I say the phrase. My heart snaps like a twig.
“What?” she asks, as if she doesn’t hear me correctly. As if she were an elderly lady whose hearing aid’s battery life is low as an iPhone’s. Or maybe she’s stalling. Giving me time to reconsider and say something different. But I repeat it.
It’s not you, it’s me.
I don’t deserve a woman as good as she. Though she concedes that we are all human and make mistakes, that doesn’t excuse the fact that I continue to fail her. I can’t give her what she needs.
Don’t get me wrong; I wanted this to work. But how many times do you have to fail to realize it’s not working out? You get three strikes in baseball and only so many write-ups at work. Why should this be any different? Why doesn’t she see I’m no good for her?
My friends and family call “foul” and blame her, claiming her expectations for me are unrealistic. To them she’s Procrustus, from that one Greek myth, slicing and dicing my members until I fit the mold she’s designed for me. But that simply isn’t true. Do they even hear what I’m saying? Take off your nepotistic blinders for one moment and see what I’ve done to her! I’m the one to blame here, not her.
No matter what she says, my mind’s made up. I’m touched by her faith in me, but it won’t make a difference. I loved how she believed in me. Always patient. Always in my corner. She was a grade school teacher.
If I were her, I would have broken up with me ages ago.
I’ve realized it’s not me she’s in love with, but the idea of me. She doesn’t see me for what I am but what I could be. She always got upset when I messed up but then forgave me soon afterward. It was cute.
I hated disappointing her but found myself doing it again. I could count on her forgiveness like I could expect the sunrise each morning. I guess I took that granted.
Our relationship has become an Adele track stuck on Repeat. Pick any of her songs and it fits. Except Someone Like You. That’s the point: I want her to find someone not like me.
I can’t give her what she wants. Perhaps if we lived in some alternate universe, like Earth-666, I’d be the man she needed me to be. But we don’t, and I am not.
I can’t give her what she needs. It’s not fair to her. I see the hurt in her eyes as I tell her this. She doesn’t deserve to hurt. Why does she even care? I’ve already dealt with this and moved on. Hopefully she will learn to do the same.
I hold her in my arms one last time. She’s as soft as a dove. I give her one last kiss. It feels like she’s going to suck my soul from my bones.
She pulls me close and looks expectantly as she touches my belt buckle. I know what she wants. I consider breakup sex for a moment but decide against it. There’s no point. I would only hurt her more in the end.
I must also apologize to the next man she meets. Because of me, he’ll have to deal with her newly-developed insecurities and lack of faith in our species. I watered that dirt for years. I let it blossom. It’ll take him just as long to pluck them like weeds.
But, I smile after I kiss her on the forehead for the last time and walk away. Hopefully she doesn’t think I’m a jerk for that. I wish I could explain to her why I’m glad, but, in the moment, I can’t find the words.
I just know she’ll be fine. She’s beautiful, smart, and kind. A guy would be stupid not to swoop her up and carry her down the aisle. You don’t need a glass slipper to know she’s a keeper.
She’s gonna find the perfect guy. One who’s just as attractive, smart and kind. One who will laugh at her jokes, drop everything he’s doing to listen to her when she’s down, surprise her with flowers at random moments. That’s what she deserves. A man who will treat her right.
Lord knows, I’m not the one.
I pray to God there’s no such thing as a soulmate. Because if there is, then I just blew my one chance at true love.