This past Wednesday, things between my fiance and me ended. Part of me had expected it, and to be brutally honest, it wasn’t the first time this year when I had thought our relationship would end, but it still pierced my heart when it finally did.
I moved quickly from injury to recovery, having already prepared a path in my mind for where I would go next, what I would begin to do as a truly single man. One friend called me to ask how I was doing, and he told me I had already grieved the loss of our engagement, that the end of our relationship was not the start of my grief, but its conclusion. And in many, many ways, he was right.
Because for as much as I love(d) my fiance, I was (am) no longer in love with him.
To be honest, a big part of me wants to be angry and place the blame. Anyone looking at the end of our relationship (in fact, the past six months of it) would easily and rightly place the blame for its dissolution upon him, but I don’t want to blame him. Perhaps it would free my mind from the burden of this loss by saying I had no fault in it; perhaps it would save my pride to proclaim I was the one who had put everything on the table to make it work; but none of these things matter now. It is over. How and why are extraneous. And saying it was his fault, even if it was, doesn’t help either of us to heal.
I knew even before it ended, at least officially, that it was over: Before we spoke the last time, I began removing his traces from my life, deleting images from my phone, planning where I would store that picture I had printed of our first kiss on film, where I would house my engagement ring afterward. In fact, I stopped wearing it days before.
I decided to begin this unburdening early because I felt it would only prolong the misery and suffering to wait until later, but on the contrary it only confirmed, to me, it was over.
I thought it would feel like severing a limb to delete all his pictures from my phone, but instead it stung that deleting them didn’t hurt at all.
I thought it would sting to unfollow him and his friends on Instagram and Facebook, but instead it weighed upon my heart when it was as easy to do as pressing a button.
And I thought it would hurt as I copied our final conversations (because I’ve saved all the rest, for continuity and closure, it only makes sense to catch them all), but instead it only reminded me how much we’ve struggled to keep it together all year. If we had been talking at all, it was more often arguing about not talking than anything else.
My first compulsion after each of these things was to scrape away the wax from my Chanukiah. He likes the way the wax builds up as the candles burn, and one of my fondest memories was sharing Chanukah with him in 2014. I didn’t want to remove the wax until we were together (to make new memories), so I didn’t, and it reminded me of him this past Chanukah as I lit the candles, wishing he was there to do it with me.
It’s funny. The name “Chanukah” itself means rededication, and it seems fitting that this should be my first rite as a single man: I shall strip away these accumulated burdens and be cleansed and free, renewed. I am sad, but I am also aware it’s for the best.
Some of my friends, in sharing this with them, have directed some unsavory words in his direction, but I refuse to call names or point fingers or say he is anything less than the man I fell in love with and who loves me. That man, and that love, just wasn’t enough to overcome the obstacles life placed between us, and because of that, the only way to remove the suffering we’ve shared was to end things where they were.
I still love him. Part of me always will. But I see know that love is insufficient, and for us to be happy and have our needs wholly met, we must not rely upon each other.
In a way, I’m happy. I’m entering a new period of my life and as I walk upon new ground, as I engage in new and challenging endeavors, I can do so placing my needs at the forefront of every decision, rather than his needs and mine together. I want love and intimacy in my life, I value the union of an unbreakable relationship, and my heart already looks forward to finding that again, but I know, for now, alone, I am enough.
Because alone doesn’t mean lonely, and I have so many friends and so much family here to support me, that this loss cannot strip that away from me.
I mentioned my friends’ remarks because I refuse to follow their lead. Perhaps some part of him deserves the ridicule and attacks (and it is deserved), but if any stones must be cast, I will not be the man to throw them. Because even if he deserves that cruelty, no part of me deserves the pain of being that cruel to anybody, especially somebody I’ve loved as deeply and wholeheartedly as I have loved him. I deserve better.
It’ll be interesting moving forward. It’s a new dawn, a new day. I’m not sure I’m ready for that, but life is a work in progress, a path continually being paved, and even if in this moment I linger is repose, in the next and the next, I know I will keep moving forward.