Long before I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, I tried to write a list of fifty things I knew about him but only came up with thirty, which should illustrate that I learned very little about him during the course of a year-long relationship. I must have been feeling as if something was missing between us, so I added a point for all of the things I liked about him and subtracted a point for all of the things I disliked, in order to gain some understanding. I noticed that the dislikes outweighed the likes but I thought that in time, we would grow together and that I liked him enough to overlook his flaws.
That list stayed in my journal, forgotten, until I pulled it out once more, to work through my feelings, after I broke things off with my ex. (Minus five points to him for being too cowardly to initiate the break-up himself). We had agreed to remain friends after the break up and he invited me over one Thursday night to watch Hell's Kitchen and eat Thai food, as a love of good food was one of the few things we did have in common. When I got there - we had not seen each other in weeks, mind you - my ex was overjoyed to see me. He was kind, attentive, and very touchy-feely in a way that made me really, really confused. He initiated a lot of hugging, kissing, and kept saying that he loved me and that he missed me, yet, we were still broken up. What was he thinking? Did he want to get back together or try to work things out? I could not help but become a little bit more than hopeful because, despite the fact that I had broken things off months ago, I still loved him.
We were being cute and cuddly when I noticed something on his neck, coming up out of the collar of his shirt. It was a big hickey. I asked him about it and he tried to play it off as if it was nothing but the jig was up. I couldn't blame him for moving on with his life, but I could certainly blame him for being a classless, tacky bastard who plays around with the heart of his ex-girlfriend while full-well knowing that he had been with another girl the previous night. Which is what he told me had happened. (Minus fifty points, you dumb-ass jerk!) Couldn't he have waited to ask me to hang out after the hickey disappeared?
I couldn't stay any longer. I grabbed my bag and wished him well but said it was probably best if we didn't try to be friends. He walked me to the bus stop and said he would wait with me, that he wanted to wait with me, even though I told him he could go. All I wanted to do was break down and bawl my eyes out but I couldn't become a wreck in front of him, so I tried to brave it out. He held me, kissed me, and wiped away the occasional tear on my chin as we stood under the bus stop awning. The bus came and I got on. He waved to me from outside the bus and blew me a kiss one more time and that was the last I saw of him.
For the next few days, I was a complete mess, confused, depressed, distracted at work, and crying my eyes out every moment that I was alone. What I couldn't figure out was - why? Why was I so upset and hurt when I knew in my heart of hearts that we were not right for each other?
The revelation came to me two weeks later, after many journal entries and a late night chat with a Facebook friend (not "Jim" the therapist, that would've been funny). During the course of that conversation, I said something that resonated within me. I was offering some pithy words of wisdom and said "when you love someone, you accept them for who they are, despite their flaws". (Plus a point to me for knowing the word pithy. I rock.)
I had accepted my ex's flaws but he could not, or would not, accept my flaws and this lack of acceptance is what eventually broke my heart. I was not upset about losing him. I was upset because I had lost something I believed in. I believe that someday someone will love me despite my flaws, that someone will love me because of my flaws. My ex had taken that hope, that belief, away from me, he made me feel like I was unworthy, unwanted - unloved. Oh, there's no denying that my ex still loved me, but not enough. Not enough.
When I listened to my own advice, I realized that those feelings of being lesser would well up inside me every time I saw my ex. I did not want to feel like less, I wanted to feel like more, so I cut off all avenues of communication. My ex called me again and I tried to impress upon him the fact that he had hurt me and that he was being selfish by trying to remain friends. I don't think he quite understood what I meant, but he may, in due time. He does understand that I don't want him to call anymore, that I won't answer his calls, e-mails, or texts.
Someday when I'm with the right person, I may feel magnanimous enough to try and be friends again. But then again, when that does happen I might be feeling so loved and fulfilled that the thought of my ex may not even cross my mind.