It happened more than once. She rose to go to bed. Turned off the TV. Turned off the lights. Left the room.
With me still in it.
It even happened after I brought it to her attention.
The more I thought about that odd little habit of hers, the more I realized it was a microcosm of everything we were. We were all about her.
In her defense, I volunteered my part of it. The time with family. The plans for the future. The dream of where we’d end up. It was all hers.
I was a decoration.
The end was soul-crushing. No matter how much thought you put into a relationship-ending conversation, the emotions come out like Mentos in a pop bottle. They don’t stop for a second draft or spellcheck.
When I can’t edit and revise, I say next to nothing. Ironic that someone who is supposed to be a superior communicator barely pushes out a sentence when it counts. And even those words are pitiful.
What I wanted to say was, “I love you, dearly. But if I stay in this relationship, I will disappear into the wallpaper of your world. And I don’t want that for me.”
It wasn’t about asking her to change. She wouldn’t. Her life was such that she couldn’t. The walls she built around her world protected her from the dangers she’d survived. She needed them.
And though I was welcome inside, it was only as an accessory. Not a resident.
I wound up saying nothing. Or at least nothing coherent. She was hurt. She was confused.
My attempt to give her space to understand was interpreted as coldness and lack of emotion. The truth was I had more hurt than I could handle. It almost broke me.
By the time I’d come to the right phrasing and confidence I could explain things in a way she would understand, I was uninvited. That is to say, “blocked.” That hurt almost as bad as the breakup itself.
In the wake, I circled around the notion that I got what I deserved. In a way that’s true in two ways. My world shattered as I shattered hers.
But from now on I won’t be left alone in the dark.