“Take care” is my least favorite thing to hear from someone who just broke up with me. I get it; when you break up with someone, you’re leading them on if you tell them you still love them. I’ve done that, because I meant it, and the person I was breaking up with said, “then why are we breaking up?” Time and experience tells us love isn’t actually enough. I get it. I get it. I get it. But still – take these words away from me, they hurt too much. No one can stop loving instantly, or maybe ever. And thinking that, or pretending that, makes me wonder why we even try, or why we even pretend, to be in love in the first place.
Literally a week before he left me, I told him, “I really am so in love with you; it’s scary.” And it had been scary. Our conversations lately had been scary. I take responsibility for my part in those – I fully illustrated in color the things we were both worried about, that mostly seemed to point back to our age difference and stations in life related to it. I voiced for him every detailed reason he may have thought he should end the relationship. Though at that moment, we were both (or at least I was) still in denial that those reasons mattered. He told me, “you don’t have anything to worry about; I’m yours”. So of course I believed that.
Days to come, I realized I needed to figure out what I actually wanted. I never thought I knew what it was, but keenly felt I probably wasn’t going to get it, so maybe I did know? Distinctly I felt there was a break up in my future because of this. Maybe my belief that our love was too strong to be affected by trivial societal pressures was a faulty one. Maybe I didn’t want to admit that the things I didn’t like that were going on probably weren’t going to change – maybe not for me or anyone. But, I thought I had some time. Instead, I soon felt the rug pulled out from under me. The love and affection I was holding on to like a sail wasn’t enough of a save for all the doubts and worries he now fully affirmed about our future, or, more importantly to him, his own. Meaning that what he actually wanted did not involve staying committed to being with me and the perceived sacrifices it could involve.
I’ve never had a break up before when I still thought we were in love. I have had a breakup with someone who was smothering me who I pushed away for months prior, with someone who was abusive I ran away from, and with a couple really nice guys after a major fizzle, when I didn’t particularly feel like sleeping with them anymore. It was so much easier, and I was always the one who dug the grave after a long death rattle.
I’ve been the dumper many times, and thinking about how I felt and what the person who just broke up with me may be feeling in light of that, is painful. The last major one, I felt as if I was leaving my family, boyfriend and dog on the couch in tears as I rolled my suitcase out the door. But, I also knew truly I did not want to be with this person anymore. It could not be overcome. And I never went back.
What I’m going through now: so much worse. I think, was this worth it? My last love, I truly entered into the riskiest relationship ever. I told myself and him: “I am sacrificing tomorrow for today.” I felt truly that now was worth any outcome, maybe because I viewed this heartbreak in my future for a long time. And the point when I thought that maybe I’d been wrong was when it became true. I did my best to love him. I showed myself that I could. And it was good for both of us until it wasn’t enough.
I know vulnerability and pain are where we find our biggest growth. I know I can’t regret it, but right now it’s hard to know it was worth it. Despite what was wrong, I just miss what I lost, what I gave so much of myself to in faith and hope that I wouldn’t be here, or that if I was, I’d still feel grateful somehow for what I’d experienced. And I know all those feelings come from me – me when I’m able to open my heart. I’m responsible for that, for the good and the bad.
Forget the immature fantasies of him seeing you now that your stomach is frighteningly flat from heartache and deciding he wants you back despite you both knowing your futures don’t align, even if you’re both unsure exactly why. Worry about what your actual future actually is. Forget the idea that one last little hurrah will cure this horrible feeling even though you know you’ll leave each other again. Do your best to let him go with love and compassion, easy and hard because you hadn’t stopped loving him enough to break up with him despite your agreement that this is ultimately best for you both. It’s over. This feeling sucks, but it will end too.
In this instance saying “take care” is the exact opposite of what you want it to mean. It just means to take care of yourself. And of course you’ve always known how to do that.