My friends and I do a lot of talking about boys. I’m not afraid to admit it, it’s true. In our defense, we do have very witty and intelligent conversations about them but regardless of the delivery, the content is still the same.
In our futile attempts to understand the boys/man-children we have dated over the last several years, I’ve recognized a theme or rather a theme within a theme. The overall theme is walking away/letting go and the theme within that theme is how effing hard it is to do so. Recently, I found myself in an overly-convoluted situation with a guy whom I was hooking up with – not dating, this distinction is as necessary as it is embarrassing – for over a year.
His incessant need to discuss things and be “upfront” gave a false sense of connectedness which inevitably led to unrequitedly over-investing on my part. We clearly didn’t have the same definition for the concept of casual and every time anything would happen, he would freak out within days and call friendship. It got to a point where game had to recognize game, so I called friendship and we haven’t really talked since. I didn’t want to call friendship because I wasn’t the one who had the issue with casual sex but I did have an issue with how much he repeatedly hurt me after the fact with his inability to take responsibility or to admit that he wanted it, also.
My best friend opened this can of worms when she had to end things with a guy whom she was casually dating but wanted more from. She wanted more of his time and he didn’t have more to give. I was impressed and inspired by her ability to walk away and by how easy she made it seem. What shocked me and then resonated with me came later when she admitted to missing him and wanting to eventually be friendly with him. It wasn’t easy for her at all. It made me re-evaluate everything because what kept me going back even though I’d tell myself I was done after every time, was how whenever he’d come back around I found myself still wanting to say yes. This perpetual desire that just wouldn’t seem to die had me thinking that I should cave into the inevitability of it all because if it were time to be done, I would know; I’d want to say no and it’d be easy.
Well the joke’s on me because as I’ve learned through said conversations with friends, it’s never easy.
We’ve all been there; our friends have all been there. That inevitable moment or series of moments when you realize that, for the sake of your sanity or respect or whatever, you need to walk away. It’s something everyone talks about having done at some point. Walking away and letting go. Everyone talks about how it’s about self-respect and dignity and blah blah blah but no one ever talks about how hard it is; how hard it is to follow through with, let alone actually do. It’s not like a decision you make once and then that’s that; it’s a decision you make every single day. It’s like giving up carbs or soda or chocolate.
Sure, anyone can say they’re going to stop but they don’t take into account how much they are going to crave whatever it is they are giving up. They don’t talk about all of the late night binges or the need to throw out everything in your pantry that will create temptation. You go into it with every intention of following through. You block them and maybe everyone of their friends on social media, delete them from your phone, avoid places you might run into them but then there are the unanticipated cravings.
None of the aforementioned things are going to take the cravings away.
You’re still going to be typing out those text messages only to immediately erase them seconds after. You’re going to need to call upon friends to hijack your phone to avoid drunk calls or texts. You may even need to download one of those apps that stops you from trying. I’m not sure what’s worse, not hearing from them or hearing from them. There is nothing that compares to that feeling of butterflies you get when their name pops up on your phone but that all changes when it’s over. That feeling that once put a smile on your face now puts a lump in your throat and a knot in your stomach. You’re validated and pissed off at the same time. You love that they miss you and hate them for putting you in a compromising position.
This isn’t something that occurs only once. It’s something you battle every single day until one day, you finally don’t anymore. The hardest part is there is no text-book amount of time that tells you when it’ll all feel better. You just hear and hope that eventually it will get better.
I want people to talk about how hard it is to go days, weeks, months making the decision to STAY AWAY after you’ve chosen to walk away. I think we all deserve some kind of medal or something for staying away or perhaps just an amazing, new guy who doesn’t warrant the need for us to walk away. Walking away and staying away require effort; they require putting on your big girl pants, putting the being an adult thing into practice and ending something that needs to end.
It’s avoiding contact for days or even a week before actually ending it, as to not give the wrong impression or allow your mind to be swayed. It’s showing up with all of their stuff in hand just to avoid the painful part of dealing with it later because you know that you may not be able to follow through if that happened. It’s scheduling a time between work and other prior commitments to have “the talk.” It’s finally saying no even though you want to say yes, especially after months or years of saying yes. It’s ignoring text messages that you know will lead to relapse. It’s keeping your promise to try to stop even though you aren’t sure you do. It’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s like breaking a bad habit or recovering from an addiction. From all of the stories i’ve been told about people walking away, i always thought that when it was time to walk away i would just know. I’d know and feel good about it and it’d be easy and it’s because of all of the false advertising that i’ve never been able to walk away. Now i see it for what it really is: an uphill battle, a conscious decision to say no, not only once but every day until you’ve officially moved on. Sometimes it is easy, like when someone monumentally fucks up or when you don’t really care that much anymore or didn’t care to begin with but those times are anomalies. Usually, there is much more gray area and in all of that abstraction, it’s hard to convince yourself that it’s never going to be black and white and that you need to walk away before you sink so deep that you lose yourself. You do lose yourself a little bit in the wading pool of gray area regardless of how long you’re in it but you gain a better version of yourself when you pull yourself out. The doubt will come in waves. You’ll waffle between feeling good about it and feeling the deepest levels of regret.
The truth is, you’re most likely not going to be 100% sure you are making the right decision and you are going to question that decision with every fiber of your being at some point after the fact but if somewhere in you you know that you need to walk away, it is a risk you just have to take.