When I was 23, something happened that I these days refer to as this Specific Situation or This Thing. It was bad, and it hurt, and it took me a really long time to come to terms with everything that seemingly hurricaned around me during 2013.
In this Specific Situation/This Thing, Someone left me. And then just a handful of months after that Someone left me, Someone Else did. And then after the Someone Else left, Another Someone left. In a period of about a year, I spun myself into three Situations all of which ended with me being the person who wasn’t chosen. The person who wasn’t held onto. I was the person who was left.
There’s something incredibly uprooting and rattling about being left. In my opinion and experience, it’s very different than a clear cut rejection. Rejection, as much as it can sting and bruise your ego, is instant. It’s a clean break and doesn’t even allow the possibility for something to grow. Leaving means, obviously, that you are leaving something that currently exists behind. Something that will have to figure out how to exist in a new, you-less world. Something that will have to be without you.
So being left is obviously, in a way, traumatic. It flips your world upside down and in my experience, made me feel like I was underwater but not swimming and like everything around me was happening but with a filter on it so nothing was clear and I couldn’t fully make anything out. And even as I began to pick up the pieces, it still really felt like learning to walk, breathe, function, basically be a human again.
I’m not same person I was in 2013. And to a certain extent that’s as a result of being a person who was left over and over again.
For a very, very long time I was very, very angry. I was angry at the first Someone for not only leaving but for how he chose to do it. I was angry at the Someone Else for making me think I could be okay and with another person, and then leaving anyway. And I was angry at the Other Someone for all of the above and making me go through it again.
Which is why, when reflecting, I completely understand why it’s so easy to cast someone as the villain in your story for doing that. For making you feel that way. For leaving.
But as I continued along the journey of, I don’t know, “getting better” and “moving on” I remembered all of the times I have left. When I’ve been the one responsible for inflicting that sort of shaken up world on someone else.
And, most recently, I remembered this scene in Closer where Alice and Dan are talking and she says:
“It’s the only way to leave. ‘I don’t love you anymore. Goodbye.'”
And it made me realize that as much as it felt like I was dying from being left, that those Someones who left me were completely within their right to do the leaving. Simply wanting to leave, and in turn not wanting me in a way that made staying something they felt they could do, was enough of a reason to leave. And if we preach so much about being allowed to make our own choices, being allowed to leave other people, that means other people—Someones—are allowed to do the same. Even when you’re the person who they’re walking away from when they do it.
So then what?
Well the reality is if someone leaves you, you have to respect their decision and let them go. It’s not fair of you to sit there and paint them with things like “fuckboy” and “asshole” and “horrible” because they didn’t love you in the same way that you loved them. It’s not fair to string together reasons why you’re still holding on, why you’re not letting go, acting like such a martyr for waiting for them to come back.
If leaving you doesn’t make them a monster, holding on to the situaiton when they don’t want you to doesn’t make you a saint.
If anything, it means you’re not progressing. It means, like I did after 2013 when everything felt like it was hurricaning around me and I was insistent on staying incredibly angry, you’re staying in the same state instead of figuring out how to exist in this new world without whoever or whatever left. It means that in your martyrdom you’re actually the person who is solely responsible for your own lack of growth and the pain that remains.
It means it’s not their fault for leaving, but it is your fault for refusing to let go.
When I was 23 it was very easy for me to believe that I was impossible to leave. That I could morph myself into whatever the person who I wanted wanted, and in turn they’d always be around. But now at 28 I realize that it’s completely unfair to have the expectation that you are somehow above being left.
And I also realize, now, that it’s completely stupid to sit there wallowing in whatever emotion waiting for someone who clearly is showing you they do not love you, and not choosing to leave them behind too.