Everyone knows that getting your heart broken sucks. Hell, I’ve been through it more times than I’d like to count. What I haven’t done yet..in my 28 years on this earth…is to break someone else’s heart. Now having gone through both, I’d like to say I feel like the latter is worse…a lot worse.
So, when we left off last, I had come to the conclusion that a relationship with Nate wasn’t going to work. I foresaw too many obstacles and I didn’t have enough heart invested (try as I might) to try and make it work. I was also feeling super overwhelmed by the number of men in my life. I was done with Mark…but apparently he wasn’t getting the (I’m not texting you and therefore don’t want to talk to you ever again) hint. He kept popping back up every so often and asking me out. So this apparently was what I had to do earlier..totally ignore him and then he would be super interested in me. Dear Men of the World “DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO F-ING CLICHE SOMETIMES?” whew..apparently that had been building for a while but really, I’m sorry…I DON’T play games like that. Here’s the deal – If I like you, I’m going to talk to you..want to spend time together…gasp! I might even tell you that I like you. If I don’t like you..well..you get the picture. I’m 28 years old. While I’m a long way off from signing up for my AARP membership and getting discounts at the movie theater, I AM old enough to be over that whole “playing hard to get” thing. I knew I was going to have to have “the talk” with Mark to let him know I was just not that interested in dating him anymore…If that’s even what we were doing. I also had been talking to Josh constantly, and with every day that passed, I liked him more and more…and wanted to talk to other men less and less. In fact, I didn’t want to talk to any other men but him. 🙂 yeah..cue the girly noises. 🙂
It was the week before New Year’s Eve and I was trying to figure out my plans. Normally, my friends and I rent a big beach house down in the Outerbanks to ring in the new year. I love it. The empty..quiet beach..a house full of people I adore..mimosas in the hot tub every morning. I’m pretty much describing my paradise here. Anyway, I digress..This year though, with babies on the way and busy lives, it seemed that everyone just wanted to keep things low-key. I, however, was not feeling very low-key as I had three texts from three different guys asking to spend New Year’s Eve with me. While I had to give myself a little pat on the back for being kind of awesome..I also felt as though I was being unfair by not making a decision. Even though none of the guys and I had had the Let’s Be Exclusive talk, I still felt badly. Here’s the thing. I knew who I wanted. I just had to figure out how to let the other two down easy.
Nate was spending Christmas break with his family in Illinois and before he left, he joked with me. “Don’t find my replacement while I’m gone!” I laughed and told him not to be silly, but inside I wondered what the time and distance would do to our little flame of a relationship. Days would go by and the texts were short and sporadic. We talked on the phone only a couple of times, but it was awkward and hard to know what to talk about. With each day that passed that flame grew dimmer and dimmer for me. I did care about him a lot..how could I not? But it wasn’t enough. I knew how I was feeling and so tried carefully to reflect it in my texts..I kept them friendly and casual. I didn’t want to lead him on or make him think I was feeling something I wasn’t. When he texted me one day to say that he was thinking of coming home early to spend New Year’s Eve with me, I panicked. The problem? I had already told Josh that I wanted to spend it with him. I sure had gotten myself into a pickle and I had no idea how to get out of it. I texted Nate that I didn’t want him to cut short his time with his family since he hadn’t seen them in over a year. Since his dad died, he was really the rock that held his mom and sister together. I wanted him to spend as much time with them as possible. I was also prolonging the inevitable talk that he and I were going to have. I lost sleep over it that night. I found out the next morning that without telling me, he had already started driving back home to Virginia. I sent up all the prayers and good juju I could and apparently it worked because at around 3 pm I got a text from Nate. He had forgotten his military I.D. and had to turn around and go back home to get it. The poor thing spent six hours in a car all for nothing and while I felt so incredibly bad for him, I couldn’t help but wonder at the hand fate was playing.
In my life I have learned to trust fate. The things big and small that set me on the various paths my life has taken. I trust..because I have to. I have to believe that something or someone or many somethings or someones have a plan for me. It/They have a really weird and sometimes f-ed up way of showing me that, but I always have that “ohhhhhhh…I get it” moment later on. Whether it takes minutes or days or weeks or months or years…I always see it eventually..the moment always comes. I had a feeling that fate was giving me a little push.
I spent New Year’s Eve with Josh..didn’t feel one flutter of nerves about him meeting my friends..kissed him at midnight and watched the new year begin with butterflies in my stomach and hope in my heart. He slid into that tiny empty spot in my life with an ease that left me baffled. He lived less than ten minutes down the street from me..My friends loved him..he talked sports with the boys, flashed his dimples at the girls and made an effort to chat with everyone he met..when I asked my friends what they thought of him..well..let’s just say they didn’t use the word NICE. 🙂
And then there was Nate. I told him I needed to talk to him and so he agreed to stop by my place on his way back to Norfolk. I was dreading it. Unsure of what I was going to say to him. It was 9pm before he got to my house and the minute he walked in the door I was sure of what I had to do..and sure it was going to hurt like hell. I gave him a hug and immediately started tearing up.
“Oh babe..what’s wrong?” He asked worriedly.
“I..I’m ok..can we just sit down for a little bit?” I had a huge migrane..probably caused by all of the stress and anxiety I had been feeling about things..and it was impossible to think straight.
“Why don’t we just go to bed. I can tell you don’t feel well.” He was so sweet..and so concerned..and it was all I could do not to burst into tears. My head was screaming and the words formed a lump in my throat that felt like it was cutting off my air. We got ready for bed..lay there in the dark just staring at one another.
“I need to talk to you.” I told him softly. It was easier in the dark..easier when I couldn’t see his face. “I care about you so much. So much. I think you are one of the best people I have ever met and I have loved every minute I’ve spent with you. You are so kind..and generous..you give people everything you have. You dazzled me, the first time I met you..and I think because I was dazzled I didn’t think about the distance and how hard it would be to start a relationship two hours apart.” I said all this in a long rush of words..I felt his body stiffen next to mine and he turned his head away from me to stare straight ahead. My throat tightened and the tears started spilling onto my cheeks. “Please, tell me..how did you think we were going to do this? What did you think would happen?”
“I don’t know.” He answered..his voice deepening with the hurt that was setting in with every word I spoke. It was torture watching him. I told him that while he was amazing at coming to see me every week, it was still the honeymoon phase and what would happen once that wore off? He didn’t respond.
“I’ve been going over this in my head every day for the past two weeks Nate, I just don’t know what to do. I care about you, but I don’t know how to do this. It would be so hard. I just don’t think I’m ready for that.” I started sobbing then. Huge gut-wrenching sobs that made me feel as though I would never stop. He turned back to me then..and this is the kind of man he is..wrapped his arms around me and pulled me to him.
“Shhhh..It’s going to be ok. I promise. It’s ok.”
But it wasn’t ok. He was devastated. I broke this man’s heart and mine felt broken because of it. I knew it was the right thing to do, but laying there next to him with tears drying on both our cheeks, I couldn’t help but wonder…
I know we both barely slept and when the room around us lightened, he gathered his things to leave. I walked him to the door and wrapped my arms around him…started crying again when he whispered “I’ll miss you” into my hair. I watched him walk down the path like a man with chains on his feet. He got into his car and sat there for a few minutes..just staring at his lap.
And then he was gone.
A few hours later I got these texts from him –
“I really thought we had something special. I haven’t felt this was about anyone in a long time. You have no idea how much I’m going to miss you.”
“I won’t bother you anymore. Just couldn’t say that in person. Let me know if you change your mind.”
“Let me know if you change your mind. I really don’t want this to be over.”
“I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I’m not ok with it. I care about you way too much to let distance come between us. I know I don’t plan things very well but I know how I feel and I want to try more than we have. I don’t give anyone a chance but I let you in completely and I’m happy I did and I’m not ready to give up on that. I know you’re worried about my job but I’ll be the best I can for you. I haven’t felt this way in such a long time and I won’t give up unless you’re absolutely sure you don’t want me.”
“Sorry it’s so late. I can’t sleep.”
Every time my phone signaled a new text it made my stomach turn and my heart ache. If this was the right thing, why did it hurt so much? I lay awake that night thinking about it..about him. and I knew the answer. None of it was his fault and hurting someone who had given me so much felt wrong. Was I an idiot for giving up a guy like this? It sure felt like it.
I texted him back – “Hi. I’m so sorry you couldn’t sleep last night. I woke up at four thinking I heard the sound of your boots on my floor. I haven’t been sleeping much either..I’ve been thinking about things a lot too. I feel like I’m torn in two. One part of me knows how I feel about you and how amazing you are and how much you care about me..the other part of me worries about trying to build a relationship from two different cities. It’s one thing if we were together for a while and had an established relationship and then had to move apart for a while but I worry that we don’t have a base first before trying to do this hard thing. While you were gone over break we barely talked. It didn’t seem like very much communication and that really worries me. I care about you and did this because I thought it would hurt us less to do it now at the beginning than later if it didn’t work out..and honestly I am having a hard time seeing it work out. I’m trying to take off my blinders and really look at what we are up against. This hurts so much and hurts more because I know I’m hurting you.”
Nate – “I really didn’t want to smother you and scare you away while I was gone. I knew you had a lot going on with your family and I didn’t want to overwhelm you. I was thinking about you and missing you the whole time and I really wished I could have just stayed with you my whole leave rather than going home. I just wanted to get back to you
Being around you is like taking a deep breath after being underwater too long. You put me at ease, but you are also so beautiful and care so much about people. I know you were hurt really badly before me. You still managed to let me in and I’m thankful for that. And maybe you’re making a smart and practical decision for us, but I was prepared to do everything I needed to do to make things work and figure it out as we went along because you’re worth the effort. I hope you can find someone you can be happy with, you deserve it. Don’t let a horrible past ruin your present or influence your future. Sorry for sending you a novel, but you know I’m not this eloquent on the phone or in person. I’ll really leave you alone now. I’ll miss you baby.”
Sometimes doing the right thing can break your heart.