I gave in one night and called The One That Got Away. I wanted to tell him how wrong I was to take his words as the end, how sorry I was for all the pain I caused him, how much I still loved him. I didn’t think it would make a difference, but I felt like I had to do it or my heart would truly die. What he did next spelled both a new beginning and an end for us, because I truly suck at love.
The One That Got Away takes me back no questions asked. He doesn’t put me through any matter of hell for dating The Sociopath or Mr. Temptation, both of whom he was jealous of my friendships with while we were together, or judge any of my choices. I am completely relieved and overjoyed. Yet something in my twisted mind finds it all a little too easy. If he loved me as much as I loved him, shouldn’t he be in agony over the fact I’ve been with anyone else? I push that thought from my mind and hold onto the happiness of being together again.
For awhile, things are great. I go and stay with him at school every other weekend and things are like brand new again. But it’s difficult maintaining a long distance relationship, especially one where he’s still in college and I’m an hour away in the “real world.”
The more I visit him at school, the more I feel like an outsider. Our mutual friends have all fractured into groups, and the friends he stays close with no longer really embrace me. Everyone references things I know nothing about because I’m not there living in their circle day in and day out, and it seems like he’s so much closer to other women then he ever was before. Maybe it’s how my own friendships developed into something more the moment we broke up, but I become incredibly jealous, something I never was before.
To make matters worse, the few friends I associate with while I’m there visiting him are still friends with The Sociopath. Running into him unavoidable, and eventually he and I forge a truce agreeing to no longer acknowledge anything that’s happened between us as if it erases the mistakes we’ve made. One night at a party, The One That Got Away and I run into the Sociopath, who for some reason things this truce means he can hug and kiss me hello and “kid” with my boyfriend making jokes at his expense. I’m infuriated, but The One That Got Away just laughs it off and ignores him. And for some reason, that makes me more angry. The old thoughts creep back in and I’m once again wondering “if he really loved me, wouldn’t he be angry about this?”
I know this line of thought makes no sense (why would I want him to hate me for my actions if I want us to be together?), but I can’t help feeling like I need him to be angry. I need to know I hurt him, as much as I regret doing it, just to know what we have is real. I need him to hate the Sociopath and want to sock him in his smug face every time he sees him. I need him to tell me I’m a jerk for what I’ve done and that things can’t just magically go back together just because I want them to. I need some kind of punishment from him to be able to move on, and I don’t know how to explain that to him because it’s twisted and crazy.
Things come to a head the day of the annual junior/senior dance. During the few weeks leading up to it,I reluctantly shop for a dress, and make plans to prepare. Going to it makes me feel uneasy. I know everyone I don’t want to see will be there – The Sociopath, Mr. Temptation, The One That Was Saving Himself — and every judgemental and anger filled (rightly so) friend of The One That Got Away.
I arrive late and I barely say two words to him the entire time we’re at the formal. When we get back to the room we begin to argue, because I’ve ruined his time and he can’t understand why I’m so miserable. I tell him I’m not going to visit him there anymore, that I hate it and it makes me uncomfortable. I tell him he should be uncomfortable too and let out all the thoughts I’ve had about how he should be angry. He unleashes everything I didn’t know he was holding in, every last bit of anger and hurt, and it cuts me like a knife.
Back home we talk on the phone about how we can still make this work. We tell each other we love each other and he begins to visit me at home instead of me going to school. But that poses it’s own problems. Now that he’s no longer hiding his resentments, it’s obvious that I’m keeping him from his friends and that the travelling back and forth is taking the same toll on him that it did on me.
We make up and break up several times over the summer. It’s like we can never quite get back to where we started and yet we keep trying to climb that hill, making up ground and losing footing time and time again. We discuss marriage, but it feels like an empty promise. It seems like he thinks marrying me is what he has to do to keep me, not something he wants to do because he loves me. I want so badly to have a life with him, but it begins to feel like I’m making a life alone for myself and he’s staying stagnant in his. It seems like he has little to no ambition for anything in life anymore, including me, and I begin to feel incredibly lonely all over again.
It hurts and I make the same mistakes I did before, confiding my pain in someone else, this time Indecision, and letting someone else provide the love I wish I was getting from The One That Got Away. It only causes more distance between us and after a particularly bad fight where he insults my desire to name a child some day after the friend I’ve lost, Heather, we break up yet again, but in a more finite way.
During that time, I agree to spend a month out of the country with Indecision, and although The One That Got Away and I do get back together after I return, it doesn’t last long. We just sort of fizzle out into nothingness and I do my best to move on. He moves on too, and dates other people, and we stay out of each others lives for some time. Until I eventually realize he’s the only person I’ve ever really loved and I sabotaged our chances of happiness by not thinking I deserved it and even worse, not just telling him how I felt when it mattered most.
When that realization comes, it changes everything about how I look at relationships for the rest of my life, and brings me back to The One That Got Away’s doorstep one more time. But that’s a story for another day.