Continued from Romeo: Part 3.
This is hard. I do and I don’t want to write this:
1. When I’m done, that means his chapter in my life is done. I know it’ll bring me some closure, but I still feel a little like I’m putting the nail in a coffin of someone that the smallest part of me refuses to believe is dead.
2. I promised to only ever be honest with you guys, but being honest with myself through these posts has been incredibly hard; I don’t want to over romanticize or under value. I can’t pretend I have answers because truthfully I feel left with more questions than anything.
When I first started this blog, Romeo had a different pseudonym. I changed his name the day after we broke up. I didn’t pick his name because I think that Romeo and Juliet is the greatest love story ever told – in fact, when teaching Romeo and Juliet in the past, I’ve even said the words to my students, “they were two relatively bratty, extremely horny teenagers that thought because they wanted to have sex that they must have been in love.”
Romance is dead in my classroom, y’all.
I picked the name Romeo because we were star-crossed. We never stood a chance. Time and distance and the universe laughed in our faces from the very beginning, but for a while we laughed back.
Like I said in Romeo Part 1… timing is absolutely everything.
We had both just gotten out of extremely emotionally draining relationships – me with Not The One, and him with his lying, cheating, still calls him when she’s drunk to beg for him back, rodent-faced ex. (I might have some issues with her.)
For the last decade, he had been traveling the world non-stop for work and hadn’t had time to spend on himself and his family and his friends. He’d never really gotten to be selfish. On the other hand, for the first time in my life after dating Not The One, I had realized that I was ready to settle down. That doesn’t mean I needed a ring on my finger or that I (would ever) want to white-picket fence the two of us in the suburbs, but that I had found my home and I was willing to put him and us before everything else in my life.
His training was more mentally, physically and emotionally draining than either of us could have ever anticipated, and his stress level was/is off the charts.
There was no airport in his town, so our only option was one of us making a 12 hour round trip drive or both of us making a 6 hour round trip drive to meet every time we wanted to see each other, which would be fine if he didn’t work 100+ hours a week and only have Saturdays for basic self-care tasks like laundry and cooking and sleeping. I would have happily driven to see him every weekend, but it was exhausting and expensive, and both of us squeezing into that tiny dorm on base was stressful for both of us. We decided that once a month was really all that we both could manage without breeding stress and resentment and that we would take turns with who would meet whom where.
“This is okay,” we would tell each other and ourselves. “Remember, it’s only a year.”
But come to find out, it wasn’t only a year. It was actually two years. After he was done with his training, he had another year of training where he would be flying on missions pretty much non-stop, meaning I would yet again see him for maybe 36 hours a month.
How was I supposed to uproot my life to move to a city with a man who wouldn’t even be there?
I should mention the more important part – he wasn’t asking me to uproot my life at all anymore.
Since the moment we started getting actually serious, all talk of me moving to him or him moving to me just stopped. “I just don’t know what my life will look like over the next two years, and I can’t ask you to make plans around me,” he would say.
Weekends previously spent in constant text/FaceTime/phone call turned into missed calls, unresponsive or unengaged texts, and forgoing chances to FaceTime in order to party with his friends.
I didn’t get it. I didn’t just love him as a magic spell, I loved him as a verb. Chemistry and connection are necessary to make a relationship start, but choice is what makes a relationship last. It seemed like I was the only one still making that choice.
“How can you say that?” he would exclaim in exasperation when I would tell him how I was feeling, “Don’t I call you every night? I don’t have time to only focus on us – there are other things in my life that are important, too.”
I would remind myself that he was right. I didn’t need to make it all about me. But I couldn’t turn off the little voice in the back of my head that kept asking, “When did it become so hard to love me?”
Sometime after he surprised me for my birthday, about five months in, this weekend disappearing act became the new normal. We would talk on the phone every night during the week, but come Friday it was practically radio silence until Sunday evening. I would wake up and stare at my phone for hours, willing him to FaceTime me like he used to right when he woke up. When I finally gave in and would FaceTime him, I’d either get sent to voicemail or would be hurt to see that he had been up for hours without bothering to return any calls or texts I had sent the night before.
When did this happen? Why did this happen? How did this happen?
We finally reached our breaking point in February. I sent him an email saying that I loved him, but that I needed to know where his head was at because I hadn’t been able to tell for awhile. He called me when he got it and told me that everything I said was completely valid and that he would write a detailed email in response to me the next day. He reassured me that he still wanted us to be together, but that his work stress was making him feel crazy.
He texted at noon the next day that he would be starting his email reply within the hour.
Five hours later, I still hadn’t heard from him, so I texted just to see what he was up to. No response. Two hours later, I called because I was worried and angry. No response. About five more texts and five more calls happen between 5:00pm Saturday and 5:00pm Sunday that all go completely ignored. I am beside myself at this point.
When he finally did call Sunday evening, I started bawling to him on the phone. “I didn’t know what to say in the email, so I panicked and decided to say nothing,” he admitted. Through sobs I told him, “I keep trying to tell myself that you don’t understand how much it hurts me when you do this disappearing act, but I can’t keep pretending that I’m okay in order to protect you from the reality of your own selfishness. You are breaking my heart.”
He cried and apologized profusely. “I’m sorry, I just didn’t want to say the wrong thing. I fucked up and this will never happen again.”
The next weekend, I was a horrendous bitch. He wouldn’t call exactly when he said he would and I called him 23 times in a row. This wasn’t crazy girlfriend style, this was “This was supposed to be better? Fuck you, you WILL take my calls,” style. I was furious. I was done. I typed out multiple “this is it; we are over” text messages that I would chicken out at the last second and delete.
I loved Romeo, but I didn’t know who this guy was. I felt like I had been sold a false bill of goods.
The night we broke up, he told me that the distance was just too hard on him, and after some prodding told me that he just didn’t love me like he used to. “It just started to feel like calling you was one more item to check off my to do list,” he said.
He used to tell me that our phone calls were the only thing keeping him sane. Now I was a chore.
After that call, I didn’t call or text or anything. “Let him miss you,” all my friends told me. After three weeks I finally had to give in and contact him because I needed to return about $200 worth of stuff that I had ordered off his Amazon Prime account. The text exchange was amicable, but it opened up Pandora’s box.
That weekend, after trying to drown his memory in way too many cocktails, I texted him and the floodgates opened… We were back to where we started with the non-stop texts and inside jokes and “this just made me think of you” messages. After about a week, I texted him:
Me: I realized I’m potentially destroying our pseudo friendship with this text, but I miss you, and I can’t stop missing you. I don’t know what I expect you to say back, but it just feels weird to not be able to tell you, because you are the person I tell everything to.
Romeo: I was looking through my pictures the other day and I saw one that someone had taken of us when were weren’t even paying attention the last time you were in town. It made me really start missing you today too and all I could think was “she seriously loved me even when I was acting like a complete asshole.”
Me: I seriously did. I’m seriously trying to stop too, but it’s too hard. Do you still think you made the right decision? Was this just a horrible fight that snowballed or were you walking away from the good times too?
Romeo: I miss a million things about you every day. I miss your smile, the way you made me laugh, making you laugh, talking to you, I miss holding you in bed. I think about you all the time, but if you want to talk more about this, we’ll have to do it this weekend because I have to wake up in 6 hours for a test flight.
Hope started to bubble up again. But the weekend came and went with no effort to talk about what all this missing meant or didn’t mean. We Skyped for almost an hour that Sunday, but managed to go back to the old days of joking and debating and just catching up.
I waited through eight days of a resurgence of texting before I finally insisted via text that we have a real conversation.
I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I think this might just be who he is. Or least it’s who we became. Our us is broken.
I’m done. I have to be done.
Part of me hopes this is the last time Romeo makes an appearance in my life so that I can find some closure. Part of me still wants the future we painted with his little dark haired, blued eyed babies running around our feet while we go back to slow dancing to Otis Redding in the kitchen.
I’m sure reality will probably fall somewhere in the middle.
I’m mourning us. I’m mourning who I was when I was with him. I’m mourning the loss of home. I’m mourning our past, trying to understand how things came to this. I’m mourning the future we promised each other but never got to have.
Thinking about him has always made my heart hurt. At first, because I believed he was too good to be true; then because I loved him so much that it physically pained me to be away from him; then because I knew something was wrong, but there was nothing in my power I could do to fix it if he didn’t want to, too; and now because looking back I am so angry at him for allowing us to break.
We were the real deal. We had what everyone spends their whole lives looking for. We may have been star-crossed, but I would have happily and passionately fought till my dying day to make us work if he would have done the same.
But he wouldn’t. He won’t. I might never know why or when or how this happened, but I know there’s no going back.
There’s only going forward.