress. It feels so close to the ground, but it is extremely comfortable. I look around my room. My space. I have to find a new apartment soon. Even without him, the memories remain.

The Ex-Chronicles: Part Four, The Perils of Dating a Drama Queen

If only endings were as neat as I tried to make it in the last two posts. But my ex continues to surprise me with his high-dive leap into insanity. There were things that I wanted to leave out of this narrative. Minutiae that I did not want to believe could possibly be true and thus was not worth putting into the world. I still have no intention of bad-mouthing anyone in this situation. However, the increased level of drama demands to be recorded for my three readers (But really for myself).

I have listened to Sean telling me about Noel and Brad before. I have ignored it as his jealousy over his friend remaining friends with his former fiancé despite the obvious seeming impropriety of that action (not to mention sleeping on her couch every other night). I did not believe that there could really be a relationship going on between them. Brad has reassured me that he knows she is unsuitable for a relationship and that he has no interest in her in that way. He is just friends with her and can I please stop acting like a jealous ex and let him have his friends?

So, I backed off. But now…

“Yeah, Brad still hasn’t said anything about actually finding a place. I don’t think he actually wants to leave,” my roommate says. We are watching Netflix in the living room with Sean. This is an almost nightly occurrence now. We seem to be huddling together for comfort around the warm fire of whatever show can play in the background without being distracting but still holding our attention during conversation lulls. It helps that when we can manage to get off the subject of Brad (for me) and Noel (for Sean) we have wonderfully verbose conversations ranging from sex to prisms to Chicago. Unfortunately, at the moment we are stuck on Brad.

“No, that would require actual change,” I say. “It’s too much work. He can’t commit to anything.” There is a pause before Sean, looking uncomfortable now, begins to speak.

“I don’t want to be the one to break this to you two, but I feel like you deserve to know so you can prepare for it, and Brad definitely won’t tell you. But my friend Cassie works with Noel, and she told me that Noel has been telling everyone in her office that Brad is moving in with her soon.”

The cat chooses this moment to nearly knock over my wine glass.

“Would he really be that stupid?” My roommate finally says.

“Yes, I think he would,” I mumble. “After all, no one else wants to live with him. All that talk about wanting something new is really just bullshit. He wants something new in the sense that he needs to surround himself with people who he feels superior to. She fits the bill because she’s a nutcase. Sorry, Sean.”

“You don’t have to apologize to me. I know that bitch is crazy,” he says. “I wasted five years of my life on her. But I don’t think you guys should let this get to you. He’s trying to destroy his life, and so is she, so let them be miserable together.”

“What happened to knocking his teeth in if you ever found out they were screwing?” I ask with an arched brow. I still find the image amusing, though impractical and pointless.

“I would love to, but it would only give me momentary satisfaction and it’s not like it would make him rethink anything.” Oh good, we think alike now.

“What are we going to do?” I ask my roommate. I feel tears forming in my lashes. I haven’t cried in a few days, so I have finally decided to wear makeup again. My mascara is going to be everywhere. This sucks. “I can’t keep living here if he moves in with her. It’s just across the walkway. I can’t do it.”

“I don’t expect you to,” my roommate says soothingly. He gives me a hug and adds, “I guess we’ll just have to start looking for a new place and make sure Brad keeps his word about paying for the lease break.”

We somehow work our way back to mundane topics, but my evening is shattered. I have to work at 7 in the morning. I can’t stay up all night staring at my computer like a zombie. I have things. I have stuff.

Now, I have truly lost.

The Ex-Chronicles: Part Three, The End. (For Real)

This is the story of what actually happened when my ex and I talked. He is really leaving this time. I’m sorry cohabiting couldn’t work out, and I will miss him. But I have been missing him for two weeks, and it will be easier to forget how in love with him I used to be if he is not constantly around. He needs to work on himself, and so do I. It was a pretty dream; kind of like our relationship.

My heart throbs in my chest all day, and a ball of anxiety forms in my stomach. It is like having a continual flashback to the day Brad broke up with me two weeks ago. I can feel that something monumental is going to happen after I get home from work. He spent the previous night with his family in our hometown so he could think away from our apartment complex. The erratic beat of my heart tells me his decision, but my ever fanciful mind plays through hopeless scenarios of him telling me he loves me after all. I try to squish all thoughts, but it’s like playing whack-a-mole with a tinker toy mallet.

He texts me as I leave work: Will you be home tonight? I need to talk to you.

My heart shudders.

No one is at home when I arrive. I spend the next several hours doing homework, taking the dog for a walk, and reading Shakespeare. I decide to watch the second season of American Horror Story. I’m not sure where the idea comes from, but it turns out to be a terrible idea.

I have lived with PTSD for years now due to childhood abuse. I have mostly learned how to successfully handle it, but my emotions are compromised after two weeks of hopscotching wildly. I have the worst attack in over a year. And now, there is no one nearby to help me handle it. I end up on the balcony, rocking back and forth. That’s how my roommate and Sean find me. They both hug me, and then we all go out for sushi.

Brad comes home from work half an hour after we return. I have been sitting on the balcony again. It was something we always did together, and I am beginning to find a strange solace in doing it alone. He joins me after taking the dog out.

“Work sucked,” he says.

“I figured since it took you so long to get home,” I reply. The word ‘home’ just slips off my tongue though it really isn’t his home anymore. “So what did you want to talk about?”

“I think I’m going to get my own place soon,” he says.

“Yeah, we thought that was going to happen.”

“Really? I thought maybe you guys wouldn’t want to stay here, either. I’m willing to pay any fees for breaking the lease.”

“We both like it here. You’re the one who wants to leave. And I think it’s better for you if you do. You aren’t happy here.”

“You’re right. I’m going to give you guys plenty of notice before I actually leave.”

“Okay, I’ll have to find a new bed, so that’d be good.”

We sit in silence for a while, and then he asks, “Can I have a hug?”

“Of course.” It’s the best hug I’ve had this entire time. So many people have offered their arms or shoulder for me to hang on to, but there is still nothing to compare to the feeling of his body wrapped around mine. And yet, there’s something different. It isn’t the need-filling thing I expected after so long (okay, two weeks) without his warmth. Still, it is somehow more perfect because it is a hug from my best friend. It is a body I know very well, and it is the one hug I have needed for this whole ordeal.

He is still sleeping on couches for now. I don’t know how long it will take him to find a place. But this time, I actually believe we can be just friends. And I hope that he will find what he needs living alone. I still love him, but I don’t need him anymore.

The Ex-Chronicles: Part Three, The End?

I wrote this after receiving a text that my ex wanted to talk after a weird night where I truly worried for his sanity while he went to stay with his family to clear his head. This is how I imagined the situation happened. Tomorrow, I will post what actually happened.

My heart throbs in my chest all day, and a ball of anxiety forms in my stomach. It is like having a continual flashback to the day Brad broke up with me two weeks ago. I can feel that something monumental is going to happen after I get home from work. He spent the previous night with his family in our hometown so he could think away from our apartment complex. The erratic beat of my heart tells me his decision, but my ever fanciful mind plays through hopeless scenarios of him telling me he loves me after all. I try to squish all thoughts, but it’s like playing whack-a-mole with a tinker toy mallet.

He texts me as I leave work: Will you be home tonight? I need to talk to you.

My heart shudders.

When I arrive at the apartment, he is sitting on the bed looking like a lost puppy. Again.

“Let me guess,” I say, “you’re moving out soon?”

“How did you know?”

“Well, I’ve fallen into a bad habit of taking Sean’s advice as if it was sent from on high, so I figured you, who has been spending way more time with him, must be doing the same.”

“I’m not doing this because Sean thinks I should.”

“I know,” I say with a sigh. I sink down onto the bed next to him. I am moderately surprised that he does not move further away. “You’re doing what you need to do for you.”

“You’re ok with this?”

“Are you kidding? Of course I’m not ok with it. I’m devastated that I’m losing you completely, even as a friend.” He draws away slightly, and I take a deep breath before continuing. “But, I have talked about it with our roommate, and we both knew this was going to happen. We just didn’t know how soon.”

“I’m so sorry,” he says. “I’m sorry for everything.”

“Don’t be,” I start to say. He gives me a quizzical look. “Okay, do be sorry. But don’t dwell on it. We will be fine. I’m honestly more worried about you. I’ve been having some trouble realizing that this whole breakup really isn’t about me. I’ve been selfish. I wanted you to come back because it would be better for me, but I realize now that it wouldn’t be better for you.”

What comes after that is a blur. In the end, I am left sitting alone on the bed that will be leaving with him. I need to find a new mattress to put on the floor or something. This brief experiment has failed miserably. Maybe it really is impossible to live with your ex. I hoped to be an example of friendship overcoming love in cohabitation, but I have failed. I don’t cry this time. My heart feels like it has been annihilated for the third time in two weeks, but I don’t cry.

I have a sweater to finish. I have an essay due in three days. I have French homework. I have to work in the morning. I have things. I have me. I am so much luckier than my ex. But that last thought, doesn’t give me any comfort now. I still care for him too much, and I can only hope for the best for him. I hope he starts to like himself again. I hope he is able to make himself happy, because no one else can. I am sad that I couldn’t, but I hope eventually he can do that for himself. I guess I really do love him.

The Ex-Chronicles: Part Two, Worry About You

I sit on the balcony alone with my fourth glass of wine. I have three conversations going on Facebook messenger and two more via text. All five are with people that I have not spoken to in at least a year. Most are halfway across the country from me. I have let so many people slip out of my life. I am desperately trying to reclaim lost connections. I am so terribly lonely.

I am on glass five, and it is starting to get chilly out, when Sean comes home. He says hi and seems to be about to go inside, but I ask if he wants to sit with me instead.

“Only if we can go inside,” he says. He settles into the recliner, and I take the couch. “I was just going to head to bed, but you looked like you really need to talk.”

“I guess I do,” I say slowly. “I’ve just been thinking. Too much thinking.”

“Jess, stop.” He says. “You have got to quit worrying about him. Worry about you. Do what makes you happy. I’ve been getting a lot of advice from people lately, trying to help me get over the whole Noel thing, and that’s probably the best bit I’ve picked up so far. You three are all worrying about each other too much. You can’t move on if you don’t stop caring what he’s doing.”

“I’m not so sure that I want to move on,” I whisper. “But at the same time, I know I really can’t think like that. Not if this living situation is actually going to work out.”

“You actually think this is going to work anyway? He’s not going to stay. He’s going to end up letting both you and your roommate think that he will, and then he’s going to run away like a little bitch and leave you two stranded. You might as well beat him to it and tell him to move out.”

I sip my wine and stare into space while he continues like this for a bit. So many thoughts are running through my head. I have been so focused on making this work for everyone that I seem to have forgotten one of the awful traits of my ex. He is selfish to his very core. I wish some of that rubbed off on me from our time together. It would make things much easier now.

“Stop giving him so much,” Sean says, bringing me out of my musings. “You gave and gave. You don’t have to give him anything else. In fact, you shouldn’t. Just stop.”

“You know, Sean,” I say. “I wish that you weren’t friends with him. And I wish that I had met you at a different time.”

“You don’t have to worry about me telling him things if that’s the problem,” he says with a laugh. “I don’t tell him about the times we talk because he doesn’t need the ego boost of knowing how much you miss him. And as for meeting me at a different time, I believe things happen the way they do for a reason. But I really should get to bed now. Do you need a hug?”

After that response, of course I need a hug. I am uncertain if he is deliberately misinterpreting my statement to avoid embarrassing me or if he really doesn’t understand that if he weren’t friends with my ex I would be all over him. Either way, tipsy declarations are best ignored, so I appreciate it more than I can tell him. I go to bed alone; I am beginning to get used to this. The petty part of my heart hopes that Brad is detesting his crappy couch experience.

The Ex-Chronicles: Part Two, the Wicked Game of Hopscotch

For the next few days, I see little of Brad and I try to continue my life as normal. I talk incessantly to anyone who will listen about the amalgamation of discontent roaring around my brain. This includes co-workers I barely know, my stuck-in-the-middle roommate, and the friends I had more or less abandoned over the course of the relationship.

Most tell me I am handling things well, though I feel that I could shatter into peaces at any moment. One person tells me that I seem to be moving through the stages of grief in quick succession. It feels more like playing a wicked long game of hopscotch where the numbers keep repeating in random order.

The days pass slowly yet it is suddenly a week since he was mine. I don’t cry anymore, though it would probably only take a few drinks and the right setting to turn me into a sprinkler again. He sleeps on friends’ couches and I go to sleep alone in our queen-sized bed, tucked between a body pillow and a giant stuffed frog. I sleep under a mountain of blankets to make up for the loss of his body heat next to mine. I adjust.

We see each other infrequently compared to when he loved me, yet probably more than most exes do right after separating. I pretend my heart doesn’t race when he comes in unexpectedly. I hope that if I can pretend enough, it will become true that much sooner. I try not to cherish the moments when we can sit together companionably without discussing what went wrong or what the future will hold.

I know that the breakup was actually good for me because I now have my goals back. I know what I want again. Unfortunately, part of what I want is still him. I see his flaws now, where before I thought he was perfect. Yet I cannot shake the love I feel, or the strong desire to collapse in his arms. He is very careful not to touch me.

Life is moving on for both of us. I hope that things are beginning to settle into a mode that we can both live with. Can both be happy with. It just takes time, I suppose.

I am not a patient person.

The Ex-Chronicles: Part One, the Plan

The continuing (mildly) dramatic representation of my living situation. In real time, it has been a week since the split, but I want to present things as close to the way they happened as possible. Once the dust has settled, a day-by-day recount shouldn’t be necessary, but while things are still in upheaval, it seems somehow right to take it all down. Of course, some things have been omitted for the sake of others, but ultimately, this is what has happened and is happening.

I doze off for maybe two hours before I give up and head back to my own apartment. I expect Brad to be asleep, but instead he is getting ready for work. I crawl into bed and bury my head under the covers willing the throbbing pain in my chest to go away. I can hear him moving around the apartment, and then, he comes into the bedroom and asks if I am ok.

“What do you think?” I ask.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “I just want to check on you.”

“I’ll be fine, Brad. I just need some time.”

He walks to the door, and I say, “Can we talk tonight?”

“Of course.” And he is gone. I wait until I hear the front door close behind him before I break down into sobs. Last night, I cried pretty. There were gentle, intermittent tears wetting my cheeks and turning my eyes slightly red. The only ugliness was the amount of tissues I used. I have heard that everyone is ugly when they cry; I actually get prettier if I do it right. But today, alone in our bedroom, as I will be night after night forever it seems, I cry ugly. My body heaves for air as I shudder and gasp, trying not to scream my anguish. Very few actual tears fall, but my nose becomes instantly congested and I do not have the strength of will to reach for the tissues.

By the time I have calmed down, I have missed my French class. I contemplate forgetting English Lit, too. However, I actually have one friend in that class, and I would like to have someone to talk to. I try my best to look presentable, and I remind myself constantly that crying in public is embarrassing, so I shouldn’t do it.

Of course, following the pattern of my luck lately, she isn’t there. I sit through a lecture on Shakespeare desperately trying to concentrate on that or anything other than my failed relationship. I somehow survive and make it back to the apartment, where Brad is waiting for me on the balcony. My heart races, and I want to punch it for being so sentimental. It wants me to throw myself into his arms and beg him to rethink this awful decision. There’s no way it can be right for either of us, can it?
I move past him silently to put my things in the apartment before joining him in the tall deck chairs. We have sat like this through so many days and nights, sometimes talking, more frequently in our own little worlds, buried in our cell phones. I thought it was comfortable, companionable silence. Now, I’m not so sure.

“What did you want to talk about?” He asks after a few moments.

“What are we going to do about the living situation?”

“Well, I mean, obviously you can stay as long as you need to.”

“You’re kidding right? Of course I can. My name is on the lease. You can’t kick me out anyway.”

“That’s not what I meant,” he says. His sulky look has returned. “I meant I’m not going to force you to leave, and I want you to feel comfortable staying. You didn’t have to leave last night, you know. I could’ve stayed over there.”

“I wanted you to sleep in our bed alone the way I have the last couple of nights.”

He does not reply to this. I hate my pettiness in this moment. I have the higher moral ground, so I should probably try to keep it.

“What are we going to do long-term? The lease is until June.”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, luckily, I came up with a plan last night. I think it’s the only really viable solution that doesn’t screw all three of us over.” It isn’t really until this moment that I remember we actually have an additional roommate. I am pulling my words out of thin air, but it is true that he would also suffer from a change in living order.

“I told him this could be an issue, so he could prepare for it.”

“Right, when you were telling everyone you knew about our problems instead of letting me know there even were problems.” I take a deep breath, trying to bite down on the anger. I don’t want him to know how angry and hurt I am. I want to appear calm, collected, a mature adult providing a mature game plan.

“Look,” I continue, “right now, we have super low bills, and we are all conveniently located for work or school. I cannot find this good of a deal anywhere else. I graduate in eight months. Our lease is up in nine. Can you deal with living with me for that long so I can do what I always wanted to do before you got in the way?”

“I think so,” he says slowly. “So you do still want to be friends? I thought you would hate me.”

“Of course, I don’t hate you. I love you.” Oh damnit. That wasn’t supposed to come out.

“And I still love you,” he says without skipping a beat. “I don’t know what about my feelings for you changed exactly. But I do still care for you as a friend. It’ll just take us a little time to find out how to be just friends again.”

“Yeah, time,” I mutter. I am not a patient person. However, I reached my immediate goal, establishing that we can most likely live together. I already lost my boyfriend, I shouldn’t have to lose my roommate and best friend, as well.

The Ex-Chronicles: Part One, Alpha and Omega

I would like to tell you a story of love, friendship, and roommates. Of course, the part of the story I actually care about right now is the end. Or the beginning. Break-ups are funny in that they are truly both. Start and finish all wrapped up together. But enough of the philosophical nonsense. Here I present to the two people who will ever see this the story of how I came to live with my ex, and hopefully, I’ll be able to write up how it all works out. Maybe the two people who read this can learn something from the mistakes I have made and certainly will make later. Here then is the only marginally dramatized version of events that I took down while sobbing onto my keyboard almost exactly one year to the day of moving in with my (now ex) boyfriend:

Buckets of ice water drown an imaginary future in front of my eyes. Words full of pin-pricking shards rain on my happy memories and hopeful plans. So why are my eyes dry while he is wracked with sobs? Wasn’t I the one wronged in this situation?

“I didn’t want to hurt you,” he gasps between tears, “I didn’t want you to be upset.”

“Well that was unavoidable,” I say as I rub small circles on his back. A reassuring habit I picked up over the past two years living together in seemingly perfect harmony. Mon âme soeur. My soul mate. What a load of crap.

“I know, and I’m so sorry,” he continues.

“It’s fine, really,” I mutter. I am starting to get annoyed. He is the one who sat on our bed looking like a lost puppy when I came home from work. The one who said he had been thinking for some time and, well, it just wasn’t there for him anymore. The love was gone.

I feel trapped in the sad beginning of what I can only hope will be a happily-ever-after rom-com. Unfortunately, I am only at the beginning of the story, and right now, my heart is confetti, which he keeps snipping into tinier pieces as he cries. He just wants a change. He needs something new.

“Is there someone else?” I mumbled the requisite cliché questions while trying not to choke on the ball of stress in my throat.

“No, nothing like that,” he says. And then, I kid you not, “It’s not you; it’s me.”

Can we please just end this scene now? I think I need to go back to my trailer and down a few martinis before we continue this script. But no, the drama continues.

“I need some air,” I announce. I grab my pack of e-cigs off the dresser and head for the door. My tattered heart hopes he follows me, but my aching brain begs a reprieve. Instead of staying outside, I cross the apartment walkway to our neighbor’s place. Sean is more my (now ex) boyfriend’s friend than mine, but we used to do lots of fun couple things together before his fiancée left him last week. Something in me screams that they are the cause of all this, but I know it’s really just because Brad is a selfish prick.

Thus far, Brad’s hysterics have helped me remain collected, but as soon as Sean opens the door, I feel the tears start to escape my lashes. He doesn’t even have to ask because, as Brad revealed somewhere in the cliché nonsense, he’s been talking to literally everyone we know about this issue for the past month rather than working things out with me. And not one of these bastards bothered to mention it.

“I figured you of all people would know what I’m going through right now,” I sputter as he settles me on the couch with a box of tissues and a pillow to cling to. His arm slides around me for a quick awkward side hug before rising to rest on the couch behind me. The engagement photos are still in the wall frame by the front door and his ex’s collection of Doctor Who memorabilia is scattered around the living and dining room areas. It’s been a week since she went to stay with a friend, but all her crap is still here.

“Oh, I do,” he replies, pulling out several tissues. “I should take out stock in these things the way relationships seem to be going downhill left and right these days.”

“Is it alright if I crash here tonight? Brad offered to let me have the bed to myself, but I’ve spent the last two nights alone there while he was in North Dakota, so I’d rather not do another night there after all this bullshit.”

“Of course, just let me check with Noel, since it’s technically her bed in the spare room. I don’t think she’ll care, but just to be respectful.”

“Thanks, I feel like he should have to go to our bed alone tonight. Maybe it’ll make him realize he’s being an idiot.” More tears follow this. I already know that nothing of the sort is going to happen.

“So what are you guys going to do about the living situation?”

“I have no idea. I tried to ask him that, but he just kept saying how he never wanted to hurt me.” I am beginning to collect a mountain of used tissues. “I think I’m mostly angry because he’s once again making it all about him. Selfish bastard.”

“Yeah, I mean, Brad’s a good guy, but he has some major faults. I told him this was a bad idea; you guys had such a good thing going.”

“I know!” I have a sob spasm as happy memories hit me. “I just don’t understand. It was so sudden. I mean, I’m sure as I look back on it, I’ll see the signs and feel really dumb, but right now…How did this happen? He couldn’t even give me a good answer for why he’s doing this.”

I prattle on in this vein with frequent interruptions from Sean comparing his situation to mine. They are embarrassingly similar. I become more and more convinced that his break up somehow caused mine. Eventually, I calm down enough that we can mindlessly watch Netflix while only sporadically discussing our relationship woes. Sean goes to bed, but I know I won’t be sleeping for a while. More Netflix it is then.

My eyes become so heavy that I think I might get some sleep after all, but instead the darkened ceiling becomes intriguing as I mull over the situation. If this is really happening. If he really has decided to give up on us. If I have to move on. So many ifs are swirling through my mushed mind, but one thought emerges before I succumb to fitful oblivion: I don’t have to sacrifice my dreams anymore. I can leave the state after graduation next May.

This is a peaceful thought; it is a tiny ray of light in this bullshit parade. But to do it, I need to save money as I have been for the past year with really low bills. And the only way to do that, is to live with my ex.