My beautiful and humble cousin who always has such honest and down to Earth advice said she once told her on and off again almost relationship guy, “The history we had will never work for our future.” Being as strong as she is, after multiple tries with him, she eventually moved on to find the most amazing husband and had a beautiful daughter.
What she said stuck with me. The last time my own almost relationship ended, something clicked. I finally understood that when someone cares about you and wants to be in your life, they don’t leave. I looked back at all our history and I hated him for all the times he had carelessly hurt me. I hated myself even more for allowing it.
The relief and peace I felt when I moved on were exhilarating. I spent over a year loving myself again, enjoying time with people that cared about me, valued me and my time and treated me well. I knew my worth and didn’t even know who that girl who didn’t was anymore. I felt zero emotion about the memories of him that I once cherished. It all meant absolutely nothing to me. The burden was finally lifted.
So why did the universe send me one last test? When an opportunity came during a vulnerable time when my love life was full of shortcomings, I didn’t see his resurfacing as a test, but more as a twist of fate. I thought that maybe the real test was for me to love myself again, which I had done and passed, and for both of us to finally clear out the clutter in our lives and get to a new place and stage in our lives when we were finally ready to do this right, once and for all.
Despite my initial resistance, weariness, and doubts, I didn’t think it was utterly possible for anyone to be so reckless and cruel to ask for another chance only to screw me over for what felt like the millionth time. I knew that I had changed and that giving it another shot wasn’t about me being that same weak girl, it was about forgiveness and a love for him tied to our past that left me questioning if we’d end up having a future.
I wasn’t sure if I could survive another round of us and didn’t want to go backward and be hurt again so I admitted that my mind and heart were elsewhere. Which was true, initially. But with an open mind soon came an open heart and I believed him when he said he wanted this and realized that I did too. So I would have to start the process of learning to trust that faith in the universe and in him.
It’s easy to trust something when it’s consistent. But it’s not easy to undo inconsistencies and insecurities from the past.
The wrestling I felt within myself when his promised effort slacked even the slightest bit drove me back to that place that I never wanted to be in again, questioning intentions, effort and motives all over again. What I needed was commitment and action, not just words and promises that I had heard so many times before. Dating and casually killing time was not enough in the present. We needed something new if we were ever going to have a future.
But we weren’t something new and I honestly don’t think we knew how to be. It wasn’t like when you first meet someone and you need time to see where it’s going while you learn about someone and figure out what you want. Our history had done that for us already.
Just as the story went in so many years past, once I gave into my feelings they no longer seemed to matter to him. Once I became certain, he became uncertain. This is who we always were historically, like magnets, a pusher and a puller. He’d pull, we’d come together, I’d push for more, we’d fall apart.
I could blame myself for wanting it all too soon and being reactive and mistrusting. But I can’t take all that blame because he once programmed me to behave this way and he couldn’t reprogram me without giving me all the things I needed. Honesty, security, commitment, and consistency, all the things he seemed to never be able to give me in the past, he could talk about in the future and ease my mind to get what he wanted in the present, but he always ended up falling short. His taking on of those expectations for me was like a full-time job he didn’t want to show up to every day.
It’s not normal to tell a woman you love her but go some days, all day, without speaking to her at all. To not say good morning, include her in your plans or factor her into your life in any real way, regardless of how soon it may be. Time isn’t of the essence when you’ve already wasted so much of it on someone.
I knew that feeling disappointed about these things was not just my default fear kicking in, it was also his ever-present reluctance. It may have been a little bit of both our faults, but in reality, my fear wouldn’t have had to kick in if he had been safe with my heart knowing he had made it fragile to begin with. Finding out that he was still seeking and considering his other options when I had already cut off all of mine, was not the way to my heart that he had asked to have back. Instead, he broke it again, against everything I had believed and convinced everyone around me to believe was not possible this time.
History doesn’t guarantee a future, it dictates your behavior in that future. I was hurt too many times to expect anything else and act accordingly even if I got something else. And he had been allowed to hurt me and was forgiven too many times to stop thinking that he could keep doing it whenever he found the need for some quick benefit at my expense. Whether it was out of boredom, for sex, a date to an event, or to piss off a crazy jealous ex and get her to come back, he still had no problem discarding me when he was done.
I had failed the test even though I had learned the lesson many times. Because of our history, he would never see me the way I saw him, no matter how he tried to convince himself he could just because it was what everyone else wanted for him. To him, I’d always be that 19-year-old girl waiting in the wings as a fallback. I’d always be his runner-up even though to anyone else I could be first place.
I like to think that I accomplished something with this last round. We came so close this time, close enough for me to see what I really was to him and it finally sank in. Yes, I got to say things to him that I’ve been holding in over the years, but it would have felt better if he had been able to take those things and understand where I was coming from instead of using them as the easy out and escape that he was already planning.
Just when I thought I had folded too soon, I realized our future was already in the cards. History repeats itself.
For two people with so much history as friends and something more complicated, who had so many good times, I’m sad at the mess we made. This wasn’t how I ever wanted us to turn out.
But sometimes you have to destroy something from the ground up to make space for something new and sustainable. And if someone can walk away from that work so easily multiple times over, you aren’t what they want for their future, no matter the history.