For the past few days I’ve felt a burning desire to spit fire and blame at my former fiance. I couldn’t explain it, and I was reeling against myself for wanting so badly to push all the blame on him. I shared these feelings with a close friend of mine, and while she could empathize, she assured me these urges were natural and that if I felt I should tell him something, then I should.
Little did she know I had already written one of the cruelest letters I ever could have sent him. I rewrote it again and considered asking her to read it before I sent it, to see if it was too harsh, but I know she would have told me to send it and that, really, just needing to ask her was reason enough for me to rewrite it.
So I got to work rewriting, whittling away my words until only the barest, most objective remarks remained. And they were still rude and I knew they’d be hurtful (a small part of me rejoiced, wanting to hurt him, but this animal side was not my dominant motive–I just couldn’t explain the rational side of this, so the wounded animal inside me took over, wanting to bite and claw at the one who had hurt me). But I also knew my friend was right: if I didn’t say these things to him, then they would eat me up inside and I would never be able to truly move on with my life.
So I sent it.
It had a particularly scathing conclusion, and I did not expect a reply.
And when I saw a notice on my phone that he had replied, my gut reaction was a shot of pain through my stomach. I remember when seeing his messages made my heart flutter. I remember when I salivated by the vibration in my pocket. It’s been a long time since I felt that way: lately it’s all been dread and anxiety about immigration deadlines and trying to figure out how, or if, our changed circumstances could be overcome.
But of course I read what he wrote me, and he had responded in the only way anyone could have to the message I sent: frustrated, rude, and probably hurt.
I needed to see that. Not him in pain, but that my words would actually hurt him. Last night I had a dream about him, and in the dream I was able to make a sudden trip to Mexico to visit him, so I called him up to ask if he wanted me to come, and he told me no. I hadn’t even seen the relation of these things until now: my anxiety this whole has time has been that I’ve been played, that now I am nothing to him, no matter how much he still means to me.
In a way–a twisted, funhouse sort of way–spilling all my hurt, blame, and anger on him, and seeing his hurt and angry reaction, made me realize that I’ve never been played at all.
Yes, there were many things he should have done differently, but whenever we say “should” it often overlooks cultural, emotional, mental, and social factors that all contribute to the ways in which people react and respond to the circumstances that surround us–often unpredictably. Our life situations have been pulling us apart for months, and we held on for as long as we could, until the only thing left to hold onto was pain and suffering.
Another friend of mine, who practices Buddhism and doesn’t believe in free will, told me once that people do not choose their actions, that people’s actions are determined as a direct result of all the factors of their lives.
I don’t know if I believe this (and I tend not to), but I know firsthand that it takes a lot of training and intervention for somebody to learn how to shape our actions independently of our situations–and I’ve been developing these skills for years, and will continue to develop them as I’m still far from being a master. The raw fact is that Harel doesn’t have these skills in the same way I do; maybe it’s cultural, or how he was raised, or his personality type–it doesn’t matter. And it’s neither good nor bad that these skills aren’t there; it just is. But from the outside looking in, it makes it very easy to shovel all the blame onto him when so much of the situation is blameless.
Anyways, I wrote back to him, more kindly this time, and after another message we ended our conversation. As I wrote to him, I realized two things, or rather affirmed two things I had already known: I don’t regret our time together (in fact I still cherish it), and I still want the best for him and for me–and right now, that’s not each other and it’s not this relationship.
I thought it was over then, but the interaction kept intruding into my thoughts as I tried to meditate before bed. Why was it so important that I tell him all these things? I knew it would hurt him, and I knew I would hurt for hurting him, so what was the point? What had I gained from this, and why did it feel so crucial for me to achieve closure?
I stopped meditating and turned my mind toward mindfulness. It took some digging through my feelings and my menories, but finally it became clear.
My last relationship ended unexpectedly and my ex had dealt with it in what was, realistically, an emotionally abusive way that sent me spiraling into one of the darkest periods of my life (from which I began to learn many of the skills referenced in this post), and coupled with my history of low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy, my reaction was to blame myself and say I deserved the way he treated me. I scrutinized everything I had done in our relationship, I told myself that if I had been more this, or less that, then it wouldn’t have ended. I kept beating myself up until I was broken almost beyond repair.
It’s a lot better these days, but I still have a tendency to blame myself when things go wrong–especially things close to my heart. My unconscious defense against this habit was to bring my blame against Harel. But why did this make it so important for me to tell him? Why couldn’t I have just written my letters and never sent them?
Because if I never told him, that doubt, that fear, that scar would have always told me that when I said I wasn’t to blame, I was just fooling myself, that really I had been played, and that I deserved all the mistreatment I received. This relationship ended very differently than my last had, and on much better terms, but because of that previous experience I had to confront my negativity and ensure that I knew that Harel knows where things ended and why. Of course there was collateral damage, but none nearly as great as what would have come of this fear had it been allowed to fester. Writing him was my way of saying I’m in control of my own life and I did everything I could have and I do not need to carry the burden of blaming myself. Writing him also affirmed, to me, that I am worthy of more than he brought to the relationship over the past few months. So standing up to him assured me that I can stand up for myself.
And for me to move on, whole, complete, and healed, I needed to show myself that I am not to blame, or else that same downward spiral would have begun again. Maybe not immediately, but in time, I would’ve found myself in the same self-destructive place as I had been before. But now I know that’s not a concern anymore.
In my message I told Harel I deserve someone better than him, and I do regret having used these words. It’s not him as a person but his actions that I didn’t deserve. The absence, withheld information, and intentional lack of communication are things nobody deserves from their fiance, but I know these actions were more a result of his life situation than who he is as a person.
I hope someday Harel and I may reprise our friendship, since I know we both care deeply for each other and that is unlikely to ever change, but I couldn’t say when that may happen. For now, I think it’s clear what we both need time and space to mourn and be reborn, and it’s unclear when our lives will situate us in such a way that maintaining a friendship will be easy, even healthy. But that door is open, and I imagine it always will be.
So life goes on. I don’t know if that was all the closure I needed, or if new things will come up and need addressing later on, but today I finally feel at peace with our arrangement, and that’s good enough for me.