I used to think about how I would keep track of how many times you let me down, as some kind of twisted, mental tally of why I was the superior one of us. I used to memorize the way your voice sounded when you lied, but let you continue to do so because I truly believed that this was the only way to keep you. And I cringe to think of how many times I forgave you — not only forgave you, but welcomed you back with open arms despite the ways in which you had wronged me, which by that point had so far outnumbered the ways in which you had done right by me that I had stopped keeping track. To this day, I wonder how and why I let myself turn into a doormat for you. Believe me when I say that that is not who I am, but I was that for you, because there was something about you that made me weak.
I used to lay in bed half-asleep and think about the blurry year we spent together, and I run foggy theories through my mind of possible explanations behind why I let it go on for so long. Maybe because part of me never believed I deserved you in the first place. I couldn’t accept that I deserved your 100%, so I was happy with your 75%, and I forced myself to be content with your 50%, and I kept my mouth shut with your 25%, and I cried with the phone on mute to your 10%.
But I have spent a long time being mad at you — for ruining my favorite Dashboard Confessional song, for making me hate going to school for 2 whole quarters before classrooms stopped reminding me of you, for making me grow up before I was ready. But I’m done being mad at you, and I’m done hating you, and I’m ready to accept the fact that I was at least half to blame for what transpired between us.
When it comes to the prospect of new love, I’m a mess, I’ll admit. Probably because with relationships come a certain level of inevitable emotional vulnerability, and I can’t seem to shake the mental image of myself stripping down to bare bones to let someone new in, only to have him find that there is nothing there to keep him warm at night, nothing but dusty skeletons of loves I’ve yet to put to rest.
I have swallowed every bitter pill of my memories of us, and sometimes I’m afraid that they’ve taken root in my stomach. I’ve gotten really good at keeping a tight lid on the demons you introduced me to, but sometimes I swear I can feel the pressure of them beating against my rib cage, yearning to escape, to exist outside the confines of my walls. I’m afraid that they will slip past my defenses as I’m lowering them to embrace another, like poison that lays dormant until it’s exposed to the air.
But despite this, the truth is that I have come a long ways from where I was two years ago, and I am proud of the progress I’ve made. For the first time in my life, I have learned how to be truly happy alone, and that’s a skill I had never fully conquered before. (Falling out of one love and directly into another one, repeatedly, will do that to you.) I have always told anyone who would listen: You need to love being alone before you will ever be able to love being his.
It’s weird to say goodbye to you, as you have been such a permanent fixture of my creative subconscious. Thank you for being the inspiration behind every urgent word fervently scribbled in the margins of my lecture notes and the Sunday pages in my planner, but I feel that I can no longer continue writing about a ghost.
Reaching a level of apathy regarding you has been the goal all along, because it would mean that I had truly let you, and the resentment I harbored for you, go.
It feels good.