There were far more moments of bliss than moments of hurt and frustration with my ex-fiancé.
This, is perhaps why I fell so hard in the end when he abruptly left. The flip side to narcissists is that they show a powerful display of emotion and care.
There will be a time when I am not compelled to share this story in every which way it can possibly be told. For now, beyond therapeutic, I am still compelled to share it. If I was blind, many others are too. My definition of blindness as in not seeing — it’s deeper than that. It’s seeing, but still thinking it isn’t real. Sensing, without understanding the reality of the sensation. Many people can spend a chunk of their lives with in that state. Until something terribly unexpected happens to shake them. And suddenly, they see.
“I love coming home to you baby,” he’d frequently say when he walked in the door and came straight to hug and kiss me. Most nights we went to bed giddy, laughing, with entangled legs.
One night my scream from a nightmare shook me and I felt his arms press gently around my waist. He calmed and soothed me. He remembered details. He was a sweet romantic with surprise gifts and flowers, public affection and poetic ramblings of his commitment to me.
Our second summer together I got appendicitis. He stayed in the hospital by my side, sending updates to all my family members. I felt like I had truly lucked out. This man really loves me, I realized. That was three years ago.
In the middle of the final 24 hours after he said “I’m done,” I thought he’d come screeching up in his car while I waited that morning at the bus station in his NY hometown. Four months earlier, we spent the sweetest “hometown New Years eve” there together: the local hockey game sitting in the same seats he sat in as a young boy, cocktails at the hotel in the square, and a lovely dinner with a couple we befriended at the bar. “To us,” we toasted, the year we were getting married. We laughed and huddled together in the cold air while the prettiest snow fell and glittered in the dim holiday lights surrounding us.
Over four years, the side of him I saw most was dedicated to me, to us and the family we were that included his two kids that I loved. My parents were audience members at his folk show performances, he and my dad were close, frequently emailing and on phonecalls, my brother traveled 10 hours to be at his surprise party I coordinated, we formed regular pilgrimages to convene all our families. Everyone in my life sensed my contentment, they were in with him too. He thoughtfully planned our travels throughout New England to include a mix of all my passions and shared love of discovery and history. There were daily mentions of his love for me, my beauty and sexiness, how proud and appreciative he was of me.
We always touched – in the car, at home on the couch, in chairs, at bars and music venues, restaurants and parks — always locked hands, his hand resting on my thigh, my hand running through his hair and along his beard. The squeezing of our hands and the evocative release of emotion in our eyes that communicated passion and joy in everyday moments. These were the moments that humbled me in gratitude. This is what happy feels like, I thought.
What if I had taken him at face value when he first said I’m fucking out of here after the first big fight? He withdrew from me in an instant over some stupid misunderstanding about his daughter’s birthday party. Without returning home that eve, he texted “I’ll pick up my things on Wednesday, fuck you.” I was floored that he could be done so quickly, without a conversation to hear one another. The following day I had an emergency visit with my therapist, and worked nonstop on an excruciatingly vulnerable letter to ask him to accept my apology and come back. I waited at his office to catch him as he left for the day, and read the letter aloud in a nook of his building lobby.
We continued to struggle with his knee-jerk reaction to conclude I was wronging him and he would walk unless I fixed that part of me.
Under his influence, I followed his cues, his signs and messages. His pull me-push-me patterns clouded my judgement. What he saw in me was not what I understood was coming out. It was very confusing, but I am not the most patient woman. I remember asking myself could I work harder for him?
This was a love I had never felt. I was not in a constant state of fear and self-doubt. Vulnerable and raw, I was open to receive what he gave. Now, I see that I confused compromise with manipulation.
That morning, while I waited at the bus stop, I was certain that he’d show. I knew what would happen when he’d drive up to that small, broken pavement of a parking lot. I could see his expression, and in the moment that we’d see one another, all would have been OK. We would have cried together, embrace and say we were sorry for all the things we said the night before. I would have forgiven him for his cold heart, locking me out of his family’s home, throwing me in a hotel room and telling me to take the bus back to Boston in the morning. I would have forgiven him for ripping me away from the kids and emptying our home of all their things. We would have grown stronger. Like we have, or so I thought.
Instead, I sat in the hot sun crying, shadowed in the cigarette smoke of the guy beside me, waiting for the bus too.
I see what I couldn’t or didn’t want to see then. Most importantly, if he never left, I’d still be waiting.