We sit in his car and I wipe tears away with my coat sleeve. I’m reminded of how my Portland therapist taught me the difference between being tough and being strong. The difference between acting like nothing hurts and knowing things will hurt, but doing them anyway.
My best friend tells me my heart is always going in fifty directions. That is must be hard if not impossible to follow something like that.
On the wall in the restaurant two signs hang next to each other. One reads “be strong” while the other “be gentle”. Finally I’m at the place in my life where those two demands do not seem at odds with each other.
In his apartment I wrap my arms around his waist and hold him as close to me as I can. One part pride, one part relief, two parts heartbreak. I cling tightly to the idea that wanting different things does not make either of us undeserving people, just not right for this partnership. And I can’t help but feel a little swell in my chest when I think about finally standing up for what I want in life. But no, that doesn’t make it easier when we kiss at the door, say “I love you”, and I walk out for the last time.
It’s a new kind of ache. One where I stand with my feet firmly planted. It does not question or try to pull in any particular direction. I know what I want and I know if that’s the way I’m heading. Know when it’s time to change course. Narrow my vision. Finally honest.
I think about having children in the next couple years and begin to look at all my options. Think about the things I want to do that don’t involve a partner. Think about my past relationships and what works and what doesn’t. What builds me up and what immobilizes me. Think about how to do this all differently. It’s my dreams. It’s my job. It’s my sobriety. All of this. This belongs to me. And if I don’t want to, I don’t have to share it with anybody.
An interesting feeling. Walking on the ground with my own two feet. Not tip-toeing around anybody. Not sieving everything through someone else’s list of wants and needs. And for the first time it does not feel selfish or pointless. It feels like taking care of me. And that feels… Worthwhile. Finally.