I am still in shock and I don’t know if I can piece it all together very eloquently here. I’m also not sure where to begin.
The first time it happened, the first time he broke up with me, his face looked pale. He was sitting on his couch. Not leaning into his couch, but sitting upright. The apartment around him, a small one bedroom was immaculate. And there he was, waiting for me to sit down. After a brief explanation came “and I think it’s time to end this.”
“To end what?” I asked.
At this, I jumped up and nearly fell over, catching myself on the arm of the couch.
“What? Why? Are you serious?”
“I am. This just isn’t working.”
I practically ran out of his apartment a few moments later, unable to even fathom what was happening. I was angry, hurt and completely blindsided. Sure, things hadn’t been perfect, but I thought our relationship was the healthiest I’d ever been in. The next morning I called him and told him I would do anything to keep him. I was shocked at myself. The way I sounded. Desperate almost. Heaving with tears at the idea of losing this sweet man. What had I done to drive him away?
“We have nothing in common,” he said, “And we fight all of the time. I’m not happy. I’m not.”
“But we don’t fight all of the time. Do we? I mean, things aren’t perfect all of the time but that’s life. The things we fight about aren’t fundamental differences, they are minimal, things we can fix.”
At the end of the conversation, we were back together. Our break up had lasted for all of 12 hours but I was a wreck. My trust had been shattered because John had effectively pulled the rug out from under the relationship and rocked our foundation of trust. It would never be the same again.
Two months later in the middle of May, after our trip to Georgia, it happened again. He started a lot of sentences with the word “if” and others with this phrase, “I love you, but.”
I love you, but… you really are this or that.
He had issues with me. So many issues that I was starting to not feel like me. We took a one week break and at the end of it, I broke up with him.
“I want someone who is committed to Benjamin and I without hesitation, I want to get married, I want to have more children, I want a house, I want someone who loves me without ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. I want someone who loves me as I am.” I wanted all of these things and he had helped me to believe in them, he had opened my heart and my mind to the joys of a relationship. But he wasn’t happy and I couldn’t force him to be with me.
The next morning, John showed up at my door and told me he wanted all of the above. The house. The wedding. The life. Together.
I believed him. And he believed himself.
We moved forward and never looked back. Until the morning of Christmas Eve.
The night before my sister, as blunt as I am, had been pressing John with questions. She had noticed that we didn’t seem happy together and while I was distracted and entertaining other guests at our office party, Anna was grilling John like the protective sister she is.
“Are you happy? Because you don’t seem happy.” Etc. Etc. Etc.
Had I known this was going on, I would have swooped in to protect him and been livid with my sister. Instead, I missed it all. Just as I had apparently been completely missing John’s unhappiness. She saw what I couldn’t.
As you have all read here on this blog, I have been happy, content, and comfortable. But there were some things missing. Butterflies, for one. That maddening feeling of being in love. I was trying to find the best person for Benjamin and I by using my head and not my heart. As a result, I brushed a lot of things under the rug and told a story here that I also told to myself. In the end, I created an image for John Bear that any man would feel intimidated to fill.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, John was still incredibly upset about my sister’s pressing questions the night before. I don’t want to share all of the details but it ended with same look on his face he had in his apartment that day in March and me absolutely losing it in tears and shock as I handed him the ring. He wanted to take it back, to make up again and brush it under the rug – but, I made the call.
“No. No more pretending and no more forcing you to be with me.” With the flood gates open and John’s true feelings on the table everything suddenly became clear.
“You’re not happy. You aren’t. You’re miserable with me. It’s so obvious now.”
We both had to wake up to the reality of our relationship. I was happy but he wasn’t.
Whether I knew it or not, I had pressured John into taking our relationship into the next phase. Marriage. The House. Fatherhood. We are both guilty here. We are both guilty of trying to do the right thing, of pressing forward even though there was clearly something missing.
I’m surprisingly okay right now. I’m not sure if I’m still in shock or not, but John and I will still be friends and I’m in the incredibly fortunate situation, thanks to my business, of being able to pay the mortgage solo. John has been staying up in Cleveland with his parents and will do whatever Benjamin and I need or want to make sure we all survive this unscathed.
And unlike the first time I became a single mom, this time, I know exactly what to expect. And being single, as you all know, is my comfort zone. I have no idea how this will affect Benjamin but my game plan is this: stay calm, carry on, and be as happy and as engaged with him as possible.
We have had several conversations about the break up already. I wanted to tell him quickly and be transparent about it… after his initial tears I said, “Remember before John Bear, just a few months ago, when we were living alone?”
“Yeah,” he said, “in our old apartment.”
“Yeah, well, wasn’t that so much fun?”
“Well, now it will be just you and me again.”
“Okay,” he nodded and then slowly a big smile crept across his face while he remembered our time together – just the two of us. Our adventures. Our trips. Our happiness.
We really don’t need anyone else… just each other. For now. And, I must admit, there is a part of me that is so incredibly excited to have that back again.
Also, I completely resign from my position as an authority of any kind for giving out relationship or love advice to single moms. Wow, oh wow, I really didn’t see that coming.
Please don’t hate John and please don’t lose hope in men. He and his family were absolutely amazing to Benjamin and I and we will always be friends.