...she walks into mine.
You cannot make up this stuff. It has been close to two weeks since my ex-girlfriend Jane and I last communicated. As far as I knew, she was not supposed to be back in DC until yesterday. And for me, each day was better than the last. The heartache was less frequent. The urge to reach out to her was lessening. And so it was Monday, as I was sitting with a friend at lunch and about to pay the check and leave, she walks up to our table and back into my life. Jane had been sitting in another section of the restaurant cafe for a while and was on her way out the door when she spotted me. What are the odds?
It was all so confusing. I was speechless for more than a moment. My friend was not as speechless, having enough time to say goodbye and dart out the door. He disappeared so quickly, that he had to call the waiter later to apologize for not leaving a sufficient tip and promised to make it right. Part of me wanted to disappear too, but my legs barely worked, as I was both anxious and thrilled at the same time. Jane and I started off with a very long hug, followed by some intimate touching of hair, face, shoulders. God, it felt REALLY good to hold her in my arms again, to smell her hair, to feel her arms around me.
Next up was long periods of staring at each other's faces and into each other's eyes. Then came the talking. Her asking how I was. She wanting to share how she was, needing to talk about her sister, but fighting it with a wall she was putting up to avoid being vulnerable with me, to avoid being emotional . Me disagreeing with her when she reiterated that our demise was all just poor timing, and telling her that one makes time if something is important to them. Suddenly, she had to run to get her haircut - she was getting bangs again after trying to grow them out. Moving back to that safe place where she was not vulnerable, back behind that wall. And, as we left the restaurant, she ran off crying as she could not deal talking about our past. I walked back to work still stunned.
Distracted at work and needing to clear my head, I went to the local YMCA to swim. I followed this up by running a few errands and taking a long, wet walk home in the rain. During this time, Jane and I had some brief communication via email/text, from which she gave me unsatisfactory surface-level responses, i.e. it was hard to see me...I deserved her love and much more...onward we go...sorry for the sad moments. And all of it felt like bullshit. I think she meant what she was saying, but the words seemed to me trite and by rote. Not connected to deeper emotions. And the closing oneself off from the deeper emotions is something I used to do, and it is no longer enough for me to emotionally communicate at that level. So I asked her why it was hard to see me. Was it was because there was still lots of love between us and a future worth fighting for? Her response was, "Mike, because I love you and because I loved you for a year and because I don't have bandwidth for you and us and it makes me feel shitty, but it is what it is. I don't have the fight in me."
Bandwidth. What does that mean? That is a term we use in the office when the customer wants us to work on something new when we are already 100% allocated to existing work. And this brought me back to conversations Jane and I would have over time over her time. She would complain that I was always ranking things, with regard to my importance to her, to her time. And it clicked in the past few days that that this was an old habit stemming from years of working with my various customers. When they wanted us to focus on something new for which we did not have the time or resources to support, we would request they prioritize what needs to be worked first, second, etc., as we did not have the bandwidth to work them all simultaneously. And ultimately, the less important tasks would be dropped off the list for a later date.
And that is what I felt, and still feel even now, to a certain extent. I was a less important task. Important to Jane, and loved by her, but not valued enough in her bandwidth to share time allocation with her work and work friends, her conferences and guest speaker events, her networking, her life. She would often compare me and all her activities to a puzzle, and we were all equal pieces. Not the most romantic approach for love, but very practical. Jane was nothing if not practical. A family inheritance, she would joke. But the fact was that we were not all equal pieces, nor should we be. Ultimately, I was dropped off her list (or removed from her puzzle, depending on which analogy suits you).
Speculating as an armchair therapist, it seems that Jane liked the idea of a romantic relationship and wanted that in her life, but did not know how to truly let go into one. It is more complex than that, I know, but a friend put it in simple terms that paints the picture. It is like the lottery. Folks want to to win it, but don’t want to buy a ticket because of the uncertainty of the results. Jane wanted a relationship...with me...but couldn't or was not willing to make the sacrifices to her other “puzzle pieces” to build one, as she could not be certain that we would work out.
So I kept telling myself that I just needed to give Jane more space, that I might be acting unreasonable for wanting more of her time and attention than she could give, and that it was just that I needed to find other outlets. And though there is some truth to my needing to focus on other parts of my life, the fact remains that in order to build a romantic partnership, you need time and attention. And my needs for that were not being met. And that caused me to question my importance to her. Now, I readily admit that I could and should have found more constructive ways to express my feelings towards her about these needs not being met. This, however, does not change the harsh, cold truth that I am struggling to accept.
Despite Jane loving me, and me loving her, our relationship seemingly is a lower priority/less important to her than the other priorities in her life. If it wasn't, I would not be writing this blog entry right now and we would be together. And whether the reason for this outcome is because she does not know how to balance life, or she is running away from her emotions, or she has this need to prove herself worthwhile that is more powerful than other needs, or because I put too much pressure on her due to my own growth, or because because because, it does not matter to what was or could have been us. Ultimately, Jane chose her other puzzle pieces over me, over us.
I am still learning to let that go. It is like some voodoo spell has hold of me and won't give me up that easily. My gut still has that desire to ache, and does, not matter how much I am able to make sense of it all. It still is processing the lost opportunity, the lost love.
It is still reliving the sadness and regret over how I mishandled situations, communications. It is still puzzling through the seemingly strange flow from wonderful weekend with Jane's parents and talking about her taking a late flight home for Christmas so we could be together as late in the year as possible to her needing space and radio silence in less than a week. It still is in denial that logic trumped love, and how easy it seemed for her to walk away, right when things were tough and I needed her the most. It still is blown away at how deeply I fell in love, how much I let myself fall into her.
No matter who I am with, no matter what I am doing, no matter where I am, I seem to miss her. Sometimes it is a sadness, and other times it is a ache.
Maybe tomorrow I will feel better. Not miss her as much. Maybe not. We'll see. My gut seems to say no. This is one time I do not want to follow my gut.
You Are Tired by E.E. Cummings
You are tired
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.
Come with me then
And we'll leave it far and far away-
(Only you and I understand!)
You have played
And broke the toys you were fondest of
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break and-
So am I.
But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart-
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows
And if you like
The perfect places of Sleep.
Ah come with me!
I'll blow you that wonderful bubble the moon
That floats forever and a day;
I'll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream
Until I find the Only Flower
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.