In Defense Of You

It’s a strange feeling, the compulsion to defend someone who hurt me. But it’s easy, really, because I understand. I understand why you needed me to walk away, and I think you knew that was the only way I’d go.

You understood my past and my emotions enough to find the one thing you knew would inflict just enough damage to make me leave but not so much damage that I wouldn’t recover.

It wasn’t okay.

It wasn’t okay for you to throw the dagger you knew would draw blood. It wasn’t okay, but I understood where it came from.

You were struggling, and I could see it. I could see the internal war you waged on yourself, but I knew I couldn’t stop the fight. I did catch some of the fallout though.

I wanted so badly to support you while you sorted it out, but sometimes support looks like walking away. I wanted to tell you that the door is closed, but it’s not locked and barred. I wanted to tell you that I would allow you back into my life someday if that’s what you wanted; all you had to do was knock.

I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t.

After you wrote those words, it didn’t seem to matter what I wanted, so I let it go. I let go of that flicker of hope that made me believe the best in you, to give you the benefit of the doubt. I watched as that naive optimism you envied faded just a little.

I was reminded at that moment that I could never love you into loving yourself, into loving me.

I wasn’t angry with you or even disappointed. I just felt a profound sense of loss for the “what could have been.” I did feel angry towards the people and the pain that brought you to this place.

When you said the words that struck the death-blow to this burgeoning affection I had for you, I couldn’t help but remember the moment when you predicted this ending. You told me early on that you had a history of self-sabotage when good things came into your life. I told you that I understood but that I wouldn’t expend my energy trying to convince you to stay. I wouldn’t fight a one-sided battle.

I’m not the girl who breaks herself to make another whole. Not anymore.

So when you said those words, when you reopened that old wound, I wasn’t surprised. It was almost comically transparent. I saw that you were doing the one thing you knew would irrevocably push me away.

It made me sad, really, to know that you would choose to hurt us both rather than face your inner turmoil. It made me sad, but I understood. I understood that you were following this destructive pattern you’ve become so accustomed to. I don’t know if you even know there’s another way to exist, another way to love. I understood that you weren’t rejecting me; you were rejecting the emotional high that came before what you felt was an inevitable fall that you couldn’t recover from.

Or maybe this is all a story I tell myself because it hurts less to believe that than to believe you genuinely didn’t want me, that you genuinely couldn’t bring yourself to be in my presence one last time. Maybe this story is less damaging than a reality where you have so little respect for me that you couldn’t even say the words to my face.

Either way, I’ll spend some time mourning all the memories we didn’t get to make, the experiences we didn’t get to share. I’ll mourn the loss of knowing what it would be like to wake up next to you early on a Sunday morning just to spend a few lazy hours in bed before we had to let the world in. I’ll mourn the loss of the opportunity to know what it’s like for someone to see me, really see me, and love me for all of my flaws.

I’ll mourn the loss of all that fear robbed us of.

When I’m finished mourning, I’ll be okay. I know I’ll be okay because I’ve been here before, and I came out on the other side a little wounded but a little wiser. I know I’ll be okay because I know how to make it through this.

I know I’ll be okay, and I hope you will be, too.

I just want to give my dog the life he deserves.

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