The cruise…sigh..where do I start? Blue water, drinks with frilly umbrellas, my guy next to me laying in the sunshine. It was such a happy week. We made friends, Bennett won a “Hairy (or not so hairy as it turned out) Chest Competition”…lost at BINGO, made more friends with the crazy dancers from the ship (three Aussies, a Brit and a Jersey boy)..Bennett introduced me as his girlfriend. I felt like the sun was beaming out of my skin at those words. GIRLFRIEND. I hadn’t been anyone’s girlfriend in quite some time. We played. We had quiet moments just the two of us..staring at the water that rushed past. Once, a little drunkenly, Bennett suggested we build a house. “Where?” I asked him playfully. “There. Out there.” he pointed out to sea. “On that water. I love that blue water. Will you come live in a house with me on that blue water Julia?” “Sure honey.” I told him smiling and resting my head on his shoulder. “But how will we get groceries?” I joked. “Duh..A Helicopter.” He answered confidently, as if it were the only logical explanation. “We could get married out there. The Australians could come. Would you want that?” He turned to me and I stared into those sweet sleepy eyes. “Sure Bennett..the Austrailians can most definitely come.” “No,” his eyebrows crinkled together as he concentrated. “Would you want that?..Would you want me?” My heart swelled and I smiled at him. “Silly man..don’t you know? I already do.”
On our last night we packed reluctantly and went out on the ship for one last time with our friends. We gave hugs and promised to keep in touch. Turning out the light hours later, I swore I heard him say it.. the words softly spoken on an exhaled breath. “I love you.” I was afraid. Afraid to move, to breathe, to speak, to answer back the words that were in my heart. I was afraid I wanted those words so badly that I had only imagined them. I lay there until his breathing slowed and deepened into sleep. “I love you too.” I whispered to the dark.
Our drive back to Georgia was different. Quieter. He left the music off and I slept for a few hours..I could tell he had a lot on his mind, but I figured maybe he was upset about our time together coming to an end. We had such an amazing time on our trip. I had gotten used to having him around. We got to my parents’ house and he was still acting..I don’t know.. off. He stayed for dinner and then it was time for him to go. I remember watching him drive away and feeling so sad. I think maybe I knew then, that when he was hugging me goodbye..he didn’t mean “I’ll see you later,” he really meant..”goodbye.” The calls dropped off, the texts, the sweet messages and the excitement in his voice. It was gone and I had no idea what caused it. Finally, a week after our trip, he went a whole two days without any communication. It was the first time that had ever happened. I texted him and he said he was busy spending time with the girls. That had never kept him from talking to me before and so I was upset. I texted him…
Me: Hey. Hope you are ok. Haven’t heard from you in a while and I guess I’m just a little disappointed I wasn’t on your mind. Think you have a lot going on right now in your life and I’m not sure if you have time for this. I care for you so much and I want you to be happy. I feel like you are pulling away again and that’s hard for me to go on this rollercoaster. Things felt so good on our trip. You said things to me I don’t even think you remember, but they meant something to me. Hard to take a step back, but I think maybe you need some time to figure out what you want. And that’s really ok sweetheart. I know you don’t like talking like this over text so if you want to call later we can talk.
Bennett: I agree. I do have a lot going on. I don’t mean to put you on a rollercoaster. I have been dealing with trying to decide if I have the time to give you what you deserve. You are such a wonderful and loving person that deserves someone who can be there more for you. I need to put my girls as my first priority and try to repair those relationships. I know in a true relationship it will take more than what I am able to give. In the past I have hurt my girls and I am not willing to jeopardize that again. I need to give them what little free time I have right now. They are only kids for a few more years and need their daddy. You deserve to be happy. I am afraid that staying with me will drag you up and down and not give you your ultimate goal of a marriage and family within the next few years.
Me: I didn’t know my heart had healed enough to break again.
Bennett: Look I never meant to break your heart! Believe that! I need to be selfish for them. They have gone too long without me. They are going to require my time. I have to do it more for them than for me.
Me: Thank you for being honest with me. You are right in putting your girls first and I’m proud of you for doing that. You told me once that you had so much love to give and I think that it’s best given to them. They deserve every bit of it. You told me one night on the ship that you loved me. You were drunk and probably don’t remember, but I think a small part of you does. I fell in love with you Bennett. With each part of you. And most especially the part of you that would choose a relationship with your girls over one with me. I know it’s the right thing for you and for them. Maybe the timing for us just wasn’t right. I was willing to do whatever I could to make it work but I understand that there isn’t enough of you to go around. Thank you for making me believe in love again and that there might be someone out there who could think I was someone they could love. I will never forget it..or you.
Bennett: Thank you for understanding. I agree the timing wasn’t right. I am sorry you are hurt. Not my intention. I will never forget you either.
Remember that whole “ship hitting the iceberg” metaphor I threw at you in my last post? Well it seemed that our ship was sinking and Bennett was Kate Winslet on the door floating in the middle of the Atlantic..somehow he just couldn’t figure out how to make enough room on his door for the both of us (ie. the relationship) to survive. Between his job, his baggage from past relationships and the three girls..he had taken up every bit of space. The sad part is, neither I, nor the dashingly handsome Leonardo DiCaprio, had to drown. There is always a way to make room. Look, these people figured it out!
Sometimes you want something so badly that you put all of your hope into one person. The hope that you won’t have to go through life alone anymore..that you could have someone who will hog the covers, and kill the spiders and drink the milk right out of the fridge. Someone who will text you during your day to remind you to pick up dog food from the store and that you have dinner plans with friends. Someone who will reach for you when you cross the street, rest his hand on your knee and set his toothbrush in the holder next to yours. Sometimes you want so badly to be loved that you allow someone to give you less than what you need or deserve. I don’t know if that was just an excuse. If Bennett really did care about me so much, that he would let me go so that I could find someone who could give me what I need. I have a theory. And the theory is this. Men are cowards. Sorry guys but it’s true. You will do anything to avoid having a woman get mad at you or get overly emotional. That’s where Chapter 8: It’s Not You..It’s Me..Ok Maybe It Is You comes back into play. We saw it with Chris (Mr. Fix It) where he went on and one about how amazing I was and how any guy would be so lucky to have me. Blah blah blah…If he really thought that, he wouldn’t be running for the hills..the hills being Northern Virginia. I didn’t know if Bennett was reading out of this same book but I have a feeling that there were a few factors that came into play.
1. Crazy Ex-Wife: Bennett didn’t go radio-silent and then hit me with “the TALK” until after he had been over at the ex’s house to celebrate the youngest, Elizabeth’s, birthday. He mentioned weeks ago that he told his dad that he and I were dating. We also ran into someone he knew at the grocery store when we were picking up some supplies for our trip and I’m wondering if word got back to the ex and she gave him an earful about seeing someone new. The last time he dated someone, she was so evil..she refused to let him bring his girls over to the house. She did everything she could to damage the relationship he had with his girls and I honestly wouldn’t blame the ex for potentially freaking out if he met someone new. What was going to stop him from doing the same thing again?
2. Distance: It certainly wasn’t easy and I knew he had a lot on his plate, but we were doing ok so far..then all of the sudden..bam..it was too much for him. My parents live within a few hours of him. It wouldn’t have been that big of a stretch for me to consider moving to be closer to everyone.
3. Time: Bennett had only been single for 2 months before we started talking. I know when Jeff and I broke up, I needed a good 7 months before I could even begin to think about meeting anyone new. When you are with someone for that long, they sort of become what you think you want. Dating is a great way to figure yourself out again. To find out what you like and don’t like. What you will deal with and what is a non-negotiable. It was so important for me to have that time to figure that out and heck, I’m still figuring things out with each new person I meet. I have learned so much about myself through this dating process and I think Bennett missed out by not having that time. He needed to figure out who he was all by himself.
4. The marriage/kids thing: Remember that non-negotiable thing I mentioned a second ago? Well this is one of mine. I want to be someone’s wife and I want to be someone’s mom. I cannot be with a man who doesn’t want those two things and I honestly think that with the terrible experiences Bennett has had with marriage (having to get married right out of high school because his gf got pregnant…getting divorced because she had a whole other relationship going on for years..proposing to another woman only to have her constantly put off the wedding because she didn’t think his firefighting job was good enough..his parents are divorced, his dad is dating a woman half his age…I mean really, do I need to go on?) I think he really could be content never getting married again. As for the kids, he already had three, why would he want to go through that again with someone else?
5. ???? 😦 I have no earthly idea. sigh.
He texted me about a week later.
Bennett: Hi. I just wanted to say again how sorry I am that things didn’t work. I hope your week at work is going ok. I enjoyed every second we had together and I hope you know that this has absolutely nothing to do with you. You are a great person, with the biggest heart that I have ever known and had the privilege to be with. I hope you don’t hate me. Find that perfect guy Julia. The one that will give you exactly what you want and never settle for less. You deserve that.
I couldn’t respond. I was so hurt and sad. I didn’t even know how to answer a text like that. It took me another week to get up the courage to send him a message back.
Me: Hi Bennett. I’m sorry it took me a while to respond to your last texts. I wasn’t sure of what to say and had so many unanswered questions, that I was afraid to say anything in case they all came rushing out. Thank you for your words. Of course I don’t hate you. It’s not a part of who I am. Our time together was special to me as well. I sent you the pictures like I promised. I hope you will look at them and enjoy the memories. Take care of yourself.
He never responded. The weeks passed and I thought maybe…just maybe..he might miss me and realize he had made a mistake.
We never spoke again.